"special" pocket watch

Feb 07, 2020. 15:00 UTC
"Special" pocket watch
Don
United States of America

Category
Pocket watch

Acquired from
Inherited

For sale
Yes
Description

Special is printed on the dial. Movement has swiss engraved on it, serial # 522786 on movement. Case is Philadelphia watch case company. Serial # 9838907 and engraved on all 4 pieces of the case. Approximately 1.75 inches round and .25 inches thick. Case is gold in color

Provenance

unknown

$100 - $125 (United States Dollar)
Answered within about 3 hours
Feb 07, 18:21 UTC
By David

Hello Don,
Thank you for sending in this pocket watch to mearto.com for an appraisal. I shall try to be of help to you with that.
TITLE:
Gent's, Art Nouveau, 44.5 mm, gold filled, pendant wound and pendant or lever set, savonette, keyless, hunting case pocket watch, "Special" model, Swiss imported movement/dial, case made by the Philadelphia Watch Case Company of Philadelphia and New Jersey (see history), circa 1895-1905.
DESCRIPTION:
CASE - 44.5 mm diameter four leaf gold filled hunting case pocket watch with a suppressed ball fluted pedant and bow placed at the three position (savonette) opposite the case hinge. The outer covers are engraved along the periphery with foliate designs typical to the Art nouveau era of c. 1880-1910. There is a central area on both covers which could have been used for the owners initials but was not. The interior of the cover carries the case number 9838907 and some indication that this was made by the Philadelphia Watch case Company. There is a cuvette over the movement.
DIAL- White enameled dial with stylized fanciful Arabic hours, open bar minute/seconds ring, red Arabic markers placed along the periphery of the dial, subsidiary seconds @6 and Louis XVth style gilt hands with the upper dial marked "Special".
MOVEMENT - This is a damascened half plate and finger bridge movement, marked, "Swiss" and appears to be made during the circa 1895-1905 era. It is unsigned but has a Swiss made index regulator with bimetallic temperature compensation balance wheel. The half plate has the ratchet and crown wheels, both damascened and exposed. There are three small finger bridges and a serial number of 522786. This is a pendant wound movement.
CONDITION:
Case - There is wear to the outer case covers but no significant damage and the wear is modest.
Dial - the name Special on the dial indicates to me that it was provided along with the Swiss made movement. There were two Swiss watch companies that used the name 'Speciale': Coullery Freres of Fontanaia, Switzerland, the logo registered in 1896, and Simon Burger and Gressot of Porrentruy, Switzerland, but I do not have dates for that firm. The dial is in good condition.
Movement - Classic turn of the century Swiss movement cased in the USA.
HISTORY:
Philadelphia Watch Case Company (A COMPLEX HISTORY):
MR. Theophilus Zurbrugg bought out the watch case company of Leichty & Le Bouba in 1884, in Philadelphia, Pa.
"About 1888 he changed the name to the Philadelphia Watch Case Co. He made various types of cases, using a crown as one trademark and an arm and hammer as another. ... The company moved to Riverside, N.J. in 1902. ...
"In 1904 this man managed a series of mergers, which brought together his own Philadelphia Watch Case Co., Bates and Bacon, Crescent and the Keystone Watch Case Co." "... After a series of mergers in 1904 the name became the Keystone Watch Case Co., Riverside, N.J."
A different report from above shows that:
"... the history provided in legal documents for the anti-trust case against Keystone ... states that all of the capital stock of a newly organized Philadelphia Watch Case Co. (August 1900) was owned by Keystone."
And in fact, the history of the Philadelphia Watch Case Co. is bound up with that of the T. Zurbrugg Co. and of the Keystone Watch Case Co. It was the T. Zurbrugg Co. which, having moved to Riverside, NJ in 1898, purchased the case business from J. Muhr & Bro. (successor to H. Muhr's Sons) and thus gained the use of the trade marks for Crown and Lion cases. The T. Zurbrugg Co. was apparently absorbed by the Philadelphia Watch Case Co. when it was incorporated by Zurbrugg and others in 1899. This is indicated on Philadelphia's letterhead which included a small banner reading "Successors to T. Zurbrugg Co." That letterhead can be seen in an open letter to the trade, published when Philadelphia bought Bates and Bacon in January 1901.
In 1901, the Philadelphia Watch Case Co. had purchased the U.S. Watch Co. at Waltham, only a little more than a year after NY Standard was purchased by Keystone and Zurbrugg. That was at the same time, that the three companies, Zurbrugg, NY Standard and Philadelphia, opened a shared office on New York's Maiden Lane. But, it must be kept in mind that, by that point, Zurbrugg and Keystone were essentially the same company. The stated purpose in an article describing Philadelphia's purchase of the United States Watch Co., Waltham, Mass. was "... to have a large output of high grade watches, ..." but that didn't exactly happen, at least not under the Philadelphia name. Instead, Keystone (the real owner) purchased the rights to use the Howard name on watches and ran the company as the E. Howard Watch Co. Almost as if to add insult to injury, the names used on the cases were Keystone and Crescent, not Philadelphia.
PRICING:
Pricing of such watches made in Switzerland and cased here in the USA at the turn of the century, unless made of solid gold, do not bring significant sums at auction. This very nice example would have a fair market value today in the range from $100-$125. Sorry it could not be higher, but I am only the messenger.
Thank you again for using mearto.com.
My best,
David

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