Wright & Craighead, 8 Red Lion Street, Successors to E. C. Bracebridges, Clerkenwell, London, No. 8001, ca. 1908.
A fine and historically late London finished watch
Wright & Craighead, 8 Red Lion Street, Successors to Edward Charles Bracebridge, Clerkenwell, London. The company of Wright & Craighead was formed in 1891 when the partnership took over the activities of Edward Charles Bracebridge & Co. This latter company operated out of 8 Red Lion Street (Clerkenwell) and 119 New Bond Street (Mayfair). The Bracebridges’ watchmaking house was established in the early 19th century and produced high quality London manufactured watches (cf. David Buckden’s article on the Bracebridges published on ‘The Old Watch Word’). The father’s firm was run during the latter part of the 19th century by James II (d. 1892) and Edward Gilbert (d. 1899). Before assuming leadership of the company, Thomas D. Wright worked as the general manager for E. C. Bracebridge’s watch manufacturing operations. He obtained that position through the merit of his horological knowledge. T. D. Wright (1847-1933) was an award wining professor and public member of the British Horological Institute. At the institute Wright lectured extensively on theoretical horology and mechanics. His lectures have been published in the ‘American Horologist & Jeweler’. In 1891 Wright took over the company and William Craighead joined the venture to help in its operation. They continued the business out of the 8 Red Lion street address.
Movement: A straight-angled 3/4 plate gold gilded hand engraved hunter movement. Modern top plate design that is generally non symmetric in its layout. Most probably manufactured in the Prescot (Lancashire) area. The edges of the top plate being finished in straight lines and at different angles. The right-hand edge of the top plate unusually in extending around the balance wheel and covering almost half of the escape wheel. The large blued-steel plate screws are positioned asymmetrically around the perimeter of the plate, with the left screw near the edge of the plate. The case holding screw (to the left of the serial number) positioned to form a triangular symmetry with the plate screws, lending a dynamism to the design. The center wheel pinion given a square finish in the style of key set watches. It is given a (now missing) mirror polished washer. The mainspring arbor receives a large brass bushing held by three blued screws. The mainspring arbor is finished to the same size as the center wheel pinion. The third wheel decorated by a concave oil sink with gold gilding. The fourth wheel arbor given a jewel enclosed by a brass chaton, held by two blued screws aligned with the curvature of the plate. The retailer’s name engraved across the movement and aligned with the two outermost top-plate screws. On the perimeter of the top plate the name of the company Wright & Craighead took over. The serial number, 8001, engraved on the left hand side of the movement. On the dial side, the layout and design typical of Prescot manufactured movements: Going train plate and rocking bar table placed underneath the visible winding and setting gears. Escapement pivots with jeweled cap ends. Traditional English position punch on the perimeter of the jewel bushings in order to facilitate the jewel adjustments carried out during timing. Third and fourth wheel arbor given pressure fitted jewels. Serial number stamped on the top mainplate, along with ‘6’ for the caliber size (diameter of movement), and ‘03’ for the thickness. A hand scratched '26' onto the gear train bridge most probably effected by the case maker, which wold correspond to the last two digits of the original gold case serial numbers. The gilding of this fine watch reflects electroplating practices of the early 20th century. The finish is slightly scuffed evidencing the watch's history of being taken from its original case.
Balance bridge: Austerely adorned balance bridge. Hand engraved ‘F’ (fast) and ‘S’ (slow) markings with graduations for timing. Underneath the index arm a scroll motif. The balance is surmounted by a light colored ruby end-stone set in a blued steel chaton, this latter fastened by two mirror polished bombé screws. The ‘A’ shaped hairspring stud, a distinctive and characteristic trademark of Wright’s watches is incorporated into this timepiece. A rare use (for English watches) of a high-coil count, flat palladium hairspring. The palladium spring meant to curtail fluctuations in temperature from effecting the watch’s timing, and against magnetism. The hairspring regulating index of typical Prescot shape, with the protruding arm holding the hairspring pins.
Escapement: Traditional English detached right-angle lever escapement. Single flat roller table with cylindrical impulse jewel. Polished steel club escape lever, with broad end finished with a lobed top. Small sized (in relation to caliber) bi-metallic compensation balance wheel with sharp-figured terminal steel ends styled as a talon. The balance wheel fitted with a profusion of solid gold balance screws. The escape wheel size and number of timing screws reflect the high strength of the mainspring. Solid gold escape wheel. Double capped jeweling on escape lever and wheel.
Keyless winding: Traditional Prescot styled layout and configuration. This instance accented by a playful combination of blued and mirror polished bombé screws for the winding and setting gears. The rocking bar lever placed under the gears and not visible. Of note is the rare use of a regulating screw to adjust the arch of the rocking lever’s action. The screw is visible below the mainspring winding intermediary wheel. All gears alternating with mirror-polished, snailing and straight statin finished decorations. The winding mainspring ratchet wheel fixed in place by a brass pin. The mainspring ratchet click in traditional talon-like shape.
Train: Solid brass gold-gilded gear train with thick hand-finished steel pinions. Solid gold escape wheel.
Jewels: 18 Jewels – balance work (5), escape lever (6), escape wheel (4), fourth wheel (2), third wheel (1).
Coggiola Watch Roma Wristwatch Case, Buckle & Restoration Work:
Bespoke case. More details to follow.
Hand manufactured case and parts in Rome, Italy:
Case: Two-piece solid stainless steel case. Winding crown at 3 o’clock position. Domed front and flat back mineral glass. Crown, stem, case crown sleeve, time setting pusher, and stainless steel crews.
Dial: Open work dial, details to follow.
Buckle: Four part stainless buckle, three stainless steel screws.
Diameter, without crown: 40mm.
Lug to lug: TBA.
Height, including crystal: TBA.
Strap: 22mm width. Length: Normal. ColaReb Roma, Italy. Hand-made leather strap made in Rome.
Restoration Work: New balance staff, new center pinion washer, mainspring barrel alignment, selective refinishing and re-bluing of screws, refinish snailing of mainspring ratchet wheel, timing, cleaning.