- Museum number
CHROME-PLATED CASED PIN-PALLET LEVER WATCH.
Ingersoll Triumph pocket watch.
Movement with pin-pallet lever escapement; keyless winding and hand-setting.
Hand-painted prototype dial featuring a spaceman and monster in foreground and space rocket in background.
Minute hand missing.
Chrome-plated case with snap-on back and bezel.
- Production date
Diameter: 51 millimetres
- Curator's comments
Compare with 1983,1012.130
Text from 'Watches', by David Thompson, London, 2008, p. 150-151 [comment relating to registration nos. 1983,1012.135-6].
PIN-PALLET LEVER WATCH
YSTRADGYNLAIS AND LONDON, 1952
The Ingersoll company in England began as an extension of the American firm Robert H. Ingersoll & Bro., which in 1891 had contracted with the Waterbury Clock Company to supply cheap pin-pallet lever watches for the mass market. That company was taken over by the Waterbury Clock Company in 1922, but continued to use the Ingersoll name until 1944. The history of Ingersoll in England had its origins in 1900 when the London department store Simonds ordered 1,000,000 watches to be supplied over the following three years. At the end ofthat period, the demise of the Simonds firm prompted the Ingersoll brothers to begin an English operation of their own. By 1905 they had successfully established their company, based at Audrey House in Ely Place, London, and soon business was booming, with cheap watches being sold through all manner of outlets, such as ironmongers, as well as the usual jewellers' shops. In 1911 a new factory was opened in which components supplied from the Waterbury manufactory in the United States were assembled into complete watches. The premises were at Regent House in Kingsway, London, and such was the success of the London operation that in 1916 a separate company was established, the Ingersoll Watch Company Ltd. In 1922 Robert H. Ingersoll & Bro. in America was declared bankrupt and was purchased by its suppliers, the Waterbury Clock Company. The Ingersoll Watch Company Ltd continued trading but a separate company, Ingersoll Ltd, was soon established which developed a chain of shops and encouraged independent shops to stock the Ingersoll range of watches. In 1930 Ingersoll Ltd, with directors E.S. Daniels, W Manning and P.J. Morren, took over the English part of the Ingersoll Watch Company. During the Second World War Ingersoll moved out of London to High Wycombe, where production was turned over to the war effort, making items for military use such as bomb fuses and timing devices. After the war, there was a need to restart the watch industry and as a move towards that goal, in August 1946 Ingersoll, in partnership with Smiths Industries and Vickers Armstrong, opened a custom-built factory, Gurnos Works, in Ystradgynlais, South Wales. It was here that Ingersoll watches were made in their millions for decades to come.
When Ingersoll moved out of their building on New North Road, London, the Heron Corporation, who by then owned Ingersoll, very kindly offered a large quantity of material and watches to the British Museum. The gift consisted of examples of just about every watch that Ingersoll produced, from the Waterbury clock movement in a watch case with dummy winding stem and button, to wristwatches from the 1980s. Since it was founded in the 1920s the Ingersoll Company was always at the forefront when it came to marketing their watches, and this continued after the Second World War. The gift contains a number of unusual workshop designs, including beer advertisements, football team dials and Jeff Arnold cowboys. Remarkably, a number of pre-production, hand-painted dials survive, one of them showing an alien creature on a far-off planet confronting a man in a space-suit. Colonel Daniel McGregor Dare was a space-pilot in the Interplanetary Space Fleet defending the galaxy from alien intruders in the 1990s in his spaceship Anastasia. He first appeared on 14 April 1950 in a full-colour spread in the children's comic 'The Eagle'. The strip-cartoon was the work of Frank Hampson and a team of illustrators who every week chronicled the unfolding exploits of this intrepid hero and his crew, whose main enemies were the Treens from Venus and their formidable leader, the Mekon. Ingersoll soon saw a selling opportunity, and by June 1952 the Dan Dare watch -was on sale in the shops.
There are noticeable differences between the prototype and production versions. Dan Dare lost his spaceship, which moved from the background onto the rotating seconds indicator, and the alien creature became something of a tyrannosaurus on a rather less colourful background. However, Colonel Dare still waved his ray gun menacingly in time with the pin-pallet lever escapement within, all for 30 shillings.
- On display (G39/dc14/no80)
- Exhibition history
1991, London, The British Museum, Collecting the Twentieth Century
- Latest: 2 (2016)
- Associated titles
Associated Title: Eagle
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number