Heavy silver half-hunter case hallmarked London 1895, casemaker RJO (Richard Oliver, Clerkenwell). Half-plate fusee movement jewelled to the 3rd with cap jewels on balance (diamond), lever and escape, the keyless work of a novel form, the pillar-plate stamped WE BM (Ehrhardt). Single-roller detached lever escapement with double-height roller and radial jewel acting with two upright pins in the lever, the banking being of Ehrhardt’s form with a single pin in the steel counterpoise of the lever acting with a hole in the pillar-plate. Top quality compensation balance with quarter-timing nuts, balance-spring with overcoil. Enamel dial signed for its Danish retailer/owner, gold hands. 55 mm diameter.
William Ehrhardt (1831-1897), Time Works, Barr Street, Hockley, Birmingham, pioneer of machine-made watch production in England and suppliers of many Deck Watches to the Royal Navy. One of the least known but most interesting English watchmakers of his time, a creator of advanced manufacturing techniques and holder of numerous UK Patents. See William Ehrhardt’s obituary, published in the Horological Journal, January 1898. This is the only example of a keyless fusee by Ehrhardt that I remember seeing, and the only frame with the WE B[irmingha]m stamp.
I have found no information about B Rugenstein who was probably a retailer in Copenhagen.
Samuel May, Clerkenwell (1836-1871), a watch escapement maker and watch and chronometer springer of repute – see his short obituary in the Horological Journal, Vol 13, June 1871, page 118. NB: The use of a radial jewel in a double height roller of this type is thought to have been of May’s design, but I have seen no definite proof, and examples of levers with vertical pins, or up-stands, working with a radial jewel are known in lever escapements prior to May’s work.
A most interesting watch by a most interesting Birmingham firm, one that really deserves to be properly researched. In good condition showing the usual general signs of use and age, the keyless work not as smooth as it no doubt once was. Cleaned for its previous owner and working correctly, but can be freshly serviced if wanted – my likely cost around £200