The original firm was formed as a jewelry manufacturer in 1890 as
N.E. Whiteside & Co and was succeeded by Whiteside and Blank
in 1903. The firm manufactured 14 carat brooches, scarf pins,
sleeve buttons, studs, and bracelets, accented with enamel. Later
they produced high quality jewelry in platinum. The United States
Patent and Trademark Office registration (the image at left is
from the filing) indicates that the C with the arrow through it
was first used for brooches, cuff-buttons, pendants, necklaces and
rings by the original firm beginning in 1890.
In 1905 the expanding metal watch bracelet was patented in Germany and can be seen in the following advertisement from 1909. (Brunner and Pfeiffer-Belli page 11)
"In 1911, the company was awarded the exclusive licence to sell the expansion bracelet that had been invented in Germany. The venture became immediately successful and Whiteside and Blank devoted more and more time to the watch business, becoming the first in the United States to make wrist watches for ladies, diamond watches, sautoir watches, ring watches, watches with diamond crystals, and watches with colored gemstones”. (Deitz page163)
Left: Lady's bracelet watch by Whiteside and Blank for
Tiffany and Co., 1905-1910, gold, enamel, and sapphire,
collection of Louis Scholtz (Deitz page 81).
The Cresarrow Watch Co, of 19 Liberty St, Newark, New Jersey first used the word "Cresarrow" in 1912 according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. This is the same address as Whiteside and Blank (given as both 17 and 19 Liberty St.) although I do not know whether it had similar ownership or was a subsidiary.
In 1912 Henry Blank journeyed to Europe to conduct the customary dealings with watch movement manufacturers in Switzerland and stone dealers in Paris, Belgium and Amsterdam. Henry Blank returned on the Titanic and survived the sinking.
Newton Whiteside left the business in 1917 and the firm became Henry Blank & Co. Henry Blank & Co supplied jewellery to such firms as Raymond Yard; Shreve, Crump and Low; Black, Starr and Frost; Oscar Heyman & Co; Grant A. Peacock; Neiman Marcus; and Tiffany & Co., as well as selling there own line of jewelry through retailers across the United States. Quite often the jewelry supplied to specialist retailers did not carry the firms trademark. Henry Blank & Co may have supplied watches to some of these firms, also with or without the firms trademark on the case. Cresarrow cases with Tiffany on the dial can regularly be found and Cooksey Shugart shows two International Watch Company watches signed "Yard" on the dial, one of which is in platinum. Henry Blank & Co did produce high quality platinum jewelry and may have made these cases. Deitz (who had access to the company records) indicates that Cresarrow cases were sold under the names of C.H. Meylan and International Watch Company. C.H. Meylan were producers of high quality watches. Examples of Art Deco watches in platinum with the movement by C.H. Meylan and the dial signed Yard exist. There are also pocket watches with the movement by C.H. Meylan and the dial signed Black, Starr and Frost, who Henry Blank & Co supplied with jewellery. I have not yet seen a watch with a C.H. Meylan movement with a positively indentified Cresarrow case but I have no doubt they exist.
Left: C.H. Meylan, Swiss Art Deco, Platinum, Rock Crystal, Diamond, Black Onyx Pocket Watch, Circa 1925, Retailed by Raymond Yard Movement: nickeled, 18 jewels, lever escapement, cut bi-metallic screwed balance wheel, 5 adjustments, Breguet balance spring. Signed C.H. Meylan on movement. Dial signed Yard.
Right: C. H. Meylan also advertised that it specialised in baguette movements as can be seen from the following advertisment from 1930 (Brunner and Pfeiffer-Belli page 62) with 5.8mm x 16mm, 6.5mm x 16mm, 6.5mm x 20mm and 7mm x 18mm movements quoted. These would have been the type of movements used in women's watches. (Brunner and Pfeiffer-Belli page 62)
It is quite possible that the International Watch Company calibre 64 (12 ligne) pocket watch movement was used by Cresarrow in some early wristwatches just as it was by the International Watch Company (see Michael Friedberg's article "IWC's Earliest Wristwatches"). The International Watch Company did not begin producing a specialist movement for women's wristwatches, the 8 ¾ ligne, calibre 84, until 1920. Pocket watches with Cresarrow cases and International Watch Company movements can also be found.
I'm not sure when the International Watch Company first began supplying movements to Cresarrow for wristwatches but the earliest I know of is a Tiffany dialed, 18 carat gold Cresarrow case number 21,039 with IWC movement number 674,272 (Calibre 64T, 12 ligne), produced in 1917.
In 1922 the Fordney-McCumber Tariff Bill increased import duties and these were further increased by the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Bill in 1930. These high tariffs encouraged Swiss producers to move some part of their production to the United States and this was done by several firms. Henry Blank & Co were ideally placed to take advantage of this situation. The tariff reductions began in the mid 1930's and lessened the need to produce cases in the United States.
The majority of Cresarrow cased "gentlemens" wristwatches with International Watch Company on the dial seem to be Calibre 87 movements (10 ligne, tonneau shape). Production of Calibre 87 began in 1931 (ceasing in 1947) and it has been suggested they were primarily for the United States market, possibly to escape some of the high import tariff imposed. In addition to the calibre 64T and calibre 87 there are also Cresarrow cased wristwatches with calibre 62, 75, 82, 86 and 94 movements.
Recently, Ralph Ehrismann, posted an image of a Cresarrow signed movement on the International Watch Company internet site with a movement (numbered 903747) from 1929. This is clearly a calibre 94 IWC movement and others have surfaced bearing Cresarrow markings but remain a rarity.
The International Watch Company will not issue an "Extract from
the Archives" for Cresarrow cased watches. I'm not sure if this is
a policy decision, or because the archives have no record of the
case numbers, given they were numbered in the United States. The
archives are indexed by IWC case number and finding a movement
number would require additional searching.
In addition to Cresarrow cases with movements by C.H. Meylan and International Watch Company I have seen watches advertised with E. Huguenin movements and Cresarrow cases as well as Cresarrow movements and E. Huguenin cases. I have not been able to find any details for the firm of E. Huguenin.
In 1959 Henry Blank & Co registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office the trademark "Cresaux" for "watches and parts thereof". Women's watches with Cresaux dials and movements are rarely found but do come up for sale occasionally.
The majority of wristwatch collecting is focused towards "gentlemens" wristwatches with those produced for women somewhat neglected, unfortunately resulting in far less information about the movements within womens wristwatches and more focus on the jewelry aspect. A search of any of the online auction site will usually reveal little detail on the movements within womens wristwatches. I encourage readers to take a second look at watches with the above names to see what movements are in the cases.
Right: Tiffany & Co. 14K yellow gold, hinged lug,
watch with cord attachment, eggshell dial, gold applied figures,
Cresarrow signed case.
In 1986 Henry Blank & Co closed its doors for the final time
and the company records are now held by the New Jersey Historical
Society in Newark.
Below: Cresarrow case marks
Bonus - The
CRES-ARROW, September 1912 - The Story of Platinum
Greg Steer - November 2001