Watches with lots of stories

Did you come by your watch in an interesting way? Does your watch come with a story? Provenance adds value ... and interest too. Tell your watch provenance story here.

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Watches with lots of stories

New postby richiec » Fri Dec 24, 2010 2:46 am

My great, great, great grandfather, Alfred Ferdinand Cross, went into the watch and jewelry business in 1863 on Maiden Lane, NYC with a Henry Beguelin from Switzerland after doing an apprenticeship for another jeweler for a few years. They marketed a watch they called the Centennial, a Swiss movement, similar to a Longines, made in various sizes from about 8 size to 18 size, from 7 jewels to 15 jewels and even a few chronometers. The business thrived, they sold the watches from the late 1870's to the 1890's. When Al and Henry died in the late 1890's, their sons Robert Beguelin, Ferdinand and William T. Cross took over the business. It thrived until the late 1920's when they were accused in federal court of stock manipulation, using the proceeds from the stock holders for their own benefit rather than the stock holders. Robert Beguelin died of a heart attack while eating dinner in 1928, William T. died in 1942 and Ferdinand died in 1931, neither had the money they had enjoyed while in business. I became interested in pocket watches because of Alfred and the Centennial and bought quite a few of these darned Centennials. I found out, after buying about 30 of them, about the ebauche system and how two watches that looked exactly alike could not interchange parts. but I did learn how to take a watch apart and put it back together before taking my first weekend course at the NAWCC school. I still have most of these Centennials except for the ones I gave to my two brothers and my sister. Without these watches and my great, great, great grandfather I would not have this great hobby and would not have met the fabulous people that I have enjoyed for the past 6 years. It takes just one watch to start a passion within a man. Now I am considered an interesting old man, though I am still young at 57, with over 300 watches in various degrees of repair. On a side note, both the founders, Alfred and Henry, are buried in side by side family plots in Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn, NY with identical monuments announcing the family names.
Richard Cross
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Re: watches with lots of stories

New postby richiec » Fri Dec 24, 2010 2:48 am

If you want to read some interesting stories, google Ferdinand Cross and check out the NY Times articles about his divorce.
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Re: Watches with lots of stories

New postby veritas » Mon Dec 27, 2010 10:02 pm

Richie you have a very interesting family and heritage.
Maybe you could post some pictures of these watches if you have not yet.
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Re: Watches with lots of stories

New postby richiec » Tue Dec 28, 2010 12:54 am

I think if you go back to last March or so I posted some pictures. The watch is interesting, the family is more interesting. One story is that Ferdinand Cross's mother sent a letter to his ex-wife during his divorce to tell her how well off her son was monetarily. Another time, he was "dating" his mother's nurse, she said she would fire the nurse, he told her he would rehire her. He ended up marrying her in the end but died in 1930 only renting an apartment in NJ. During the divorce proceedings in NYC it was stated that he locked his mother out of their cabin in the Adirondacks and she sent a guide up to get him to unlock the door. He told the guide he would shoot anyone who came through the door. The judge asked the guide if he opened the door, he said certainly not. My grandfather, William T's son, was a character himself. When he married my grandmother, she came with $1.9 million in Phelps Dodge stock she had inherited from her uncle which he parlayed into $20,000 by 1978 but he always had a good time, laughed, played ball with us kids, took trips to Florida, bought new Chryslers, but, we could not play on his lawn. My grandmother on the other hand was not the happiest camper in the world and we never met 90% of her family because of her.
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Re: Watches with lots of stories

New postby richiec » Tue Dec 28, 2010 12:58 am

Just thought I would add the family heritage, on my father's side the Van Vlecks came to America in 1658, the Brinckerhoffs came to America in 1638 and the Crosses came in 1634. The Dutch part of the family settled in New Amstedam while the Cross side settled in Newburyport, Mass, then Maine then Brooklyn, NY. On my mothers side, the Reeds came to America in the early 1600's and settled in Norwalk, Conn, the Wards were oystermen in Maryland and the Armstrongs came during the potato famine in 1850 and settled in Brooklyn and then Bayonne, NJ.
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