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For sale we have a rare and unusual early 1900s nurses fob watch. It was retailed by R.H. Halford & Sons, of 41 Pall Mall, London. It has a personal engraving on the inside to “Molly”. It is in a petite 35mm case with Swiss hallmarking. To the rear is the standout feature, the enamelled Red Cross emblem. This is clearly a fob watch designed for medical use with this enamelled emblem, plus the uncommon inclusion of a central second hand. The central second hand was of vital importance to nurses for the timing of the pulse rate. The manual wind Swiss lever movement is signed Prot and has been recently serviced. This is a rare and exciting collectors’ piece, with appeal to nursing and the early years of the British Red Cross. The watch comes on a period sterling silver albert chain with T-bar.


R.H Halford & Sons began trading at 41 Pall Mall, London, Westminster in 1903. They were an upmarket manufacturer and retailer of silver, gold, watches and clocks. They temporarily ceased trading in May of 1909 when Robert Collins Halford retired from the firm. They then became incorporated as a limited liability company on February 14th 1910.


The watch predates their incorporation due to the lack of LTD on their signing, with the case having only Swiss hallmarking. This means it cannot be dated to a specific year, however considering its lack of UK import marks, this would place it at pre-1908. The Imported Watch Cases Act 1907 came in on 1 June 1907, after which British import hallmarking was necessary. With R.H. Halford having been at the Pall Mall address since 1903, this would date it to between 1903 and 1907. This corresponds with the early foundations of the British Red Cross.


The British Red Cross was formed in 1870 after war broke out between France and Prussia. Colonel Loyd-Lindsay wrote to The Times, calling for a National Society to be formed in Britain. They led to the formation of the British National Society for Aid to the Sick and Wounded in War. They gave aid and relief to both warring armies during the Franco-Prussian War, and in other campaigns during the 19th century, under the protection of the Red Cross Emblem.


In 1905 this was renamed as the British Red Cross, with Royal Charter coming in 1908 from HM King Edward VII, with Queen Alexandra becoming president. To increase skilled volunteers for its wartime role, a permanent structure of local branches was adopted in 1907.


Please see the images as these compliment and aid the description provided below.

A further condition report is below.



The dial is original and is formed of enamel. It has clear Arabic numerals with and railroad track, with sunk centre. It has some minor hairline fractures to the centre, but no chips or major cracks.



The hands are original. They are of spade and whip style with a thermally blued finish. The central second hand is neat with lollipop counterbalance. They are free of bending and discolouration.



The acrylic crystal is a replacement in very good condition.



The crown, stem and loop are good and original.



The case is formed of silver, of open face configuration. It is in good/average condition with light tarnishing to the silver and light surface scratching associated with ageing. It has some dimpled dents to the case sides and the bezel has some slightly deeper scratches.



The caseback is hinged and is in good condition, snapping into place tightly. It has light surface scratching associated with age. The enamel red cross is very good and original. Inside, the hallmarking is slightly rubbed and there are service etchings.


Inner case back:

The inner case is formed of silver and is in good condition, closing tightly to the case. The hinge is in good condition. To the outside it has a polished finish with light surface scratching, original retailer engraving and personal engraving.



The movement is a Swiss lever calibre signed Prot. It is an unusual and early central second movement.


The movement has been recently serviced. It has a daily variation of +100 seconds a day with an amplitude of 312 degrees and a beat error of 2.5 m/s.


Case dimensions:

Case width: 35mm

Case length: 35mm

Case length with crown: 43.5mm

Case length with crown loop: 50mm

Case Depth: 13mm

Early 1900s British Red Cross Nurse silver fob watch RH Halford & Sons Pall Mall

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