LANCASHIRE WATCH Co, Ltd, Prescot. No 19511


Rare 'IMPERIAL' (fusee) watch, retailed by J G Graves, Sheffield.

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Heavy silver engine-turned case hallmarked Chester 1899, sponsor's marks TPH (Thomas P Hewitt, Managing Director of the LWCo). Capped fullplate fusee movement, the top plate numbered but not otherwise signed. Single-roller detached lever escapement with club-tooth (divided lift) escape wheel, the lever with exposed pallets in the American style. Compensation balance, spiral balance-spring. 2-colour enamel dial signed for the retailer, in red, gilt hands. 55 mm diameter.

The Lancashire Watch Company, its factory at Prescot on the outskirts of Liverpool, famous for its failed attempt to bring American style watch production to the Lancashire trade at the end of the 19th century. NB: This was the firms standard key wound movement of the period, but finished with a fusee rather than the usual dummy barrel, of which very few seem to have been made, and some previous authors used to think that the LWCo never made a fusee - see also the article 'The Forgotten fusee lever' by Alan Fairhurst, in Clocks magazine, February 1986.

John George Graves (1866-1945) started what became one of the largest watch and jewellery retailers in the UK, having outlets around the country. They were the single most important customer of the LWCo, their standard (going-barrel) model being sold as their 'EXPRESS' English Lever. Graves best model was called 'IMPERIAL' and is finished with a fusee. Platt shows three different Imperial models, only one of which, the LWCo cased example, is with a fusee, but does not mention the fact. Graves used many other model names as well, none of which, I believe, were finished with a fusee.

Hair cracks in the dial, and some minor signs of wear to case, otherwise a rare model in good original condition. Serviced, guaranteed and fitted with a new crystal since being photographed.