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Thread: Coventry Watch Museum

  1. #1

    Coventry Watch Museum

    Spent a delightful hour at the Coventry Watch Museum this afternoon.

    This is an ancient city in the English midlands that had a long and very good watchmaking industry -- many of the engineers and craftsmen (and -women, see below) were then employed in the manufacture of bicycles, then motorbikes (particularly pre-war Triumphs) and then cars.

    In November 1940 Coventry was very badly bombed and much of it was destroyed, including the historic cathedral.

    Here's the damage the Luftwaffe's HE did to the building (a C19th Rotherham's worker's cottage)



    The museum is a very small and somewhat amateur affair but that said the people there are passionate and knowledgable. Some of the stuff made in Coventry was really high end, so horologists will appreciate the complications and refinements. They've also added a sort of "folk" element ("for the wives") so you can also see some nice old stuff in the cottages. Slightly ramshackle but (or therefore) utterly delightful and the sort of thing you only find in England.

    Some pics:

    WW1 pocket watch



    High-end horology:









    Smiths!



    A Speedometer (same type as fitted by T E Lawrence to his Brough Superior motorbike)





    Some of the local output:













    Well worth a visit and only £2 entry

  2. #2
    Journeyman
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    Thank you for posting this. I had absolutely no idea that Coventry had such a history of horological excellence. That J Player & Sons tourbillon is stunning! I'll definitely visit the museum, if I'm ever in the area.

    A

  3. #3
    Master Sinnlover's Avatar
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    I too had no idea Coventry had a watch museum.
    Well at least there is now a reason for visiting.

  4. #4
    Wow, who knew

  5. #5
    I thought I'd taken a picture of a beautiful centre seconds chronometer but can't find it. Ah well.

    I also learned that Coventry had a large and excellent dial making industry: enamel on brass or silver. Many of these were exported and can be found on top quality Swiss watches, including Pateks.

    Finally, the chap who showed me round was wearing a Milus "barter" watch -- not something I knew about.

  6. #6
    Grand Master Mr Curta's Avatar
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    Thanks for that, I must pop in sometime.
    Inform - Educate - Entertain

  7. #7
    Master Sinnlover's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rev-O View Post
    Finally, the chap who showed me round was wearing a Milus "barter" watch -- not something I knew about.
    An original or the recent reissue?
    If the former that’s a rare and valuable watch the complete ‘barter’ kit is worth a small fortune.
    https://milus.com/blogs/infos/us-navy-watch-kit-milus

  8. #8
    Master Shakespeare's Avatar
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    Thanks for this post. I had no idea there was a museum despite vaguely knowing about the city’s watchmaking history.


    Sent from my iPhone using TZ-UK mobile app

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Sinnlover View Post
    An original or the recent reissue?
    If the former that’s a rare and valuable watch the complete ‘barter’ kit is worth a small fortune.
    https://milus.com/blogs/infos/us-navy-watch-kit-milus
    Ah, the reissue. Sorry. Should have made that clear!

    Not this, but identical

    https://jewelry.ha.com/itm/timepiece...a/5506-54070.s

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Sinnlover View Post
    An original or the recent reissue?
    If the former that’s a rare and valuable watch the complete ‘barter’ kit is worth a small fortune.
    https://milus.com/blogs/infos/us-navy-watch-kit-milus
    Great thread here on the barter kits

    https://omegaforums.net/threads/time-capsule.42389/

  11. #11
    Superb thread OP. Thank you.

  12. #12
    Grand Master markrlondon's Avatar
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    Thank you. How fascinating.

    I did not know that Coventry had this particular aspect to hits history.

    I visited the cathedral with my parents when I was a child and I remember it to this day. I'd recommend a visit if one is going to Coventry (hopefully not being sent there!).

  13. #13
    Craftsman
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    The Transport Museum is also well worth a visit when in Coventry.


    Sent from my iPhone using TZ-UK mobile app

  14. #14
    Grand Master Carlton-Browne's Avatar
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    Thanks for posting this - I had absolutely no idea there was such a thing in Coventry. My last trip there was in 1999 (actually the University of Warwick) but I probably didn't have the interest at that time.
    Die Zeit verwandelt uns nicht, sie entfaltet uns nur.

  15. #15
    Coincidentally I saw two young lads wearing cheap modern pocket pocket watches today (the chain was the giveaway), I assume in "Peaky Blinders" style. Horrible timepieces but if it gives them a way into proper horology . . . also, it really made me want a decent English pocketwatch. Prices are very reasonable on ebay but there's tragically large number of uncased movements, presumably scrapped for cash. So sad. We are literally wrecking our heritage for a few hundred quid and once done it's gone forever.

  16. #16
    Master
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    Coventry was a city of absolute engineering excellence. I once worked for the MOD and spent 4 years in the Alvis campany in the Holyhead Rd in Coventry. The town was full of small suppliers who fed larger engineering companies and like the rest of the midlands was the workshop of the world. It made watches and all manner of time pieces, springs, weighing scales, bicycles, wrought iron goods such as gates, cars, aircraft parts, needles, sewing machines and weaving looms. Also it had a massive manufacturing base of blue dyes and glass making.

    I was at the Alvis factory from 1975-79 and heard countless anecdotes from coventronians about the jobs their fathers and grandfathers were involved in. It was also a good town to live in because the jobs were usually skilled and wages correspondingly high.

    It just shows that nothing is forever. The Alvis factory was flattened as is now some sort of shopping centre.

  17. #17
    Master
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    Thanks for sharing OP. I spend a few days in coventry many years ago for work. I was astonished at how little of the cathedral was left. Had no idea about the city's horological past. Another one to add to my list of places to visit.

  18. #18
    Master Sinnlover's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rev-O View Post
    Coincidentally I saw two young lads wearing cheap modern pocket pocket watches today (the chain was the giveaway), I assume in "Peaky Blinders" style. Horrible timepieces but if it gives them a way into proper horology . . . also, it really made me want a decent English pocketwatch. Prices are very reasonable on ebay but there's tragically large number of uncased movements, presumably scrapped for cash. So sad. We are literally wrecking our heritage for a few hundred quid and once done it's gone forever.
    I bought a JLC GSTP for use with a 3 piece whistle. Top level horology for bargain basement money.
    It hardly ever gets used but adds a sense of occasion for the few times a year I wear a suit. I bought a cheapish silver Albert from eBay to pair with it.

  19. #19
    Master
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    I'm a Cov lad (although it's been a while since I was there). I had a vague idea of the watchmaking history as one of my grandparents families moved from Liverpool way to Coventry for that very reason. Sadly I don't know any more detail than that.
    Someone mentioned the blitz; my grandfather was in the Home Guard and was a firewatcher on the night of 14 Nov 1940. Not a fun night from what info I know but the lasting memory from family history is that on completing the watch he promptly got quite lost coming home. There were no landmarks left.
    Now that may be a slight exaggeration, both from the lost and landmarks point of view, but imagine you have lived somewhere all your life and then have to look and think quite carefully where you are because it looks really rather different to 18 hours before.
    I don't think most members of the future generations really have any idea what war is like..

  20. #20
    Hope you all saw dunk's peach of a pocketwatch here:

    https://forum.tz-uk.com/showthread.p...4-Pocket-Watch

    And David Boettcher's excellent (as usual) article here:

    https://www.vintagewatchstraps.com/e...atchmaking.php

    I quite fancy a minute repeater but having checked the prices on eBay I think they might be beyond my means. Still, one can pick up a GSTP by Smiths or even JLC quite reasonably, the former being all-English and the latter with a rather lovely gilt movement -- and connected, albeit somewhat tenuously, by Robert Lenoir's involvement with both firms. (Smiths used JLC tooling in the 1930s and '40s, sadly not to the same tolerances or level of finish!) Of course, a tourbillion would be a nice feature to have, more of a necessity than on a wristwatch, where they seem like the definition of a redundant complication . . . something else to go wrong, although very pretty to look at through a display back or cut-out dial.

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