In our workshop we see some pieces where you wish the watch could speak and tell its story. Take this wonderful verge pocket watch for example. It dates from 1799 – which means George III was King when this watch was produced!
Left: Outer Pair Case & Timepiece Right: Timepiece Inside Pair Case
When we say “Verge” this refers to the type of escapement – the part of the watch which controls the rate at which the gear train advances or ticks. The quality and design of the escapement is thus very important to achieving accurate timekeeping. The Verge escapement was used from the late 13th century to the mid 19th century. As the first mechanical escapement, its development was extremely important in allowing the creation of mechanical clocks, and later, watches.
As you may expect from an early escapement design, the Verge does have a few “quirks” which generally prevent it from achieving good levels of timekeeping accuracy. The Verge is very sensitive to changes in drive force (i.e. when fully wound a spring will be pushing ‘harder’ than when it is almost unwound). This means each Verge watch needed to be fitted with a Fusee mechanism to equalise the force of the mainspring in order to achieve any level of accuracy.
Beautiful movement of the timepiece, fusee chain visible (right)
It is also a ‘recoil’ escapement. This means during the cycle of the escapement the crown wheel is pushed back momentarily, which then pushes back through the wheel train. This increases the amount of friction and wear seen throughout the movement.
Even with the above ‘quirks’, we’ve been able to achieve a good level of timekeeping accuracy for this watch. It arrived with us complete with a plastic bag of wheels and now it’s fully functional and keeping time to within 15 minutes a day. Quite remarkable for a 222 year old watch!
Very few watchmakers are able to work on these pieces. We have the knowledge and skills to be able to take on such repairs, alongside our work on more modern mechanical and quartz watches.
If you have a watch in need of repair, do not hesitate to contact us. We offer a fully insured, freepost, postal repairs service and take on repairs from customers based all around the UK.
David Clark PJGemDip PJDip CertGA