|A variant of the Benson "Field"|
watch with 19 jewels c 1900.
Only major changes will be highlighted here, more detailed analysis is probably going to follow for each of the three main types and for some spin off designed, some of very high quality.
Benson between the Wars.
|A Tavannes movement for Benson|
1940, branded the ""Greenwich" in
my catalogue from the late 30s.
Update Feb 2017: Two recent finds and subsequent analysis have enabled me to further tie down the relationship between Benson & Guye, explained in my post J.W. Benson and P & A Guye two London watchmakers, later effectively one?
The Evidence.A few years ago there was a flood of good English movements into the market caused I think by the then very high price of gold, I was frequently buying in job lots of 6 or 8 watches for not very much money and many were fully working, ripped out of their cases by dealers wanting a quick buck for the scrap gold but in doing so destroying a lot of high quality watches which, if the cases were in the correct number of pieces, were certainly worth more than the scrap value – although they would not have been telling those they were buying from that! This piece of research is largely based on these movements and a few more recently obtained at rather higher prices. This causes a bit of a problem as without a case it is difficult to date the movements.
|J.W. Benson "Ludgate" (left) and "Field" (right)|
1. To Victoria’s reign ending in 1901 when movements were engraved “By warrant to HM the Queen” or “By warrant to HM the Queen and HRH the Prince of Wales”, the later probably only from c 1898 to c 1900.
2. From the year of her death, 1901 to c 1905 when they were engraved “By warrant to the Late Queen”, or “By warrant to HM the Late Queen Victoria”
3. No Royal warrant from c 1905.
|The original key set "Ludgate"|
|Advert for "The Field" watch from a Benson Catalogue c 1935.|
Over the years the Field and then the Ludgate got smaller dust rings and some years after the key set Ludgate was dropped the “Keyless Ludgate” became the “Ludgate”.
|"Ludgate" watches with rocking bar setting (left) and|
later "Field" type setting.
|"Field" type setting, this type only|
allows winding clockwise with
no reverse "click" to allow "shuffle"
· Early models of the “Ludgate” were rocking bar, then they changed to the same system as the “Field”, then back to rocking bar.
· The “Field” initially had a unique system than moved to the early “Ludgate” type rocking bar, this was before the “Ludgate” had returned to this system.
|an early type "Bank" 1893.|
All three movement used a “slow train”, working at 16,200 vibrations per hour (VPH) and retained this long after the American and most of the English trade had moved to the fast train working at 18,000 VHP.
Changes to the line-up.
|An unrestored "New Ludgate"|
· The “New Ludgate” was introduced, this was a fairly standard English three-quarter plate pin set design, albeit about 20 year out of date, in my late 1930s catalogue this is described as inferior to the “Bank of England” or “Bank” watch whereas previously the “Bank” had been the lower of the three.
· The “Bank” watch of old was replaced by a movement very similar to the “Ludgate”.
|1893 "Bank" under dial.|
Who made the bank?
In a previous post I explained how it was probable that a minority view was correct in thinking the “Bank” watch was not made by Benson but by another possibly P & A Guye, from the above we can see that both camps are probably correct.There are a number of possible scenarios but I suspect that the most likely is that initially the “Bank” movement was made by P & A Guye. In 1902 P & A Guye were no longer listed as watch makers but were known to be still involved in some way, it may be that at this time they were working exclusively for Benson as sub-contractors making the “Bank” movement.
|1901 watch signed by Bennett, parts |
are interchangeable with a contemporary
Max Cutmore[iv] states that the three movements all started out as key set, I have only seen the Key Set Ludgate, and lots of them which would suggest either that
· The key set “Bank” and “Field” watches were either made in very small numbers, or
· The “Ludgate” and “Field” movements both derived from the key set “Ludgate” and the “Bank” watch was initially either a completely new design or derived from a watch not branded as the “Bank”.In my view the second option is more likely or why else would there not be a “Keyless Field” and I have examples of the “Field” from as early as the “Keyless Ludgate”.