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Always"watching"

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  1. Please note @Mörester watches that I have moved this thread to a more appropriate section of the Forum that focuses on crowdfunding etc..
  2. I have been recommending Casio as a great brand to collect for some time now and they just go from strength to strength. One of my favourite things about Casio is the wide price range of models available both new and pre-owned - there is something Casio for everyone to enjoy and a nice collection can be built up for an amazingly small amount of money.
  3. Thanks for that, Norman @spinynorman. Abe books has proven to be a useful and surprising source of information for us watch detectives.
  4. I recently purchased a small book about watches - part of a series of books about “Design Icons” with each book taking a sector of product design and providing a list of the most iconic products, chosen by each book’s author. In the case of the book on watches, Paul Clark (1998) has given his choice of watches, and alongside the obvious choices are a some more left-field and less obvious models including the watch being discussed here in this topic, the “Tiger Talkboy Tic Talker”. It has to be said that the Tic Talker wristwatch is a minor player in a much larger commercial story, and it makes sense to discuss that larger history in some detail - the Talkboy story. Multi-image front and side views of the Talkboy Tic Talker wristwatch, and a more overall view (pics by Stino San at cdnb.artstation.com): The tale of the Talkboy begins after the huge success of the 1990 film Home Alone and during preparation for the sequel, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. Originally, John Hughes, the writer of Home Alone 2, proposed in the film script that the character Kevin McCallister (played by Macaulay Culkin) should have a gun, but this somewhat misguided idea was soon to be abandoned in favour of a technical gadget - realistic yet cutting edge, and not yet on the market - with which the character Kevin McCallister could outwit adults. The film’s distributor, 20th Century Fox, and John Hughes, turned to toy licensee Tiger Electronics to develop and manufacture the prop, and after meetings between John Hughes and Roger Schiffman, Tiger’s co-founder and executive vice president, Schiffman told Hughes to let him work on the idea. Within three weeks, Schiffman and his team at Tiger had come up with a prototype, and the Talkboy was born. The Talkboy was a cassette player and recorder which also featured a variable-speed voice changer, a handle grip that allowed the device to slide onto a hand, and a retractable microphone. In Home Alone 2, the character Kevin successfully makes a reservation at the Plaza Hotel by slowing his voice down using the Talkboy’s voice changer, and later records incriminating statements by the burglars Marv and Harry. Even before the design of the Talkboy was finalized, 20th Century Fox was making arrangements for licensing and merchandising of products linked to Home Alone 2, and as part of this campaign, Tiger was given permission by 20th Century Fox to sell a retail version of Talkboy in stores, with Schiffman negotiating a modest royalty to build the brand. The retail Talkboy was previewed at the American International Toy Fair in New York in February 1992 and was released for general sale for that year’s holiday shopping season. The Talkboy as sold required 4 AA batteries and used ordinary cassette tapes. However, in an extraordinary omission, the Talkboy did not feature the variable-speed voice changer as seen in the film, with the result that the device did not sell well on the grounds that it could not do everything it did in the film. Tiger solved this problem by releasing a second version of the Talkboy - the Deluxe Talkboy - which included the voice changer. By this feature, audio could be sped up by recording on the “slow” setting and playing it back at normal speed, or slowed down by recording at the normal setting and playing it back at the slow speed setting. The Deluxe Talkboy was launched in April 1993 through 11 retailers at a price of US$29.99, and turned out to be a sleeper hit with its unpredicted popularity during the 1993 holiday season. All but one of the retailers stocking the product - Toys “R” Us being the exception - had failed to order enough units, and Tiger themselves had only manufactured to the orders of the retailers as they had not anticipated high demand for what was essentially a “second season” product. A boxed Deluxe Talkboy cassette recorder/player and variable-speed voice changer, and below, the Deluxe Talkboy and the Deluxe Talkgirl, both in original packaging (pics from buzzfeed.com): On 27 July 1993, Home Alone 2 was released on home video, which included an advertising insert stating that the Talkboy was a real product; by December that year 10 million copies of the movie had sold. Sales of Talkboy were also boosted when Life cereal advertised both the video of Home Alone 2 and the toy on the side panel of cereal boxes. Even relying solely on the movie tie-in and the advertising insert in home copies of the film as promotion for the product, Tiger was overwhelmed by demand for Talkboy. The company was forced to pull all television adverts for the Talkboy after Thanksgiving, and Tiger spokespeople said in December 1993 that hundreds of thousands of Talkboys had been sold, with demand apparently having risen to 2 million units. By mid-December, the Tiger switchboard was handling more than 500 calls per day regarding the toy, and people were resorting to desperate measures in order to get their hands on one. Matters were becoming almost surreal; Tiger spokesman Marc J. Rosenberg said that special security agents were required to meet each of Tiger’s shipments from Asia for protection, and the company’s manufacturing plants in Hong Kong were operating on a 24 hour basis to try and keep up with demand, with daily shipments being made across the United States. Only three stores - Toys “R” Us, Kmart and Wal-Mart - were due to receive shipments the week before Christmas and Tiger announced that it would contine shipping Talkboys beyond New Year’s Day. The Deluxe Talkboy showing different views of the product (pic from deviantart.com at wixmp.com): Front and back views of the Deluxe Talkboy - the grip/handle side clearly showing the red button that operates the variable-speed voice changer - followed by a picture of the pink Deluxe Talkgirl (pics by Y2kcrazyjoker4 at uploads.wikimedia.org): Rosenberg said in December 1993 that Tiger was expecting demand for the Talkboy to continue high right through 1994, with a spike following the release of Home Alone 2 for television broadcasts. This turned out to be correct, with the Deluxe Talkboy being popular once again in the 1994 holiday shopping season. Once again, towards the later part of the year, shortages of the Talkboy arose once again. In 1995, Tiger released the Deluxe Talkgirl - a pink Deluxe Talkboy aimed at girls - and the Talkboy cassette recorder was popular again in 1996, with “Playthings” listing it as a “standout” on its survey of the year’s most popular toys. It continued to sell well into the 1997 holiday shopping season. Going back to 1995, in that year Tiger also released the Talkboy F/X+ and Talkgirl F/X+ (note that F/X+ is sometimes written as FX Plus), with new technology at sufficiently low cost for it to also be included in the slightly later Tiger Talkboy Tic Talker wristwatch. The F/X+ toys were writing pens with a 12-second recorder, three-speed playback, and six buttons that played sound effects. Designed by Ralph Osterhout for Tiger, this toy combined solid-state storage and a voice-recording computer chip in the form of a pen. Schiffman called it a “breakthrough product in the industry” for making digital recording technology available in a low cost toy. The technology for altering voice pitch and modulation was licensed from its developer, Janese Swanson. The product retailed for $20 and sold a million units in 45 days. Later, in 1997, Talkboy F/X+ pens were heavily promoted on Nabisco products together with a million-dollar advertising campaign. Tiger Electronics also produced other Talkboy toys/gadgets related, but the development of the F/X+ pens was most closely linked to the introduction of the Talkboy Tic Talker wristwatch. The Talkboy F/X+ pen in original packaging (pic from i.redd.it): YouTube video of the Talkboy F/X+ pen (video by Brian Fediuk - youtu.be/lgHaQ0vgRrw): The Talkboy Tic Talker wristwatch featured, in addition to the LCD clock display, a six second recorder, voice changer, and sound effects. Power was provided by means of three LR44 button cells. It is not clear exactly when the Tic Talker watch was introduced. Wikipedia states that it was available in 1998, while Clark (1998) gives 1996 as the date. Interestingly, the back of the watch shown in the pictures here below is dated 1995 (and designated as being made in China), perhaps supporting at least a 1996 introduction of the watch unless that date refers to the introduction of the technology rather than the watch itself. Looking at the history of the (Deluxe, especially) Talkboy cassette player/recorder and the product itself, I would suggest that all the Talkboy items, including the Tic Talker wristwatch, are a safe bet as far as collectability is concerned. Readers interested in purchasing a Talkboy cassette player/recorder or one of the other Talkboy spin-off by-products will find many on offer online, with caveats to purchase including condition, period originality, and whether original packaging is included. Speaking personally, I have a sneaking appreciation for the Deluxe Talkboy cassette recorder/player, the F/X+ Talkboy pen, and also the Tic Talker wristwatch. I know that these are essentially "toys" but sometimes I enjoy being a kid at heart and the design of these products is worthy of adult recognition, especially the original Talkboy. Just don't make me watch Home Alone 2 again; a single dose of the Home Alone films goes a very long way. Four views of a Talkboy Tic Talker wristwatch (pics from i.etsystatic.com): YouTube video, "They MADE A TALKBOY WATCH?! // Retrospective Review (video reference youtu.be/McBFZQohrZg): References "The Watch: An Appreciation”, by Paul Clark; copyright The Ivy Press Ltd., Lewes, Sussex, 1998. First published in the UK (1998) by Aurum Press Ltd, London. Acknowledgements Particular acknowledgements to the Wikipedia article, “Talkboy”, last edited 9 June 2020.
  5. Dear Steve @WRENCH, I seem to be the first to have spotted this thread-head, or at least the first to comment; many thanks for posting it. I found the video fascinating and had to smile a bit at that "crazy" American snow vehicle on four huge tyred wheels - it's a pity it has been lost in the snow, seemingly for ever. Obviously, caterpillar tracks were the way to go, and the account of Soviet development from military caterpillar tracked vehicles to snow-beating vehicles for Antarctic travel was most interesting
  6. Dear stubbed_out, welcome to the Forum and may I say what a nice introduction you gave us. I do hope you enjoy your journey into the world of watches, and that the Forum will remain by your side.
  7. Your pocket watch seems to lie in the size bracket termed, "Goliath", and may have been used more as a desk timepiece than an actual pocket watch. I have found a similar-sized open-face "pocket" watch with steel case on Antiques Atlas dating to about 1900, though period pocket watches with steel cases are not nearly so common as those with alloy or silver cases. It is a shame that your watch carries no identifying maker's/retailer's mark and it will be very difficult to pin down the full identity of the watch even if the maker of the movement can be tracked down.
  8. I do like that bronze Trident, dear Laughing gravy, and it seems that you got the last one - it is now deemed to be out of stock.
  9. I was reading a Forum thread about Sackville watches and came across a member with the username, "Mikrolisk." I see that he has not been active on the Forum since 2013 but I notice that his posts seem to indicate that he might be connected with the eponymous go-to index of watch trade names/marks. Is this the case, and is Mikrolisk still actively adding information to its directory? I would have thought that the number of revelations from active Forum members concerning the identification of watches and watch brands in recent years could usefully be added in to the Mikrolisk directory.
  10. Early in 1939, the London-based Houghton-Butcher company (originally Claudet & Houghton, est. 1834) under their new Ensign name, introduced the Ensign Ful-Vue, the first iteration of what was to become one of Britain’s most popular cameras; often the first camera owned by later-to-be professional photographers, sometimes purchased for them as children. This range of cameras over the years and the different company partnership titles is generally known under its original brand name of “Ensign”, certainly until the advent of the Ross Ensign branding on the Ful-Vue Super, and taken as a whole, the Ensign Ful-Vue cameras from 1939 until the end of the 1950s deserve to be honoured as a classic example of consumer design development, enhanced rather than hindered in this respect by its consistent functional simplicity designed to attract its target audience. The Streamlined Ensign Ful-Vue, 1946-50 (pic from i1.wp.com/www.photothinking.com): The first Ful-Vue camera, produced from 1939 until about 1943, was essentially a pressed steel box camera with a crystalline enamel finish. It’s primary innovation - the major feature throughout the various Ful-Vue models - was a large square reflex viewfinder on top of the camera allowing the user to obtain a better idea of the finished picture without having to hold the camera to the eye. The use of 6 cm X 6 cm 120 picture size (using 12 pictures on 120 roll film) gave room for this viewfinder to be fitted in the upper part of the camera, using a lens of almost 1 inch in diameter. The viewfinder of the Ful-Vue operated via a second lens above the taking lens, in the twin lens reflex (TLR) manner, and utilised a mirror comprising a chromed polished metal plate secured by two screws either side, rather than mirror glass. Although this was partly an economy measure it proved to have two advantages over use of a glass mirror; it was noticeably bright for its time and more rugged since the metal mirror did not crack or shatter. The box shaped Ful-Vue taking lens was the essentially focus-free, patent Ensign “all distance lens” which enabled the user to achieve focus on all but close subjects; a pull-out lens mount was utilised for close focusing, down to 3-feet. The camera had only a single aperture (f/11) and two shutter speeds, Instant (1/30th) and "T" for (timed) longer exposures. An early box-type Ensign Ful-View camera c.1939 (pic by Graustark from camerapedia.fandom.com at farm2.static.flickr.com): A later just post-war version of the box-type Ensign Ful-Vue (pic from cloud10.todocoleccion.online): At the end of World War Two, there was a wish by the general public to look forward to a modern and prosperous future, and in the spirit of this new adventurousness, Sir Stafford Cripps, president of the Board of Trade, proposed that an exhibition should be held of British products to show what could be achieved by manufacturers in post-war Britain. Cripps instructed the Council of Industrial Design to organise the exhibition and they in turn requested of manufacturers that they exhibit designs for new and futuristic products. The exhibition was held at the Victoria and Albert Museum under the title, “Britain can make it”, in the autumn of 1946 and it ran for 14 weeks. Barnet Ensign Ltd., the then partnership of the Ensign company, responded by exhibiting two new cameras - the Ensign Commando and a completely redesigned Ensign Ful-Vue. The so-called "Streamlined" Ensign Ful-Vue camera produced between 1946 and 1949 (pics from www.photothinking.com): The new Ful-Vue, although similarly specified to its boxy forebear, deliberately adopted a radically different design aesthetic; it was visually more modern and adopted curves and a more streamlined approach in keeping with the tenets of Harold van Doren’s 1940 book, “Indstrial Design: A Practical Guide/Streamlining in Industrial Design”. The Ensign company offered pre-production examples of the new Ful-Vue to employees at half-price in order to gauge their reactions; some felt that the camera was either revolutionary in a positive sense, while others felt it was just too “different” to be saleable. All agreed, however, that the camera was comfortable to handle because of the big waist-level viewfinder, and a further concession to amateur users was the removable side to the camera which made loading the film easier. Once the camera was on the market, any concerns that it might be difficult to sell were proved to be unfounded and it sold in thousands. The “Streamlined Ful-Vue”, as this particular model is sometimes known, was in production from 1946 until 1949 by which time the features of the camera were in need of updating and improvement in keeping with consumer demands and developments in amateur photography. Note the terms, Instant (for the 1/30th second) and Time, used to denote the two shutter speeds - the Time option was more like the "Bulb" setting on most cameras. In 1950, Barnet Ensign Ross, as the company was now known, introduced a new version of the Ful-Vue, dubbed the “Ful-Vue II”. Illustration of the (Barnet Ensign) 1950-1954 Ensign Ful-Vue II alongside the instructions for use (pic from i.etsystatic.com): The Ensign Ful-Vue II, produced 1946-1949 (pic by John Krantz at kosmofoto.com): It is evident that the company did not want to throw away the baby with the bathwater by losing the beneficial aspects of the 1946 Streamlined Ful-vue design and ease of use. Thus, the new Ful-Vue II was aesthetically almost identical to its predecessor and still only had two shutter speeds, a single aperture of f/11, and a pull-out lens mount for close-up work. It also still used 120 roll film in 6cm X 6 cm picture format. However, what it did now include was a 75mm lens with three different - albeit not very accurate - focus settings (two metres, three to five metres, and six metres to infinity). The Ful-Vue II also had a new all-plastic (Bakelite) front panel housing a new shutter assembly which, for the first time, provided the camera with a flash synch terminal. Initially, this terminal was fitted with Ensign’s own bayonet synch plug, later being replaced by the compur co-axial type. Having a flash synch terminal encouraged the company to introduce a flash for the Ful-Vue II in 1951; a simple unit consisting of a cylindrical battery holder with a reflector attached. The entire flash assembly was fixed to the camera by means of a cam operated clamp and the flash fired by connecting the synch lead to the flash terminal of the camera’s shutter. The flash unit could also be used on earlier cameras without a synch terminal by the use of a manual firing button but only while the camera shutter was set on a time exposure. The only other change to the line-up before 1954 was the introduction in late 1952 of coloured versions of the camera called Ful-Vue “a la mode” and including a clear plastic camera case. It is not clear whether red, white and blue colourways were produced specifically in celebration of the coronation in 1953, as has sometimes been stated. A bright blue colourway of the Ful-Vue II together with its black enamel counterpart (pic from flickr.com/photos): In 1954, the latest partnership title, Ross Ensign, replaced the Ful-Vue II (which had apparently sold over a million units) with a new version of the Ful-Vue, the Ful-Vue Super. The camera was still recognisable as being the direct heir in the Ful-Vue succession, although its lines had become more angular and there was now a collapsible metal hood for the viewfinder made from steel on which the Ross Ensign name was attached in the form of a small stamped metal plate. The camera back was also made of pressed steel, with a closable red window, and could be removed for film loading; further improvement in ease of loading had been found to be necessary and the Ful-Vue Super employed a swing-out cradle for this purpose. The camera body was no longer in pressed steel but cast alloy; the main body and viewfinder housing were now two castings held together by tie bars screwed at either end. Unlike the Ful-Vue II, the camera shutter was now integral to the body and the flash synch terminals were now threaded pins used to mount the flash unit to the side of the camera, similar to Kodak Brownie flash cameras. Within a year of the camera’s launch, a flash holder was released to accompany the camera. All-in-all, the changes made from Ful-Vue II to Full-Vue Super were, most importantly, an aesthetic shift further towards the professional TLR cameras of the period and, secondly, a change in the film format from 120 roll film to 620 film. This latter change was driven by the desire to bring the Ful-Vue in line with other budget Ross Ensign cameras - the Snapper and the Clubman. 620 film was basically a “repackaged” form of 6 cm X 6 cm 120 roll film, with changes to the spool and the number of exposures on a roll (down from 12 to 6 (then 8)). The Ross Ensign Ful-Vue Super, produced from 1954 until c.1959 (pics from vintagecamerascollection.blogspot.com at 2.bp (and 3.bp).blogspot.com): A rare burgundy/maroon coloured example of the Ful-Vue Super and another Ful-Vue Super (pics from worthpoint.com and, bottom, collectiblend.com): Ful-Vue Super with flash unit attached (pic from ensign.demon.co.uk): The Ful-Vue Super, which was available in black, grey or maroon, continued in production until about 1959, at which time the Ensign concern ceased to trade. However, it was not to be the final chapter in the Ful-Vue sequence of cameras. That “accolade” came in the form of the Fulvueflex Synchroflash, which seems to have been introduced in about 1957, alongside the Ful-Vue Super. This all-plastic camera, which used 120 roll film and was accompanied by certain optional extras, carried the Ross Ensign badge but was a total departure from the sturdy Ful-Vue cameras that preceded it; in appearance only, it echoed even more strongly than the Ful-Vue II the higher-end medium format TLR cameras of the period popular with professional photographers and photo-journalists. The Fulvueflex Synchroflash is a bit of a mystery; it may represent a contracting out of production to another (foreign?) company as a means of cutting costs. Whatever the case, the camera was not a success, and in 1959, the Ful-Vue story came to an end when the company went out of business. The Ross Ensign produced Fulvueflex Synchroflash, c.1957-c.1959 (pics from depop.com at d2h1pu99sxkfvn.cloudfront.net): Leaving aside the Fulvueflex Synchroflash, the post-war varieties of Ful-Vue camera are relatively common in the UK, and epitomised the cheap, simple, reliable camera well-suited to non-photographers who wanted to take reasonable quality snaps and holiday photos. The cameras have relatively few moving parts and were pretty means that the original Ful-Vue, Streamlined Ful-Vue, and Ful-Vue II, are eminently usable today although one must make allowances for the simple nature of the taking lens and accept some edge blurring and the lack of exposure controls. The post-War Ensign Ful-Vue cameras have attracted interest in their use today and the Photo Thinking address referenced below in my list of sources shows what to expect in terms of image quality. In terms of collectability, this classic group of cameras, taking us from the thirties to just before the start of the sixties, is well worth exploring, although examples in pristine condition, especially coloured examples, retain a hefty premium over much cheaper examples that are somewhat shabby or tatty. Acknowledgements to sources used for the text of this topic: “The Ensign Ful-Vue”, by Adrian Richmond, 1999: ensign.demon.co.uk/ful-vue.htm “The Ensign Ful-Vue: The Brit Brownie”, Kosmo Foto, 2016: kosmofoto.com/2016/12/zorkipedia-ensign-ful-vue/ “A Radical View”, by Dan Cox, Journal of the Royal Photographic Society (RPS), May 2020 issue. “Ensign Ful-Vue”, Camera-Wiki: camera-wiki.org/wiki/Ensign_ful-vue “Ensign Ful-Vue - is it really the full view?”, by Theo, Photo Thinking, 9 July 2017: photothinking.com/20170709ensign-ful-vue-is-it-really-the-full-view/
  11. Here is a rather nice gents 1950s Kered Watertite wristwatch marked, "MADE IN FRANCE". The movement is a hand-wound French Cupillard caliber 256 (pics from loveantiques.com): Your (unfortunately damaged) "lucky horseshoe" wristwatch, @Eaglegale, is indeed a ladies piece, produced at a time when ladies, in the main, were meant to squint and strain their eyes to read their tiny watches tiny watches. You might be interested to know that I posted some details about Kered watches on a thread by vigman entitled, "Kered Automatic", and posted on 28 January 2017. Interestingly, the information posted by @Balaton1109 here above neatly adds to the info I managed to find back in 2017.
  12. Thanks guys. I won't take your suggestion if you don't mind, dear B&BM, as it does seem a little bit drastic.
  13. I decided to uninstall Firefox on my laptop and use Google Chrome instead as my default browser. The final decider was when Firefox suddenly decided to use Yahoo as its search engine instead of Google, and effected this switch without my consent. Having uninstalled Firefox and downloaded Google Chrome, everything seemed to be fine. However, it transpires that I just cannot get rid of Yahoo, and every now and then when using Google Chrome, Yahoo comes up as the search engine instead of Google. I have checked the programs and apps, as well as the default settings, and I just can't work out how Yahoo suddenly takes over. Any advice on how to fix this problem would be most welcome as I am not keen on Yahoo as a search engine for research.
  14. The partnership of Poitevin & Lejeune in Paris was evidently responsible for some fine pocket watches around the 1890s, and your example is a pretty item. I don't know much about the company history, or its various titles, and I am not feeling up to looking into it just now due to being "under the weather", but I feel sure that certain members will be able to help - are you there Norman @spinynorman? A good place to start is the online address: collectorsquare.com/en/luxprice-index-watches/b-poitevin-autres-horlogerie-prices.html This website address takes you to a useful guide to Poitevin and Poitevin & Lejeune watches recently sold, and even gives a graph showing the trend in prices.
  15. Lovely watch that, Alan. And your thread-head with those excellent pics goes nicely with the piece I wrote for the Forum giving some history of the Milus Snow Star, posted in my topics section on 25 April.
  16. Dear @bridgeman, I do hope you managed to catch my latest editing of the topic which I undertook at about the same time you were reading it. The topic as first posted left me feeling distinctly unhappy and I realized that I would need to improve it in certain aspects. So, for other readers, here above is now the finally revised edition of the topic.
  17. Thanks @spinynorman for giving me the heads-up on this post. I shall read it at my leisure after supper; it looks very interesting and enlightening.
  18. No bad thing, dear TimelWatched, being more than a one trick pony. I'm sure you'll enjoy being a member of the Forum, so welcome!
  19. Clocks are very addictive and I did start to build up a collection but soon gave up. There are two problems with clock collecting as far as I am concerned; the space needed to house them and the incessant sound of chimes from those clocks that just can't keep quiet. I like the movement of your recent chiming acquisition, dear Wheelnut, almost more than I like the clock itself - I do hope you manage to get it going. I, like Dell, thought the problem would be solved by getting the clock back in beat.
  20. Portrait of Thomas Mudge by Nathaniel Dance painted in about 1772 (pic from coimages.sciencemuseumgroup.org): Thomas Mudge was born in Exeter in late 1715 or early 1716, the second son of Zachariah Mudge (1694-1769), school master and clergyman, and his first wife Mary Fox (d. in or prior to 1762). Shortly after the birth of Thomas, the Mudge family moved to Bideford, where Zachariah had become headmaster of the grammar school - at which school Thomas Mudge received his early education. On 4 May 1730, on the instruction of his father and aged fourteen or fifteen, Thomas was bound apprentice to George Graham, the eminent clock and watchmaker of Water Lane, Fleet Street, London, who had trained under Thomas Tompion before then succeeding him in his business. The young Thomas Mudge would probably have been present when the famous John Harrison visited Graham’s workshop and he would also have benefited from Graham’s important work with different escapements (see later text below); Graham formed a very high estimate of his pupil’s ability. In 1738, Thomas Mudge qualified as a watchmaker and gained his freedom of the Clockmakers’ Company. He now took lodgings and worked privately for a while, being employed by a number of important London retailers/watchmakers. One of the most famous watchmakers for whom Mudge executed work over this period was John Ellicott FRS. When Ellicott was requested to supply Ferdinand VI of Spain with an equation watch, Mudge was entrusted with the construction of the piece, although as was customary, the watch was branded with Ellicott’s name. Subsequently, while explaining the action of the watch to some men of science, Ellicott damaged it but found himself unable to execute a repair himself; the watch had to be returned to its maker, Thomas Mudge, for the damage to be rectified. Ferdinand of Spain heard about this incident, and being a lover of mechanical inventions, he now granted Mudge an open commission to construct elaborate and complicated watches. Over the years, Mudge was to make at least five watches for Ferdinand including a repeater watch with an alarm designed to fit at the end of a cane, which gained considerable admiration for its maker from the king. Possibly the first ever perpetual calendar watch, this piece by Thomas Mudge, dating to about 1762 (in a later plain 50mm silver case) and with a ruby cylinder escapaement was sold at Sotheby's in the summer of 2016 for £62,500 or about $79,000. Details and further illustrations of this watch can be found at sotheby's.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/2016/john-harrison-enduring/discovery-l16055/lot.28.html (pic from i.pinimg.com/originals) : From the late 1740s and into the early 1750s, Thomas Mudge worked on developing a new form of escapement for portable timekeepers; at around the time of the death of his former master, George Graham, in 1750. In fact, in that latter year, Mudge took premises at 151 Fleet Street, and on 18 November, two days after the death of Graham, he began to advertise for work on his own behalf. This marks the beginning of a remarkable career, with Mudge rapidly acquiring a reputation as one of England’s outstanding watchmakers. On 27 October 1753, Mudge married Abigail Hopkins of Oxford, who died in 1789; the couple had two sons. Also during this period, Mudge formed an association with a former fellow apprentice, William Dutton, which led to a partnership by the early 1760s, with both names appearing on their productions. The firm is known to have supplied Dr Johnson’s first watch in 1768 and to have constructed a fine watch with temperature compensation for John Smeaton. Mudge also prepared a longitude timekeeper for the young Swiss astronomer Johan Jacob Huber, incorporating Huber’s idea of a constant force escapement. In 1765, Mudge, who was then acting as an expert for the Board of Longitude, published “Thoughts on the Means of Improving Watches, and Particularly those for the Use of the Sea”, and after he had retired from active business in 1771, Mudge was to devote much attention to marine chronometer development. Highly important experimental table clock and lunar clock by Thomas Mudge (discussed in the text) in the British Museum, possibly the first timekeeper to incorporate a balance controlled lever escapement. Dating to c.1754, this clock may have originally been intended to be submitted as a marine chronometer but then felt by Mudge to not be good enough - the combination of timekeeping and lunar indication fits the contemporary debate at the time between those who felt that longitude at sea could be found by a timekeeper and those who believed in the use of lunar observations. It has been ascertained that the theoretical accuracy of Mudge's lunar gearing was extraordinary and the clock features a train-remontoire to impart a more constant force to the escapement plus pioneering use of brass and steel bimetallic strips to act as temperature compensation. Clock is 12 inches high and case is ebonised wood.(pics from media.britishmuseum.org and, bottom pic, BMimages.com) At this juncture in my topic, the invention for which Thomas Mudge is most popularly known must be discussed - the detached lever escapement, mentioned obliquely above. Wikipedia leaves no doubt as to the importance of this invention or technical development: “The lever escapement, invented by British clockmaker Thomas Mudge in 1755, is a type of escapement that is used in almost all mechanical watches, as well as small mechanical non-pendulum clocks, alarm clocks, and kitchen timers”. … “Since about 1900 virtually every mechanical watch, alarm clock and other portable timepiece has used the lever escapement.” Whilst acknowledging the importance of the lever escapement and accepting that Thomas Mudge had a pivotal role in its early development, it cannot be said that Mudge was the sole protagonist in the invention process, nor was he the final arbiter in its improvement. With regard to crucial forbears of the detached lever escapement, it has to be mentioned that l'abbe Hautefeuille, in France, may have a valid claim to be the inventor of the very first lever escapement some time before, and independent of, Thomas Mudge, but his rack and pinion lever escapement failed to enter the horological mainstream; we also have to acknowledge the invention by George Graham in about 1715 of his dead-beat escapement. When it comes to the considerable work needed to “perfect” the lever escapement after Mudge, a number of important names in watchmaking must be credited, including Joshua Emery, Abraham-Louis Breguet, Peter Litherland, Edward Massey and George Savage. At the time when Thomas Mudge began to develop a new type of escapement there were essentially two escapements commonly used in watches and other portable timekeeping devices - the verge and the cylinder, the latter invented by George Graham in 1725. The verge escapement was robust and suited to everyday use while the cylinder was more refined and suited to higher precision and greater accuracy. Both of these escapements had an inherent problem, however, in that whilst in motion, the oscillating balance controlling the timekeeper was in constant contact with elements of the escapement. This created frictions and interference that inevitably affected the timekeeping. A similar problem affected a third type of escapement used in England at about the same time as the cylinder - the duplex; this escapement was more accurate than the cylinder but more delicate. In about 1715, George Graham had invented a new escapement for clocks that greatly reduced the operating angles during which the pendulum locked and unlocked the escapement and during which the pendulum was impulsed by the escape wheel. This new form of escapement, known as Graham’s dead-beat, was the germ from which Mudge developed his new type of escapement. Mudge retained many similarities to the dead-beat in the action of the pallets with the escape wheel, but interposed a lever between the escape wheel and the oscillating balance. At one end the pallets acted with the escape wheel and at the other the lever imparted impulse to the balance to keep it swinging. This revolutionary step went hand-in-hand with ensuring that the geometry of the lever was such that once the lever had given the balance its impulse it was not in contact with the balance and so the latter was free to oscillate undisturbed through the rest of its swing. Hence the name, “detached lever escapement”. Interestingly, in about 1748, at roughly the same time as Mudge commenced development of his detached lever escapement, Julien Le Roy (who Mudge knew personally), developed a second “free” escapement that was virtually frictionless and - the detent. However, this form of escapement was not well suited to the general run of pocket watches and their wearers and remained largely a precision (esp. Marine) chronometer escapement. The lever escapement had the disadvantage of requiring lubrication but the detent was more sensitive to outside disturbances and was not self-starting after winding (see Appendix for animation of a lever escapement). Thomas Mudge made a drawing of his new lever escapement and later, a model; he also subsequently incorporated lever escapements in one or two small clocks. If we are looking for an iconic timekeeper announcing the introduction of the detached lever escapement, the British Museum holds an experimental table clock with lunar indication and lever escapement made by Thomas Mudge between about 1754 and 1759. This clock, which once belonged to Isambard Kingdom Brunel whose grandmother was Thomas Mudge’s sister-in-law, is notable not only for its use of the lever escapement but also for the incredible accuracy for the time of the lunar indication; the clock also has a tide indicator. Mudge added further refinements to the clock in the form of temperature compensation and a spring remontoire to provide a more constant driving force for the escapement. As for the incorporation of the detached lever escapement in watches, the first ever watch to contain Mudge’s new escapement came some years later, in 1769; known as Queen Charlotte’s Watch or “the Queen’s watch”. Mudge had become acquainted with Count von Brühl, ambassador-extraordinary from the court of Saxony, who then became an enthusiastic and supportive patron. Through this association, Mudge achieved the sale to George III in 1770 of a gold watch incorporating his detached lever escapement. This watch, which also featured the first use of temperature compensation in a watch, was presented to Queen Charlotte, and later became part of the Royal Collections where it survives to this day. The watch itself is in 22 carat gold, measures 5.7 cm in diameter and is surprisingly thin. I have included a couple of pictures of Queen Charlotte's Watch but the best visual account is a video from the Royal Collections Trust showing the watch in action, including the workings of Mudge's lever escapement. This video is easily accessed by going to vimeo.com/99220922. The important and famous Queen Charlotte's Watch by Thomas Mudge (see text above) (pics from timezone.com): Having gained some experience in applying his lever escapement, Mudge recognised both the difficulties involved in its implementation and its significance in terms of horological advancement. In a letter to Count von Brühl he said, “… it has this disadvantage, that it requires a delicacy in the execution, that you will find very few artists equal to, and fewer still that will give themselves the trouble to arrive at; which takes much from its merit.” Then, in the same letter, he states that, “If well executed, it has great merit, and will, in a pocket particularly, answer the purpose of timekeeping better than any other at present known.” It is ironic that the use by Mudge of his own lever escapement in watches came too late in his career for him to undertake its further development, and on his retirement and subsequent involvement with chronometers, Mudge left the lever escapement behind, for others to later pursue. In 1771, Thomas Mudge quit active business due to ill-health and retired to Plymouth to be with his brother, Dr John Mudge. His other brother, composer Richard Mudge, had died in 1763). This period of retirement enabled Mudge to devote time and energy to his self-proclaimed, “hobby horse”, the improvement of chronometers designed to determine longitude when used in conjunction with a sextant. However, von Brühl recognised Mudge’s achievement and in about 1779 he persuaded Josiah Emery to make a watch with a lever escapement, giving him access to the model made by Mudge. Emery completed his first lever watch in 1782, which differed in certain respects from the Mudge model. He subsequently collaborated with Richard Pendleton in the making of about thirty lever watches, a number of which survive today and some of which were converted by Emery to his own, later, form of lever escapement. Emery always favoured the “straight line” arrangement, where the balance staff, pallet and escape wheel arbors are in line, as opposed to Mudge’s right-angled layout. In his earlier form, Emery used Mudge’s arrangement of two impulse cams located on the staff on different levels, and these engaged with pallets on the lever fork which were at correspondingly different planes. Later on, Emery used a single cranked roller on the staff which received impulse from the fork, this being in the same plane as the lever. A yellow gold pocket watch by Thomas Mudge & William Dutton, 1771, with inner and outer case as well as pendant made in 1802 for the watch. Gilded movement under signed dust cover, chain and fusee, pierced and engraved balance cock with diamond endstone, large brass escape wheel (video from youtu.be/wpmvkm1cFIA): It is tempting at this stage in my topic to proceed with an account of further experiments with, and developments of, the lever escapement between about 1785 and 1805 executed by a number of watchmakers based in London, followed by details of the vital work done by Staffordshire watchmaker Edward Massey, who in 1814 invented a form of lever escapement from which the classic English lever was eventually to emerge. However, that would be inappropriate in a biographical topic of limited dimensions. What is important to stress here is that although the role of Thomas Mudge in the invention and development of the lever escapement was important, it almost came prematurely and hinged to some extent on his own exemplary skills as a watchmaker. It was to be many years after Mudge, and work from many quarters, before the English lever escapement would become a standard pocket watch escapement. It would be 1850-60 before the lever watch had practically ousted the duplex and chronometer pocket watch. The cylinder escapement had been ousted some time before in Britain (though the Swiss continued with an inexpensive cylinder watch for a long period of time) and the verge escapement lasted in production in England until the 1880s. As for Thomas Mudge himself, retirement in 1771 essentially meant the end of his own use of the lever escapement in watches. Returning to the biography of Thomas Mudge, we now come to his so-called “retirement” from 1771, and his involvement in the creation of marine chronometers. As far back as 1714, the government had offered a reward of £20,000 for a means of determining longitude within 30 geographical miles. £10,000 could be awarded if the accuracy was within 60 geographical miles. John Harrison (1693-1776) ultimately won the £20,000 in 1773 for the performance of his fourth timekeeper. In spite of Harrison’s success, further rewards were offered for a more perfect method of determining longitude, and Mudge was confident that he could succeed in attaining the degree of exactness required. In 1776, not only was Mudge appointed Watchmaker to the King but he also completed his first marine chronometer and successfully had it tested by Thomas Hornsby, Savilian Professor of Astronomy at Oxford. This chronometer was then submitted to Nevil Maskelyne, Astronomer Royal, for extended tests at the Observatory (1776-7) which it failed to pass; it eventually was housed in the British Museum. Mudge's first chronometer featured an eight-day movement powered by two separate springs in a single barrel and in spite of Maskelyn'e rejection it turned out to a a highly accurate chronometer reemaining a landmark in timekeeping accuracy until the 1880s. The Board of Longitude meanwhile gave Mudge 500 guineas and urged him to make another watch in order to qualify for the government’s rewards, the terms of which required the construction of two watches of the specified accuracy. Mudge now set about making two more timekeepers which were so alike that they were named after the colour of their shagreen cases, the“Green” and the “Blue”. These two chronometers had a power reserve of 36 hours and featured enamel dials set in filigree work; the finish was superb in spite of the fact that Mudge’s eyesight was failing at this stage in his life. Subsequent to public testing, these watches were also deemed by the Astronomer Royal as not satisfying the terms of the reward. Thomas Mudge's first marine chronometer, c.1774-76, - see text and further details at vergefusee.com/watches-and-movements-by-century/18th-century/ (pics from vergefusee.files.wordpress.com): The Thomas Mudge "Green" and, on the right, "Blue" marine chronometers - see text (pic from vergefusee.files.wordpress.com): The rejection by Maskelyne of the Mudge marine chronometers became the subject of controversy; it was claimed that Maskelyne had not given the timekeepers a fair trial, and that they had worked better in other hands both before and after the period of Maskelyne’s observation. It has been said (Bruton (1979)) that by the time of the last trials (1789-90) Thomas Mudge was suffering from “senile decay”, but whether or not that is true, In June 1791, Mudge’s eldest son, also named Thomas and a London lawyer at Lincoln’s Inn, became involved in his father’s case. He presented a memorial to the Board of Longitude stating that although his father’s timekeepers had not been adjudged to go within the limits defined for reward, they were superior to any hitherto invented, and were constructed on such principles as would make them permanently useful; thus, their maker should be considered for some financial recognition for his labours. The memorial proved unsuccessful, so Thomas Mudge Jr carried a petition to the same effect to the House of Commons, and a committee was appointed consisting of Pitt, Wyndham, Bathurst, and Lord Minto, to consider the value of Mudge’s invention. Mudge’s case was also put strongly by son Thomas, a London lawyer at Lincoln’s Inn, in a pamphlet of 1792 entitled, “A narrative of facts relating to some timekeepers constructed by Mr. T. Mudge for the discovery of the longitude at sea, together with observations upon the conduct of the astronomer royal respecting them”. Maskelyne immediately retorted by means of a pamphlet of his own, “An answer to a pamphlet entitled A narrative of facts … wherein … the conduct of the astronomer royal is vindicated from Mr. Mudge’s misrepresentations”. The final repost came from the younger Thomas Mudge, still in 1792, with his “Reply to the answer … to which is added … some remarks on some passages in Dr. Maskelyne’s answer by his excellency the Count de Bruhl”. Mudge was supported throughout by F. X. DeZach, astronomer to the Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, who had observed the variations of the first Mudge marine chronometers for two years, and by Admiral John Campbell, who carried the chronometer on voyages to Newfoundland in 1785 and 1786 respectively. This chronometer was afterwards stated by the younger Thomas Mudge to vary less than half a second in 24 hours. Interestingly, John Harrison had previously also had similar grievances against Maskelyne and the Board of Longitude, believing that the Astronomer Royal favoured the use of lunar tables rather than chronometers for finding longitude and was therefore inclined to be overly severe in his judgement and testing. Some final recompense was achieved for Thomas Mudge and his marine chronometers when the House of Commons committee, having been assisted by various eminent watchmakers and men of science, finally voted Mudge the sum of £2,500. Two years after receiving this award, Thomas Mudge died on 14 November 1794 at his son Thomas’s house in Newington Butts, Surrey. He was buried on 21 November at St Dunstan-in-the-West, London. His younger son, John (1763-1847) was presented to the living of Brampford Speke, near Exeter, by the lord chancellor in 1791 on the recommendation of Queen Charlotte. A Thomas Mudge and William Dutton silver-cased (51mm) quarter repeating pocket watch originally with a cylinder movement, then converted to lever escapement, signed and numbered 1408, c.1770. With finely engraved and pierced balance cock and plate, diamond endstone and blued screws. Five round pillars and signed gilt brass dust cap. The silver case dates to 1896 and the enamel dial and blued spade hands are also later replacements, as is the re-drilled bell (pics from antiques-atlas.com): ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The main sources used in drawing up the topic text, in descending order of importance are as follows: “Mudge, Thomas (1715/16-1794)” by Thomas Seccombe, revised by David Penney; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004. “Thomas Mudge’s Experimental Lever-Escapement Clock” by David Thompson; A History of Time, QP magazine, date not known. “The Camerer Cuss Book of Antique Watches” by T. P. Camerer Cuss - Re-illustrated, revised and enlarged by T. A. Camerer Cuss; Antique Collectors’ Club, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 1976. “The History of Clocks and Watches” by Eric Bruton; Orbis Publishing Ltd, 1979 (1989 reprinted edition; Black Cat, Macdonald & Co) Wikipedia articles on Thomas Mudge (horologist) and the Lever Escapement. “Timepieces: Masterpieces of Chronometry” by David Christianson; David & Charles, Newton Abbot, Devon, 2002. “The British Museum Watches” by David Thompson; British Museum Press, 2008 and 2014 (2014 edition). APPENDIX: Volker Vyskocil animation of a basic lever escapement (animation from momentousbritain.co.uk/go/Mechanical_Clocks
  21. Thanks for that information, John. I have always had respect for Olympus cameras - indeed, I wrote a topic for the Forum about the original Olympus Trip camera not all that long ago. It is sad to see the Olympus camera division being swallowed up; the danger being that it will ultimately be regurgitated as stripped assets with nothing constructive to show for it.
  22. Thanks for showing us not only the rather nice watch but also that advert... Those watches advertised go into my brain's style-file which I use for watch-dating purposes.
  23. I just wondered, Nigel, who actually coined the "Star Wars" name for that interesting Raketa watch, and when? The watch looks like something from the same period as the announcement by Ronald Reagan of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) on 23 March 1983 - dubbed "star wars" in a Washington Post article of the very next day which quoted senator Edward Kennedy describing the proposal as "reckless Star Wars schemes".
  24. With regard to finding a vintage hand for the seconds register, I suggest you contact Simon on the Forum, our resident guru on repairs and restoration, and also put a post on the repairs section of the Forum. I am pretty sure that your watch pre-dates 1912, and although it may push back into the late 19th century, I reckon @spinynorman has probably got it about right. I can't quite make out the material used for the case; perhaps it is silver-plated. As for the engraved word, "MATCHLESS," I would presume that this is a "descriptor" or reference to the model of the watch, and not part of the company name. When I see the word in this context, I often associate it with the first half of the 20th century. As a brand name in itself, we have the "Matchless" motor cycles, founded in 1899. I can't advance further than Norman's useful contribution as to details about Jones & Company, Worcester, however.
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