Last updated on April 13, 2023
This is a post about an antique pocket watch that recently passed through my hands. I was asked to recommend a watch as a Christmas gift for a family member who was fond of good quality modern watches. There was a budget, which I won’t disclose, but it was certainly sufficient to purchase a good-quality antique watch. I was also told to choose an antique silver pocket watch. Additionally, I used the same criteria that I would use if buying a watch for my own collection. Ideally, the timepiece would be from a recognised watchmaker. It would be fully jewelled, accurate and presentable. I also like to be able to research the history behind each timepiece. Anyway, after weeks of searching, I came up with this silver Revue pocket watch for J W Benson, 1912.
The watch has a high-quality Swiss 15-jewel stem-winding Revue movement, which is keeping excellent time. The movement is signed J W Benson, the original retailer of the watch. Revue is a brand name of Revue Thommen AG. The company was founded in 1853 in the town of Waldenburg by Gedeon Thommen. The company had a reputation for producing good quality movements.
J W Benson
J W Benson originated in 1847, founded by James William Benson and Samuel Suckley Benson. They were regarded as one of Victorian London’s most prestigious retail jewellers. They also manufactured their own watch movements. The company flourished and proudly boasted an elite client base made up of both British and European royalty and a selection of wealthy industrialists and business figures including the King of Siam, the King of Portugal, the King of Denmark, the Emperor of Japan and the King of Greece. J W Benson also supplied watches to Queen Victoria and the Prince of Wales.
In 1892 J. W. Benson became a limited company and moved to a new steam-powered factory at 38 Belle Sauvage Yard, Ludgate Hill. Although they had the facility to produce their own movements, they began selling watches with Swiss movements in the early 20th century. This watch is an example, dating to 1912. As with many other watch manufacturers, J W Benson embraced the newly introduced wristwatch (trench watch) during the first World War. In 1941 the factory at Belle Sauvage Yard was hit during a bombing raid, destroying thousands of timepieces. As a result of the bombing raid, the company ceased production of its own movements. Instead, it purchased movements from a number of quality watchmakers in Switzerland, including Cyma and Revue. From a collector’s point of view, both the British and Swiss made J W Benson movements are desirable and comparable in quality.
Case and dial
The watch measures 49mm in diameter excluding the winding stem and the loop. The case is silver and there are hallmarks inside both of the case backs for Birmingham 1912 with a case maker’s mark for Aaron Dennison. The Dennison Watch Case Company manufactured cases for various watchmakers. The case has the odd small mark, which I would classify as patina rather than damage. Overall, it is in a very presentable condition. The movement is protected by an inner hinged dust cover.
The glass crystal is in mint condition, with no visible markings. The signed enamel dial has one arc-shaped hairline on the edge of the dial, by number 1, which is barely noticeable. Otherwise, it is in perfect condition with blued steel hands, a subsidiary seconds dial and outer minute markers. The name on the dial, J W Benson London, is crisp and clear.
Overall, it is in very good condition. It passed a 24-hour timekeeping test, running one minute slow over the period. This is perfectly acceptable for an antique timepiece. If the watch was serviced and or regulated the accuracy may improve. Overall, this is a presentable and practical antique pocket watch. It has an interesting background by sharing the heritage of two noted watchmakers, Benson and Revue. I hope the new owner gets much enjoyment out of the silver Revue pocket watch for J W Benson, 1912.
Wikipedia – J W Benson.