5. Relevant research and comparison in determining age
In 2014, two very important Romanian pocket watches have surfaced the internet, completely independent of each other.
In a sort of appearance order, first was a Pateck Geneve Key Lever 15 Rubis:
Pateck Geneve Key Lever pocket watch Photo: Ceasornicaria Criss
And shortly after, a Longines Key Lever 15 Rubis:
Longines Key Lever pocket watch Photo: CeasuriPentruRomania.ro
Both can be regarded as "very important" as they represent maybe the earliest military related Romanian timepieces.
If the Longines "Trei Voinici" (Three Brave Men) of the "Ceasuri pentru Romania" collection, has been well documented, and can be regarded as a road opener, offering valuable information on the second, the Pateck Geneve is still a mystery, but may produce unearthed and relevant information on the Longines.
I will first try to briefly resume the importance of the Longines Three Brave Men: On March 1878, Johann Baumann, one of the two official Longines agents of the era, placed an order for 6 full hunter pocket watches made of silver. The dial cover case had a beautiful detailed hand engraved work, framed in a black enamel round shaped medallion. The gravure represented a significant military achievement of the 1877 Russo-Turkish war, that eventually involved Romania to reject the Ottoman resistance and ultimately, proclaimed independence from the Ottoman Empire.
The history records the moment as the "Siege of Plevna": The Ottoman forces maintained command around Pleven (Bulgaria). On August 30th 1877, the Romanian 4th Division "Vanatori" (Army Rangers) took the Grivita redoubt after four consecutive bloody assaults. In the last siege, private Grigore Ion, with the help of the sergeant Gheorghe Stan and corporal Nica Vasile, managed to seize the Ottoman flag from an enemy soldier, that was later triumphantly presented in front of Prince Carol I of Romania and Emperor Alexander II of Russia.
The event was newsworthy and the three brave men soon made the rounds of the national press. On September 19th, 1877, the Resboiul gazette published a beautiful gravure, executed by Thiel & Weiss Publishing House, depicting the brave soldiers with the captured flag, and suggestively entitled "Three Brave Men", where, most likely, Johann Baumann got his inspiration from, thus the allegory name under the case gravure.
Following the 1877 events, the Kingdom of Romania finally emerged in 1881.
Longines and the Resboiul gazette "Three brave men" gravure, side by side Photo: CeasuriPentruRomania.ro
Whilst this is the first out of six Longines Three Brave Men that has ever flushed the surface in the internet era, there is no picture of the back case and dial. However, the Longines archives confirmed that the Three Brave Men watches were fitted with white enamel dials with black Roman numerals. The archive also explicitly mentions J. Baumann ordered these watches for the Romanian Army!
If for the back case artistry, later research show the Longines "Mihai Viteazul" of 1880, another 6 piece set ordered by Johann Baumann, that could unveil the mystery, but the Pateck Geneve specimen could produce the earliest evidence to complete the Longines case back puzzle, considering it depicted and celebrated the same event.
Most likely, the Longines case back showed the same kind of engraving artistry, in the form of the 1872-1881 Romanian Principalities Coat of Arms, found on the Pateck Three Brave Men specimen.
Pateck back case Romanian Principalities Coat of Arms gravure Photo: Ceasornicaria Criss
But, besides the Longines breakthrough, the "Pateck" specimen should be examined thoroughly, as it may disclose valuable information on the "Eminescu" specimen that could upend suppositions.
First, because it shows the (Lepine style) bar movement with a Lever (Ancre) escapement, which one would expect to see in the "Eminescu" specimen. Then, because it carries the 84 silver mark, which brings back the interest for the curious Russian Imperial hallmarks in the "Romanian affairs". And finally because of its low serial number.
Pateck Lever movement Photo: Ceasornicaria Criss
As we could observe earlier, the Pateck case shows the same Flag capturing allegory, although in a slightly different representation. If Longines was provided by J. Baumann with graphic instructions in the shape of the September 19th 1877 Resboiul gazette reproduction, the Pateck engraving could have been inspired by another newspaper depiction, or the manufacture simply received instructions by mail, including graphic material of the Romanian army clothing, Ottoman Flag and the Romanian Coat of Arms.
The other possible theory suggests the engraving could been performed in a Romanian workshop. Although not impossible, the latest would have brought significant additional cost. On the other hand, the Swiss could have easily provided with the case engraving artistry at a fraction of the overall unit cost, having the necessary technology and experience, and if these would have been ordered in batches, the agent would have pocket a nice discount either.
One of the most relevant aspect in determining age of the Pateck specimen is the Coat of Arms. The Coat of Arms is specific to the Romanian United Principalities under the rule of Carol I, Prince, and not to the Kingdom of Romania, and the main difference is the shape of the crown or the lack of the Steel Crown. The Steel Crown was first used on May 10th 1881, at King's Carol coronation and proclamation of Romania as a Kingdom.
But the main argument remains the Three Brave Men and the Ottoman flag depiction. The flag was captured on August 30th, 1877, while the first press material depicting the event, came out as early as September 19th. It is unclear the exact moment Baumann instructed Longines about the case artistry and the date of order, but Longines delivered the 6 watch set on March 21st 1878, thus about 6 month later the event.
If Longines influenced the Pateck artistry or the other way around, I cannot tell, however, it is hard to believe the Pateck could have been delivered earlier then say the start of 1878. And this would date the watch anywhere between January 1st 1878 to May 10th 1881, considering the coat of arms, or anywhere between January 1st 1878 to January 1st 1881, considering the new precious hallmarks, according to the Federal Act of 23 December 1880.
The Pateck case marks are also relevant as they could possibly help attributing the supposedly Eminescu's watch to a maker
Unfortunately, either way we put it, Pateck is one of the biggest forgeries of the nineteenth century. The mark was registered by George Holloway of London, UK somewhere around 1876. However, the British forgeries I've seen so far, are British lever imitation or the 3 quarter plate cylinder style.
At the same time, a watch making business established both in France (1867) and Switzerland (1881) by the name of Armand Schwob & Frere, deliberately sold watches under the name of "Pateck & Cie." or "Pateck, Geneve" to deceive and make a profit out of the quality and reputation of the prominent Patek, Philippe watch manufacturer of Geneva, that needs no further introduction.
According to Pritchard (K. Pritchard, Swiss Timepiece Makers 1775-1975), Schowb brothers had a long history in forgeries. They did not resume to "Pateck", but forged about anything they could squeeze a dollar out of a dime.
It is unclear if Holloway of London was in business with Schwob brothers, but the further research could suggest that Holloway was the one to bring Schwob's forgeries into the Great Britain and the colonies. In doing so, Holloway was repudiated from the British guild.
Schwob brothers faced two major trials. Patek, Philippe brought Schwob into court for forgery in 1886 that ended with a 15000 Swiss francs fine and the interdiction in using Pateck, Patek or any trademark related to the real Patek Philippe, plus the right to publish in 5 different magazines, of Patek Philippe's choice, the court decision. The sentence brought the company liquidation in 1892 and the consequences were dramatic for the Schwob brothers, with the 1894 final decision.
The 1886 Patek Philippe vs. Schwob case had huge impact on the Geneva and Swiss watch industry. Although little known today, the Pateck and other similar forgeries that took advantage of the Geneva and Genevan watch manufacturers name, forced the Republic and Canton of Geneva to introduce as of November 1886 ,The Poinçon de Genève (Geneva Seal). Schwob being brought to court, and the sentence of 1891, made the most notorious example.
Almost as in a great novel, it is amazing how Armand Schwob, somehow reminding of the life of the great adventurer, Jacob Heraclides, moved forward, and despite all battle scars, in 1892, we find him back in business, now related to Tavannes.