Brockbank & Atkins, Cowper’s Court, Cornhill, London,
No. 83,202, ca. 1900-1910.
An exceedingly rare and high-quality going barrel Lepine pocket watch manufactured in London
Brockbank & Atkins, 6 Cowper’s Court, Cornhill, London. The firm of Brockbank & Atkins counts as one of the most distinguished chronometer makers of late 18th and 19th century London. The Brockbank brothers John (1747-1806) and Miles (1754-1821), of Cumbrian birth, and trained in London, formed their partnership in 1781. The watchmakers created their reputation by producing a sizeable quantity of high quality marine chronometers utilizing advancements made by their peers, rather than on focusing on innovation. Their high quality, volume, and dependability of their chronometers established the firm’s reputation, and along with Arnold, Earnshaw and Pennington, they came to be considered as one of the preeminent manufacturers of chronometers in London. John, the principal horologist of the pair, passed away in 1806. Although it appears Miles had retired at that time, he formed a partnership in 1807 with his nephew William Brockbank (1777-1822) (son of John Brockbank), a chronometer maker called James Beck and an investor William Robert Grove. This short-lived partnership was finally dissolved in 1815. William Brockbank had left the firm in 1812, James Beck in 1813, and William Robert Grove in 1815. At this point Miles Brockbank went into partnership with the clock and watch maker George Atkins (1767-1855). The name was changed to Brockbank & Atkins. George would run the company until 1835 when his son, Samuel Elliot Atkins (1807-1898) became a partner in the firm. Samuel Elliot was a prominent member of London’s watchmaking community, and a member of the Clockmaker’s Company. From 1840 to 1842 the company was re-named Brockbank, Atkins & Son. After 1842, the title ‘Son’ was removed. The firm continued to make exceptional watches, and from 1885-1898 the famous watchmaker George John Moore (1838-1916) was a partner in the firm (watches were signed ‘Brockbank, Atkins & Moore). Sometime before the George John’s departure, Samuel Elliot Atkins' son, Charles Edward Atkins (1854-1933) joined the firm. After Moore’s departure in 1898, the firm’s name returned to Brockbank & Atkins. Charles Edward was deeply invested in his company’s heritage and the wider watchmaking history of London. In 1931 he published the famous ‘Register’ of the apprentices of London’s Worshipful Company of Clockmakers from its start in 1631 to 1931. This register is still a work of paramount reference to this day. The company was closed at the death of Charles Edward in 1933 as he was not married and had no heirs. The present watch was manufactured under the care of Charles Edward Atkins. Examples of Brockbank & Atkins watches from the early 20th century are exceedingly rare, and of those watches known, they display only the highest-grade traditions of London's watchmaking.
Movement: A rare high-grade caliper, twelve size (40.5mm diameter), styled and curved 3/4 plate gold gilded, and hand engraved Lepine style movement. The top ¾ plate is laid out in a beautiful symmetric manner having the center pinion and mainspring barrel as the pivot of the visual axis. The balance bridge jewel forms the upper most point of this axis. The ¾ plate has symmetrically laid out plate and case screws to the left and right of the axis, and has a playful incised lobed design. This latter, coupled with the raise barrel bridge is highly reminiscent of the high-grade ebauches by London’s Hector Golay. Another possible provenance for the caliper is the workshop of Nicole Nielsen, who’s late 1890s work shows similar bridge design. However, the main-plate architecture for the keyless winding and setting is entirely different in Nicole Nielsen’s movements. A similar, but not exact, caliper was used by London’s E. W. Streeter in this same time period. While a free-sprung S. Smith’s & Sons Kew A Observatory Chronometer, serial number 19311, does appear to use this same caliber. Demonstrating how this design was intended for high-grade chronometer grade watches.
The center wheel pinion given a small and delicate polished button finish. The raised mainspring barrel contains the famous signature of Brockbank & Atkins. Visible on the raised bridge is the mainspring barrel pinion with the square slot pinion of the Geneva safety stop. The symmetrical division of the movement is highlighted by the left hand containing only the jewels (whose bushing retaining screws are aligned) and the serial number while on the right hand-side is the manufacturer’s address in London. On the dial side, a traditional main plate design with a 1/3 gear train bridge. Escapement pivots with jeweled cap ends. Traditional English position punch on the perimeter of the jewel caps in order to facilitate the proper positioning of the jewels to endure the same adjustment that were carried out during original timing/adjusting. The third and fourth wheel arbor jewels pressure fitted to frame. The bottom of the frame stamped with the movement diameter (‘12’), and the movement thickness (’04’). All bridge screws are given the characteristic English bombé head finish, and are of a rich deep blue hue. The jewels fort he escapement are of a deep red color, while the third and fourth wheel jewels are of a lighter shade.
Balance bridge: An elegant and minimalistic adorned bridge reflecting early 20th century English tradition. Fast/Slow indications enclosed and separated, and a decorative trident design engraved underneath the index regulating arm. The timing divisions graduated in two sub-divisions. The balance wheel end-jewel of a deep red color, fastened by two flat polished screws. The index regulator of ‘Coventry’ style, defined as the hairspring retaining pins fastened onto the curvature of the index regulator head. The index finger given a blued notch above the bridge’s timing divisions. The balance is fitted with a blued steel Breguet overcoil hairspring, and this latter fastened by a correct ‘splinter’ shaped retaining stud.
Escapement: Traditional English detached right-angle lever escapement. Single flat roller table with cylindrical impulse jewel. Thin and elegant polished steel escape lever, with club-shaped end, finished with a lobed top. Very large bi-metallic compensation balance wheel with boot-shaped balance arm terminals. Timing screws of solid gold and varying sizes accounting for the hand timing of the balance wheel.
Keyless winding: Classic Liverpool & Prescot (Lancashire) styled rocking lever keyless winding and time setting. This is defined by the rocking bar placed below the gears, and the gears fastened on top of the lever via screws and a center gear with a screwed on cap. The gears are given sunburst and mirror polished finish. With the screws an elegant bombé finish with a mirror polish. The mainspring ratchet fitted with a modern steel pin (a later, and incorrect, replacement, to be remedied). Mainspring click of the ‘talon’ type.
Train: Solid brass gold-gilded gear train with thick hand-finished steel pinions. Solid gold escape wheel. Jeweled to the third wheel.
Jewels: 19 Jewels – balance work (5), escape lever (6), escape wheel (4), fourth wheel (2), third wheel (2).
Coggiola Watch Roma Wristwatch Case, Buckle & Restoration Work:
Bespoke case, as accorded. More details to be revealed.
Hand manufactured case and parts in Rome, Italy:
Case: Stainless steel case. Winding crown at 3 o’clock position, second’s at 9 o’clock. Crown, stem, case crown sleeve, time setting pusher, and crews.
Dial: Round open work dial with custom indexes, and special custom shaped hands, details to be revealed.
Buckle: Hand manufactured buckle, stainless steel, details to follow.
Diameter, without crown: 42mm.
Lug to lug: TBD.
Height, including crystal: TBD.
Strap: 24mm width. Length: Normal. ColaReb Roma, Italy. Hand-made leather strap made in Rome. Fastened by Panerai styled screwed tubes.
Restoration Work: TBD.