Thursday, February 14, 2013

Sepia Saturday - The watchman

T1 is code for Turtle 1
When I saw the theme picture for this week I was very much surprised because I immediately recognized a member of the RSSSATP, you can tell by the protruding little fingers. As you can see he is closely watching a species of the Dermochelys coriacea. Beg your pardon, you don't know what RSSSATP stands for? That is the Royal Society for the Strategic Study of Advancing Turtles in the Pacific. Since you are apparently unaware of this important semi military organization, maybe I should explain their objectives. First of all I have to say it is a secret organization, a lot of hush hush. That is because of its strategic significance. Its membership is restricted to army and navy biologists and it is highly unusual to see a picture of a member in action. 
You may wonder about the pipe. Well, so do I but my guess is that this officer is a pipe smoker. On the other hand I wouldn't be surprised if the pipe, or its smoke, is related to the study he is carrying out. Smoke curtains and all that. Because rumour has it that the research of this eminent organization has to do with amphibious landings. You may know that certain turtles live in the sea but lay their eggs on the beach. The study aims at investigating the methods these turtles use to overcome the surf without capsizing. For this purpose certain marks have been applied to the turtle's shield. That is done to facilitate air reconnaissance.  I am afraid I can't give you any further details without being accused of all kinds of nasty things.
Despite the risk of revealing state secrets I will base my Sepia Saturday contribution on the wristwatch the officer is wearing. Although I am not a wristwatch wearer (what a word!) myself, I do have a few heirlooms. To be honest some of these objects have not yet reached that status yet but one day they will.
Bulova Accutron
Bulova Accutron 1960
This Swiss watch dates from 1960. It is a very special watch because the movement is determined by a tuning fork. Rather than giving you the wrong info I quote from Wikipedia. "The tuning fork movement was a horological revolution.
Previously, electronically regulated timepieces were limited to some scientific instruments, being too large for a personal watch. The Accutron was also the first wristwatch precise enough to qualify for U.S. railroad certification." And if you qualify for the U.S. railroad...
You can see the tuning fork between the two electromagnetic coils at the top of the watch left. Unfortunately there is something wrong with my watch. When I activate the watch it runs way too fast. So if it has to become a valuable heirloom I need to have it repaired.
The next timepiece is a pocket watch. It was given to me by my Aunt Jo. Aunt Jo was married to Johannes Frederikus Miebies (1899-1958), the son of my grandfather's brother and the previous owner of this watch.
Omega pocket watch
Omega pocket watch 1913
I tried to date this pocket watch by comparing it with Google images. But no success there. Fortunately most Omega pocket watches have been numbered. This one carries number 4322892. That means it has been manufactured in 1913. So this year it is exactly 100 years old! It is also Auntie Jo's birth year. Coincidence? I don't think so but I'll ask her, she's still among us!
Smiths 30Hours
Smiths 30Hours
Smiths English Clocks Ltd was operational between 1931 and 1979. I think this model was manufactured during the 50's but I am not sure. Apparently these 30 hours clockworks were a specialty of Smiths. I don't know why the clocks were 
limited to a 30 hours running time. There might very well be a technical reason for that. 
Neither do I know when 30 Hour mechanisms were made. But no matter when that was, it's still running like you know what. It produces a nice ticking noise for easily more than 36 hours.
My clock is integrated in the showcase like cabinet shown here. When we bought it the antique dealer said the cabinet was English made. For all I know it could have been Turkish as well. I am not an expert in these matters but possibly one of the Sepians is. 
The last watch on display here is another pocket watch. According to my mother it belonged to her father Gerardus Theodorus de Langen (1888-1967). It is a watch that puzzles me because I am not even certain in which country it has been made, Switzerland or France. It is a Judex montre de precision (precision watch) with serial number 997331.
Judex pocket watch
Judex pocket watch possibly 1920-1930
I saw another Judex pocket watch with a similar diamond shaped decor. That one was made between 1920-1930. Unlike the Omega shown above this one is running fine.
When I opened the back of the watch there was another surprise: the original warranty. It mentions the serial number and the fact that the case is made of silver (argent). The term épreuve de réglage means 'test' or 'control'. But the nature of the test is not clear to me. I noted that the watch-glass has been replaced by plastic. At least I assume it has been replaced because I don't think plastic was used for the original. Maybe grandpa inadvertently dropped it somewhere.
Well, this is it. I am running out of ticking devices. It's time for you to watch other stories. So hasten yourself to the Sepia Saturday site. But be careful, don't turn turtle!

21 comments:

Wendy said...

What a magnificent collection. My favorite though is the china cabinet with built-in clock. I love old cabinets, but I've never seen one with a clock. In fact, I never knew they made such a piece.

Boobook said...

Thanks for the background info on the military aspects of the theme photo - most enlightening.

tony said...

Peter.I too do not wear a watch these days (due partly to my mobile phone telling me the time these days:also watches never last.they or their straps always break!)I notice you even have a dutch clock on your blog now! (P.S. I am full of admiration for the RSSSATP!)

Lovely's Blot said...

I'm another non watch wearer since the advent of mobile phones.. but I felt rather nostalgic looking at all those watches.

Postcardy said...

You have a nice collection. I always wear a watch, and I always buy cheap ones.

Mike Brubaker said...

When the wristwatch replaced the pocket watch, time became a convenient glance to the wrist. Now that the cellphone is replacing the wristwatch, time is back in the pocket. How is this progress?

Of course some of us, {and we know who we are} have too much time on our hands.

Bob Scotney said...

I have a collection of watches too, on all of the tick has expired. I have reached the stage in life when it is only occasionally that time is important to me. I tell the time by days - my week ends on a sepia day.

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

What a nice transition from the top secret undercover military turtle study to your nice collection of watches.

How nice that Aunt Jo is still here at 100 years old!

Kathy M.

Little Nell said...

I'm really surprised that you got away with revealing so much about the RSSSATP. If you're not here next week we'll know why. I loved your collection of timepieces as I have a fascination with old watches, especially fob watches. I still wear a wristwatch, though the date section is getting harder to read; I think it's shrinking!

barbara and nancy said...

Oh, you really had me going there about the turtle military research. Until I got to the air reconnaissance part. Then I knew you were just joshing us.

Great collection of watches. I think you should actually use at least one of them, just for nostalgia sake.
Nancy

Brett Payne said...

I have a gold Cyma wristwatch which used to belong to my grandfather, still in the original case, although the leather strap is, I'm sure, a replacement. It works well, but I don't use it, even though I rather like it, because it's not very strong and the back has already been cracked (and repaired) once.

An interesting post, which prompted me to look up mine - I'm guessing it's from the 1950s, although I didn't find the exact one online. Thanks.

Titania said...

Peter, watch out for your watches, a fine collection. The cabinet looks very elegant but I have never seen one with an inbuilt clock. I am going now for the lightest titanium eco watches, turned on by any light!

Jackie van Bergen said...

A great story and some great timepieces. Reminded me of some I have from great aunts. And what a great cabinet - I'm jealous!
And Happy 100th to Auntie Jo!
We are going to Maastricht for Christmas this year with my husband's cousins and 90 year old Auntie Thea. I hope she makes it to 100 too.

Hazel said...

I thought there had to be something behind the photo. This prompt was not shot for nothing. It seems to me 'strategic' is usually associated with hush-hush slash secret.

Alan Burnett said...

My grandfather was a watch and clock repairer in the winter (during the summer he was a window cleaner)and therefore I find I have an ancestral pull towards clocks. Wonderful things, the old ones, there is a fine sense of logic to them which you don't find with the modern battery operated things. Having said that I wear a cheap modern thing, but your post tempts me to go in search of a clockwork watch. What influence you have on me Peter.

Mike Burnett said...

That "Ticks" the box. Sneaky link.

Nigel Aspdin (Derby, UK) said...

May I suggest an answer as to why your cabinet clock is "30 hours"? I think it is a mains electric clock (a matter which will be obvious on inspection) and the 30 hours refers to the length of time it will run after the power fails.

Nigel

Kristin said...

I have had several watches, starting with the broken one an aunt gave me for my college graduation gift. I have never worn them because I just don't care what time it is most of the time.

Karen S. said...

Peter, I always enjoy following the thoughts you share, and it never fails I usually learn new things, that I'm glad you mentioned! Great story, perfect photos and indeed what an amazing watch collection !!!!

Tattered and Lost said...

Very good post. I love the pocket watches. I have my grandfather's watch he wore while working on the Pennsylvania RR. And I have one that belonged to my grandmother which she won for selling newspaper subscriptions. She gave me the watch before she died and I wore it around my neck with pride. Then one day at school, following recess, I went back to class to discover it had fallen off the chain. I was horrified. I had to wait until lunch time to go out and look for it. I found it, but there was now a small dent in the case. I never wore it again. It broke my heart that I'd damaged it. It now sits in a case in a drawer.

Peter said...

@Little Nell
Well, you know why :) You must be clairvoyant!
@Titania
Titanium watches..., somehow that doesn't surprise me.
@Jackie
Hope you'll have merry and white Christmas in Maastricht. On second thoughts, the white may be a bit to slippery for your Aunt Thea!
@Alan
I notice North Sea water also conducts influence.
@Nigel
I'm sorry to disappoint you but there isn't anything electrical about it.
@T&L
I don't think your granddad would have wanted that... He'll be honored if you wear it again, serious!

Thank you all for your comments. Much appreciated!

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