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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello all,

First post here. The pocket watch I've been trying to identify for a number of years now was dug up at a construction site in Arizona during the late 60's. It was passed down to me as something rather interesting without a name. Pictures are attached.

Watch is Open face, 16S, standard movement with mainspring. Ruby endstone, balance wheel staff broken, spring missing. Push-button time set, proper spring tension when pendant is wound.

The Roman numerals on the dial are outlined, but the original lettering is long gone. There is no outline of a model name or company name under the 12 O'clock mark. No identification marks are visible on the movement, but the inner case is marked with the logo of a crown and "FINE SILVER" inscribed under it. The case serial number is 217085.

The movement itself is also quite interesting. Instead of a single plate movement, there is a secondary plate above the main plate. The second and hour gears also have a mysterious extension (as you will see in the photos) which extend to form "gears" with no teeth.

7 Photos below. Please help me identify the origin of this watch! Thanks.













 

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What you have is a very early chronograph, probably a very early split second chronograph, perhaps. There are illustrations of a similar second stopping and secondly splitting arrangement in some books I have from the late 19th Century.

The gear does not have "no teeth". It has extremely fine teeth, probably around 300 teeth or more on the wheel that can be seen through a loupe. This is the chronograph gear. It's made with that many teeth to assure a non jerky start and stop of the elapsed seconds hand of the chrono.

If it was mine, I'd restore it.

The second plate carrying the chrono mechanism indicates that the chrono mechanism was added on to a pre existing watch. You saw a lot of this in early chronos and chrono functions were still being added to pre existing movements into the 1930s.
 

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Chronograph modules are still added to standard modern movements, compared to movements designed as a chronograph from the start such as the Valjoux 7750.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
What you have is a very early chronograph, probably a very early split second chronograph, perhaps. There are illustrations of a similar second stopping and secondly splitting arrangement in some books I have from the late 19th Century.

The gear does not have "no teeth". It has extremely fine teeth, probably around 300 teeth or more on the wheel that can be seen through a loupe. This is the chronograph gear. It's made with that many teeth to assure a non jerky start and stop of the elapsed seconds hand of the chrono.

If it was mine, I'd restore it.

The second plate carrying the chrono mechanism indicates that the chrono mechanism was added on to a pre existing watch. You saw a lot of this in early chronos and chrono functions were still being added to pre existing movements into the 1930s.
Somewhere else, thanks a lot for your reply and information. I have always wondered what the outlines of all these small numbers in the outer dial were, and now I understand that it was once a working chronometer.

But interestingly enough, there is no model name, nor any engraving on the dial or movement at all. Judging by the logotype on the inner case, where can we conclude the watch was manufactured, and perhaps by what company?

Also, would the function of what looks to be the push button time-set actually function as the start/stop of the chronometer?

Sadly though, the rust is the only thing holding much of this watch together. There's no real hope in restoring this watch to a working condition again.

This is all too interesting. I'm curious to dig deeper here.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
The base movement seems to be a Longines 20.52.
I'm not entirely sure that I can say it's a Longines 20.52. There are minor differences with the shape of the mainspring housing, as well as the fact that the minute gear on my watch is located above the hour gear. But these two are rather similar. Can we conclude that this is perhaps a European watch?

Why the lack of model/manufacturer markings as well as the lack of a serial number on the movement?

*Edit. I think I've found an exact match of the case design on another Longines watch. Please confirm.




Longines 20.52 movement:

 

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Somewhere else, thanks a lot for your reply and information. I have always wondered what the outlines of all these small numbers in the outer dial were, and now I understand that it was once a working chronometer.

But interestingly enough, there is no model name, nor any engraving on the dial or movement at all. Judging by the logotype on the inner case, where can we conclude the watch was manufactured, and perhaps by what company?
It's not surprising that there is no maker's name or engraving on the dail. Your chrono dates from the infancy of the chronograph, when there were very few made, and those that were made we made by hand in several specialized workshops, such as that of Nicolet. The fact that it is fit on a Longines (thank you Dr. Ramfft) and is a Swiss pin set (not an English type) reinforces my opinion. The chronograph work is distinctive and I have a picture of it somewhere. If I remember tonight, I'll look it up when I go home. It's not Nicolet.

Also, would the function of what looks to be the push button time-set actually function as the start/stop of the chronometer?
No, I believe that it may have functioned through the crown. Actually, I'm not sure and will have to look at my books.

Sadly though, the rust is the only thing holding much of this watch together. There's no real hope in restoring this watch to a working condition again.
You'll shudder when I say this, but the rust isn't that bad. It needs a new hairspring, and some real loving care with a bead blaster, but I think it's within the realm of possibility. Of course, masochist and horologist are very close in spelling.


This is all too interesting. I'm curious to dig deeper here.
It's really interesting. Do try to dig deeper. What surprises me is that someone would lose an expensive watch like that presumably in a excavaction and not look for it. Maybe you should get one of those Viking horde fellow to run a metal detector check near where it was found.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
The fact that it is fit on a Longines (thank you Dr. Ramfft) and is a Swiss pin set (not an English type) reinforces my opinion.
As I mentioned in a couple of posts ago, I am not entirely sure that the movement is made by Longines. There are minor differences in the design of the movement, but it is strikingly similar. What do you mean by a "Swiss pin set"? The case?

The chronograph work is distinctive and I have a picture of it somewhere. If I remember tonight, I'll look it up when I go home. It's not Nicolet.
Excellent, please share. :)

You'll shudder when I say this, but the rust isn't that bad. It needs a new hairspring, and some real loving care with a bead blaster, but I think it's within the realm of possibility. Of course, masochist and horologist are very close in spelling.
I can tell that the original movement itself is in rather good condition considering where it was found. The only thing I'd have to replace is the balance wheel, hairspring, and the mainspring as far as the movement goes, but I'd still have to find a way to get the original axle that had the hour and minute hands off, and find a replacement, plus a new dial. As far as restoring the 2nd plate chrono, all that's keeping that together is the rust on the surface. No real hope for that.

What surprises me is that someone would lose an expensive watch like that presumably in a excavation and not look for it. Maybe you should get one of those Viking horde fellow to run a metal detector check near where it was found.
Being found over 40 years ago now, I think it would have been a good idea to run a metal detector in the vicinity of where it was dug up. It might have led to the remains of the man who wore the watch! Ah, the possibilities are endless of how the watch ended up becoming part of the soil...
 

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I think I would place the watch in a tin of Diesel fuel for six months which will unsieze the various bits enough to strip the watch down while I was hunting for pieces. If it is a Longines (or close relative,) then parts are not impossible to find or adapt. This is a rare thing, and if it takes some years to restore, it will have been worth it. I would start with a crisp photo of the dial and photoshop to get the face detail ready for making a new dial. Much of the rest of it will be a re-creation but that is no bad thing if you have saved it from oblivion.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I think I would place the watch in a tin of Diesel fuel for six months which will unsieze the various bits enough to strip the watch down while I was hunting for pieces. If it is a Longines (or close relative,) then parts are not impossible to find or adapt. This is a rare thing, and if it takes some years to restore, it will have been worth it. I would start with a crisp photo of the dial and photoshop to get the face detail ready for making a new dial. Much of the rest of it will be a re-creation but that is no bad thing if you have saved it from oblivion.
Putting this watch back to working condition is of the least priority at this moment in time. As far as loosening the rust on the screws and what not, it would be a lot more practical to shoot the components with an appropriate WD-40 type solution, and let them sit in a can of avgas for a few days rather than let it sit in Diesel fuel for a lengthy period of 6 months, as you mentioned.

Identification of this watch, and proof of identification is what I humbly ask for, for now. Which leaves me now waiting for "Somewhere else"'s reply.
 

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As I mentioned in a couple of posts ago, I am not entirely sure that the movement is made by Longines. There are minor differences in the design of the movement, but it is strikingly similar. What do you mean by a "Swiss pin set"? The case?



Excellent, please share. :)
Pin setting was a distinctly Swiss type of hand setting. I think the Germans may have used it too. American and English made pocket watches used different types of setting. Also, the plates have a distinctively Swiss shape.



I can tell that the original movement itself is in rather good condition considering where it was found. The only thing I'd have to replace is the balance wheel, hairspring, and the mainspring as far as the movement goes, but I'd still have to find a way to get the original axle that had the hour and minute hands off, and find a replacement, plus a new dial. As far as restoring the 2nd plate chrono, all that's keeping that together is the rust on the surface. No real hope for that.
Well, it's a bit gnarly, I'll admit that. Think of it this way. In the Czech movie "Closely watched trains" the narrator talks about his uncle, a magician, who stood in front of the German tanks invading Prague and tried to stop them with hypnotism. As the narrator goes on to say, the lead tank was actually seen to hesitate for a few moments before it rolled over him and crushed him. That's the type of spirit to approach this project with.


Being found over 40 years ago now, I think it would have been a good idea to run a metal detector in the vicinity of where it was dug up. It might have led to the remains of the man who wore the watch! Ah, the possibilities are endless of how the watch ended up becoming part of the soil...
Interesting to know how it ended up buried in the first place. I guess we can't blame the Vikings for this one.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Well, it's a bit gnarly, I'll admit that. Think of it this way. In the Czech movie "Closely watched trains" the narrator talks about his uncle, a magician, who stood in front of the German tanks invading Prague and tried to stop them with hypnotism. As the narrator goes on to say, the lead tank was actually seen to hesitate for a few moments before it rolled over him and crushed him. That's the type of spirit to approach this project with.
Thanks a lot for all of the information. I'll see what I can do about restoring this watch when time is at an abundance. Once again, thanks. b-)
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
This is an old thread of mine, but I thought I'd bring into discussion a very interesting discovery.

While browsing around on a website selling fine antique watches, I came across a pocket watch with a strikingly similar movement and dial design. This seems to defeat the original assumption that this dug-up pocket watch was a chronograph built off of a Longines 20.52 movement. Is there any further information on this "Centennial" movement around? The ad and photos are as follows:

Photo Credits go to Ashland Investments, used under Fair Use for Horological Education.









 

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This a cool thread that I never saw before. :-!

I really hope you restore it - what a story!

Also, looks like you have a good match to me. While there are some minor differences in the lever bridge and cock, they're not significant compared to the other similarities.

K.
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
This a cool thread that I never saw before. :-!

I really hope you restore it - what a story!

Also, looks like you have a good match to me. While there are some minor differences in the lever bridge and cock, they're not significant compared to the other similarities.

K.
I would love to restore the watch as well, but where can I start? The gears are all in good shape, the balance staff is actually not broken (the balance wheel swings freely!), but the reason why the watch would not "run" with the lever moved out of the way is because the upper escapement pivot is broken, and of course all the other pinions are rusted to hard, bulbous pieces of what was once workable metal. Remarkably, the mainspring holds tension but the click spring, as you will see exposed on the right hand side of the barrel bridge, has broken off. My main concern is that if I soak the movement in av-gas or other solution, the rusty pieces including the works of the chronograph and perhaps he balance wheel/lever assembly will completely dissolve. It seems that rust is the only thing keeping all of these pieces together.

Then again, if I were to restore the watch, the chronograph plate will not be salvageable, in my opinion. Where exactly the "Centennial" watch comes from is a mystery to me, as I cannot find any information on its movement. However, from the identical small sub-dial and the proximity of the third wheel to the center wheel, I am sure the movements come from the same source. Where, exactly was the Centennial watch produced, is now the question, but the larger question is: How do you possibly lose your Chronograph in the dirt and not go back to pick it up?

Found another very interesting discovery!:

https://www.watchuseek.com/f11/centennial-426293.html

This may well be it, but the chronograph is mounted on the barrel bridge rather than having a separate plate.

Edit: Bingo! Found an identical "Centennial" Chronograph Dial: Also subsequently found out that these watches were made by Cross and Beguelin in Switzerland, and were imported and sold in the United States under the "Centennial" name, and were distributed by Cross and Beguelin Jewelers at Maiden Lane in New York City. Strangely though, none of the C&B movements that I have seen online contain the exact same balance cock design, and the chronograph works are mounted on the barrel bridge instead of having a separate plate as mine. Could mine have been an early model?



 

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You are required by WatchUSeek Law to provide photographic evidence of your restoration journey.

Also...

rx2609.jpg

If that watch was any sweeter, it would've been lubricated with sugar.
 
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