Outside of the USA, you may not have heard of Bailey, Banks & Biddle, but you will certainly have heard or seen some of their exquisite handiwork. Bailey & Kitchen, as it was originally known, was founded in Philadelphia in 1832. It become Bailey & Co. in 1841, and Bailey, Banks & Biddle in 1878.
The company is one of the great names in the American watch and jewellery industry and came to prominence at a time when it was America, and not Switzerland who led the way in haute horology.
As a measure of America’s rising importance in watchmaking at the time, on November 14th 1876, just two years before the company became Bailey, Banks & Biddle, Monsieur M. Favre Perret, a Swiss member of the international jury of watches at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia that year was astonished at what he discovered on his visit to America. “We have heard in Switzerland of an American competition without believing it, today we are forced to believe it.”
He went on to say he was terrified by the competition. Favre-Perret told how he had put an American made watch in for a rate record inspection and the Swiss technician who undertook the experiments said “I am completely overwhelmed, the result is incredible. One would not find such a watch among fifty thousand of our manufacture.”
BB&B was founded even before Tiffany, and is considered the nation’s oldest jewellery chain with history dating back to the 19th century, and the start of the 20th century. In fact, despite several management changeovers, this year it turns the grand old age of 180. And hopefully the company will make it to 200, and beyond.
Great Seal of the United States
At the turn of the century, Bailey, Banks & Biddle was commissioned by the U.S. Government to update the Great Seal of the United States; its design today remains the official version of the seal. The company also designed and made many of the military medals that are still in use to this day, including the Medal of Honor, the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.
Bailey, Banks & Biddle c1900’s watch
What we have here is a Bailey, Banks & Biddle Co., Philadelphia mechanical watch circa 1900’s; with a movement of Patek Philippe quality especially made to order by Bailey, Banks & Biddle Co., one of the largest and most exclusive importers of fine jewellery and watches in the USA.
This is a rare watch, in excellent original and authentic used condition. It has a wolf’s teeth winding system made by only the highest quality manufacture’s of that era.
The watch has been re-cased in a solid surgical quality stainless steel case, with a precise mechanical movement. The watch is 42.00mm, with a silvered dial featuring oversized Roman numerals and a small-seconds hands at 9 o’clock. The watch comes on a high quality hand-made leather strap with a stainless steel buckle.
The watch still keeps excellent time. At around $5,750, the watch is highly collectable. It’s offered by Giftland, a small and independent New York based family boutique with an excellent collection of cool, unusual, rare and antique watches.