Monthly Archives: August 2014

Hairspring stud carriers

After some further working with my database I’m going to run with the working hypothesis that the different shaped stud carriers are indeed the result of different manufacturing facilities. There are some general trends and there are some exceptions, so I want to summarise my thoughts on some aspects of those.

I’ve only looked at the earlier numbered calibres – there seems little point in coming too far past the point of the merger of the companies and certainly all of the later production have triangular carriers so at some point this was consolidated. Nearly all of the early cylinders have triangular carriers and this is no surprise as I can trace the history of many of them back to M&ST before the merger. There are four calibres with rounded carriers – 6,7,12 and 13. Of course these are two paired calibres – open faced and hunter giving us a 16 and 18 ligne calibre which we could assign to LTG. It is interesting to note that these are the first calibres in the numeric sequence of calibres. Of course this is unlikely to be the total number of calibres used by LTG and to that we can add the family members such as 36.

The exception to this is calibre 32

which I think is part of the calibre 48 family – an M&ST design for sure.


Looking at the two however there are a couple of points to note. The 32 is jeweled, which whilst not rare for the 48 is unusual. The second is the balance wheel. The 48 pictured above carries the standard M&ST cylinder balance, so it seems to me that the 32 is an upgraded calibre and so not out of the bounds of possibilities that it was finished in a higher standard facility – such as the LTG operation.

The early levers are on the whole consistently have rounded carriers. In the official M&ST calibre lists the first ones to have a triangular stud are the 175 and the 202. What I did not expect in the whole sequence was that the carriers are consistent across all examples I have – I was expecting that perhaps early ones were rounded with later being triangular, but this is not the case at all – once rounded always rounded even for those pushing into the 1930’s.

The 175 and 202 are interesting as they challenge the hypothesis. So too do some of those calibres I have identified – the 23,26,29 and 35. The picture in that sense with the levers is much less clear. Why would some have triangular and others rounded? The 23 is especially interesting as it is pillar and plate construction and certainly an LTG design, a 189 family member. The 23 however is the calibre which features in the A Michel catalogue and its history is a little muddied.

Calibres 26 and 29 are the 194 and 195 family which have rounded carriers yet have triangular carriers. These two are examples of top of the range calibres, but are undated as yet, and it’s also true that the carriers are stubbier than the M&ST ones.


The evidence is still far from conclusive. Trends are there as well as exceptions. The exceptions can be explained or excused. There is another factor with the levers and that is keyless works layout. It appears that there are three general designs (ignoring the one rocker exception) and the pillar and plate one is clearly restricted to those movements. Of the two remaining layouts (which again are not notably different, mostly in the placement of the setting lever spring) there is no correlation between keyless works and stud carrier design. Since the keyless works are far more fundemental to the design of the watch than a finish it does indicate a common origin to all the lever watches.

LTG Dating

A great many of my watches carry no dating evidence, especially from the merger period, so I’m going to start making some notes.

My original evidence against LTG being the originator of all M&ST lever technology was calibre design. In 1913 LTG registered a patent for the keyless works. This patent number can be seen on a number of the calibres, and the patent shows indirectly the pillar and plate construction used in those calibres. Those keyless works sit in a separate module between the plates. Then there is the train layout – those calibres use a Roskopf style layout without a centre wheel.

The supposed M&ST calibres show none of these traits. So it’s clear that there was a design change – but the question is who made the change? Early M&ST watches are mostly 3/4 plate so in practice that isn’t so far off pillar and plate. So exactly what dating evidence do I have?

1917 MST 189 – LTG Pillar and plate construction, rounded stud carrier post

1918 MST 157 – ‘New’ construction, rounded stud carrier post

1918 MST 175 – ‘New’ construction, ‘later’ keyless works, triangular stud carrier post

1919 MST 23 – LTG pillar and plate construction. Triangular stud carrier post

1921 MST 202 – ‘New’ construction, triangular stud carrier post

I’m not sure I can draw much of a conclusion from that little evidence. There certainly is a difference in stud carrier shapes which would indicate two different production facilities. There is a slight trend that perhaps the merger caused a change in stud carrier shapes. I guess I need to see if that can be ruled out by looking at all the other watches with rounded stud carrier posts to see if they have any other dating evidence. We should also bear in mind that hallmarking dates can be misleading. WWI changed the focus of watch production to mens wristwatches – I have some Medanas that I am certain are prewar production in decorative cases – but are hallmarked post war so we need to factor that into account and remember that modern fast production, shipping and sales cycles were not always the case.

As a side note, what I have described as the ‘later’ keyless works are the most similar to the LTG patent in design, but since they were in use in 1918 (assuming that this single example is not a later service replacement into an earlier case) would suggest that they are contemporary.

Edit: And to muddy the waters regarding the stud carrier – this cal 6 is in an M&ST case, so clearly post merger and has a rounded stud carrier. Technically still possible… and maybe cylinder production took longer to change over… Excuses….

Lightbulb moments

Sometimes it takes putting words on the page to consolidate knowledge just as teaching forces you to deepen your knowledge of things which you ‘know,’ but in truth haven’t really explored fully.

Last week I identified a new bridge variant of the 202 calibre – what I have now numbered the 35

Cal 35

I came across this by pure chance on eBay as I happened to notice the M&S sponsor mark on the silver case hallmarkings. Taking the dial off and comparing to other calibres revealed the family – though it wasn’t a surprise as this seemed to be the start of M&ST doing it’s own hallmarking and I have a number of Delia marked watches (cal 202s) from the same date. Interestingly some of these run sub seconds and some don’t so that is a new marketing aspect I’ve not seen before.

To come back to the point however those Delias also carry the LTG logo on the calibres and this in 1921/21 is a few years after the merger. The question then is whether or not that was because of marketing or because those calibres were being made in the LTG factory (or both of course).

It brought my mind back to the Calibre 6 I mentioned in the last blog and the realisation that yes indeed these were LTG products and not M&ST designs – something I have resisted in my mind I guess. It also resolved a long running doubt I’ve had in my mind over a calibre that carries the Tieche mark (but there are several Tieches) but I had no LTG cylinder escapements to compare to (for a 6 with that mark see below). Now it seems obvious that the questionable movement is related to the 7 calibre.

Cal 36

Which brought my mind back to the varying shapes of the hairspring stud carriers. M&ST use the common triangle shape but a number of the lever calibres have a more rounded (pear shaped, teardrop?). Since the calibre above has that design it seems to me that this could be indicative of LTG design.

And with that here is the MST 6 with rounded stud carrier and the Tieche mark.

Cal 6

So how far does this theory take us? Well for a start there is the cal 157 – the earliest Roamer wristwatch calibre which we’ve been speculating could be the launch of M&STs first lever calibre.

Cal 157

Since it carries the rounded stud carrier it seems more and more likely to me that M&ST bought LTG for their lever expertise and that we can trace the lever technology to LTG and not to M&ST. I am now going to have to start retrawling through my database with this in mind and see where it leads. One thing that has become immediately obvious is the that the 157 and the 202 share a common design, especially around the keyless works. As a side not here I see that sometime in 1921 the set lever spring shape was redesigned on the 202 series to clear the dial foot hole better – something not needed on the 157 as the calibre is larger, but on the old design the relationship is clearer. Kris has commented on the similarity between keyless works in the past and going through my database I see the same designs cropping up – both this and the later redesign. I also see the two stud carrier shapes and now I’m going to have to start to question some of my date assumptions. One of the oddities of LTG is the lack of watches – now I’m starting to wonder that lack is a mistake on my part and if some of the watches in my collection I’ve assumed date into the Twenties in fact are a decade earlier. I guess we will have to wait for more evidence.

The oldest Roamer?

I have an ongoing interest in the early history of Meyer & Studeli, an interest which runs in cycles where I will check for new information becoming available where I actively seek out early watches. There are several areas where I continue to seek out information but without any great deal of success. One are is wondering what happened to all of the early brands that M&ST registered and presumably sold, yet so far I have yet to locate any examples. To be fair the early names are not ones which are easy to search.

1907 card

The card above includes mention of Femina (registerd 1900), Soleure Watch (1901) and Hora (1902), yet does not include Medana (1909). Registration dates thanks to the research of Andreas of The card probably dates to around 1907. Note too the horses and carts – not yet the motor cars featured on later pictures and subtly associated with the factory.

Then too there is the mystery of L Tieche Gammeter, the company that M&ST took over around 1917. LTG first appear in 1903 registering brand names. In 1908 they took part in some joint advertising with M&ST and some other Soleure companies which indicates that there was some degree of familiarity between them.

The two areas of outstanding mystery collide around the Roamer trademark first registered by LTG in 1909 and which later went on to be used by M&ST so successfully that it became the company name. We know that with wristwatches the earliest Roamers we have found date to 1918.

1918 Cal 157

Yet that is nine years after the name was registered and puts that watch firmly in the period when ownership had passed to M&ST. One of my other avenues of research is in speculatively buying watches that might have been made by M&ST or LTG. Many of these turn out to be false trails but even so they have expanded my apreciation of just how interlinked the watchmaking companies were at that time. Some of that is likely because they bought ebauches from the same sources, some of that appears to be from selling calibre designs to each other, all of which can make it hard to be sure exactly who made what.

One of those speculative purchases was this watch which is marked LTG both on the case and calibre.

One of the interesting features was that it contained a calibre that was new to me. Bear in mind that the earlies list of calibres we have dates from 1933, which is easily one or two full calibre generations on from the first world war calibres. Indeed the 1918 wristwatch above is not included in the 1933 catalogue (though a bridge variation is). Finding a new calibre is rarely conclusive given that few are marked, but this case seemed reasonably sure since it is marked and I also found another that had a Roamer dial.

Recently I bought a job lot of broken pocket watches because it included a Roamer pocket watch that appeared to have a reasonable condition dial that I thought might be of use somewhere down the road. I was pleased to find that it was yet another example of this same calibre.

This calibre is interesting because removing the dial reveals that it has a rocker design for the keyless works – a relatively primitive and cheap design. More interesting because LTG patented a keyless works design in 1913 that is often found on their watches. Of course these calibres all seem to be 7 jewel so it might be an entry level calibre with a cheaper keyless works.

Interesting also is the layout of the dial side if we compare it to the M&ST cal 6 (cylinder escapement)

Now, I had always assumed that the MST cal 6 was an early calibre, but we already suspected that the calibres had been renumbered at some point (we only know this as the calibre 6 from the 1933 and later catalogues). In truth I don’t have one I can definitively date and I would assume all I have are post 1919. If this is in fact the case it appears that the 6 might be a redesign of an LTG calibre, or indeed an LTG cylinder calibre. I tend to ignore the 6′s that come up for sale but I guess I need to start looking for datable watches.

Coming back to my parts watch though, it seems to me that this calibre is indeed an LTG one and predates the merger. As such could it be the oldest Roamer watch? None of them have hallmarks, even though two are in Swiss silver cases. However the Marlboro has LTG markings and as such probably predates the merger. Which leaves two with Roamer dials. Before I consider these there is one other indicator of an older calibre and that is that the centre wheel on this calibre runs on a separate arbour to which the canon pinion is a friction fit. In more modern designs the centre wheel, like the other wheels, the arbour is fitted to the wheel. This indicates to me an older calibre design.

Another indicator I have noticed is that older calibres have on the dial side a cirular groove machined into the face.

Here is the Marlboro with groove

and here is the other Roamer without

To me this indicates that the Roamer is newer than the Marlboro, potentially putting the Roamer into M&ST production. Now the parts watch also has the groove but in addition it has a serial number. Now serial numbers tend to be found only from either smaller companies or those selling more expensive watches – it costs money to mark each one, and then of course since there is no point in marking without tracking that number, people have to spend time recording what happens to that watch. I have an M&ST watch with a groove and a serial number, which to me indicates that one predates all my other M&ST watches since I assume that M&ST abandoned the practice to save money – just as they stopped machining the groove (I have no idea of the purpose of the groove, but it must have one). The serial number to me indicates that the parts watch is older than the Marlboro and that would probably make it the oldest Roamer I own – but that will have to remain speculation until I manage to find an older one that is dated.

One other nice thing about the parts watch by the way is that the back of the dial has initials, a first for one of my collection.