The phrase "English watchmaking" is usually associated with high-grade 19th century pocket watches. This is NOT one of those stories If you think only the best quality vintage watches are worthy of collection and preservation, this thread is probably not for you. Likewise if you like to only see vintage watches that have been restored to near-new condition, then this thread is not for you either.
Anybody left? Here's the story...
Just back from servicing and currently on my wrist is this little treasure:
What? You've never heard of Guildhall? Hardly surprising. The brand was owned by a London company and their watches were made by Newmark. Newmark also made this model for other minor brands as well as their own Newmark brand.
Newmark was established in Britain in 1875 as an importer of Swiss watches. In 1947, with government backing, they began setting up a watchmaking factory in Croydon. Tooling for a simple Roskopf-type movement was imported from Switzerland and production commenced in 1950. All components not made at Croyden were bought in from other manufacturers in England. From 1960, they ceased manufacturing and reverted to the importing and servicing of Swiss watches.
The first Newmark watches were offered in 4 styles, with or without second hand (which cost extra). This is the basic 2 guinea version, and I really do mean basic.
The crude two-piece case with fixed lugs was cheap to manufacture, but it's hardly dust-proof, and with the lug sprouting straight out of the bezel, it sits rather high on the wrist. Not very refined.
One curious feature of this case style is that it allows the lower half to be rotated to all kinds of odd angles. The most enterprising of ebay sellers claim this is a watch specifically designed to be read while riding a motorbike
Now let's take a look at the motor.
Fans of cheap watches will immediately recognise the design as the humble Ebosa cal 131. No jewels, no 2nd wheel, both hands driven straight off the mainspring barrel. It ticks away noisily at a rather odd 17280bph. (that's 4.8 beats per second). A lot of free air in there, too. As I said, a wheel to drive the second hand cost extra.
What is particularly cool about finding this movement inside is that it is stamped 'EB' for Ebosa, meaning that this is an imported ebauche i.e. pre-dating the establishment of the full manufacturing line at Croydon. My guess is that Newmark brought in a stock of parts for immediate assembly while setting up the tooling to create the complete movement (similar to the first Moscow Kirova watches with Hampden-signed movements). Later Newmark-produced watches (until 1955) used an identical movement but without the Ebosa stamp. So this watch was surely made in 1950.
And just for fun, here is the Guildhall watch with a hat of about the same vintage.