Henry Williamson of Coventry & London (Astral & Empire)
The firm of Messrs. Williamson was founded in 1871 by H. Williamson and by 1903 they had factories at Coventy, Salisbury and Buren, Chaux de Fonds, Switzerland, called the English Clock and Watch Manufacturers Ltd. Their main offices and showrooms being at 77-79 and later 81, Farringdon Road, London. H.W. Williamson Ltd became part of English Watch and clock Manufacturers Ltd, which was taken over by Smiths ltd. in 1934. (See: Collectable Clocks 1840-1940 by Shenton.) Smiths continued to sell clocks under the brands of Astral and Empire.
Henry Williamson, Ltd. owned a large watch factory in Coventry, England. They manufactured various American style movements, most of which appear to have been three quarter plate. During WWI (1914-1918) Williamson provided a large number of 18 size, open faced, 7 jewel watches to the British Government. They also provided 8 day aviation time pieces to the Admiralty and the Royal Flying Corps. Though the movements were made in Coventry, the dials are marked, “H. WILLIAMSON LTD LONDON” in two lines, along with the military issue number under the word, London. The military issue number is found on the dial, on the outside edge of the case body and on the outside of the back cover under a broad arrow. This issue number is not the same as the movement serial number or the case maker’s number found inside these watches. The majority of Williamson military pocket watches were in British made nickel Dennison cases.