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Fattorini & Sons silver open faced antique pocket watch, 1908

Last updated on November 6, 2022

For the last couple of months, I have been looking to add a Borgel trench watch to my collection. However, I have not seen any for sale from my normal sources. That said, I have seen a number of watches that have caught my eye. I enjoy researching antique watches as much as I enjoy wearing them. This particular watch, a Fattorini & Sons silver open-faced pocket watch, came to my attention following a recent post I had written on watchmakers. In that post, I discussed a number of definitions of a watchmaker and how they changed over time. This watch is the perfect example of the retailer marketing themselves as the watchmaker, without actually contributing to the manufacture of the watch at all.

Fattorini & Sons pocket watch.
Fattorini & Sons antique pocket watch. © The Vintage Wrist Watch Company

Fattorini & Sons

The business was founded by Antonio Fattorini (1797-1860), an Italian immigrant, who was listed as jeweller & hardware dealer in Leeds, Yorkshire in 1829. Fattorini had migrated to England after the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. In 1831, he moved north and set up a store in Harrogate trading in jewellery and bric-a-brac. In 1846, he moved again to Bradford, occupying a building at 28 Kirkgate. The business traded under the name of Fattorini & Sons. At some point, they added watches to their product line. Over time, the Fattorini family expanded the business to include branches in Skipton, Bradford and Harrogate. These three branches went on to run independently of each other. Ultimately, each business was inherited by the sons concerned. Fattorini’s is perhaps most famous for designing the FA Cup trophy, first won in 1911 by Bradford City and still in use today.

The original Fattorini & Sons store in Bradford closed in 2012. However, the business is still running, but focusing on product lines other than watches, such as trophies and badges. Although, the print on the watch dial says “Watch & Chronometer Manufacturers”, Fattorini & Sons were purely retailers. They would have purchased this watch directly from a watch manufacturer as a private label piece. My research suggests that Fattorini & Sons used the English manufacturer H Williamson Ltd for many of their watches. They also sold watches with Swiss and American movements. They are the perfect example of a well-known retailer marketing themselves as watchmakers, when in fact, they were simply selling the timepieces.


This particular antique pocket watch has a key-winding and key-set movement. A winding key is included. The watch is running within two to three minutes of accuracy over 24 hours. The movement is numbered 681849. However, there are no visible markings to indicate the manufacturer. The movement has an inner fitted cover. The movement is also engraved with the words “Reversing Pinion”. This was an invention designed to prevent damage to the movement in the event of a mainspring breakage. It was also known as a safety pinion. A patent application for the reversing pinion was lodged by the Lancashire Watch Company in 1895. Therefore it is possible, that this particular watch was manufactured by the Lancashire Watch Company as a private label for Fattorini & Sons.

Fattorini & Sons movement.
Fattorini movement. © The Vintage Wrist Watch Company


The watch is slightly larger than normal for a pocket watch. It measures 55mm in diameter excluding the stem and the loop. The case is silver with the maker’s mark for the Dennison Watch Case Company. There are British hallmarks inside both case backs for Birmingham, 1908. The Dennison Watch Case Company was a prolific English case manufacturer based in Birmingham. Overall, the case is in nice condition with just some light rubbing to the engine turned detail.

Fattorini & Sons pocket watch case.
Fattorini case. © The Vintage Wrist Watch Company


The watch crystal is in pristine condition, with no scratches visible to the naked eye. The white enamel dial is signed “Watch and Chronometer Manufacturers. Fattorini & Sons Bradford”. The text is clear and undamaged. This suggests that the branding was baked into the enamel during the manufacturing process. Some dials are produced blank, leaving the retailer to paint the brand on the enamel. However, the paint tends to flake and wear over time. This leaves a watch of this age with patchy text on the dial. Overall, the dial is in nice condition, with no obvious damage or markings. The watch has its original hands and a blued steel sub-seconds hand.

I enjoyed researching the history of the Fattorini & Sons business. However, to consider this antique pocket watch for my collection, I would need to know a little bit more about who actually made the movement. That said, it is a very presentable and reliable antique, which will make someone a happy owner.


  1. Craig Campion Craig Campion

    Hi. I’ve been researching the very same pocket watch and your article has been very helpful.

    • Jason Jason

      Hi Craig, glad to be able to help. Thanks for commenting, Jason

  2. John Hall John Hall

    Hi, thanks for the interesting article. I have the exact same watch and have been trying to locate a hair spring but without success. Have you any clues as to where I may get one? Thanks John

    • Jason Jason

      Hi John,

      I would recommend RomanDial Watches. They provide servicing and repairs at very reasonable prices. If you are based in the UK, I recommend giving them a call. Thanks for commenting, Jason

      • Alessandro Alessandro

        Ciao Jason, ho appena acquistato un orologio uguale T fattorini skipton, ma non so come datarlo dal numero di serie, tu hai qualche sito dove posso trovare la datazione col numero seriale? grazie 👍

        • Jason Jason

          Hi Alessandro,
          Fattorini & Sons were a retailer of watches. The watch would have been made by an English watchmaker and branded with the Fattorini name. Serial number records are very rare as most of the watch manufacturers have closed down. However, if the case is made from silver there will be hallmarks inside that will allow you to date the watch. Open the case back and refer to this guide on reading British hallmarks. I hope this helps, Jason

  3. Sally-Ann Barrington Sally-Ann Barrington

    Hello – thank you for enabling us to reach you. I also have one of these watches that my Dad (RIP) gave to me. Fully working, can open the back and front but I do not know how to set it to the correct time.

    Any advise please?


    • Jason Jason

      Hi Sally-Ann, if I recall correctly this is a key-wind, key-set movement. The time is set, using the key, by opening the front cover and using the setting arbor in the centre of the dial (just above the hands). Fit the key onto the arbor and turn to set the hands. You need to be careful that you don’t damage or bend the hands. There is a YouTube video that shows how to do this. It is not my video, but it shows you exactly how it is done. I hope this helps you to enjoy your family heirloom, Jason

  4. Cate Newton Cate Newton

    hi I have recently received a similar watch that belonged to my great grandma. how do I know it’s year of manufacture. and approx value. it’s value to me is hugely emotional. but wonder if I should get it valued for insurance purposes.
    I am in New Zealand

    • Jason Jason

      Hi Cate, most of the Fattorini & Sons pocket watches I have seen have been British made with silver cases. This means that they will have British Hallmarks. If you open the case back you should see the hallmarks, one of which is the date letter. You can read this post on how to read British hallmarks. Antique pocket watches often sit in drawers for decades, because no one throws out what is perceived to be a valuable item. So there are many thousands of antique pocket watches out there. I always advise, that apart from rare examples, the sentimental value of an antique pocket watch will far outweigh the monetary value. Fattorini & Sons were reputable jewellery and watch retailers and they sold good quality timepieces. However, the value of the watch is likely to be below the quoted limits on your house insurance. Check with your insurance company. The good news is, that vintage and antique watches do slowly appreciate in value as investments and there are tax benefits for UK taxpayers. It may be the same in New Zealand. If you want to know the approximate value, look for completed auction sales of Fattorini & Sons pocket watches. You didn’t mention if the watch still works, if it doesn’t it may well be worth a service, so that you can enjoy the family heirloom on special occasions. I hope this helps, Jason.

  5. Cate Newton Cate Newton

    thank you so much for the info Jason. I am from Bradford and brought the watch back to NZ with me last year. been in the family for years. but as you say, sat in a drawer for years.
    it has the keys and chain and still works when wound. I think I will take it in for a clean and service and have it on display. been hidden away too long.
    many thanks

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