Watch Collecting Part I - Pocket Watches
Like Tree3Likes

Thread: Watch Collecting Part I - Pocket Watches

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 12
  1. #1
    Member Ray MacDonald's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Almonte ON Canada
    Posts
    23,754

    Watch Collecting Part I - Pocket Watches

    When I was 6 years old and had just learned how to tell time, my parents bought me my very first watch. It had to be a pocket watch of course, since that was what my beloved grandfather carried all the time. So I got a Westclox Baby Ben. It had more of a clock movement than a watch movement but how could I know that at the time?
    I cherished that watch for a year and then my mother was picking up my room one day and dropped it on a wooden floor. Ah the sublime tragedy of a six year oldís life!
    I was so heartbroken that my grandpa fished around in his bedroom drawer and came up with a 1900 7 jewel Waltham that he no longer used. That was in 1952, and the Waltham still gleams from a collection box in my bedroom today. It started a lifetime love of watch collecting and especially of those beautiful antique machines we call pocket watches.
    If I had to choose only one sort of vintage watch to collect, it would be a pocket watch. No other timepiece connects the past and future of watchmaking as a pocket watch does. From the time of Shakespeare to the end of the Age of Steam the pocket watch reigned supreme as a portable timekeeper. Its story combines all the aspects of history, engineering, ingenuity, precision manufacturing, intrigue, and downright shady dealing into one fascinating whole. If you want the real lowdown read ďRevolution in TimeĒ by David Landes.
    Fortunately we are able to recapture the romance of the earlier centuries by collecting these beautiful watches today. In this post Iíd like to examine the advantages and disadvantages of pocket watches as collectibles. First the advantages:

    (1) Availability of Watches and Parts
    Well in excess of 100 million pocket watches were manufactured by the two major American makers (Elgin and Waltham) alone. They were all made to last and be repaired so plenty of them are still around. Your grandfather or great-grandfather had one for sure, and if you are lucky maybe you inherited one or more (I have 3.) Parts are still available as well although some are getting harder to find. So far if you have a major make like Elgin you are in good shape. You can keep an 1893 Elgin ticking like new.

    (2) Economy
    Because so many were made and in such variety, you can buy a pocket watch in running condition from as low as $100 US up to the $1000s if you want. They donít appreciate in value much, but its easy to start a collection with a limited budget. Inheriting them from relatives is a great place to start if you can.

    (3) Workmanship
    I have to laugh when I hear Rolex, Omega and similar collectors of modern mechanicals talk about the craftsmanship in their robotically assembled watches of today. Even a 7 jewel cheap Elgin was better put together in 1900. The solid gold Howards and Hamilton railroad grades from the 1910 era just blow anything away made today Ė even the highest quality mechanicals like Patek and Vacheron. The workmanship of the top of the line Edwardian pocket watches is beyond reproach.


    (4) Accuracy
    The great railroad models of Waltham Hamilton Elgin kept time within 30 seconds a week back in 1900. Size does matter in terms of accuracy, and the pocket watches were renowned for it. It wasnít until 1950 that railroads began to allow wrist watches as a replacement for the standard pocket watch.

    (5) History
    Where else can you own a genuine antique that is a perfect little machine, the source and inspiration of the American consumer goods manufacturing industry?

    Are you sold by now? I certainly have been for years. But I have to admit there are some disadvantages in collecting Pocket Watches. Itís only fair to look at them now.

    (1) How Do You Wear Them?
    Unless you dress like an Edwardian Teddy Boy, thereís not a convenient way to wear a pocket watch. They lend themselves to watch chains, vests, or fob pockets in your pants - and all of these are not common in our casual world of today. Chances are your watch collection will stay at home while you go out on the town.

    (2) Fragility
    Pocket watches from 1905 do not have shockproof movements and waterproof cases. The slightest bump can break a balance staff and render the watch inoperable. Leaky cases can admit dust, dirt or moisture, all of which can be fatal to a pocket watch. Care and coddling are needed for them to operate at their best.

    (3) They Need Frequent Service
    Pocket watches are like steam engines or early automobiles. They need lots of labor intensive service to keep running and not wear themselves out prematurely. A pocket watch that is run frequently needs to be cleaned and lubricated every 5 years to be sure itís in great shape. This can often cost as much or more than the watch is worth.

    (4) Size and Weight
    Pocket watches are the 1000 pound gorilla of the watch collecting world. A sizeable pocket watch collection takes up quite a lot of space as watches go, and itís easy to get out of hand - or so the significant other in your life will think. Granted itís not like collecting vintage tractors, but keep it in mind.
    Secondary to this point is that these watches TICK if you run them. I have an 1883 Hampden you can hear in the next room. If you are a light sleeper or married to one, remember that 7-8 of these beauties running at the same time in the bedroom can sound like a pneumatic drill at 2 AM.

    I started this post with a story from 1952. Iíll end with one from 2004.
    Remember my grandfather was not using that Waltham in 1952? That was because at age 75 he finally was able to afford his dream watch. It was a magnificent Hamilton 992B 21 jewel railroad model Ė probably the finest modern pocket watch ever made. He carried that beautiful watch for 15 years and when he died my uncle wore it for another 20. When he passed away in the 1980s, his brother gave the watch to me. Now the second uncle is gone as well, and the watch remains.
    I had it professionally serviced last year and gave it to my son-in-law as a personal token of affection when he married my daughter. And yes he did wear it on his wedding day- the fourth generation to own a beautiful timepiece.
    I hope he can pass it on one day to my grandchild. Thatís what the essence of pocket watch collecting is all about.
    Hidden Content
    There are fathers who do not love their children; there is no grandfather who does not adore his grandson. ~ Victor Hugo

  2. #2
    Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    5

    Re: Watch Collecting Part I - Pocket Watches

    Hi I have just bought an Elgin watch from EBAY (pic attached). The description says the large crown is because it is an army watch and this was so they could wind the watch whilst wearing gloves. However fom other sources i have been told this is rubbish and the crown does not look right.

    Can you help as i see you quote something about 1900 Elgin watches.


  3. #3
    Member Ray MacDonald's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Almonte ON Canada
    Posts
    23,754

    Re: Watch Collecting Part I - Pocket Watches

    With respect guys, this thread is over three years old. Probably best to start a new one.
    Hidden Content
    There are fathers who do not love their children; there is no grandfather who does not adore his grandson. ~ Victor Hugo

  4. #4
    Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    USA, New Mexico
    Posts
    34

    Re: Watch Collecting Part I - Pocket Watches

    Ray,
    Your story of your love of pocket watches is inspiring and the best reason in the world to pursue this hobby. The love and memories of something we all hold dear to us. Our relatives, the memories of them and what their watches represented to them as well as to us and how we have carried on the tradition. Thank you for your thoughts and inspiration even if the thread is 3 years old it still works.
    Rob31

  5. #5
    Member Ray MacDonald's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Almonte ON Canada
    Posts
    23,754

    Re: Watch Collecting Part I - Pocket Watches

    Thanks Rob but there's a question attached to this old thread which should probably be in its own thread.
    It's about a wristwatch not a pocket watch.
    Meday - we need to have a serial number off the movement to comment on the watch you posted. it looks like a watch from the 1920s/1930s based on its case. The dial looks pretty new though - a redial maybe? The bracelet is totally wrong for a watch of that era. I've never heard the story about large crowns on military watches, and this one doesn't look that military to me anyway.
    Hidden Content
    There are fathers who do not love their children; there is no grandfather who does not adore his grandson. ~ Victor Hugo

  6. #6
    Member Caliper1681's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Key Biscayne, Florida
    Posts
    833

    Re: Watch Collecting Part I - Pocket Watches

    Thank you Ray for this thread. Even though it is 3 years old, it is still very much relevant today and for one I'm glad that meday ask this question here, for it served to revive this post.
    I too started collection pocket watches recently. In my humble collection I have ;
    0 size Illinois circa 1912
    16 size Hamilton 975 Circa 1918
    12 size E. Howard "Keystone Howard" circa 1911
    Love them all and all have the power to transport me back to a time when craftsmanship, dedication and pride where the norm in watchmaking.
    Thanks again for this thread
    Chris
    Current Collection:
    Omega Speedmaster Pro-861 (Circa 69-71) Thanks Eptaz
    Baume & Mercier Hamptom Milleis 18K Gold
    Cartier Pasha C - ETA 2892-A2
    Casio DW7000 Quattro Graph
    Vostok Europe K-3 Submarine-Black Face-243
    Benrus Crossover Electric-ESA 9158 (Circa 1970)
    Louis Rossel Automatic- A.S. 1986 ( Circa 1970 )
    Howard Size 12 PW
    Hamilton 975 Size 16 PW
    Hamilton Vantage Size 6 PW
    Illinois Size 0 PW
    Hyman Berge Private Label Size 10 PW
    Follow Me:
    Hidden Content



  7. #7
    Member Ray MacDonald's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Almonte ON Canada
    Posts
    23,754

    Re: Watch Collecting Part I - Pocket Watches

    Since I wrote that post I have been delighted to see we've attracted many other pocket watch fans and experts here - Hartmut, aditya, Ron in PA, JimH, river rat, Shangas, Rob31 just to name a few - even Eeeb and JohnF are coming over to the Dark Side.
    I think our talented crew here is probably as good as any on the Internet when it comes to pocket watch appreciation and info.
    Hidden Content
    There are fathers who do not love their children; there is no grandfather who does not adore his grandson. ~ Victor Hugo

  8. #8
    Member JohnF's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Oberstedten, Germany
    Posts
    9,602

    Re: Watch Collecting Part I - Pocket Watches

    Attached Images Attached Images

    コスト下げ やる気も一緒に 下げられる

    Hidden Content

  9. #9
    Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    5

    Re: Watch Collecting Part I - Pocket Watches

    [quote=Ray MacDonald;1424126]Thanks Rob but there's a question attached to this old thread which should probably be in its own thread.
    It's about a wristwatch not a pocket watch.
    Meday - we need to have a serial number off the movement to comment on the watch you posted. it looks like a watch from the 1920s/1930s based on its case. The dial looks pretty new though - a redial maybe? The bracelet is totally wrong for a watch of that era. I've never heard the story about large crowns on military watches, and this one doesn't look that military to me anyway.[/Hi Ray the serial number is 31841734 if that helps!]

  10. #10
    Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    PRM
    Posts
    14

    Thumbs Up Re: Watch Collecting Part I - Pocket Watches

    Hi all. Just getting started with the forum, and this specific thread. I used to collect antique pocket watches, and still have a few left. Sold off my collection when kids and houses got in the way. Now back to basics, and appreciating watches all over again.

    I just pulled my limited collection out of the closet to recall what I had. Realized I had a couple of Seth Thomas size 18s. Also a couple of Walthams and a Hamiton. Need to do an inventory and get them listed.

    Just an observation - the craftsmanship in antique watches is more greatly appreciated when you realize that the movements were hand manufactured and assembled. Pure art work from the industrial era. I still marvel at it.

    Look forward to posting again!

    Hank

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Omega Speedmaster at NASA
    By jean-michel in forum Articles
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: June 13th, 2007, 07:11
  2. Is it the Brand or is it the Movement? By Watchking
    By Ernie Romers in forum Links & Articles
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: May 3rd, 2005, 13:50
  3. Buy Low or Buy High or Donít Buy at All? By Watchking
    By Ernie Romers in forum Links & Articles
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: May 3rd, 2005, 13:44
  4. Watch Collecting Knowledge, by Watchking
    By Ernie Romers in forum Links & Articles
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: May 3rd, 2005, 13:40

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts

Search Engine Friendly URLs by vBSEO 3.6.0 PL2