Category: Pieces of Time news & articles

How to open a Pocket Watch to View Movement

It’s been a very long time but we thought it would be a good idea to restart our blog that we’ve neglected for such a long time. One of the questions we get emailed about very frequently is how to open a pocket watch to view the movement.  There are so many different types of watches that we decided to do a detailed guide with lots of images to help out

Pair cased verge watches similar to this one  will usually open  from the front.

First depress the thumbpiece and open the outer case.

Remove the watch from the outer case. Then using your nail open the front of the case. The glass and bezel will swing back to reveal the dial.

Using your thumbnail depress the lever situated at the 6 O’clock position and the movement will swing back on its hinge so you can view the escapement.   

Hunting Cased Watches

Opening a hunting cased pocket watch is a little easier although it does require a watch knife or a penknife if the case is very tight and stiff. Turn the watch over so that you’re looking at the back of the case.  Using your knife or fingernails gently prize open the case to reveal the movement or inner cuvette.

If there is a cuvette apply do the same again to reveal the movement.


Early Decorative Pocket Watches

In this post I’d like to discuss the use of decoration on early watches.

During the renaissance period the first watchmakers weren’t the craftsmen that we think of today, they were mostly skilled silversmiths and goldsmiths who made crude early clocks. Coming from that artisan background, it’s unsurprising that even the earliest clocks and watches were profusely engraved and adorned with decoration.

We’ve sold a few of these early timepieces over the years, the image below is from an early drum timepiece that was made around 1540 in Germany, you can see the engraved floral decoration around the edge of the case and a beautiful engraved sunburst design on the dial.

Decorative early watch
Early German Drum Watch
Early Decorative Watch
Early German Drum Watch side-view

This oval pocketwatch

is another German example of a watch case from 1610 with heavy mercury gilding and a beautifully chased and decoratively pierced case.

This Decorative Early 17th Century watch

was made around 1640 and really illustrates just how elaborate the decoration was on early timepieces. The 22 carat gold filigree outer case made from twisted gold wire and applied gold beads must have taken an incredibly long time to execute to such a high standard. Even the outer protective shagreen leather case was decorated with a star design using gold pique pins.


From around 1620 watchmakers began to use enamel to decorate their watches, some of the earliest forms of enamel decoration were cloisonné and champleve, these techniques reached Europe from Byzantium in the middle ages. Champleve enamelling is named as such because the technique used, involves carving shallow indentations onto a piece of metal and the hollow space filled with enamel until the cell and surrounding area are flush with each other giving a uniformed and pleasant appearance. This method of enamel decoration is also used on Champleve dials from the mid 18th Century, giving the numerals a prominent and striking feature.


The cloisonné

watch case below is an early example from around 1640. Cloisonné enamel was first used in jewellery making in ancient Egypt and was used to adorn jewellery and statues . It was most commonly used in the far east, especially in China, and found its way to western europe via the silk road. In this early piece its possible to see the wire which is used to frame each individual cell of the enamel picture.


This enamel portrait verge

is an interesting example of a type of decoration that was becoming popular from the late 17th century.

In our next post we will discuss the use of reupousse work and other goldsmithing techniques.

Revealing a 350 Year Old Question: Why Pendulum Clocks Swing Together

Close to 350 years ago, a Dutch inventor and scientist by the name of Christiaan Huygens observed that two pendulum clocks hanging from the same wall would synchronise their swing after a certain amount of time. And following this moment in time, the whole phenomenon has caused scientific head-scratching the world over for centuries after. However, still, after all this time, no consensus had been reached… until now.

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5 Ways to Spot a Fake Antique Watch

Have you ever been left red-faced after purchasing a watch that you thought was genuine that in fact turned out to be a fake? How do you spot a fake? Well, we have a few pointers for anyone who doesn’t consider themselves quite the aficionado but still has a keen interest in antique pocket watches for sale, and other vintage timepieces. The last thing you want is to make a purchase on a collection of half hunter watches,only to find you’ve been ‘had’. Decorative Gold Full Hunter Antique Pocket Watch Continue reading “5 Ways to Spot a Fake Antique Watch”

Fascinating facts about time

Time. Something we all base our daily schedules around. Some have too much, some don’t have enough, but have you ever actually tried to get your head around the concept of time? In this day and age, it’s not only watch-wearers who are conscientious of timings. Following the industrial revolution, people became obsessed with times and schedules and they are now prevalent on objects we use every single day, such as laptops, phones and even microwaves.

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5 of the most incredible astronomical clocks from around the world

Astronomical clocks are something of sheer beauty and technicality that date back to the 11th century. There are many fine examples of these that remain today, stunning parts of history, which have been passed down through generations as a treasure of both art and time. We are here today to delve into the depths of five of the most beautiful astronomical clocks around the world and offer you a little insight into their past. But first off…

astronomical clocks

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