Heavy 18ct gold hunter case with 5-knuckle joints and swivel bow hallmarked 1918, casemaker FT (Fred Thoms, Clerkenwell). Golay half-plate movement jewelled to the centre with cap jewels on balance (diamond), lever and escape. Single-roller detached lever escapement, top quality compensation balance with quarter-timing nuts, balance-spring with overcoil. Willis-quality off-white snap-on enamel dial in perfect condition, original blued-steel hands. 53 mm diameter and weighing 150 grams. Together with its large leather covered Benson box.
James Walter Benson ‘By Warrant to H M to the late Queen Victoria,’ London’s biggest and most energetic watch retailing firm of the second half of the 19th and the first half of 20th centuries. Benson’s ordinary watches were marketed under the names ‘The Bank,’ ‘The Ludgate’ and ‘The Field’ but their best English made complicated work was supplied by Hector Golay. These rivalled the best watches of Nicole Nielsen & Co usually retailed by Dent, Frodsham, Smith & Son, etc
Charles Hector Golay, trading as Hector Golay, 46 Myddleton Square, London, Patent No 12417, October 1885. Swiss born (the Jura) but working most of his life in London, Golay was the main manufacturer, along with Nicole, Nielsen, of the best English made complicated watch work at the latter part of the 19th century. This “interchangeable” minute repeating movement is exactly as shown in Golay’s trade catalogue of circa 1885. NB: By the last quarter of the 19th century most repeaters sold bearing English retailers names were finished from imported Swiss ebauches. Only the firms of Nicole Nielsen and Hector Golay continued to produce English work. This commanded the highest prices, and of which this is a very good example.
Fred Thoms, 25 Spencer Street, Clerkenwell, considered to be the finest watch case maker of his day. He died in 1930, after which his business was incorporated into Joseph Walton & Co. This case employs the later and more recognisable of his two stamps, with LONDON in small letters under the cameo F.T stamp. This was done, I believe, in order to differentiate himself from the similar cameo stamp of Frederick Traherne working in Coventry.
All in lovely original condition showing just a few signs of wear, the swivel bow still tight, the rear cover with engraved Yea Family crest with ESTO SEMPER FIDLIS (always faithful) motto in good crisp condition. Serviced, guaranteed, and an example of the very best London work that compares so well with anything produced in Switzerland. NB: The Benson box is larger than normal, which makes the watch look smaller – it is not.