1908 Wilsdorf & Davis Ladies Pocket Watch Restoration

by Al Molloy

1908 Wilsdorf & Davis Ladies Pocket Watch Restoration

1908 Wilsdorf & Davis Ladies Pocket Watch Restoration

A couple of years ago I acquired an old Wilsdorf & Davis pendant watch in sad shape. But, I had a feeling about it and about the timelines of Rolex S.A.:


1905, Wilsdorf & Davis is established in London
1908, Hans Wilsdorf registers the Tradename Rolex
1915, the Rolex Watch Company Ltd. is established
1920, the company is renamed Montres Rolex S.A
and the rest, as they say, is history.

I had the case hallmarks checked out, and it turned out that it is indeed from 1908, the same year that Wilsdorf trademarked Rolex. Had it been from 1907 or 1909 I probably wouldn't have gone ahead with this project.

I sent the watch to Bob Ridley last Fall for his opinion on the feasibility of restoring it. The movement didn't run, the hands and bow were missing, the crown was badly worn down, the caseback was sprung and wouldn't stay closed, and there were deep tool marks on the inner dust cover. All in all, a bit of an ugly duckling.

Bob and I spent some time discussing the restoration. The case work was substantial but do-able. Here are the results with the case and inner dust cover repaired, hinge repaired, new "onion" crown, and new bow installed.

On to the movement, it was in rough condition. At one point we discussed locating a similar movement in better shape to work with, but Bob eventually discarded that idea in favour of redoing the original movement and retaining the authenticity of the watch. He suggested the idea of drilling out a worn bushing and replacing it with a jewel to improve the reliability and timekeeping, and that's what we finally settled on.

Next, a correct replacement crystal was fitted.

Finally, a set of period correct hands. I gave him free rein on this and we're very pleased with his choice of blued steel hands.

I've spent some considerable time scouring the internet for other examples of these early works, and I now think that this might be the only surviving, running 1908 Wilsdorf & Davis left.

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Sep 18, 2010
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Another Wilsdorf Pocket Watch 1918
by: Alan from Melbourne Australia

Al
Nice article. I have a W & D pocket watch that whilst a little tired runs well and has a similar patina. Can't find much on the watch at all but will keep trying.
Nice to read.
Al

Aug 19, 2010
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Wilsdorf & Davis
by: Steve (Webmaster)

Hi Owen,

Thanks for your comments, yes this is a wonderful timepiece isn't it? I look forward to your own collection being posted here as well.

Thanks
Steve

Aug 19, 2010
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A true collector at heart.
by: OWEN MORA

Hi all, it's an absolute pleasure to see such a graceful peice restored to its original glory.
Mate you should be so proud of yourself and any input by others such as your watchmaker, to have done some research on the net to try to help you establish if this is in fact the only surviving Wilsdorf & Davis, I too have also come to the conclusion that this may be the only one left out there in this glorious original condition. I have searched many many various sites trying to source info on it, there are many other types but nothing close to yours, well I for now will leave you with this wonderful peice, and soon will be posting my own collection of sollid gold pocket watches, hopefully the world will love them!!

It's been a pleasure veiwing your wonderful watch!!! Happy collecting, Owen from "Australia"

Mar 23, 2010
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Fabulous restoration
by: Steve

Hi Al, thanks for taking the time to send in this wonderful picture of your pocket watch restoration, it looks fantastic.

All the best
Steve (Webmaster)

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