J. H. Roskell, Liverpool & London, No. 18,324, 1880s.
A fine Prescot finished movement for the Liverpool and London market
J. H. Roskell, Liverpool & London watch. The famous early 19th century watchmaker, Robert Roskell Sr. (active 1790-1848), often worked in close association with his own children and that of his brother John.
John Roskell Sr. worked in partnership with his brother until 1825. Thereafter, John Roskell continued to collaborate with his brother, while working with his various children out of the 16 Nelson Street, St. James address. John had a son, John Roskell Jr., who worked in partnership with Robert Roskell Sr. in the firm ‘Robert Roskell & Sons’.
Robert Roskell Jr. (d. 1888), son of his famous watchmaking father, worked along his cousin John in his father’s namesake firm (and its later transformation into ‘Messrs Roskell & Co’). Robert Roskell Jr. moved to London in the early 1843 to create the famous firm of Hunt & Roskell, retailers of some of England’s finest watches and jewelry.
In 1847 the firm of ‘Robert Roskell and Co’ (from 1877 onwards as ‘Robert Roskell and Co. Ltd.) is recorded as being run by William and Richard Roskell, sons of John Roskell Jr. The watch ‘Robert Roskell, Liverpool, No. 74,450’ cased by Coggiola Watch Roma, appears to be the work of this firm.
Another John Roskell, the son of Robert Roskell Jr. of London’s Hunt & Roskell, stayed in Liverpool and worked from 1848-51 in the ‘Robert Roskell & Sons’ firm alongside his cousins and other brothers. John Roskell took over its accounts after the dissolution of said company. John Roskell continued to operate out of 13 & 14 Church Street, Liverpool address.
The present watch, signed ‘J. H. Roskell, Liverpool & London’ appears to be the production of this latter successor company. I have not been able to identify a retailer by this name in London. The ‘Liverpool and London’ designation, with a lack of street address, could stem from resale relations in London with the family’s relation to Hunt & Roskell. Or, more probable, to its resale by a partnership with reseller in London. The continued successful activities of the Roskell descendants show that the Roskell name was associated with quality and horological prestige throughout the 19th and early 20th century.
Movement: 6-size, hand gilded and hand-engraved open-faced Lépine movement. The ¾ plate design in symmetrical style: Four top plate screws flanking the center wheel pinion and mainspring arbors. The center wheel flat and circular finished to the same size as the mainspring arbor, and adorned with a larger mirror polish washer. The third and fourth wheel jewels with deep red pointed jewels in brass settings, with symmetrically aligned retaining screws. The movement layout appears to be of the kind produced in Coventry, yet many details show it is finished in the Prescot – Liverpool area. The name of ‘J. H. Roskell’ prominently placed in the center of the movement, with ‘Liverpool & London’ along the bottom perimeter, and the serial number adorning the upper right hand side.
Balance bridge: Elaborately adorned Victorian floral pattern adorning the entirety of the balance bridge. Square shaped hairspring stud fastening the flat blue-steel hairspring. The index regulator thin, long with the hairspring pin arm placed at an angle, as per Prescot made watches. The top pivot balance jewel is transparent allowing a view onto the movement of the pivot.
Escapement: Traditional English right-angle lever escapement. Single flat-roller impulse jewel. Polished and broad ended steel club escape lever. Bi-metallic compensation balance wheel with sharp-figured terminal steel ends. The balance arms are given a solid gold weight to the right (instead of directly over the balance arm). This configuration is typical of chronometer quality balance wheels, which are later inappropriately called ‘Guillaume balance’. This style of balance leads to an increased arc in its swing. Solid gold escape wheel.
Keyless winding: Traditional Coventry styled top mounted rack lever. This latter with the characteristic pointed ends for the winding and setting gears, and rounded end for the setting pin. The rack matte finished, with the mainspring ratchet given a combination of mirror and sunburst finish. The use of a Coventry styled winding system shows the complexity of English manufacture, with individual pieces chosen by the watchmaker for their requirements. The particular advantage of Coventry styled keyless system is its lack of screws to hold the winding and setting gears, thereby minimalizing their risk of becoming loose and creating damage in the movement. Large winding ratchet of equal size to mainspring ratchet. The winding and setting gears with angular pointed shaped teeth. The mainspring click distinctively blued as per Coventry traditions. The large 1/3 wheel train plate angled towards the center with pointed ends lending the entire dial plate a very dynamic composition.
Train: Mirror polished solid gold train with thick hand finished steel pinions. Solid gold escape wheel. Jeweled to the third wheel.
Jewels: 15 Jewels – balance work (5), escape lever (4), escape wheel (2), fourth wheel (2), third wheel (2).
Coggiola Watch Roma Wristwatch Case, Buckle & Restoration Work:
Bespoke solid bronze case.
Hand manufactured case and parts in Rome, Italy:
Case: Two-piece solid bronze case. Crown, stem, case crown sleeve, time setting pusher.
Dial: Original dial, no seconds, roman numerals. Custom feuille shaped hand fired purple-blued hands.
Crystal: Sapphire crystal, hand turned custom-made crystal gaskets.
Buckle: Two-part solid bronze buckle.
Diameter, without crown: 40mm.
Lug to lug: 50mm.
Height, including crystal: 13mm.
Strap: 22mm width. Length: Normal. ColaReb Roma, Italy. Hand-made leather strap made in Rome.
Restoration Work: Before work began, the movement was in relatively good condition. Minor rust and blemishes to the polished steel surfaces was restored. Scratched heat-blued screws were restored. The hour pinion was tightened and adjusted after having shown it was not correctly gripping center wheel. The watch is serviced and timed for wristwatch use.
Case Manufacture Photo Gallery
Dial, Hands, and Buckle Manufacture Photo Gallery