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New York 18s 11/15J Theo Studley
Gutta Percha Case and Chain

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New York Watch Co. 18 size 11-15 jewel keywind and keyset Theo E. Studley with an exceptional gutta percha hunting case and chain.  A very rare and eye catching piece, I've only seen a small number of gutta percha cases and of those I've seen this is the finest example by a wide margin and is the only one I've seen with a matched gutta percha chain.   The movement of this watch appears to be original to this case.  The case is constructed of a nickel interior with a dark chocolate colored gutta percha (which is a rubber type material) exterior highlighted by very attractive accents of a gold colored front shield, push, bow, and hinges.  The case lids are marked with the patent dates of April 25th, 1865 and August 18th, 1868 (as well as a re-issue date of May 17th, 1870).  The 1865 date is for Dubois D. Parmalee's U.S. patent number 48992 which specifies the process of transforming gutta percha into a hardened but flexible consistency, and the 1868 date is for William H. Halsey's U.S. patent number 81082 for "molding watch cases and lockets from hard rubber."  The chain of this watch is constructed of matching colored gutta percha and has a gold colored swivel as well as gold colored bands around each of the links and gold accents on the T-bar. Movement serial number is 26563.

Started running weakly when wound but is stopping periodically and needing a twist to restart, I think likely this movement has not seen a servicing in quite some time.  Movement is beautiful with a superb gilt tone and just a few mild small spots on the barrel bridge.  Dial is beautiful with just a fine glaze scratch above the signature and some small edge flaking under the bezel near 4 O'clock.  Case is very impressive with the gutta percha fully present and having just two small indentations into the gutta percha of the front lid with one at the lower right perimeter and one at the lower left, and this compares with most examples of these cases I've seen which have their gutta pecha frequently cracked, peeling, and at times largely missing.  Good glass crystal.  Chain is likewise quite impressive but is missing the gold bands from three of its links.

$950 plus shipment.