Fine quality 1st World War period wristwatch, a so-called 'Trench Watch'
Heavy three-piece screw back and bezel silver case with jointed lugs, import hallmarked London 1918 for AB (Alfred Baume), sponsor's mark JWB (Benson). Longines calibre 13.34 15-jewel gilded movement. Straight line detached lever escapement with steel club-tooth escape. Compensation balance, balance-spring with overcoil. Signed enamel dial with 'skeleton' numerals and hands. 35mm diameter. On an ingenious design of (homemade?) kahki fabric strap with silver buckle.
James Walter Benson, then at 25 Old Bond Street, one of London’s premier retailers of good and top quality pocket watches from around 1850 and wristwatches from around 1900. Benson made their own wristwatches from around 1910 but remained the leading English retailer of Swiss watches, the best of which were supplied by Cyma and Longines. For more information about English wristwatches see the short note in my website Glossary, and my illustrated article on ‘English Wristwatches’ in the April 2000 issue of Antique Collecting.
NB: Many Swiss watches retailed in the UK had their name printed on their mostly enamel dials at this date, but subsequent cleaning of the watches has removed all traces. In this instance the Benson name is properly fired onto the dial.
Longines, St Imier, Swizerland, one of the most venerable Swiss companies and one of the best (I think the best) who were making wristwatches at this early period. Longines have a long association with Alfred Baume & Co who were their main import agents in England - the British Horological Institute is home to the extensive archive of Baume family material.
Dial with the usual hair cracks and some radium lacking from he hands having been removed from the dial itself. Otherwise in good original condition and showing only minor signs of the expected use. The large pad of the strap under the case is comfortable in wear and the straps design means that the buckle needs to be removed (easily) for the strap to be fitted and removed - I presume many period straps were like this, but this is one of few I have seen. Serviced and guaranteed.
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