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Is there a list of British Watch Companies?


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Hi, new to the forum but I thought this might be a good community to ask.

I've recently become interested in British made watches and our horological history.

In particular I'm interested in companies that made their watches here in the UK, movement included.

As far as I'm aware there are no companies (apart from one craftsman in the Isle of Mann) that make their watches 100%.

However, Smiths and Ingersoll for example did, are there any others?

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13 hours ago, ShaneM said:

I've recently become interested in British made watches and our horological history.

Our horological history has been predominantly the history of imports, for more than 100 years. Here, Sir John Bennett from 1887.

"And if, at the moment, I needed a hundred real English watches, I don't really know where I would go to look for them in Clerkenwell. I'm not even sure to find much more in Coventry, because Swiss-made movements are shipped from Coventry, as well as from Clerkenwell, as articles of English manufacture. In fact, "English" watches were offered for sale in large quantities, whose movements at least came from Switzerland. A good part of the "English" watches made at Clerkenwell are chronometers, and they are made by German workers, Swiss and French. And judging by a specimen chronometer which has just arrived from Switzerland, I can say that the time is not far off when the manufacture of chronometers will also pass from Clerkenwell to the continent."

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4 hours ago, spinynorman said:

Our horological history has been predominantly the history of imports, for more than 100 years. Here, Sir John Bennett from 1887.

"And if, at the moment, I needed a hundred real English watches, I don't really know where I would go to look for them in Clerkenwell. I'm not even sure to find much more in Coventry, because Swiss-made movements are shipped from Coventry, as well as from Clerkenwell, as articles of English manufacture. In fact, "English" watches were offered for sale in large quantities, whose movements at least came from Switzerland. A good part of the "English" watches made at Clerkenwell are chronometers, and they are made by German workers, Swiss and French. And judging by a specimen chronometer which has just arrived from Switzerland, I can say that the time is not far off when the manufacture of chronometers will also pass from Clerkenwell to the continent."

...list of 'British' watch companies.. not 'English' watch companies... but Sir John can't be held accountable for his taste.. he's kneeled in front of royalty and let them play around with a sword.

Edinburgh and Glasgow had a few, but at that time they were not companies.. watches were mostly jeweler made and often the only markings they would have would be where the silver was assayed as watchmakers would use the movements from movement  makers and adapt them to their case (and its design/engravings).

One of the most successful jewelers that expanded into a 'company' was Accurist. They held the Brittish market for quite some time. 

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9 hours ago, SolaVeritate said:

The only known movement makers were way back in time when entire watches/clocks were made by one person, such as James Ivory

 


Not true I’m afraid!
 

Currently & recently, we have/had the likes of Peter Neville Speake, Christopher Ward (SH21), George Daniels, Roger Pratt, Roger Smith.

The majority of horological inventions were British, Robert Hooke, Richard Towneley, George Graham, John Harrison, Thomas Mudge, Thomas Tompian, John Arnold, Bahn Bonniksen, J. Player & Son, Friedlander, W. Pettit & Co, A. L. Dennison, John Harwood, etc, etc.

I’m confident ‘British’ watchmakers will feature prominently in contributing towards future horological developments.

:thumbsup:

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11 minutes ago, Karrusel said:


Not true I’m afraid!
 

Currently & recently, we have/had the likes of Peter Neville Speake, Christopher Ward (SH21), George Daniels, Roger Pratt, Roger Smith.

The majority of horological inventions were British, Robert Hooke, Richard Towneley, George Graham, John Harrison, Thomas Mudge, Thomas Tompian, John Arnold, Bahn Bonniksen, J. Player & Son, Friedlander, W. Pettit & Co, A. L. Dennison, John Harwood, etc, etc.

I’m confident ‘British’ watchmakers will feature prominently in contributing towards future horological developments.

:thumbsup:

Hmm.. but be honest, do you think you could give them a bunch of tools and metal and they could produce 20 of these in a year, themselves, with no help from anyone else..

image.png.1adaaa0d4ddb9cd59ef5aa71422321ac.png

Nowadays there is so much outsourcing and factory line production that the 'art' in horology is being lost and replaced by 'design' reproduced by milling machines.

By saying 'only known' what I mean was the builder of the early watches did not outsource from movement makers. They built them themselves. They were known for the full package.

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Think you need to do some more research before making blind statements.

Do you know how many watchmakers (Swiss/British) actually made a ‘complete’ timepiece in 1800, 1900, 2000 ?
Do you know how many watchmakers are ‘capable/skilled’ enough to make a complete timepiece in 1800, 1900, 2000 ?’ 
Do you know how many skills/processes are required in making a timepiece, particularly a pocket watch with multiple complications ?

:thumbsup:

Edited by Karrusel
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1 hour ago, Karrusel said:

Think you need to do some more research before making blind statements.

Do you know how many watchmakers (Swiss/British) actually made a ‘complete’ timepiece in 1800, 1900, 2000 ?
Do you know how many watchmakers are ‘capable/skilled’ enough to make a complete timepiece in 1800, 1900, 2000 ?’ 
Do you know how many skills/processes are required in making a timepiece, particularly a pocket watch with multiple complications ?

:thumbsup:

Karrusel, you obviously know far far more about these things than I do.. its one of the reasons I am here. To learn.

If I wanted to learn everything without discussion I wouldn't be on a forum, I would be in a library.

I'm sure the librarian would be quite friendly too.

So.. why don't YOU, tell everyone else, everything they need to know about this subject. That way we can have all the details before we make blind statements. It might save us a trip to the library. 

Edited by SolaVeritate
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Horology is such a vast subject that in several lifetimes you would still only scratch the surface!  I endeavour to learn something (accurately) everyday.

 

12 minutes ago, SolaVeritate said:

blind statements...


Something I now avoid.

:)

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On 03/05/2021 at 13:43, Karrusel said:


Not true I’m afraid!
 

Currently & recently, we have/had the likes of Peter Neville Speake, Christopher Ward (SH21), George Daniels, Roger Pratt, Roger Smith.

 

@Karrusel

Alan,  I'm not convinced the SH21 can be classed as British. It was, as you know, conceived and built in it's entirety, in Switzerland, by Johannes Jahnke, using only Swiss made components, when he was working with Synergies Horlogeres (SH). It was introduced as CW's in-house movement when Christopher Ward Holdings was created in 2014, as in effect, the parent company of both CW and SH. The original owners of the holding company were Mike France, Peter Ellis and Jorge Bader (owner of SH), as well as Chris Ward and Johannes Jahnke with 5% each. Neither now have an interest in the holding company. 

I believe, but happy to be corrected, that Meistersinger were already using the movement prior to CW becoming involved. I don't know how long it took for the movement to be developed or whether CW were involved in that? But I do recall the general disappointment on the CW forum when it was realised, when word leaked of a new CW movement, that CW hadn't had a team of watch makers kept hidden, somewhere in the UK, beavering away behind the scenes,  creating this new in-house movement. Although the merger was seen as a good thing, and of course, they are now an anglo-Swiss company.   

Edited by Caller.
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@Caller.

 

Thanks Phil, I do have the same reservations as yourself to the British exclusiveness?
However, I do know first hand, the Swiss were miffed that a British manufacturer had brought a new movement to market.

My understanding is that the SH21 was in development for 4 years(?).

:thumbsup:

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On Saturday I just happened to receive the latest edition of 'Loupe' the Christopher Ward magazine and the first pages inside give an overview of the SH21 movement.

It reads "They are built by hand, in Biel, Switzerland. Regarded as the world's watch capital."    

:thumbsup:

 

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21 hours ago, Karrusel said:


@Caller.

Thanks Phil, I do have the same reservations as yourself to the British exclusiveness?
However, I do know first hand, the Swiss were miffed that a British manufacturer had brought a new movement to market.

My understanding is that the SH21 was in development for 4 years(?).

:thumbsup:

@Karrusel

Hi Alan, but was that development aided by CW? If so, there must have been some contractual collaboration between the two companies? Again, I stand to be corrected, but I am not aware CW have ever laid claim to that.   

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