Last updated on June 5, 2021
My antique wish list has always contained the name Longines. Perhaps, it is not as recognisable as Rolex, but it is one of those horological brands with a long and illustrious history. This antique silver Longines pocket watch was originally retailed by Camerer Kuss & Co, London. I was very fortunate to find this watch, which I purchased a week ago. It is sitting, loudly ticking, on my desk as I type.
Camerer Kuss & Co
Camerer Kuss & Co were well known London watch and clock retailers. The company survived in some form up until 2002. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of Camerer & Kuss timepieces for sale online. Despite such a presence, the history of the company is sketchy at best. I couldn’t find a single definitive online source for the company history. Additionally, many of the brief outlines I discovered were contradictory. Therefore this is going to be a composite sketch of what I think is the history of Camerer Kuss & Co. From what I read online, the company is very well respected and their timepieces are considered to be good quality.
In the 1780s the Camerer and Kuss families were farmers in the Black Forest in Germany. They joined forces and began watchmaking as part of the local cottage industry. At some point around 1788 at least one member of each family emigrated to London and formed Camerer Kuss & Co. Although, promoting themselves as watch and clockmakers, they would simply have been purchasing the movements and assembling the watches with their own brand.
In 1845, Andrew Camerer and David Kuss, both descendants of the original owners, were operating a thriving business. A key part of which was importing Black Forest clocks from Germany. In 1867 the firm opened a retail outlet and workshop at 522 Oxford Street. The shop eventually had several London branches, some of which specialised in selling jewellery. At the beginning of the First World War, there was ill-feeling towards anybody with a German-sounding name. As a result, the spelling of the family name was changed to Cuss. This particular watch obviously predates the name change in 1914. In addition to watchmaking, the business developed a profitable clock-winding and maintenance round.
This watch has a stem-winding pin-set movement. In particular, a Longines 19.75N, which is working very nicely. The 19.75N movement has 15 jewels. The movement is signed with the name of the original retailer, Camerer Kuss & Co. Longines would have supplied the watch movement as a private label piece. 19.75N is stamped discreetly on the edge of the movement. The serial number on the movement is 2,876,722 which dates it to 1912/1913. The movement is protected by an inner hinged dust cover.
The watch measures 50mm diameter excluding the winding stem and the loop. The case is silver and there are hallmarks inside the two case backs for London (import mark), 1914. Additionally, there is a maker’s mark for Arthur Baume and a retailer’s mark for Camerer Kuss & Co. Baume & Company were the importers of Longines watches to the UK and the Commonwealth.
The case is in near perfect condition. There is very little sign of wear despite being over a hundred years old. As a result, it is a very presentable antique pocket watch. It has a nicely machined case back. The acrylic crystal is in excellent condition. The signed dial is also in superb condition and it has its original pin-set blued steel hands. Bluing steel is a process that tempers the steel and creates an oxidised coating that helps to prevent the hands from corroding. 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 constant temperature exchange. The steel changes colour from gold to brown and then purple before it settles to blue.
I am really pleased with this purchase. It adds some variety to my collection with the addition of a timepiece from a well-known retailer and manufacturer. This is probably the most presentable watch in my collection, the photographs really don’t do it justice. It has also passed the time test, running for 24 hours within a minutes accuracy. On a full wind, the power reserve was 29 hours at the listed accuracy. This is very acceptable for an antique pocket watch. The only downside at the moment is that I have no cause to wear an antique pocket watch as the coronavirus lockdown is preventing any social events.