An example of Object ID placement on this Hamilton Pocket Watch. Courtesy of the National Watch & Clock Museum.
I work in the upstairs offices of a museum. Not just any museum—The Museum of Time. Upstairs there are the following departments: IT, Finance, Communications, Development, Marketing, and Membership. All the usual suspects you’d expect to find at a non-profit. There is a Publications department, too! That’s where I work along with three other full-time employees. There are about 13 of us upstairs in total. During our hurried days of scheduling, billing, proofreading, and general non–horological-related tasks, it’s easy to forget that a museum of mechanical marvels, specifically made to measure the movement of time, rests below us.
Recently, the National Watch & Clock Museum started a blog, and it only makes sense to post some of their content here on WatchNews. In the following entry, Kim Jovinelli, Curator of Collections, explains the numbering system the Museum uses to catalog their accessions. Two of their latest wristwatch accessions are a Vortic "Lancaster" Journeyman Series and a first generation Apple iWatch.
What’s in a Number?
-Kim Jovinelli, Curator of Collections (PA) 8/25/17
Anyone who has ever been to a museum has probably seen a set of numbers (in rare occasions, letters) on or near an object on display. They seem random with no direct explanation of what they are, but they most certainly are important. These are accession, or catalog, numbers. By definition, they are simply the object ID given when something new is donated to the museum and helps museum collections staff find the location of or information on said object.
The question remains though. What do they mean? To the average Joe, the numbers seem random, but in fact, each number has a meaning. For the most part, it’s a set of two or three numbers separated by a period. Though these are not universal, the order that accession numbers traditionally follow is:
For example, the accession number 2014.19.8 was received in the year 2014, it was part of the 19th donation of that year, and it was the 8th object within that donation. For us, this is a Kienzle Germany battery-operated transistor.
Kienzle Battery-Operated Transistor Clock Movement. Courtesy of the National Watch & Clock Museum.
Now that the object has a number, it must be marked in order to keep track of its location so that it can be looked up in our database system. It must be prefaced that one of the most important things when dealing with a collection is that whatever is done to the object MUST be reversible. We are tasked with preserving the integrity of the piece just as much as learning from it. There are some who may think that a Sharpie® and clear nail polish is what is used in labeling, when in fact museums take precautions when doing anything that could damage the object. Everything used on an object is of archival grade and can easily be removed. The “clear nail polish” is actually Acryloid B-72, a completely reversible archival resin and barrier coat meant to keep ink from bleeding onto the object. The marker used is also of archival quality and must be purchased from specialty stores and is also completely reversible. Neither of these methods is used on porous surfaces. If an object is deemed too delicate, other techniques are used, such as using a paper tag or a marked container if possible.
Courtesy of the National Watch & Clock Museum.
Accession numbers are just as important to the well-being of an object as where it is stored or how it is displayed. These numbers are crucial in keeping track of an object and its well-being.
You may view the original blog on the Museum’s WordPress site here: https://nwcmuseum.wordpress.com/2017/08/09/whats-in-a-number/
Vertex was part of the “Dirty Dozen” of military watches. Courtesy of Vertex Watches.
Wristwatches have been synonymous with the military since their introduction in the First World War (1914-18). The “Great War” was the first time in British Army history that battles were conducted by generals in remote field headquarters where they could not see the front line. Army units deployed across the vast fields of battle had difficulty communicating with them; therefore, the execution of orders and coordination of maneuvers and attacks by timing was vital. The watches became known simply as “Trench Watches” and tended to be purchased by individuals rather than the military per se.
The War Department did issue a small number of wristwatches toward the end of the war in 1917, becoming a critical part of their kit, along with other essential items such as a revolver, compass, etc. This continued into the Second World War. The British military selected 12 leading watchmakers to supply the army with a new watch built to an exacting bespoke design. The specifications were precisely what you would expect of a military watch – waterproof, luminous, regulated to chronometer level, and rugged. On top of that, the dial needed to be black with Arabic numerals to maximize legibility.
Precision timing. Coordination was critical during World War II. Courtesy of STF/AFP/Getty Images.
The Ministry of Defense set the specification standards that were referred to as “W.W.W” which stood for “Watches.Wristlet.Waterproof.” These W.W.W watches were produced by Buren, Cyma, Eterna, Grana, JLC, Lemania, Longines, IWC, Omega, Record, Timor, and Vertex.
This select group has become known as the “Dirty Dozen.”
The “Dirty Dozen.” The full set of British military watches. Courtesy of A Collected Man.
In 2017 Vertex, in partnership with MrWatchMaster, is seeking stories about the use of Vertex watches during World War II from owners of the watches. Any story about the use of the watches in key battles or missions or other personal stories will be considered. Entries should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, preferably as a PDF file. You can also enter via the Vertex Competition website page.
Winners will be chosen by an independent adjudicator or panel who will use their best efforts to check that entries are authentic representations of actual events.
The Vertex M100 celebrates 100 years since Vertex was founded by Claude Lyons in 1916. The new watch is brought to you by Don Cochrane, the Great Grandson of Claude Lyons – you can read an interview with Don on MrWatchMaster.
The prize for the best story will be the Vertex M100 watch.
First prize: the Vertex M100 watch. Courtesy of Vertex Watches.
Full competition Terms and Conditions are available here.
This article was first published by MrWatchMaster and is original content.
For more information please visit www.mrwatchmaster.com.
Two-Millionth D-200 Deluxe RGM / Martin Guitar Prototype. Keith Lehman.
Even after two years as editor of WatchNews, writing about wristwatches can still feel like visiting a strange country. Just when I think I understand what stirs the soul of the wristwatch enthusiast, the proverbial football is yanked away and I’m back to square one. That’s why it’s nice when something comes my way that I actually know about and that it’s related to wristwatches.
I’ve played guitar since I was 15 and am a proud owner of a 000C-1E Martin guitar, so I was ecstatic when I discovered that RGM Watch Co. was collaborating with The Martin Guitar Co. to make its two-millionth guitar. I immediately contacted Roland Murphy, owner of RGM Watch Co., and asked him about the project. Roland graciously invited me to his shop to discuss the project and to see his prototype guitar.
Holding and playing that guitar is one of my fondest memories working here at the NAWCC. Although it’s not a D-200 Deluxe model, it looks, plays, and sounds fantastic. Roland has a handful of his pieces here at the National Watch and Clock Museum, and I had to ask him if we could have his guitar on loan, and he obliged!
Two-Millionth D-200 Deluxe RGM / Martin Guitar Prototype. Keith Lehman.
The following is the Museum’s panel description that will be seen with the guitar:
Two-Millionth D-200 Deluxe RGM / Martin Guitar Prototype
One of two prototypes created to celebrate Martin Guitar’s two-millionth manufactured guitar was designed by artist Robert Goetzl and watchmaker Roland Murphy of RGM Watch Co. in Mount Joy, PA. This guitar took three years to develop and six months to make the prototypes. The gear and wristwatch-decorated motif is engine turned with many of the components created at RGM Watch Co. An RGM Caliber 20 wristwatch that fits in the headstock of the guitar comes with the purchase of the D-200 model. Only 50 guitars will be made. The actual two-millionth guitar is housed at the C. F. Martin Museum in Nazareth, PA.
Loan courtesy of RGM Watches, Mount Joy, PA
Photo of me holding the RGM/Martin guitar in Roland Murphy's office at RGM Watch Co.
Shortly after we acquired the loan, our Museum Curator Kim Jovinelli and Director Noel Poirier helped shoot a short video of me playing “Blue Skies” by Irving Berlin in the Museum’s theater. I figured it would get some attention on the interwebs plus it would be a fun thing to do. For me there is nothing elusive about a quality guitar with a proud and long heritage; the same can be applied to great watches and their makers. Any requests?