This watch has to me all the makings of a mystery. I bought it from a private seller. I was immediately struck by three lovely features that just make me want to add that timepiece to my collection.
First, an early hermetic sealed so called 'Trench Watch', secondly an original enamel dial with original aged lumed dial and hands - that orange/red patina is just fantastic, and thirdly integrated shrapnel guards.
This watch had all three and an original dial you could die for.
Additionally, here we have a rare hunter style case adapted (yes hand cut out) beautifully into an integrated shrapnel guard - wow!Mystery #1
On examining the unscrewed back case we can see the import mark for London and a date code of 1917.
Case is stamped Brevet 71363 and also those famous initials (monogram) W&D for Wilsdorf (Hans) and Davis (Alfred) - the owners of Rolex and the marking they put on their timepieces in 1905 prior to Rolex being registered.
In other words 'W&D' went on to become Rolex Ltd which was registered in 1915 (1908 in Switzerland).
For some time, we can find cases with both names stamped on them i.e. ROLEX and W&D.
And for some unknown reason to me, we also find some later cases like this with again ONLY W&D marked on it. I got no idea why - maybe as a tribute to Davis who (for health reasons?) disappeared without trace?
But for certain this case is a Rolex case, both the back and the shrapnel guard have that W&D logo. Call that Mystery #1Mystery #2
The case has Brevet (Patent) No71363 - Boîte-savonnette pour montres ( a hunter case for watches) -Granted June 1915 to a Charles Zurbrugg of Bienne.
Seems Zurbrugg had a number of wristwatch patents between 1912 and 1917, then disappeared.
But where does he fit into Rolex/W&D? Did he loan the the patent? We know Wilsdorf scoured the papers for others patents very often buying them out (like the original Oyster patent)
Interestingly I found in the Swiss Journal that Wilsdorf and Zurbrugg both filed patents on the same day (one digit following) - Maybe that is how Wilsdorf saw this patent 71363 (his was 71362)Mystery #3
The movement I believe is NOT a Rebberg/Aegler movement. The dial is marked 'ARCADIA'. At first I suspected that the moment has been replaced.
But on studying various Rolex books, a similar watch was sold with a private label 'PARKS' - Could Arcadia be a private name?
Unfortunately 'ARCADIA' is such a popular jeweler name - it has not been possible to confirm or reject this theory.
So what we have here is a lovely savonnette cased W&D silver watch from 1917.
The hunter (savonnette) front cover has been perfectly modified (cut out) to become an integral shrapnel guard.
Dial and hands are immaculate and correct.STOP PRESS
Mystery #3 solved. ARCADIA was a manufacturer, so my first suspicion that the movement is a replacement into this case is correct. Borne out by the incorrect spacing of case screws!Anway to some pictures:Movement and Back of case.
NOTE Look closely you can see W&D Logo on INSIDE if top cover - but cut away to make shrapnel guard.MOVEMENT. - Sadly NOT Rebberg/AeglerEXAMPLES OF EARLY ROLEX'sAnd MYSTERY #2 - That patent!
Now - the question. I have an early correct Rebberg movement, but not as nice looking a dail. Should I fit the correct movement into this case to make the watch 100% correct
Leave it as it is?Fitted with a hand made strap:
Mark - TrenchwatchRestorations - Strap
Marcus Hardy - Vintage watches.com - Rolex/W&D dating.