Antique & Vintage Pocket Watches
I am a specialist UK based restorer selling working pocket watches dating from the mid 19th century onwards, many are ‘true’ antiques dating from before 1915 the rest being “Vintage” and almost entirely pre 1939. Stock is dependent on what I am able to buy in for restoration but a good selection of American, English Going Barrel and Swiss pocket watches is always available.
Depending on availability I specialise in watches by J.W. Benson, Waltham, English keyless designs from companies such as Rotherham, Errington, William Ehrhardt and The Lancashire Watch Company. Also Swiss watches by makers Omega, Longines, Tavannes / Cyma, Büren and Revue Thommen (branded Vertex, Limit, Russell, etc.). I am also doing an increasing number of American Railroad watches - when I am able to source them either in UK or from America.
Most of the watches I have for sale are in Silver, Rolled / Filled gold or base metal cases, but I sometimes have a few in solid 9 carat gold primarily Swiss made for Benson and by English makers, these are limited in number because of the higher risk involved and the lower margin on a high value item that, if sold in any number, would quickly push me over the VAT registration limit and thus increase the selling price of all my watches.
All are available for sale on-line and selected watches are available from The Brackley Antiques Cellar.
A small stock of antique & vintage silver, rolled gold and base metal chains and watch fob medals are available for sale at The Brackley Antiques Cellar and on-line so that you can buy a complete ensemble.
No VAT!As this is a retirement business I keep my turnover below the VAT registration level so that I am not required to charge VAT on sales saving customers inside the EU up to 20% but this does mean that there is no reduction for customers in other countries.
Important information for Customers outside of the UK.
The Royal Mail have withdrawn a key mailing option, please see International shipping options below
News & Blog PostingsNews of particularly interesting watches for sale and short posts on horology related subjects are available on my Facebook page (just click “Like” below if you are on Facebook), most of these are also available on my Blog together with some longer articles. Blog posting can be received by e-mail and through various feeds such as RSS by visiting the Blog and registering for the appropriate service.
The Brackley Antiques Cellar, Northamptonshire
- Cabinet 59A
The Brackley Antiques Cellar
NN13 6BE Map
"The largest purpose-built centre in the Midlands."
Winner: Homes & Antiques Magazine "Antiques Centre of the Year 2013".
Open 10:00 till 17:00 7 days a week (Except Christmas day, Boxing day & New Years day), it is under Waitrose Supermarket and has free parking and a Tea Room.
With high demand through the web site I found I was no longer able to efficiently stock two antiques centres (let alone the three which I used to have), I therefore closed the display cabinet at Wallingford on 6th January 2014.
International ShippingFrom 1st April 2014 the recently privatised Royal Mail withdrew their international "AirSure" service, the means that the maximum insurance available through the mail is now £250. At the customers risk I can send worldwide for a flat rate of £14 with this maximum compensation of £250.
The alternative method is "Parcel Force" with higher cover, but it is expensive, here are some examples for a watch & chain up to £500 in total value:
Germany: £51, Japan: £70, USA: £62, Australia £70
There is a special service for the Republic of Ireland @ £28.
When ordering please let me know if you wish to have the fully insured option.
UK customers are unaffected, their watches will continue to be shipped by RM Special Deliver, fully insured.
Market Update.Following some months with very limited availability of high quality English watches I have managed to find a few really nice ones in the last few weeks but supply of watches generally has been difficult and I am now attacking my rather long back log of medium to good quality Swiss watches and revisiting some watches that previously proved recalcitrant when I did not then have time to investigate in depth.
Updated 19th October
It is now the middle of November and the supply situation has gone from bad to worse, there is little on offer and despite more aggressive bidding I am getting in between a quarter and a third the number of watches I would expect at this time of year and prices have increased significantly - a Swiss made watch for Benson and a Waltham have both just sold for 50% more than I would expect and an Omega for double my maximum bid which normally would have stood a reasonable chance of winning.
I had hoped that sellers were holding back for the Christmas market and that might still be the case but if so time is running out. A few (expensive) solid gold watches may become available in a week or two and I still have a backlog but it will not last forever!
Updated 16th November
Lists of watches added in the current and previous month are shown below under New Stock.
Don’t see what you want?If you are looking for something I don’t have, perhaps one similar to a sold watch shown on the site or from a specific year, town or maker and it is within the general area I deal in e-mail me and if one comes up I’ll let you know – no obligation!
But be warned it could take some time, the record for a successful search is currently 8 months to track down a watch signed by a particular London retailer for a descendent of the then owner. And I have a couple of requests not yet fulfilled that go back well over a year.
On the other hand many of my quality keyless watches such as those by Rotherham and Benson sell within hours to people who are on my wish list and who are therefore alerted when potentially suitable watches go onto the site.
What I do & don't doI started by restoring antique and vintage pocket watches for my personal satisfaction, but after a while my collection started to get out of hand so I started selling them, at first largely on e-bay where I have 100% approval rating, universally good feedback and a number of repeat customers from as far afield as Australia and Brazil. When I officially retired I started to sell through antiques markets - at one time three of them - but I am now selling primarily through this website but also through the Brackley Antiques Cellar where prospective customers can see before they buy.
Please note that except for warranty work I do not do repairs or restorations of watches I do not own, this is due to a number of factors including:
- The near impossibility of estimating how long the restoration of an old watch will take – it can be anything from a few to many hours and all too frequently a repair turns out not to be possible.
- Uncertainty as to the availability and cost of replacement parts for 100 year old watches.
- The high risk of damage during the process.
Quite a lot in October with 7 days a week working after the end of the fly fishing season and with some hang over from September when only a dozen were completed.
J.W. Benson English & Swiss made.
Some Customer Comments
"Just a quick email to say thank you so so much - the watch and chain arrived earlier this morning - they are both absolutely amazing, and more perfect than I could imagine! Thank you for all of your help with making the final decision and ordering up, you've been really great."
"Hi John, watch is all you described and more, absolutely love it, thank you"
"I am delighted with it, as elegant as expected and it is now ticking away nicely. Thanks for your prompt and extremely helpful service as well, it is much appreciated."
" Watch and chain delivered safely! I love both"... "Thank you for all your invaluable help and for a fantastic service"
"I really am so pleased with them, they are sat here on the table ticking away and looking beautiful and I can't stop smiling!"
"..we received the watch today and we are really pleased with it. Many thanks for your help"
"Very pleased, thank you. I fired her up and she is keeping time safely ensconced in my jacket pocket. […] Thank you for your excellent service."
"The quality of the items, prompt and kind responses to enquiries, and shipping completed on the very day of payment --- all these combine to make your Website one of the best places to look for good-quality antique pocket watches made and/or retailed in England." [A customer in Japan]
“The watch arrived this morning safe and sound. I'm very pleased with the look of it. Thank you for a very efficient service."
GalleryHere are a few of the antique pocket watches that I have previously restored (none are available, most having been sold). Click on the image for another view.
Four very nice English made watches by J.W. Benson.A hansom bunch of Bensons. Clockwise from top left: “The Bank” Keyless 1917; “Ludgate” 1888; a superb “Bank” Half Hunter and a 3/4 plate pin set, 1916.
Rotherham 19 Jewel KeylessAn excellent ¾ plate pin set movement by Rotherham of Coventry and signed by them with their logo on the face plate. It has a true English lever escapement, a Breguet hairspring and a cut compensating balance. The movement is jewelled as for a 15 jewel movement with the addition of end jewels on the lever and escape staffs. The double backed case has Birmingham hallmarks for Sterling Silver, date codes for 1900 and John Rotherham's maker's mark.
Rotherham & Sons for Jeffery, 19J Keyless, 1925.Similar to the above but in size 12 and in solid 9 carat gold.
Errington 20J Keyless 1907A cracker by C.H. Errington of Coventry (owned by Williamson when this watch was made). A 20 Jewel true English Lever with Geneva stop gear, 1907. Amazing that it looks so good after all this time - and the movement did not need much cleaning to look like this.
Waltham 1899-Riverside Maximus, 1901 & 1902The size 16 23 jewel movements have gold trains, except for the escape wheel which is steel. Top plate jewels are set in raised gold mounts, the barrel is jewelled and there are four diamond cap jewels to the balance and escape with the rest being "fine ruby and sapphires". Like the 1899-Vanguard they are adjusted to temperature, isochronism and five positions and have micro adjustment to the Breguet sprung cut compensating balance with double roller
The three piece dials have lettering in a font reserved for the Maximus, the Roman dial on the left is particularly rare with one selling recently for almost $300. click on the image to see the 14 carat Filled Gold cases.
Waltham 1894 Riverside Maximus, S12, 21J, 1903/4This is a very rare watch more fully described in my my Blog posting. The pendant set size 12 movement has a Swiss lever escapement with a Breguet sprung cut compensating balance with micro adjuster and double roller. The train wheels are in gold, except for the steel escape wheel which needs to be stronger. The top jewels are screw set in gold mounts and there are diamond end jewels to both the escape wheel and the balance.
The dial is signed by Bailey, Banks and Biddle Co of Philadelphia a very prestigious jewellery maker and retailer. Dated by the serial number to 1903 or 1904.
Waltham 1892 Vanguard American Railroad Grade watch 1902This is a size 18 true railroad grade lever set movement, with 23 jewels, including the motor barrel, the top plate ruby jewels are in raised gold settings and it has diamond end-stones to the balance. It is adjusted to heat, cold, isochronism and 5 positions. The Swiss lever escapement has a Breguet sprung cut compensating balance with micro adjuster and double roller. The serial number dates the movement to 1902. The 3 piece railroad dial is signed by Waltham.
The double backed case in filled Gold by Boss (Keystone Watch Case Co) has a hinged bezel and so makes setting the time quicker and easier than with a screw on type.
Waltham 1892-Vanguard, 23J, 1908.Another 23 jewel Vanguard to the same specification as the one above but the dial is a genuine "Montgomery" that would indicate it was probably for the Canadian railways, it is made in three pieces and with the number "6" printed in full as it should be. these dials are valuable in themselves.
The case is very typical of these "working" American Railroad Watches being a swing ring type in Oresilver - the Fahys equivalent of Silveroid or Silverode, a very hard wearing nickel alloy.
Waltham Size 18 1883-American Waltham Watch Co, 16J c1898This watch was a bit of a puzzle, it is listed in the Waltham "Grey book" - a copy of the Waltham register of production runs - as being a 17 Jewel "Appleton Tracy" which it clearly is not, I am grateful (again) to John S for his expert help which solved the mystery.
By the late 1890's the 1883 model Railroad grade watches had been superseded by the (expensive!) 1892 model and with changing tastes the size 16 1888 and 1899 models were becoming popular. Waltham therefore produced this "Closeout Special" and used up a block of serial numbers allocated to the Appleton Tracy grade. The movement is essentially an 1883-820 or 825 but with 16 jewels rather than 15 or 17 but with cosmetic enhancements to give the appearance of a Railroad grade Waltham at a more modest price. On this occasion a top grade case in 14 carat Filled Gold was also used to produce something special.
Omega 15 Jewel c 1927An Omega 15 jewel movement approximately Size 12 in a lovely Swiss 0.800 Silver case c 1927.
J.W. Benson (Tavannes), 15J, Hunter, c1936A 15 jewel Benson / Tavannes movement in a very, very rare New Old Stock (NOS) Rolled Gold "STAR" grade case by Dennison complete with it's new mineral glass crystal. The case would have been made within a few years of the watch and has been in a retail jewellers stock ever since. My blog post on "The standard watch case" gives some background on how this came about, I know of 4 of these cases that have been on the market in the last few years, 2 are now in Australia with a collector who tipped me off, I got the other two.
Some usefull LinksFacebook
Horological Institutes, Societies etc.
The British Horological Institute
The Coventry Watch Museum Project
I don't do repairs, others do:
I have no experience of any of these
The British Horological Institute - Repairers
Renaissance Watch Repair (USA)
The Clock Workshop, Witney
NAWCC Waltham Database
Links re Watch Cases are on the "What to Buy" page
Birminham Assay Office
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Eclectic Potted Histories: a BLOG by Helen Lashbrook