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The Dennison Watch Case Company

Last updated on June 24, 2024

This month I am starting to look for a new antique pocket watch for my collection. Actually, I am always looking for a new watch, not just this month. I try to add to my collection every month. February, I am covered. I added a beautiful antique single Albert pocket chain to my collection. It’s silver and perfect for the two antique pocket watches I already have in my collection. Now I am looking for a full hunter case pocket watch to add to my pieces. I think the next one should have a gold case in order to diversify the collection.

I have been looking online at antique hunter case pocket watches, as well as being gold, I want a case where the lid will snap open with a single press of the crown. Many of the pieces I have seen so far require a little assistance when opening the cover. I am going to be patient and wait for one which will open with a simple press. One thing I have noticed is that a lot of the cases are made by the Dennison Watch Case Company, so I have been doing my research and this is what today’s post is all about.

Aaron Lufkin Dennison

Aaron Lufkin Dennison was an American, born in Freeport, Maine in 1812. The son of a boot and shoemaker, Dennison was apparently a hard-working child. He earned pocket money from a variety of menial tasks. In 1830 he was apprenticed to a clockmaker, James Cary. 

At the age of 21, Dennison had completed his apprenticeship, declined the offer of a partnership with Cary and went to Boston to further his career. In 1834 he started his own business as a watch repairer. This only lasted two years before he joined Jones, Low & Ball as a watch repairer and learned about the English and Swiss methods of manufacturing.

Aaron Lufkin Dennison.
Aaron Lufkin Dennison

Watch manufacturing

In 1840, he was still repairing watches, however, he had begun to consider manufacturing his own watches. His plan was to make watches using interchangeable parts, rather than building each watch by hand. It took a few years for this idea to come to fruition. In 1849 he approached the company of Howard & Davis, with his idea of a mechanised manufacturing process for watches. Although Dennison was the only person with any knowledge of watchmaking, the offer was accepted and the business launched in 1850. The firm was called Dennison, Howard & Davis and a factory was built in Roxbury, Massachusetts.


Dennison travelled to England to acquire parts, knowledge and labour that was not available in America. On his return, he designed and constructed the machinery required to execute his plan. His first watch was a failure. It had a power reserve of eight days from a single mainspring barrel, but was it terribly inaccurate and unable to be sold. Dennison later admitted he had no ability as a machinist.

In 1852 the company hired a skilled machinist who rebuilt the machinery and a successful watch was made and sold. The company moved to a new factory in Waltham, Massachusetts in 1854, under the new name of the Boston Watch Company. Dennison remained with the company until it went bankrupt in 1857.

As a result of the bankruptcy, the company was split into two parts. Some of the machinery and skilled workforce returned to Roxbury and formed the Howard Watch Company. The buildings and immovable machinery were sold to a watch manufacturer by the name of Tracey Baker & Company. Dennison remained in Waltham, working for the new company as a superintendent. He remained there until 1861 when he was fired by the owner for meddling with other departments and neglecting his duties. Tracey Baker & Company and the factory in Waltham ended up becoming, after a few more mergers and renames, the Waltham Watch Company.

Birmingham, England

In 1864 Dennison set up another business, the Tremont Watch Company in Boston. His idea was to purchase the delicate components from Swiss manufacturers where labour costs were lower. The larger components he would produce in America. Dennison left a business partner in charge in America and moved to Zurich to oversee the Swiss operations. The Tremont Watch Company fell into financial difficulties in 1870 and failed. In 1871, Dennison moved to Birmingham, England, where he continued to be involved in watchmaking. In 1874, he identified a niche in the market for high-quality watch cases produced in large numbers and started a company. He patented many designs for air and watertight cases.

Originating from a small workshop on the side of the family home, the company was called Dennison, Wigley & Company and it grew to produce 100,000 high-quality watch cases per year. Dennison died in 1895, and he was succeeded in business by his son, Franklin Dennison. The company was renamed the Dennison Watch Case Company Ltd in 1905 and continued as a successful business until 1967. The Dennison Watch Case Company failed in February 1967 due to insolvency and the factory in Birmingham ceased production.

Dennison silver case.
Dennison silver case. © Atlam Watches

Dennison cases

The company made cases from different materials including gold, silver, nickel, gold filled-gold and rolled-gold. Filled gold must include at least 5% of the total weight of the item in pure gold. Rolled gold contains less than 5% of pure gold, but is many times thicker than simple gold plate. The thickness of the gold determines how long the item will last in normal use before the gold wears through and the base metal shows.

Dennison didn’t just make watch cases. They also made Sovereign cases (coin holders), vesta cases (match holders) and powder compacts for ladies. The Dennison cases, watches and others, were often marked with “DQ”, which stands for “Dennison Quality”, a term often used in their advertising.

"Dennison Quality" advertisement. Birmingham Chamber of Commerce Year Book 1921.
“Dennison Quality” advertisement. Birmingham Chamber of Commerce Year Book 1921.

Star, Moon and Sun

The Dennison Case Watch Company used specific grades to indicate how long the gold layer should last. A Sun grade indicated a case with layers of 14-carat gold, guaranteed to wear for 25 years. The Moon grade indicated layers of 10-carat gold, guaranteed to wear for 20 years. The Star grade indicated the outside of the case was a layer of 9-carat gold, guaranteed to wear for 10 years. The inside of the Star case, which naturally was subject to less wear, was electroplated with a gold plate to reduce costs.

It appears that Dennison started using the Star, Moon and Sun marks at the end of the 19th century. The earliest examples of these cases that I can find have been from Waltham pocket watches, dated by the movement serial number, to 1894. There was a separate trademark that included a star, moon and sun that was stamped on watch cases, including those made of nickel. In this instance, it didn’t indicate quality.

Dennison Star grade case.
Dennison Star grade case. © Atlam Watches

Cuprel and Aquatite

Dennison Cuprel was a brand name registered by Dennison in 1920. I suspect the name is a derivative of cupronickel, which is a copper alloy. It was composed of 60% to 90% copper and the bulk of the remainder was nickel. Despite its high copper content, cupronickel had a silver appearance and was highly resistant to corrosion, especially seawater. It was used in marine and military applications.

The Dennison Aquatite was a brand dating from the early 1950s. As the name suggests it was an attempt at a watertight watch case. The watch case employed a straightforward, two-part construction, utilising specialised alloys that withstood both atmospheric and seawater-related corrosion. The case back was a screw-on version. The perspex glass crystal was strategically beaded, allowing it to create an effective seal when pressed in place under pressure. The glass formed a tight bond with a concealed plastic washer situated in a recessed groove. Plastic washers similarly ensured tight seals for both the crown and the case back. The movement resides within a retaining thrust ring, cleverly designed to provide structural integrity. The Dennison Aquatite watch cases offer flexibility to accommodate both bevelled and regular movements in 10 ½ and 12 ligne sizes.

British Industries Fair Advertisement for Dennison watch cases, 1922.
British Industries Fair Advertisement for Dennison watch cases, 1922.


Denisteel was a trade name registered by the Dennison Watch Case Company in 1934 to describe its stainless steel watch cases. Stainless steel was developed by Harry Brearley of Thomas Firth & Sons in 1912. Initially, stainless steel was used for cutlery. However, by the 1930s, due to the Great Depression, watchmakers began to look for cheaper alternatives for watch cases than gold, silver and even nickel. As a result, watch cases began to be made from stainless steel in the early 1930s. Today, we most commonly find the Denisteel stamp inside case backs from the 1940s to the 1960s on UK market models by Omega, Rolex and IWC. While superb as a case manufacturer, Dennison certainly didn’t make its own steel and it would have been supplied by Firth or one of its competitors.


One of their higher-end products was the Dennison “Meteor” watch case, available from around 1905. The Meteor case was renowned for its robust construction and elegant design. The Meteor case was available in pocket watch cases and later in cushion cases (square cases with rounded edges) for wristwatches. It was used by various watch brands, including Rolex, Omega, and others, to house their timepieces. The Dennison Meteor cases were typically made from high-grade materials such as stainless steel, silver or gold, and they featured precise engineering to ensure the protection and longevity of the watch movement inside.

Dennison and Rolex

The Dennison Watch Case Company quickly became the largest watch case manufacturer in England, supplying high-quality cases and even movements to prestigious watch brands like Omega, Longines, JLC, Rolex, and Benson. It is not uncommon to see an antique watch from an established Swiss brand like Rolex featuring a British made Dennison case. Because of high imposed import taxes on luxury goods between countries, companies like Rolex would get around this by shipping their movements to Dennison, who would place them in their locally made watch cases. This avoided the high import duties on the precious metal.

Dennison watches

In 1915, the Dennison Watch Case Company registered the brand name, Denco Watch Co. and launched its own line of watches.  Up until then, the company had concentrated on manufacturing watch cases. They supplied various watch companies, including Waltham UK. The Denco watches were likely to be private-label watches, made by another firm.  There is no indication that Dennison had any in-house watchmaking capability. They simply would have purchased the completed and branded movement and inserted them into their own watch cases. The watches were certainly of good quality as they used, as a minimum, 15-jewel movements. However, watch production ceased at the start of World War II when the company started manufacturing military equipment for the British Royal Air Force. I have also seen watches with the Dennison name on the dial and the movement.

Denco pocket watch.
Denco pocket watch. © The Vintage Wrist Watch Company


According to Mikrolisk, the following brand names were registered by the Dennison Watch Case Company. The obvious one that is missing, is the Sun trademark for the higher-end gold-filled cases.

ALD        Dennison Watch Case Co. Ltd.    Birmingham, England; registered 16.10.1920

Aquatite               Dennison Watch Case Co. Ltd.    Birmingham, England; registered 01.03.1915

Cuprel                   Dennison Watch Case Co. Ltd.   Birmingham, England; registered 26.10.1920

DC                   Dennison Watch Case Co. Ltd.    Birmingham, England; registered 23.09.1908

Denco                   Dennison Watch Case Co. Ltd.    Birmingham, England; registered 09.04.1915

Denisteel              Dennison Watch Case Co. Ltd.    Birmingham, England; registered 170.04.1934

Dennison             Dennison Watch Case Co. Ltd      England; registered am 15.11.1937

Dennison Watch Case Co.                          Birmingham, England; registered 06.05.1920

Eclipse                   Dennison Watch Case Co. Ltd.    Birmingham, England; registered 19.01.1926

Moon                    Dennison Watch Case Co. Ltd.     Birmingham, England; registered 16.10.1920

Regal                     Dennison Watch Case Co. Ltd.     Birmingham, England; registered 14.02.1927

Régal                     Dennison Watch Case Co. Ltd.     Birmingham, England; registered 10.02.1947

Safric                     Dennison Watch Case Co. Ltd.     England; registered 27.10.1926

Star                        Dennison Watch Case Co. Ltd.     Birmingham, England; registered 16.10.1920


Dennison tried and failed many times throughout his career and there are involvements with other businesses that I have left in this post for brevity. One thing is clear, he never gave up. He was perhaps overly ambitious and also difficult to work with, had he delegated tasks to others he may have been successful earlier. He certainly contributed much to the horological industry as pioneering work with machinery and interchangeable parts paved the way for the mechanisation of the industry and mass production. His greatest success remains the Dennison Watch Case Company.

A list of additional posts regarding antique watches can be found on the Guides page.


  1. David Race David Race

    I have a Moon case watch which snaps open. I suspect it still works if properly serviced.
    It was handed down to me and I think it was made about 1900. Serial number 521253.
    the movement is American Waltham Traveler.
    I am thinking of taking it to a watchmaker for cleaning to see if it works.
    it is totally coincidental I saw this post today as I have never searched info on this watch before.

    • Jason Jason

      Hi David,

      The Dennison Moon is a good quality case. You can date your watch using the Waltham serial number engraved on the movement using this website. This will give you an exact date for the watch. A watchmaker should be able to return it to good working order, which is worth the time, effort and cost for a timepiece with sentimental value. Thanks for commenting, Jason.

      • Owen Hughes Owen Hughes

        Well what an interesting read – thank you!
        Like many of your readers I have inherited a Dennison watch. It is a star with the serial number 979480. Sadly it’s not working but I have the intentions of getting it sorted as it seems to have had little use.
        The movement is by A. Reymond and is a 21 jewel movement.
        Are you able to offer any dating advice?

        Many thanks


        • Jason Jason

          Hi Owen, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to date Dennison cases by the serial number. I am not aware of any definitive resource that lists the serial numbers. Additionally, there doesn’t seem to be a consistent pattern in their use. We do know that Dennison started using the Star, Moon and Sun models in the early 20th century. Dennison became a limited company in 1905, so if the case is marked with Dennison Watch Case Company Ltd, you know that your watch dates from 1905 or later.

          Additionally, the name A Reymond is most likely to be Auguste Reymond, also known as ARSA (Auguste Reymond SA). Reymond was a respectable, but somewhat obscure watchmaker, who founded his watchmaking business in Tramelan, Switzerland in 1898. The company produced good quality watches, such as yours for nearly a century. The high jewel count in your watch is an indicator of its quality. I hope this helps, Jason

        • Paul Murphy Paul Murphy

          Hello I have been just handed a Dennison case pocket watch with chain serial number 241116 and an f under the number and a 375 embossed in the case also on the lid is a what looks like a anchor and a x

          • Jason Jason

            Hi Paul, the serial number is on the chain? Dennison cases are notoriously difficult to date according to serial numbers. If the serial number is on the chain, they are likely unrelated, unless the serial number also appears on the case. Does the markings say Dennison Watch Company Ltd? Because Dennisons became a limited company in 1905. The 375 indicates 9ct gold, you can read this article on How to read British Hallmarks. The anchor will indicate that the assay office that hallmarked the case was Birmingham. The “X” is likely the date mark, but I need to see a photo to determine the exact date, as the letters are re-used for multiple years. Is there anything else you know about the pocket watch? Dennison’s made watch cases. but not pocket watches. I hope this helps. Thanks for commenting, Jason

    • Beverley Bakker Beverley Bakker

      I also have a Moon case watch which snaps open. It belonged to my father who was born 1898. Serial number of the watch is 612559 and has the Sun Moon and Star trade marks so would have been made some time after the turn of the century. The serial number would indicate it is younger than yours David Race. I have no idea about the movement as I haven’t been able to open the flap to that section.

  2. Jacob Jacob

    Hi Jason,

    I have a Dennison Watch Case Co Ltd, Star case that has been serviced and now keeps time well!

    The serial number on the case is 767375 though I do know now after some reading that it’s the watch movement which is the important part for determining the age of the watch (which I’m trying to figure out).

    Upon opening the back, all I can see engraved is “15 Jewels”, “3 Adjustments” and “Swiss Made” but no serial number annoyingly!

    Could you please help/provide insight?



    • Jason Jason

      Hi Jacob,

      Watchmaking was a confusing world in those days. One source could make the components, another could assemble them and finally, a retailer could sell the finished product, claiming to be the watchmaker. The last thing the retailer wanted a customer to see on the movement, was a name other than theirs. Any mark that would identify the source of the movement will most likely be on the dial side of the movement where it is out of sight. Next time you get it serviced ask the watchmaker to photograph the movement from all sides. I hope this helps. Thanks for commenting, Jason.

  3. Eric Morton Eric Morton

    This is very interesting, thanks. I also have inherited a ‘Moon’ case which belonged to my great grandfather. It appears to work well. Can someone tell me how to set the hands please, and any other technical information, ie how long between winding would it be expected to last?
    Thanks again Eric.

  4. Maggie Maggie

    Hello 👋
    I have a Denison Watch Case Co. Item with a star moon and sun marks on it. Would you be able to tell me anything else about it please. 🤔

    • Jason Jason

      Hi Maggie, the Star, Moon and Sun symbols were a trademark of Dennison’s from the early 20th century, these appeared on watch cases made of gold, silver and nickel. The word Star, Moon or Sun, indicated the quality of their gold-filled or gold plated cases. Are there any other markings on the case, such as hallmarks? Thanks for commenting, Jason.

  5. Richard Glover Richard Glover

    Hi Jason,
    I have inherited my great-grandfathers (1881-1961) Dennison.
    It is marked as ‘MOON’ with a case serial number of 730597.
    The movement shows ‘SS & Co’ with 3 triangles but appears to have no serial number.
    Is there any way of dating the watch? Could you tell me anything about the watch?
    Best Regards,

    • Jason Jason

      Hi Richard,
      I am aware of SS&C and Dennison. I’ll do some investigation and get back to you, probably on the weekend. Thanks for taking the time to read the article and commenting, Jason

    • Jason Jason

      Hi Richard,
      The watch was made by Stauffer, Son & Co. They were a major Swiss watchmaker with a somewhat obscure history. The trademark you mention, “SS & Co with 3 triangles” was registered in 1886. This trademark was used for Stauffer’s highest-quality watches. The watch case was made by Dennison who started using the ‘Moon’ trademark around 1901. This would suggest that the watch dates from the early 1900s when your great-grandfather would have been in his early twenties. I hope this information helps, Jason.

  6. Barry Dutton Barry Dutton

    I don’t know if anyone can answer my question..
    I have a Hunter pocket watch in silver date stamped Birmingham 1924 it’s a Dennison case, the movement I’ve know idea who made that it’s makes Swiss made with Sanders & Company on the dial..
    This watch doesn’t have a crystal or a bezel to fit one in, my question is should it have a crystal or did some not have a crystal. I am very cautious when opening the watch because it beautiful blue fingers fitted with nothing to protect them..

    Kind regards

    • Jason Jason

      Hi Barry,
      Sanders & Company were a London retailer associated with James Walker Ltd. They didn’t make watches, but sold them under their own brand. The watch should have a crystal to protect the blued steel hands. Check out RomanDial Watches they will be able to find a replacement crystal. I hope this helps, Jason

  7. Andrew Clennell Andrew Clennell

    Hi I have inherited a dennison case watch
    Serial number looks like 721275
    It is a Star
    Just had it serviced and working fine
    Could you tell me how old it is
    Or any information would be appreciated

    • Jason Jason

      Hi Andrew,
      Dennison started using the Star, Moon and Sun marks around 1901. The company became Limited in 1905. If your case states Dennison Watch Case Co. Ltd, it will date from no earlier than 1905. There is no record of serial numbers, but it should be safe to assume they increment over time. I have a Criterion pocket watch with a Star case, which I have tentatively dated to 1910c. The serial numbers are probably different on each type of case, Open vs Hunter. The only other way to date the watch would be from the movement. I hope this helps. Jason

  8. Brian Brian

    Hi everyone,
    I’d appreciate any help you can give on my watch.
    It’s an ALD Dennison Watch Case Co Ltd – Moon.
    Serial 627178
    Below the serial appears to be a Roman numeral X then maybe a T or F
    No names are on the white dial with Roman numeral digits except “Swiss Made” printed either side of the VI
    Inside, the mechanism reads 15 Jewels 4 Adjustments. Below this is a circle with maybe a tree or up arrow inside it, maybe a triangle. Can provide photos if necessary.

    Would really appreciate any further detail provided. I know Dennison made three qualities of case and Moon is the mid range between Star and Sun.

    • Jason Jason

      Hi Brian,

      A movement with 15 jewels and 4 adjustments, would be considered good quality. The Moon grade Dennison watch case is made using layers of 10-carat gold and guaranteed to wear for 20 years. The logo you describe on the movement, sounds very much like the trademark for William Ehrhardt (Fir tree). Ehrhardt was an English watchmaker, but may have imported Swiss movements branded with his own name. If so, the trademark was in use from around 1911. I hope this helps, Jason.

  9. Terry Steptoe Terry Steptoe

    I have my father’s wristwatch which is in a Moon Dennison Watch Case Co serial number
    That is how it is stamped wit the 33 under the other number
    Movement is RECTA 15 jewel 3 Adj Swiss Movement Non Magnetic
    My father had it for years and I am now 77 so would like to know more about it.
    Terry Steptoe

    • Jason Jason

      Hi Terry, Dennison was a prolific maker of watch cases. The Moon case was gold-filled with layers of 10-carat gold, guaranteed to wear for 20 years. Recta SA was a lesser know watchmaker. There is some information regarding Recta here. There are also posts regarding jewel counts and adjustments. It is a good quality watch and I hope you get enjoyment out of using it. Thanks, Jason

  10. Steve jury Steve jury

    I have a Dennison watch case company watch with gold markings of Birmingham 1918 and seriel number 145097. what can you tell me about it and where should I get it fixed or sell it?

    • Jason Jason

      Hi Steve, Dennison was a very successful maker of watch cases and they did retail some watches under their own brand. However, they were not watchmakers. The name printed on the dial might indicate the retailer involved if the watch was sold in the UK. Alternatively, there may be information etched on the movement that may show which manufacturer made the watch. Unfortunately, there are no records of Dennison serial numbers. The watch has a gold hallmark, which means it would have scrap value, but that would be a terrible waste of an antique timepiece. It would be far better to have the watch repaired, by someone such as Roman Dial watches. I hope this helps, Jason.

  11. Lynn Lynn

    I have a half hunter Moon watch, serial no 551239. It says ALD Dennison Watch Case Co, but not Ltd.
    Can you estimate the date please?

    • Jason Jason

      Hi Lynn, my research suggests that Dennison started using the Moon watch cases around 1901 and that it became a limited company in 1905. This would date your watch between 1901 and 1904. There is no record of dates based on Dennison serial numbers. The antique watch components page might give you more information about your watch if you open the caseback and view the movement. I hope this helps, Jason

      • Lynn Lynn

        Thanks so much – very helpful!

  12. John Jones John Jones

    A very informative and interesting website.
    I have a gold/gold plated pocket watch inherited from a great uncle 65 years ago.
    The case is marked DENNISON WATCH CASE CO, ALD, 37018, 9, M?, anchor.
    The movement is a Waltham American Traveller 72222
    I’d love to know how old it is.
    Do you think it might be of interest to a collector?

    • Jason Jason

      Hi John, I’m pleased you found the website useful. I can make some assumptions about the age of the watch. The Dennison Watch Case Company was formed in 1871 and became a limited company in 1905. If your watch doesn’t include Ltd, then it will be pre-1905. The ALD will be the makers mark for Aaron Lufkin Dennison, the founder of the company. The anchor will represent the Birmingham assay office, where the case was assayed and stamped with British hallmarks. I am assuming that the 9 represents 9-carat gold and that the M is the date letter. Based on the existence of the Dennison company, M could be 1886, 1911, 1936 or 1961. However, if the Ltd is missing from the company name, the only date that works is 1886. This is assuming that the case and the movement started their working lives together. It is possible for an older movement to be placed in a newer case or vice versa. My interest is focused on Swiss watches, I am not particularly familiar with Waltham, there are websites that might allow you to date the movement based on the serial number. In terms of interest to collectors, I am certain that there will be someone interested in the watch. However, these watches were made in huge numbers, so the monetary value is not likely to be significant. I suspect that the sentimental value of the watch will outweigh the monetary value. I hope this helps, hopefully the watch is still working and you can enjoy using it. Thanks, Jason.

  13. Mr Mark Dunn Mr Mark Dunn

    Thank you for such an informative website, remarkably interesting content and well presented. I have inherited a gold pocket watch from my late uncle.
    The case is stamped MOON A L D Dennison watch case Co Ltd 608059 English made guaranteed to be made of two plates of 10ct gold with a plate of composition between and to wear 20 years 608059 (20)
    The movement is Swiss Made & 7 Jewels Trenton Record Watch Factory, I can’t see a serial number on the movement.
    The watch doesn’t seem to work but it has not been used since the sixties.
    Has the watch any monetary value? someone told me it was only worth £20 for spares. Is it worth getting it repaired, I think the movement just needs a good clean.

    • Jason Jason

      Hi Mark, I typically advise that the sentimental value of most antique pocket watches will far outweigh the monetary value. They were made in their millions and were highly unlikely to be thrown away. Like yours, most have sat in drawers for decades. The lubricants required to keep the watches running tend to dry out after a few years. In the best case scenario, your watch requires a service including relubrication, which would cost approximately £130, try Roman Dial watches. If a component is broken it would cost considerably more. If it was me, I would get the watch serviced and keep it as a family heirloom. I hope this helps, Jason

      • Mark Dunn Mark Dunn

        I will get it repaired and keep it in the family, it is a good-looking watch with little visible wear. It is still bright and shiny so I might wear it with a good chain and new waist coat!
        Thank you for your advice.

          • Jerry Jerry

            “Hi there, have just purchased a Dennison pocket watch (1924) from an antique shop today. There are no names on face or movement. Movement number is 1270816. It has 17 jewels and 4 adjustments. I know history of the ALD case, but would like to know about the workings. Please help. Ta very much. ” Jerry

          • Jason Jason

            Hi Jerry, Dennison just made cases, although they did sell the occasional watch that they cased themself without producing the movement. It is not unusual for there to be no “name” on the movement, at least on the back. There might be markings on the “dial” side. Some enthusiasts might recognise the movement, there are a number of watch forums that might help, most notably the NAWCC website. Otherwise you could look at the RANFTT database, but it could be a long process. Enjoy your antique pocket watch, I hope this helps, Jason.

  14. Chris Saunders Chris Saunders

    Fantastic Article and very informative. I have a Dennison Stop Watch stamped with Cuprel Regd Logo and S(MA)C 88 inside. It also has 6680 stamped inside and 4142 engraved. Would you have any information you could share with me about this item please.

    • Jason Jason

      Hi Chris, Cuprel was a brand registered by Dennison in 1920. I can’t prove this, but I suspect the name is a derivative of cupronickel, which is a copper alloy. It was composed of 60% to 90% copper and the bulk of the remainder was nickel. Despite its high copper content, cupronickel had a silver appearance and was highly resistant to corrosion. It was used in marine and military applications. I believe the watch case material is cupronickel.
      The stopwatch is likely to have been made by Smiths, an English company with a long history. I have seen other stopwatches with the S(MA)C stamp that have been confirmed as Smiths. The company was started by Samuel Smith (1826-1875) in 1851 and began trading as a jeweller, diamond merchant, watch and clock retailer in London. They didn’t actually make watches, but bought them from watchmakers and had them branded as Smiths. They branched out into making automobile accessories in the early 20th century. In the late 1930s, with war looming, the British government was keen to establish British manufacture of soon to be unobtainable escapements, primarily for aircraft instruments. After signing some Ministry of Defence contracts, Smiths contributed to the war effort by opening a factory at Cheltenham where they produced watches for the military. After the war they made watches for the general public, but stopped producing them in the late 1970s. I hope this information helps, thanks for commenting, Jason

  15. Dan Dan

    Hi Jason,
    I’m in a similar situation with a number of pocket watches I inherited 20 years ago from my Grandad that I decided to take another look at, one of them appears to be a Dennison.
    I’ve managed to get the following from the back lid:
    MOON, TRADEMARK, A.L.D. DENNISON, WATCH CASE (followed by what appears to be an infinity mark), 407378
    Behind the front lid is 407378. There are three tiny lines which appear to read:
    Any advice you could give would be really appreciated.

    • Jason Jason

      Hi Dan, Dennison made watch cases, they never actually made watch movements. They did sell watches with their own branding, such as the Denco in the post, but they were only acting as the retailer, not the watchmaker. The company was very successful, but eventually shut down in 1967. There are no online databases that refer to Dennison serial numbers, at least not that I am aware of. The Moon watch case is of good quality. The Moon grade had a layer of 10-carat gold, guaranteed to wear for 20 years. The case would have had a good quality movement inside. Is there any branding on the dial or the movement that might give an indication of the retailer or watchmaker? Thanks for taking the time to comment, Jason

  16. Fabio Fabio

    Hi Jason,

    I have my grandfather’s wristwatch, after opening it on the inside of the case I found this information:
    in the back cover:
    an English lion at the top
    an anchor, DENNISON WATCH CASE Co and an inverted P in the center
    in the lower part

    the inside movement is a Rolex 15 Jewels

    the other side of the case is marked on the inside edge with 3357.

    Any advice you could give would be really appreciated.
    Many Thanks,

    • Jason Jason

      Hi Fabio,
      The hallmarks you describe are British, you can read more about them in the post, How to read British Hallmarks. The Lion indicates the case is sterling silver and the anchor represents the assay office in Birmingham. The P will be the date letter which should date the watch to 1939? Does this date make sense for your grandfather? ALD is the sponsors mark for Alfred Lufkin Dennison, the found of the Dennison Watch Case Company. The company was very successful, but eventually closed for business in 1967. I am not aware of any online register of their serial numbers. Rolex, of course, is an excellent brand and the 15 jewel movement would have been considered fully jewelled at the time. I hope this helps, thanks for commenting, Jason


    Hi Jason,
    I have a pocket watch.
    the information is as follows:
    inside the first cover,
    there are moon, sun and star symbols.


    on the inner cover:
    21 W
    and there’s a post here that I don’t quite understand: p 2811/1 or p 2311/1

    on the mechanism he says:
    15 JEWELS

    I think it says serial number on the outer edge of the mechanism: A893 or 4893
    I wonder if this watch is original and its value.

    • Jason Jason

      Hi Sulegül, based on the information supplied, I think you have a good quality Swiss made pocket watch with a Dennison Moon watch case. There is no record of the Dennison serial numbers that I am aware of. Dennison became a limited company in 1905, so your watch dates from that time onwards. It is a good quality timepiece with 15 jewels and adjustments. I hope you enjoy using your timepiece, Jason.

  18. Bob_M Bob_M

    Hi Jason.
    I just received an Elgin pocket watch with these markings back of case: – star, Dennison watch case co ltd, 738471 back of inside lid: -English make, this case guaranteed to wear 10 years 738471 25 0 timepiece markings Elgin natl watch co USA, seven jewels, F S, 27024753.
    I have been reading with enthusiasm your articles on these watches and would appreciate whatever help you can pass onto me.

    • Jason Jason

      Hi Bob, I can’t tell you much about the Elgin National Watch Company as it was an American brand and my interests lie in Swiss and English watches. However, Dennison was a very prolific watch case maker and they made godd quality watch cases sold to many highly regarded watchmakers. Dennison became a limited company in 1905, so your watch will be from this date or later. You can also read this post on antique watch jewels to understand more about your watch. I hope you enjoy wearing your antique Elgin pocket watch. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Jason

  19. Pete Adams Pete Adams

    Hi Jason,
    I just stumbled across your site by chance but boy am I glad I did.
    I’m trying to get information on a Dennison Star watch case and hopefully on the watch movement itself. The information is for a friend who’s grandfather owned the watch but so far that’s all we know. The face numbers are normal numbers and the case, as I’ve learnt through your pages, post dates 1905 owing to the ‘Watch case Co LTD’ stamp on the inside of the back cover. There is also the mark 1/8/41N or possibly 1/8/HN plus on the opposite side A2347. On the back of the inner case below the 10 year guarantee is the number 169434 and below that the number 32 with the letter C below that and on the rim is the number 9434.
    The movement only has the name RIVAL, Swiss made, 7 Jewels so presumably not a valuable watch but learning more about this timepiece would be so interesting.
    It has the bottom half of the original box with the name Shackleton & Co Manufacturing Jewelers, Medallists & Enamellers. Brighouse printed on a raised centre if that helps.
    Any advice would be so helpful and thank you for the lessons already learned.

    • Jason Jason

      Hi Pete, unfortunately Dennison closed pre-internet, so there is nothing online regarding their serial numbers, which is a shame. I agree with your note on post 1905. As for the brand name Rival, it has been registered several times according to the watch trade mark bible Mikrolisk. I would guess that this watch was made by Buren, a subsiduary of H. Williamson Ltd. Does the 1927 date fit in with your timeline? You are correct in stating that seven jewel watches are not particularly valuable, but in this case we are talking about sentimental value, which is priceless. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Jason.

  20. Evis Evis

    Hi Jason!
    Thank you for great information. From your article I figure out more information about my watch (I try to identified approx. time, when was made my watch).
    I have got Longines Swiss made 15 Jewels 5490196 Moon case watch, but with out Dennison case logo, just written MOON, THIS CASE GUARANTEED 20 YEARS, MADE IN ENGLAND 262530 38. From your article I understood, that watch is Dennsion case (I guess nobody else do not use designation SUN,MOON,STAR) and made in 30s. I may correct?

    • Jason Jason

      Hi Evis,
      Happy new year. I am not aware of anyone else using the Sun, Moon and Star marks. I have seen some examples of Dennison cases that lack the Dennison name. I think you can be fairly confident that the case was made by Dennison. They were a very well respected watch case maker and Longines is a very well regarded watch manufacturer. It seems that you have a high quality antique watch in your possession, I hope you get enjoyment from using it. Thanks for taking ther time to comment, Jason.

  21. Ed Ed

    Hi, I have found a dennison watch clearing out house. it’s in bad shape no glass for front and only the hour hand left. is it worth restoring? has it any value?

    case says Dennison British made, 9.375 anchor symbol, K, ALD below. movement says Swiss made 15 jewel and can be wound up and works.

    • Jason Jason

      Hi Ed, nice find. Do you know the history of the watch? I suspect a family heirloom. Personally, I think it would be worth restoring just for the sentimental value. Go to one of my regular sources for antique pocket watches, such as The Vintage Wrist Watch Company, search on Dennison and you should get an idea on value. Look for silver Dennison cases and Swiss made 15 jewel movements. It will probably cost you as much to get it restored as it is worth, but what a great treasure for the family. Alternatively, check some of my other preferred suppliers. You can look for accredited repairers at the British Horological Institute. The British hallmarks you describe, suggest the silver case was hallmarked in Birmingham with the date letter K. This will be either 1884, 1909 or 1934 or 1959 depending on the shape of the “K”. You can work out the exact year from this page of Birmingham Date Letters. As for the movement, a Swiss made 15 jewel movement is a good quality movement, I’m not surprised it is still working. I would recommend getting it serviced when you have the crystal/glass and hand replaced. I hope this helps, enjoy your antique pocket watch, Jason

  22. Ed Ed

    Thanks Jason. It was found in my grandmother’s house it was one of her grandfather’s watches.

    Would love to send photos over but can’t on this chat

  23. Olivier Olivier

    I’m very curious, my father gave me this pocket watch last year and I’m getting curious
    its a gold watch writing TRADE MARK A.L.D English make 51694 bettween 3 cercles logo look a sun a moon and a star, the number 51694 on two others differrent spot

    • Jason Jason

      Hi Olivier, if you can send me some photos of the dial, inner case back and the movement via the contact us page, I might be able to provide more information. I hope the antique pocket watch is working and that you get the chance to wear it, thanks for commenting, Jason.

  24. Kerry Thornley Kerry Thornley

    Hello Jason
    I was emptying my Grandparents house and i have found a watch that really intrigues me.
    What i can tell you is that inside it says 5822UE it has stamped a Anchor Lion and the letter M i have looked and its dated 1936 Birmingham it also says METEOR British Made A.L.D
    Inside the where it says this it has lots of circles stamped on it. The watch face is in perfect condition and still works by the wind up method it has the seconds in a circle where the number 6 should be on the face but no name on the watch face.
    Can you help with any more information please as i cannot find anything Many Thanks

    • Jason Jason

      Hi Kerry, the Dennison Meteor cases were high quality, often produced in precious metals. I have seen rolled gold Meteor cases for pocket watches and cushion cased (square with rounded corners) for wrist watches. The world of watchmaking is a murky one. A blank movement would be produced in a factory and sold to a “wathcmaker” who applied the finishing touches. A separate factory, ie “Dennisons” supplied the case in which the movement was fitted. The watch was then sold by a retailer as if they were the watchmaker. The name on the dial, if any, doesn’t always show who actually made the watch. Are you aware of any markings on the movement? I hope you enjoy using the watch. Sorry, I can’t be of more help, Jason

      • Kerry Thornley Kerry Thornley

        Hi Jason thank you for your reply.
        I cant/dont know how to get into the back, I havnt tried as i didnt want to break it. Advice please
        Thank you

        • Jason Jason

          Hi Kerry, the Dennison Meteor cases were made for both pocket watches and wristwatches. Pocket watch cases typically have hinged case backs. There will be a small notch on the oppostie side of the case back to the hinge. The case back is opened by inserting the blade of a case knife into the notch and gently levering it open. It requires very little effort. With the wristwatch it is likely to be a screw off/on caseback or a snap on. The screw on/off works as the name suggests. The snap on case will have a small noth into which you can insert a csae knife to open. I would suggest that if you can’t identify the case type and you don’t have the correct tools it is best to take the watch to a watchmaker. You can easily damage the case if you don’t open it correctly, especially if the case is precious metal, which scrathes easily. A qualified watchmaker will be able to open the case, which allow you to photograph the movement. I would advise the watchmaker option if you have any doubts. Thanks for commenting, Jason

  25. Gerald Moore Gerald Moore

    I have a small watch case that has an engraved gold-plated outside.
    The serial number appears to be very low compared to other postings.
    Jst 206 with 10 below this
    All three astronomic symbols are used and the company name ends with Co., without Ltd.
    Can you give any further info on this item. No watch came with it, but it looks as if it might be of interest to a collector.
    I have a photo to add but do not know how to do this here …

  26. Kenneth Barker Kenneth Barker

    Hi Jason

    Amazing information, I have a pocket watch that was handed down to me by my father some 30 years ago and I have just had it serviced.
    Looking at the detail on the case it is a ‘Dennison Case Co Ltd’ Case no. 76916
    With the Lion Anchor and Letter U hall marks which given the information on your web site is Birmingham – Sterling Sliver – 1919 year of manufacture. It has a very faint inscription of what looks like vX 1/51 just above the anchor hall mark.

    It has an Omega movement No. 5397167 in side it.

    All this from your great web site, I just need to decide who I leave it to now!

    Best Regards

    • Jason Jason

      Hi Ken, I am pleased the website was useful. It sounds like you have a nice faimly heirloom, well done for getting it serviced, that will keep it in good order for the next generation. The vX 1/51 inscription you mention is likely to be a service mark, which might indicate the previous service was in January 1951! The Omega serial number you provided dates to circa 1915 – 1923, which fits in with your case hallmarks. I hope you get to enjoy wearing your antique pocket watch. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Jason

  27. Lynn Lynn

    Good evening
    looking for some advice on a Dennison Star case, it has the number 159999 written inside. on the winder loop it looks like DQ. The watch itself is made by Limit and has blue hands..any information would be appreciated please

    • Jason Jason

      Hi Lynn,Dennison made good quality watch cases that were sold in the UK and around the world. They are notoriously difficult to date by serial number as there is no definitive online source. Dennison became a limited company in 1905, so the use of Ltd in the name is an indicator of the age of the case. Limit watches were made by Hirst Brothers, the Limit name being registered by them in 1912. Hirst Brothers were based in Oldham, Greater Manchester. Here is a link to another Limit pocket watch c1910 for comparision. I hope this helps, thanks for taking the time to comment, Jason

      • Lynn Lynn

        Thank you so much for the information above. very helpful. would you know what the letters DQ mean ?

        many thanks lynn

        • Jason Jason

          Hi Lynn, “DQ” will most likely stand for “Dennison Quality” a term which frequently appeared on Dennison advertising from around 1915. I believe it was most prevalent in advertising during the 1920s and 30s. This could also help date your watch. I hope this helps. Thanks again for commenting, Jason

          • Lynn Lynn

            thank you so much for your help, much appreciated


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