Gold Watch no. 612
18?? - Potter, Geneve
2018 - Dr Crott auction, 12 May 2018, est Euro 3,400-5,000, " Albert H. Potter & Co., Geneva, Movement No. 612, 55 mm, 144 g, circa 1889
A heavy precision pocket watch with Potter's patented movement design and weekday indicator
Case: 18k gold, case maker's punch mark "GLF". Dial: enamel. Movm.: specially designed bridge movement "AP", club-tooth lever escapement, gold screw compensation balance, split offset regulator tail.
Albert H. Potter (1836-1908) was born in Mechanicville, N.Y. in 1836. He completed a three-year apprenticeship with Wood & Foley in Albany in 1855 and subsequently opened a repair shop in New York. In addition to the repair work he built some thirty five gold-cased three-quarter plate movements, some of them with lever and some with detent escapements, which he sold for $225 to $350. In 1861 Potter went to Cuba where he stayed for five years and continued with much the same kind of work, adding to his designs a quarter repeater and a form of duplex escapement. After getting back to New York he obtained his first escapement patent in 1868 and moved to the West soon afterwards. He stayed in Minneapolis and possibly Milwaukee for a little while but settled in Chicago agound 1870. In 1872 he started the company Potter Brothers together with his brother William Cleveland Potter; the firm was dissolved in 1875 but W.C. Potter continued the business until his death. Before leaving the United States in 1875 for Geneva where he would spend the remaining 33 years of his life, Albert took out several patents on compensation balances and improvements in watch escapements, assigning one half of his rights to John H. McMillan of Chicago (who may have been Potter's partner in his early ventures in Switzerland). During his time in Chicago Potter had designed and built a pocket chronometer which may be considered his masterpiece. It was the prototype for several pieces he produced in Geneva, where he obtained his Permis d'Etablissement on February 11, 1876. In an article in the Horological Journal of May 1882, Potter stated that he had invented and made drawings and working models of fourteen different escapements. One of these was a tourbillon lever escapement which had a stationary escape wheel with the anchor moving around with the cage five times per minute - unfortunately the reversals of the momentum were too rapid for good performance. As a consequence this model never sold and no examples were made. Wanting to improve his design, Potter took a patent in 1886 for an escapement without escape wheel, first invented by Deshay in 1825 and presented again by MacDowell at the London Exhibition of 1855. This patent, with others pertaining to the Charmilles watch, was assigned to the New Haven Watch Company for a reputed fifty thousand dollars. The Charmilles watch was produced in a factory in Charmilles outside Geneva - hence the name of the watch - and was an attempt to create reliable timekeeping movements at low prices. Albert H. Potter died on January 25, 1908, in Geneva.
Estimate 3,400 - 5,000 €"