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18K Thos. Russel and Son Pocket Watch


I bought this superb timepiece quite some time ago as its overall condition, considering its age and the softness of 18Kt gold,,made it an immensely desirable acquisition. It does issue from my own collection.


It is a wonderful example of a Thomas Russel and Son 18kt presentation watch made in 1876 in Liverpool, England.

Thos. Russel and Son evolved from a company created in 1811 by Thomas Russel, who had been a watchmaking journeyman in the Preston area of the UK.


Watchmaking was literally a cottage industry in Preston with individuals, often farmers, setting up tiny workshops in their homes to produce individual parts for various watchmakers in Preston and Liverpool.


In 1830 Thomas Russel passed away and the company was assumed by his son Thomas, who  moved to Liverpool in 1846.

He established the Time O Day watch line and worked with his two sons until 1860 when his sons Thomas and Alfred took over the company.


Thomas the 3rd expanded the company to London and interestingly to Toronto.  In the same period, the company was issued a Royal warrant (By Appointment To) for making watches for Her Majesty Queen Victoria. 

In a later PR blunder, the company promoted the warrant on their products even after Victoria died, which was a bit of a scandal.

The company operated until finally going out of business in 1994.


This watch is an amazing example of the watchmakers art of the period. It is a chain and fusee movement, meaning that the watch spring is regulated by two cones attached by a chain. The cones had been carefully constructed to allow for the decreasing strength of the unwinding mainspring in order for the watch to keep accurate time until the wind is exhausted. It was a very clever, if somewhat complicated, system that had migrated from large clocks into the miniscule movements of pocket watches. 


This watch was probably sold from the Toronto store as a presentation watch.  It is inscribed on the movement cover, “Presented to Geo. D. Brymer as a token of esteem by his friends. Cornwall, Ont. 1877.”


It underwent a recent repair as the chain on the fusee had broken and there was a damaged gear. This damage was expertly rectified at no small cost, and a full service performed to bring the fusee movement back to tiptop shape.


This is a superb 18KT watch made even more desirable by its amazing provenance and condition.


A word of caution. These movements are sensitive to being wound in the wrong direction, which is likely what caused the damage in the first place. There is a simple solution to the problem of direction engraved around the access to the key wind. It exhibits an engraved pattern which indicates which direction is correct. 




David Charles Grainger


*Please refer to pictures for condition

18K Thomas Russel and Son Pocket Watch

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