The other side of English watchmaking
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  1. #1
    Mod. Russian, China Mech. Chascomm's Avatar
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    The other side of English watchmaking

    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.

    Dr.Fu Manchu and OhDark30 like this.
    Chascomm
    Moderator, Russian Watches & Chinese Mechanical Watches Forums
    (no, I am not going to list all my watches here)

  2. #2
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    Re: The other side of English watchmaking

    Actually, being English that's exactly what I would associate English 'craftsmanship' with - abject shoddiness!

  3. #3
    Member radger's Avatar
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    Re: The other side of English watchmaking

    Quote Originally Posted by R_T_H View Post
    Actually, being English that's exactly what I would associate English 'craftsmanship' with - abject shoddiness!
    That's unfair, have you never heard of Chippendale...he made a good
    chair.

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    Re: The other side of English watchmaking

    I was being perhaps more flippant than truthful . I quite like the watch; it has a certain charm in its simplicity...

    Nevertheless, I think there is more than merely a grain of truth in what I said .
    Der Amf likes this.

  6. #5
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    Re: The other side of English watchmaking

    Excellent.
    Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects."

    Will Rogers (1879 - 1935)


    Please don't PM me to ask for a valuation - I won't attempt one.

  7. #6
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    Re: The other side of English watchmaking

    good post, movement looks similar to the Baumgartner 866?
    I like cheap watches they deserve a place in history too, in England at least the average working man set his day by watches such as these and of course second or third hand pocket watches and one thing for sure the vast majority would not be Omega,Rolex or the like they would be little beasties like these!
    Last edited by stefano34; April 18th, 2010 at 19:41.

  8. #7
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    Re: The other side of English watchmaking

    Quote Originally Posted by stefano34 View Post
    good post, movement looks similar to the Baumgartner 866?
    I like cheap watches they deserve a place in history too, in England at least the average working man set his day by watches such as these and of course second or third hand pocket watches and one thing for sure the vast majority would not be Omega,Rolex or the like they would be little beasties like these!
    People tend to forget these cheap watches outsold the highly jeweled movements we normally talk about -- by a factor of 10!

    I find they are harder and harder to find as folks pitch them and keep the highly jeweled movements.

    Personally I find them highly collectible ... just not very valuable.
    "Forever is composed of nows." - Emily Dickinson

    "The watch has to be surrounded by a history.
    You need more than just a great design. You need to create an atmosphere around the product.
    Who is the company behind it? Why are they using this material?
    People need to be able to identify the watch with themselves. It's based on emotion." - Ralph Furter

    ...that's just my opinion and I've been wrong before and will be again and might be now!

  9. #8
    Mod. Russian, China Mech. Chascomm's Avatar
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    Re: The other side of English watchmaking

    Quote Originally Posted by stefano34 View Post
    good post, movement looks similar to the Baumgartner 866?
    The Roskopf system tended to make all movements of this type look very similar. In 1950 it was hard to tell an Ebosa from a Lapanouse (mine is running on a Lapanouse mainspring), but Bettlach, Baumgartner and Brac all had very similar designs with the big click spring, the balance tucked hard under the winding wheel and the little pallet cock attached onto the top plate on the edge.

    The BFG 866 was the swan-song of this type of cheap Swiss movement, and also undoubtedly the best in terms of durability.

    I like cheap watches they deserve a place in history too, in England at least the average working man set his day by watches such as these and of course second or third hand pocket watches and one thing for sure the vast majority would not be Omega,Rolex or the like they would be little beasties like these!
    In Switzerland, where the industry coalesced into two major cartels, the sale of cheap watches and movements bankrolled the prestige brands. That was why the quartz revolution hit Switzerland so hard once digitals dropped below the $US10 mark in late 1970s.

    In Britain, the industry was more patchy. Newmark were never planning to go up-market. Although they were making watches for only 10 years, it was very profitable for them, even at the tiny margins these sort of watches have. They upgraded to an in-house 5-jewel 4-wheel movement in 1955 to keep up with the likes of Smiths and Ingersoll. But they were never really in it for the long haul. Britain took a long time to recover from the war, and in that time, the demand for really cheap, basic, durable household goods was strong. Once Newmark got into 'luxury' trimmings on their watches (e.g. 'mystery' dials) they knew the game was almost up for them.

    I just wonder what happened to their factory staff when they returned to the import business. Their service centre was the biggest in the country, but how would that compare to staffing an entire factory?
    Chascomm
    Moderator, Russian Watches & Chinese Mechanical Watches Forums
    (no, I am not going to list all my watches here)

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    Re: The other side of English watchmaking

    thx for the lesson!

  11. #10
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    Re: The other side of English watchmaking

    Great pics and info....as far as quality and collectibility....I collect them all,if the price is right!!

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