OMG...my hero GF-J. build swiss fakes
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  1. #1
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    OMG...my hero GF-J. build swiss fakes

    At first a short explanation about the missleading therm "swiss fake" its not a watch which pretend to be a swiss watch. Pocket watch collecors use this term for movements made in switzerland and lead to beleave that they have english or american orgin. This depends on the history. In former times, especially in the first half on the 19 century the main number of excellent watches were build in england. Their reputation precedes them.

    I was very surprised to find this watch within the bay:

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    on the first sight a typical swiss watch around 1880..sold in england by a Roskell ??? ..hmmm ..not really a design for the english market. On the second sight I get more curious:

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    A Georges Favre-Jacot case with Roskell Liverpool on the dustcover ??? Crazy ..you should know the Roskells (father and son) have been excellent chronometermakers and their position was definetly in the first row of watchmakers their times. Crazy - Gf-J. definetly a "must have" and here is the movement:

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    No doupt possible (balance/escapement). It's a complete 15 jewel swiss lever movement. The number and the case own identical numbers only the nmber of the dial don't match but there is still writen "Robert Roskell" on the dustcover. Beyond the line: A swiss fake for the continental market to use the british reputation. AS usual for G F -J. the quality is typical for him in this aera and its not just a terrible swiss fake. It is just another "normal grade" Georges Favre-Jaot.

    Is it tinker ....I don't believe this. Here are two destroyed movements:

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    The left one is Georges Favre Jacot signed, out of a komplete GF-J watch with a identical case number for the russia market. The other one is now a spare part for the first one and I found of course listen as a roskell movement. Funny with this senceless glasbeats swiss watchmakers like for decoration. I did never believe that my watchmaker was able to reconstruct the GFJ watch but now we've got the wheels and some stones are a cinch for him (of course nit for me). The only difference to the movement above is the lever ligne droite but Jacot uses both.
    The single swiss "Roskell" movement also shows different numbers on the dial:

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    Regards Silke
    Last edited by SilkeN; December 12th, 2015 at 16:53.
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  2. #2
    Zenith Forum Co-moderator
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    Re: OMG...my hero GF-J. build swiss fakes

    Thanks for the write up, Silke - a very interesting watch and movement.

    Would I call it a Swiss fake? Personally, not really. I sometimes think that the term is used a bit liberally. The fact of the matter is that the structure of the movement is and remains that of a typical Swiss movement. I would reserve "Swiss fake" for those watches made in Switzerland yet emulating the typical English or American structure: closed top plate with balance cock affixed on top of that and a fairly central balance gear outside the main movement. This one here is the typical Billodes cal. 53 with some bridge variations. On top of that, the case isn't sterling silver and isn't trying to be (the 800/1000 is declared quite openly).

    To me, a key question is: who was Robert Roskell and what is his part in this? Robert Roskell used to be a renowned chronometre maker around the early 19th century but the business may well have gone downhill a little in the 19th century as there seems to be little recorded of them after 1850. If they commissioned Swiss watches with their name on the dial (not an uncommon practice up to the 1920s), GF-J's part in this can hardly be faulted. As on a previous occasion (that time involving a GF-J watch for the Ottoman market), I would quite like to know whether there was an intent to deceive and if so, who intended to deceive. As for the former, I have seen rather better attempts, as for the latter, it is difficult to know so long after the event.

    Hartmut Richter

  3. #3
    Member SilkeN's Avatar
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    Re: OMG...my hero GF-J. build swiss fakes

    Sorry Hartmut for the luridly title it was a little bid provcation to solve discussions about that time and it makes more fun not to be always dry deadly serious. I'm close with your point of view. All this little cheating is in my eyes marketing/movement decoration but always G F-J sell solid quality watches. Here as you write a Billodes 53 movement. Fact seems to be that buyer usually look as well at the watch movement as on the hole watch. You can see different movement fashion style temporal or for the target market. Good examles are the "Jules Jürgensen style" ones around 1880/90 or the keywinder for the ottoman market. Personal I like those frills and they don't set down the quality of a watch. If the customer want decoration he get it is my point of view.

    In this case I'm sure that this watch is never been in UK. As you've pointet out for a real fake british style hallmarks and other typial characteristics ae missing. It just looks a bid different and european cutomers might thought it looks english with the Roskell/ Liverpool lettering. I bought this one in france. As far as I found out the Roskell story stops 184X as the son retires. Later on you find the name together with Hunt in London who sold also phantastic high end watches. This firm was sold by the big J.W. Benson later on. In fact if you look in ebay a big amound of offered "Roskell's" have swiss orgin and don't seems to be for the english market. May be a legacy has naming rights sold or the names was ued like the probably phantasie name J.Dent for the osman market.

    Regards Silke

    Addition: With a friend I startet a project to examine osman movements Billodes as well as optical simular ones of other orgin. If someone clean or repair such a movement it would be gread if he contact me per PIN and could add his datas in a excel file. Of course just a non paid job for enthusiasts . We hope to find hard facts to tell apart them by the time and may be find out how many differend raw movements/maker excist.
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  5. #4
    Zenith Forum Co-moderator
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    Re: OMG...my hero GF-J. build swiss fakes

    Thanks for the added info, Silke. I would agree: Robert Rossell went fairly well out of the window and the rights to the name were bought by another company (as was the case with many in the quartz crisis). Or even without the rights to the name - if the original company was defunct, there wouldn't have been anyone to complain about the name being used. What I find interesting is that the movement was not redesigned totally to try and match an English movement (hence no intended faking IMO) but it wasn't left in its original condition either. Unless it's another GF-J movement we have never seen before in the Zenith movement lists (like the ones used predominantly for the Russian market).....

    Hartmut Richter

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    Re: OMG...my hero GF-J. build swiss fakes

    Yes I found it about 1,5 years ago and because it owns a matching case I send it with less hope to my watchmaker. I wasn't sure that this "reduced skeletonization" of a 3/4 plate movement was orginal or after market. He makes a list about all brocken parts and it was clear we need matching spare parts but it is possible. Since that day it sleeps in his drawer and now the "Roskell" found helps a lot. It's orginal and I guess with the spare parts of the second "roskel" I'll get next year a complete GFJ with a new bridge variation. I guess this never ends ..its unbeleaveable how many variations excist and I also think that he managed a well organized system without leftovers. Therefore some watches seems to be "swept kitchen" by constant quality.

    Regards Silke
    Last edited by SilkeN; December 16th, 2015 at 05:38.
    That's what I think about today:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlUGeY7MWVo

  7. #6
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    Re: OMG...my hero GF-J. build swiss fakes

    but Robert Roskell is a very popular with forgers, also British, many Coventry watchmakers built shoddy watches with the signature of R Roskell.
    the font used on the dial was in use in Switzerland. I think that a local merchant built a fake Roskell using a real GFJ.
    <<GFJ fully acquitted>>
    moin enrico

  8. #7
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    Re: OMG...my hero GF-J. build swiss fakes

    Moin enrico, personal I think a bid acquittet. Two movements excist and Georges Favre-Jacot love to write his name but be sure I'll keep those watches under observation. May be the picture will change and you're right . It's a fact that more Roskells with foreign orgin excists than real ones - a minefield.

    Regards Silke
    Last edited by SilkeN; December 16th, 2015 at 05:39.
    That's what I think about today:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlUGeY7MWVo

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