Last updated on November 5, 2022
I have failed again in my search for my first antique hunter cased watch. Well, I found another perfect example, a Minerva silver hunter pocket watch. Unfortunately, I was too late as someone else had already purchased it. However, I am still going to take a closer look in this post, at the one that got away.
Antique Minerva full hunter pocket watch
This is an antique silver Minerva full hunter pocket watch made for The Northern Goldsmiths Company. The brand ‘Minerva’ belonged to the Robert Frères Villeret company based in Villeret, a traditional Swiss Jura watch town, belonging to the canton of Bern. The company was formed in 1885, but had emerged from an earlier company. Robert Frères Villeret used ‘RFV’ or an arrowhead as a logo. Originally, the company produce watches using ébauches, but in 1895 they started producing their own in-house movements, an example of which we see here.
The watch has a stem-winding movement which is working well according to the seller. I can confirm that I have bought several watches from The Vintage Wrist Watch Company and all of them keep really good time. The arrow logo identifies this as a Minerva movement, a good quality 17-jewel stem-winding movement with four adjustments. The movement is protected by an inner hinged dust cover.
The watch measures 51mm in diameter excluding the stem and the bow. The case is sterling silver and there are hallmarks inside all three covers for Birmingham 1919. There is also a case maker’s mark for The Dennison Watch Case Company, an English case manufacturer that supplied various watchmakers. The case is in lovely condition.
The winding crown pushes in to open the front cover. It’s important when buying a hunter case pocket watch to ensure that the front cover opens with the press of the crown. Many examples of antique cases require manual assistance because the cover spring is worn. Inside the case, there is an acrylic lens which is in good condition.
The dial is signed Northern Goldsmiths Co, Newcastle. This is quite normal for the time. Retail jewellers would buy the watch components from manufacturers and brand them with their own name on the dial and sometimes the movement. The dial looks in very good condition judging from the photographs. Apparently, if viewed through a jeweller’s loupe then there are two very faint hairline cracks. However, this is perfectly acceptable for an antique watch of this age and, if anything, adds to the charm of the timepiece.
The dial includes original blued steel hands, a subsidiary-seconds dial and outer minute markers. Bluing steel is a process that tempers the steel and creates a blue coating that helps to prevent the hands from corrosion. First, the steel hands are cleaned and polished. Next, the hands are heated, over a bed of brass filings, to a high temperature. The layer of brass filings is used to maintain a stable temperature exchange. The steel changes colour from gold to brown and then purple before it settles to blue.
The watch comes in a Northern Goldsmiths box from their Darlington branch, which is unlikely to be the original box, but still a nice addition. Northern Goldsmiths is a traditional North-East landmark in the Newcastle city centre. The gold Rolex clock and ‘Venus’ the golden lady outside the store are still historic meeting points to this day. Goldsmiths is a jewellery business with over 230 years of tradition and experience, in that time growing to become one of the largest retail jewellers in Britain. Their first showroom, located in Newcastle, opened in 1778 and is still trading today as Northern Goldsmiths.
Another missed opportunity
This would have been the perfect hunter cased antique pocket watch to add to my collection. It’s very presentable, reliable and includes an ‘original box’ from the retailer. However, some lucky collector beat me to the punch and they are currently enjoying this beautiful timepiece. As a result, my search continues for the perfect hunter cased antique pocket watch.