Vacheron minute repeater
This is a wonderful example of Swiss workmanship in a pocket watch: this watch has a feature whereby the watch can be made to chime the time on demand - you simply pull the little slide on the side of the case and the watch will begin chiming - first the hours, then the quarters and finally the minutes. The minute repeater was considered one of the most complicated mechanical features to create and this would have been an expensive and valuable possession for the original owner. The watch dates from around the first decade of the 20th century.
Perhaps because of the value of the watch, the owner has had a special dial made with their name on it. I’m not sure who this Herbert Jones was, although this was also the name of King Edward VII’s jockey, who was involved in the fatal collision with the suffragette Emily Davison at the Derby in 1913. Intriguingly the watch dates from the period when he would have been active - perhaps it could have been a gift from a grateful gambler? Of course there is no provenance that links this watch to Herbert Jones the jockey, so this is pure speculation on my part!
The watch is engraved “Fabrique pour Vacheron & Constantin” on the inner cuvette, this means that the watch was made by an approved watchmaker from the Jura region and sold via the Vacheron & Constantin distribution network. In effect it was a kind of sub-brand for the prestigious Vacheron & Constantin, allowing them to broaden their reach to a wider market. Vacheron & Constantin are one of the oldest watch makers in Switzerland, dating their founding to 1755 - you can learn all about the contemporary company here
The watch has been fully serviced by a master watchmaker and is in excellent working order. The watch has a gunmetal case with gold hinges and lips, gunmetal refers to steel which is heat treated to oxidise it and so give some protection against corrosion (stainless steel, which doesn’t rust was not used in the watch industry until the 1930s). The engraving on the gun metal has, over time, introduced some amazing stress lines into the steel, which is why the outline of the letters looks like it has a spider's web on it!
Please see vintage watch care advice here.
Case diameter (excluding winding crown): 48mm
Case material: Gunmetal (oxidised steel)
Time keeping: grade A
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