Blog: W&D Watches with Cylinder Movements
Date: 10 January 2019Copyright © David Boettcher 2005 - 2023 all rights reserved.
I make additions and corrections to this web site frequently, but because they are buried somewhere on one of the pages the changes are not very noticeable. I decided to create this blog to highlight new material. Here below you will find part of one of the pages that is either completely new or I have recently changed or added to significantly.
This section is from my page about Hans Wilsdorf and Rolex.
If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to contact me via my Contact Me page.
W&D Watches with Cylinder Movements
Watches sometimes turn up with the W&D sponsor's mark and very basic movements with cylinder escapements. The images here are of one of these that was auctioned on eBay, and I have seen at least two others virtually identical.
The inside of the back of the silver case has the Wilsdorf and Davis W&D sponsor's mark, which shows that it was imported into the UK by their company. The case was punched with their sponsor's mark before being sent to an assay office to be assayed and hallmarked. The hallmarks are London Assay Office import hallmarks for ·925 (sterling) silver. The sign of Leo is the ‘town mark’ used by the London Assay Office on imported items. The date letter, a Gothic ‘b’ in cameo, is for the hallmarking year from 29 May 1917 to 28 May 1918.
The movement is very basic. It has a cylinder escapement and no train jewels. The red stone at the centre of the regulator is the upper end stone for the balance staff, so it looks like it has four jewels, two end stones and two jewel holes for the pivots of the balance staff. The very best cylinder escapements made by the likes of Breguet had ruby cylinders, but this one will have a steel cylinder. There is nothing particularly wrong about movements with cylinder escapements, when new they were capable of quite good time keeping but they do require very regular cleaning and oiling. They were mass produced by Swiss manufacturers in the nineteenth century in millions. The finish and lack of jewelling on this one identifies it as being one of these mass produced movements and very cheap.
So why were Wilsdorf and Davis handling these very basic and cheap watches? There is no name on this one, indeed nothing to identify it other than the W&D mark. There is certainly no suggestion that it is a Rolex watch, despite what some vendors might like you to think. The ones I have seen are all wristwatches, and all are dated from their hallmarks to the time of the Great War, during which there was a tremendous demand for wristwatches from men heading for the front. I suspect that this was simply ‘making hay while the sun shines’. When there was such a tremendous demand for anything in wristwatch form, who would resist importing and selling whatever they could get their hands on?
I have seen a wristwatch with a silver case with British import hallmarks for 1915 to 1916 and the W&D sponsor's mark with the name Marguerite stamped in the case back and on the movement. The movement has a cylinder escapement, 8 jewels and “1 one adjustment”. Watches with cylinder escapement movements are usually regarded as being cheap, but the adjustment, probably for isochronism in positions, shows that this one was better than just a basic cheap movement.
Marguerite was registered as a trademark by Wilsdorf and Davis on 4 July 1912. Although the name Marguerite sounds feminine, and is indeed used for ladies' watches today, the watch in question has a black dial with radium luminous numerals and hands and, at 32mm case diameter, looks more like a man's trench watch than a lady's wristwatch.
There is a second sponsor's mark in the case, F.W in cameo within a rectangular surround. It was suggested that this was the mark of Frederick Wright, a case maker working in Coventry in the mid-nineteenth century, which doesn't seem very likely. The F.W mark in this watch case is not recorded in Priestley but from the FW marks in Culme it appears to be number 5327 entered by Francis George Wesson in 1908, which would tie in with the start of British import hallmarks. Wesson was earlier recorded entering marks as a glass mounter, but when the requirement for foreign gold and silver watches was passed into law in 1907 he might have decided to act as an assay agent. The presence of Wesson's mark in the case as well as the W&D mark suggest that it was Wesson who actually sent in the case to be hallmarked.
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Copyright © David Boettcher 2005 - 2023 all rights reserved. This page updated January 2019. W3CMVS. Back to the top of the page.