At the beginning of last month, we had three watches come into our shop for servicing from three different clients.

The watches were all Jaeger LeCoultre Memovox watches, but one stood out from the rest. Two of the watches were from the European market, but the third was definitely an American piece.

But how could we tell? At a glance, each of the watches looked similar, but what was it about the American piece that was different? As specialists in watch repair in Glasgow, we’re here to explain exactly how we knew this time piece was from the American Market!

The Signature is Different


The image above is of the three watches that we are referring to, and for your reference, the watch on the left is the American piece, with the middle and right watches being European.

If you look a little closer to the face of the watch, you will be able to see that the signature of the watch is simply “LeCoultre” rather than “Jaegar LeCoultre”. This is the first clue to distinguishing which piece came from the American market.

This signature was used on watches which only consisted of the movement and the dial for exportation purposes. This meant that there was no case or strap to the watch, and it was simply the mechanics of the watch which was exported.

So how does this prove that it’s the American  watch? Well…

The Luxury Goods Tax

Many watches were exported in this way to avoid something known as the luxury goods tax. Both the UK and the USA used this method of importing and exporting timepieces to avoid paying extra money to get them into and out of the country.

In this form, the dial and the movement were classed only as watch parts, not a full watch piece, and therefore could not be taxed as a luxury item.

However, it wasn’t just the tax that could be avoided; this method also ensured the protection of watch bracelet makers in the destination country, as their services to place this dial and movement into a wearable wrist accessory were essential.

Many of the Rolex watches which came to the UK after the Second World War passed though our very own Glasgow, giving local watch case and bracelet manufacturers plenty of work to do, keeping them in jobs when many other people were finding it difficult to find work after the war.

So, that’s how you can tell that the watch on the left is American! It has the shortened LeCoultre signature which showed that the dial and movement had been exported to escape the luxury goods tax!

If you’d like to pick our brains with a watch or jewellery related question, or have an interesting piece you’d like to share with us, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today – we’d love to hear from you!