We have here a very exciting JW Benson 'Submarine' watch from 1933. The original, white, enamel dial has lumed, Arabic numerals with a railway-style, outer minute tracking, squelette-style hands and subsidiary seconds. The dial is signed with 'J. W. Benson, London' at 12 o'clock.
What we love most about this watch is that it was an experiment by Francis Borgel to try and solve the problem of waterproofing a watch. The movement of the watch sits in the 18ct gold case and the bezel in screwed down on top of it, to attempt to stop any water from going inside the watch. The button would have also had a seal on it to help with waterproofing. It is a rare and unusual, cushion-shaped, hermetic case design and it is from this patented design that the 'Submarine' watch was born! The case is signed F.B., for Francis Borgel, is fully hallmarked from Glasgow and measures 32 x 33mm. The watch also its original crown. Inside is the mechanical manual wind Tavannes caliber, fully serviced by us and running strongly. We've paired the watch on a black lizard-grain strap but it looks great on brown too.
Starting in the mid eighteenth century, JW Benson is one of the longest serving, all-British watchmaking companies, with a reputation to boot. The company acquired Royal patronage in 1879. Clerkenwell, home to Antique Watch Co. for nearly 50 years, is well known for its horological past, and part of its history extends to the JW Benson factory being opened in Ludgate Hill in 1892. JW Benson is now a subsidiary of Mappin and Webb, but their celebrated watches have stood the test of time.
Borgel cases were renowned for their innovation. They were considered one of the first waterproof and dustproof cases. The movement is screwed-in through the front of the case and the bezel and crystal are then tightly screwed on to create a dust- and waterproof seal (due to the age of the watch, it should no longer be considered waterproof). Borgel's patents for this case design inspired, most notably, the Rolex Oyster case, among others.
This watch comes fully serviced by our on-site workshop and with a 12 month, non-waterproof service cover.
What we thinkThis is a highly collectable watch with so many original features. It is a rare and early example of a ‘waterproof’ watch designed by Francois Borgel and retailed by JW Benson. A striking similarity to the cushion Rolex Oyster watch of the same period!
Age : 1931/1940
Specific Age : 1933
Case Size : 32mm
Case Thickness :
Lug to Lug : 33mm
Lugs : 18mm
Condition : Pre-Owned
Box & Papers : No
Case Material : 18ct Gold
Service History : 12-Months NON-Waterproof Warranty