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and it still runs: great-great-grandmother’s watch

Ph. Schillinger
To his Beloved Wife

Phillip Schillinger (1831-1888) and Katherine Jenne Schillinger (1832-1918) were my father’s mother’s mother’s parents, German bourgeoisie in Louisville, Kentucky, whence they had immigrated in 1854 and 1855 from the small town of Kippenheim in the kingdom of Baden-Württemberg. Schillinger was a brewer, and this hideous-toothed beer-drinker from an ad for his brew was an early trophy of my genealogical digging. How I came to find many generations of their ancestors in Kippenheim — quite by accident during a job interview — is another fine story.

But to the watch. This month it came to our possession and of course the first thing I did was photograph it; the second was take it to someone to have it looked at, to see if it could be restored.

For as long as I had known it it had lacked a crystal, and the minute hand. I assumed I would be told it was hopeless, or prohibitively expensive, to restore. But I took it to a good, old watch place here in Rhode Island, and was astonished when one of the artisans simply wound it up and it seemed to run fine (of course we have no key to have tried on it ourselves). But the lack of a crystal is a problem: without it, the watch dial, hands, and presumably works are vulnerable, and it is only worth cleaning the works and considering wearing it if a crystal can be found to fit it. The folks will need to search for a perfect-fitting crystal in a hundred years of old stock, then fit a hand to match the size and style. I will be patient and hope this works! I would love to see my wife, or one of my daughters, wear this red-gold watch on its long gold chain with enameled & gilt slide brooch. More pictures after the jump.

This watch was made in Le Locle, Switzerland, by Pierre Andrié, presumably of the firm Favre & Andrié, presumably in the 1870s or 1880s (before Schillinger’s death in 1888).

One Comment

  1. Nat Taylor wrote:

    Good news! Grey Jewelers in Barrington, Rhode Island, in business since the 1880s, were able to fit a crystal and reasonably well matching minute hand to it, from their old stock, as well as furnish a key (alas the key is modern & pedestrian). So it is now in fine running condition! The next step is to have the chain restored to its original length. The final step will be to wear it!

    Friday, January 22, 2010 at 22:26 | Permalink

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