Who Made This Watch?

James Russell & Co, Hartford Conn

#20501 by Ron Price
Courtesy of Josh Frame's coin & antique shop in Spokane, Washington

This James Russell 15J movement is very similar to 20146 (www.plads.com/m57/JamesRussell/20146.html) and the other Appleton Tracy look-a-likes. Number 501 on the barrel bridge, 20501 inside. It is equipped with a sprung under expansion balance with 3.5mm translucent jewels in real jewel settings secured with 3 screws. It has the standard M57 train, 3-arm blunt-end escape wheel and enclosed English style pallet. It has a cantilevered potance (holds bottom arbor of balance) which looks like the standard factory part #215. The top plate and pillar plate measure 42.7mm and 45.8mm, respectively, approximately the same as the standard Model 57. The top plate encircles the barrel as on early Model 57s. The number 20501 is stamped under the top plate and on the pillar plate. The number 501 is stamped under the balance bridge. No number is on the hour and minute wheels.

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Note poor Swiss-like gilding on movement and that the number1 in the movement number 501 is actually a capital I letter or a Roman numeral I (see photo below), not good workmanship by the maker. Note Arabic numerals in script and abbreviation Co on the dial (movement 20146 has the abbreviation Cie). The back of the dial has the number 500 scratched on it; interestingly not 501(www.plads.com/m57/JamesRussell/20501DialBack.jpg).

Both numbers 20501 and 2 are stamped on pillar plate and on the underside of the top plate. The number 2 is in the standard M57 location for a factory subassembly number, but if a factory number, two digits are typical; one digit is uncommon even for very early P.S. Bartlett movements. Note that the number 5 in the Russell serial number is stamped sideways; not good workmanship by the maker.

Both numbers 2 and 501 are stamped on the underside of the Russell balance bridge. Perhaps #2 is the subassembly number for a factory part. Note the pry slot shown here and in the right photo (as on 20146). The extra cut-out (bottom of above photo) must have something to do with leaving clearance for the real jewel setting (see right photo); it is on other Russells with real jewel settings, not on Russells without jewel settings. This cut-out is not on factory balance bridges.

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