So it has been a time from the last posing on here. Life takes us all over and everywhere we go...Look for watches!
A local coin shop had this one on hand. It came in with 2 other watches. The others are ok but not remarkable in rarity. A 15 jewel HC US Watch Co Waltham 18s lever set and a 23 jewel 16s lever set Waltham on an OF case. Those were a no brainer purchase based on his pricing. The 3rd watch I had to think over. Not a cheap watch by a reasonable collectors standard and I don't plop cash down randomly.
I tried to do as much research as possible on this one. It is a 18k fully jeweled Joseph Johnson from 1850 (per the hallmarks). When I first looked at it my biggest concern was the potential that it needed repair. The missing second hand was obvious but the function of the movement was priority. A gentle rock and watching the lever and escapement gave me my answer. The wheel turned and the lever engaged. Balance swings freely so no issue there. He had no key and neither did I so the mainspring condition was a mystery. He named his price and based on the gold content and weight we both know he was under scrap.
He explained that he knew it was too nice to scrap out and would rather make a little profit then destroy it for just a bit more money. This the the kind of coin shop I like the most! So I left without it because I needed to research. I found some posts on NAWCC and auctions and think there are some gaps in info out there.
Joseph Johnson of Liverpool started watchmaking in 1895 around the age of 15. He apparently only lived to about 45. He, in my opinion, made some very nice movements. Most seem to be fully jeweled with Liverpool windows. By the fact his children had the same name so good chance is that they carried on with the company up until the early 1860's.
My example even has a jeweled English lever. So my estimates are 16 to 17 jewels. This one, along with many, has diamond endstones. The balances on the ones I have seen vary. I have seen solid gold, steel, bimetallic with a blued steel center, a uncut bimetallic with screws, and then mine which is a cut bimetallic with screws. So there appear to be 5 different balances in use over 60 years and they almost seem to follow a natural progression in technology.
All are gilt, fusee, and full plate movements. The click and pawl as seen on mine seems to only be used sparingly. One feature mine has that I think many miss looking at these is the "hack" lever. These are hacking pocket watches made prior to 1860 and I would say this feature was put on the better end of their movements.
A quick search of ebay shows orphaned and parts movements that have this function. We know that most of these movements are only in this state after their cases were scrapped. Most likely these were heavy 18k as it appears that when Johnson cased in gold it was 18k.
Joseph Johnson watches were used on the American railroads prior to the establishment of the standards and in a time that English watch making was at its best. You can see some of the elements that correspond to what the American watch industry would put into the iconic American railroads watches. Full jewel, split bimetallic screwed balance, and lever escapement. You also see the diamond endstones make their way into the higher end 21 and up American watches.
So without further babbling by me here are the first group I took after just getting it.
Picture of the hack lever at 5. Another is further down as well.
These are after I got it home and cleaned and oiled it. The case came up very nice. I did manage to rummage up a second hand of the right length but the pivot hole was too small. I used my staking set to broach out the pivot hole but it came up jut a hair too big so I crimped it back down just a bit. I would love to get a matching hand set for the watch but at the moment that is just a pipe dream.
I used a polishing cloth and and cape cod on the case.