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Straps for vintage fixed wire lug trench or officer's wristwatches.

Edwin Harrop

Copyright © David Boettcher 2006 - 2020 all rights reserved.

The business was established in 1836 by Edwin, George and Elijah Harrop as manufacturing goldsmiths and jewellers. Edwin George Harrop took over the business when his father Edwin B. Harrop died in 1894.

Harrop Trademark

EH: Edwin Harrop

As a long established company of manufacturing goldsmiths and jewellers they created many original designs over the years, but their most successful product by a long way was an expanding metal bracelet for ladies' watches that was sold under the name ‘Britannic’.

During the Great War, an increase in import duties meant that it became prohibitively expensive to import Swiss watches in gold cases, so many gold cases were made in England and fitted with Swiss movements, which were imported without cases for this purpose. In 1918 The London Watch Case Company, 157 Farringdon Road, London, was listed with E. G. Harrop and A. M. Lederman as directors.

The triangular trademark was registered in 1878. The EH cameo punch sponsor's mark mark was entered at the London Assay Office in May 1911 by Edwin George Harrop, one of several punches registered over the years by members of the Harrop family for the purpose of submitting items to be assayed and hallmarked.

In 1936 the company became concessionaires for IWC watches for Britain and the Empire.

Edwin George Harrop died in 1936. The business was continued under the name Edwin Harrop by his executors, and transformed into a limited liability company Edwin Harrop Ltd. in 1938.

Harrop ‘Britannic’ Bracelet

Britannic Bracelet.
Britannic Bracelet. Thanks to Click image to enlarge. Watch with Britannic Bracelet
Watch with Britannic Bracelet (image found on Web, let me know if it is your copyright.) Click image to enlarge.
Harrop Patent 24396
Harrop Patent 24396

Edwin Harrop was granted in 1907 a patent No. 24396/06 for a design of expanding metal bracelet which became extremely popular for ladies' wristwatches. They were sold under the name ‘Britannic’ and were made for many years. They still turn up regularly today. Harrops must have sold many thousands of them. Harrop adverts say that the name Britannic and patent No. 24396/06 should be engraved inside the bracelet.

The figure reproduced here from the patent shows how the expansion was achieved by small coil springs built into each loop of the bracelet.

In the Rolex Vade Mecum, Hans Wilsdorf says Next came the idea of expanding bracelets, which an important jewellery firm invented and launched in about 1906. This too won the approval of our British clientele ... [and] became increasingly popular throughout the Empire. So the early success of Rolex was, in part at least, due to Harrop's Britannic bracelet.

The Britannic bracelet was guaranteed for five years, and tested in public demonstrations over 110,000 cycles. But they don't last forever, especially in everyday use, and many watches from the pre-war period have had their Britannic bracelets replaced. The watch shown in the image was originally fitted with an expanding metal bracelet. The attachment to the case of the bracelet takes the form of lugs soldered to the case, with a pin or bar spanning the small gap between them. The pins passed through the ends of the metal bracelet, securing it to the case.

The Britannic bracelet was still being advertised in 1964 as ‘The Queen of Watch Bracelets’, but has now been unavailable either complete or as parts for many years. The advert reproduced here says that it can be made with clips to replace ribbons or leather straps, but a problem arises the other way around. Watches that were originally fitted with Britannic bracelets have very small fixing on the case that cannot take a conventional strap. If the watch is good but the bracelet is broken, I can make Loop Ends that enable a leather strap to be fitted.

Harrop ‘Submarine’ Watch

Harrop Submarine Advert
Harrop Submarine Advert 1933
Harrop Submarine
Harrop Submarine Bezel and Gasket

In the early 1930s a watch with the name "Submarine" was manufactured by the company Edwin Harrop of London. The cases were made in London by Harrops and fitted with Swiss made movements that were imported for the purpose. This watch was also made in a ladies' version called the ‘Mermaid’.

This was a completely different design to the earlier Submarine watch manufactured by Tavannes. The use of the same name implies that the makers of the later watch did not know of the existence of the original Submarine watch.

The cases of these watches usually carry the name "Submarine" in inverted commas, the legend 'London Made' and two patent numbers, 358370 and 362229, which both refer to British patents.

The first patent, 358370, was applied for on 16 December 1930 by Frank Wachter, a US citizen, and was accepted on 8 October 1931. The subject of the patent was a snap back case with a recessed gasket to seal the joint between the snap back and the middle part of the case.

The second patent, 362229, was applied for by Edwin Harrop of London and Wachter on 4 February 1931 and accepted on 3 December 1931. The subject of this patent was a gasket between the bezel and the crystal to seal the joint between the bezel and crystal.

Harrop Submarine
Harrop Submarine Recessed Gasket

The cases are very thick and heavy in comparison to most watch cases. Gold and silver versions, which appear to be the only metals used, carry the sponsor's mark EH of the London jeweller and goldsmith Edwin Harrop. In 1918 The London Watch Case Company was listed with E. G. Harrop and A. M. Lederman as directors. Harrop must have been on the lookout for new case designs when Wachter's patent caught his eye.

The advert reproduced here dates from 1933. It says that the watches are supplied in two sizes, an 8¾ ligne ladies' model and 10½/12 ligne men's. It is not clear why two men's sizes are listed. The movement of one watch I have examined measures about 23mm across and is presumably the 10½ ligne version. The case measures 30mm across. If there was a 12 ligne version, that would be about 4 or 5mm larger in diameter. The ladies' 8¾ ligne model would measure about 27mm across the case.

Two images here show the detail from the second patent of the gasket seal to the bezel, and the middle part of the case with its recessed gasket. The use of gaskets like this are very simple, almost blindingly obvious, ways of sealing the two joints, and I am rather surprised that Wachter and Harrop were granted patents for these "inventions". Patents are supposed to be granted only to protect novel inventions that must not be obvious to a person skilled in the art, two criteria that both of these patents fail to meet.

Harrop Submarine Crown
Harrop Submarine Crown

Neither of the patents mentions any means of sealing the case where the stem enters. The advertisement states that the pendant is rendered watertight by a gland.

Extant examples have a gland inside the crown. The illustration shows a cross section throughout the pendant and crown. The gland is retained in the crown by a holder which is a press fit into the crown. The gland is compressed by the insertion of the retainer and forms a seal against the pendant, the tube through which the stem enters the case.

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Copyright © David Boettcher 2006 - 2020 all rights reserved. This page updated December 2019. W3CMVS.