email: tony@lathes.co.uk
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Swartchild Watch Lathe U.S.A.
Other watchmaker's Lathes


Of the traditional, high-quality American WW (Webster Whitcombe) pattern, the 50 mm centre height, 8 mm collet Swartchild watchmaker's lathe had the usual flat-topped bed with bevelled edges to locate headstock, compound-form slide rest and tailstock. A number of slightly different configurations of lathes branded as "Swartchild" have been found, some stamped (in capital letters on the tailstock end of the bed ) "SWARTCHILD" and others "SWARTCHILD  & CO.. TRIUMPH". A number seen by the writer have been complete with a screw-feed compound slide rest (a considerable advantage, even on such a small lathe) while others have just a flip-up tool rest.
Swartchild & Company, founded in 1870 and based at 29 East Madison Street in Chicago (a city home to that "consortium" of watch-lathe makers Marshall, Moseley and Peerless) described themselves as the "
World's Largest Watchmakers and Jewelers Supply House" and "...manufacturers, importers and jobbers of watchmakers', jewelers' and engravers' supplies of every description : optical goods, chains, charms, etc. : originators of the box matetial [sic] and makers of Swartchild's celebrated watchmakers' benches" As such, they would almost certainly not have made the lathe themselves, their catalogs listing, from the late 1800s onwards, a variety of watchmaker's lathes by Rivett, Boley, Webster Whitcomb - and Marshall. So, who might have been the actual manufacturer of the relatively late-model Swartchild lathes shown below? It could well be that Marshall (listed as having eventually purchased Swartchild, becoming Marshall-Swartchild) were involved - the two lathes both being fitted with "Watch-Craft" and "Triumph" motors of the type often found with Marshall, Moseley and Peerless lathes and, in addition, one is mounted on another Marshall fitting, the neat "BoRel", cast-aluminium baseplate with its round rubber feet. However, certain features of the Swartchild do differ significantly from Marshall models: the clamping lever protrudes through the front rather than the end face of the tailstock casting, the headstock is cutaway beneath the pulley in a distinctive semi-circular rather than angular form and the top slide has a painted upper section with its single, tool-holding T-slot raised slightly and off set to one side (this item being listed in a Swartchild catalog of the late 1894 as the "Columbia"). Of the latter two differences, both features can be found on some models by G.Boley - leading one to suspect that this might have been a copy of the German machine - or even one disguised by "badge engineering". However, as the example illustrated is engraved "Made in the USA", and the micrometer dials and tailstock details are different to a genuine Boley, that scurrilous accusation must be put to one side.
Cloning and re-badging of machines was common in the watch-lathe world, a prime example being the wide variety offered by the London dealer (and Pittler agent) George Adams whose range included straightforward copies of watch lathes by Lorch, G.Boley and Wolf Jahn together with a number of larger machines, mostly from Germany, all suitably disguised as to their origin. Some G.Boley lathes of the "bevelled-bed" type have been found marketed as the British Telco, T.C.& M. Co. Ltd. and Rawco, though again, if they were copies (possibly made during WW1) or purchased from Boley and re-branded, is not known..


Resembling, in some respects, the WW lathes form G.Boley, this Swartchild has just the "maker's" name

A rather different Swartchild, more resembling a Moseley. The end of the bed was stamped  "SWARTCHILD & CO TRIUMPH"

The more Moseley-like Swartchild was stamped "Triumph"


email: tony@lathes.co.uk
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Swartchild Watch Lathe U.S.A.