Like Tree1Likes

Thread: What are the best vintage pocket watches?

Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 24
  1. #1
    Member omega1234's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    3,390

    What are the best vintage pocket watches?

    I'm quite knowledgable about current and vintage wrist watches, but know absolutely nothing about pocket watches. Could the pocket watch experts please tell me what the best vintage pocket watches are? Are they the same as wristwatches, VC, AP, PP, etc.? I was also wondering, about how much does it cost to get a decent pocket watch? Thanks everyone, I hope I can learn a lot from you guys.
    Collection:
    Omega Planet Ocean Ceramic 8520
    Omega Speedmaster 3570.50

    Grails:

    PP Aquanaut
    Rolex Submariner 116619


  2. #2
    NAWCC Forum moderator Ben_hutcherson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Kentucky, USA
    Posts
    1,495

    Re: What are the best vintage pocket watches?

    I'll take a Waltham over just about anything except perhaps certain Illinois watches. Hamiltons have a lot of fans, too.

    100 years ago, at least in America, one wanting to buy at the top end might choose a Waltham Premier Maximus with a Kew Class A certificate. Personally, I would choose this over a Patek of the same vintage, even today.

    In general, American railroad watches from any of the big four(Elgin, Waltham, Hamilton, Illinois) are excellent timekeepers if properly maintained, and perhaps more importantly can still be relatively easily repaired(most common parts are available). Plus, most of these have beautiful damaskeening on the movement. Most good 21j RR watches are running in the $200-300 range these days.
    Member National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, member NAWCC Ch. 149 Early American Watch Club

    Serious collector of American pocket watches-Waltham(and the predecessor companies) is my specialty.

  3. #3
    Member omega1234's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    3,390

    Re: What are the best vintage pocket watches?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben_hutcherson View Post
    I'll take a Waltham over just about anything except perhaps certain Illinois watches. Hamiltons have a lot of fans, too.

    100 years ago, at least in America, one wanting to buy at the top end might choose a Waltham Premier Maximus with a Kew Class A certificate. Personally, I would choose this over a Patek of the same vintage, even today.

    In general, American railroad watches from any of the big four(Elgin, Waltham, Hamilton, Illinois) are excellent timekeepers if properly maintained, and perhaps more importantly can still be relatively easily repaired(most common parts are available). Plus, most of these have beautiful damaskeening on the movement. Most good 21j RR watches are running in the $200-300 range these days.
    Thanks, I was looking at Waltham and Hamilton, I'll check out Illinois. These $200-$300 watches are similar in quality to the multi thousand $ Pateks? If you wouldn't mind explaining I'd be very grateful. Thank you.
    Collection:
    Omega Planet Ocean Ceramic 8520
    Omega Speedmaster 3570.50

    Grails:

    PP Aquanaut
    Rolex Submariner 116619


  4. #4
    NAWCC Forum moderator Ben_hutcherson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Kentucky, USA
    Posts
    1,495

    Re: What are the best vintage pocket watches?

    Quote Originally Posted by omega1234 View Post
    These $200-$300 watches are similar in quality to the multi thousand $ Pateks? If you wouldn't mind explaining I'd be very grateful. Thank you.
    I didn't say that :)

    I said that a Premier Maximus with a Kew certificate(also several thousand dollars today) might compare favorably to a Patek. We just had some discussion of this recently on here, although I'm not sure any opinions were changed :) . I just know what my choice between the two is!

    American RR watches were mass produced watches built to maintain certain timekeeping standard while still being durable and easily repairable, and be able to do so at a price that was affordable on a railroad workers' salary. Railroad timekeeping standards were +/- 30s/week, which are tighter than current COSC standards. For that purpose, they were much better suited than pretty much anything coming out Switzerland(taking price into account).
    Member National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, member NAWCC Ch. 149 Early American Watch Club

    Serious collector of American pocket watches-Waltham(and the predecessor companies) is my specialty.

  5. #5
    Member omega1234's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    3,390

    Re: What are the best vintage pocket watches?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben_hutcherson View Post
    I didn't say that :)

    I said that a Premier Maximus with a Kew certificate(also several thousand dollars today) might compare favorably to a Patek. We just had some discussion of this recently on here, although I'm not sure any opinions were changed :) . I just know what my choice between the two is!

    American RR watches were mass produced watches built to maintain certain timekeeping standard while still being durable and easily repairable, and be able to do so at a price that was affordable on a railroad workers' salary. Railroad timekeeping standards were +/- 30s/week, which are tighter than current COSC standards. For that purpose, they were much better suited than pretty much anything coming out Switzerland(taking price into account).
    Thanks for clearing that up. If I pick a pocket watch I think it will be a Waltham. Thank you very much for your help.
    Collection:
    Omega Planet Ocean Ceramic 8520
    Omega Speedmaster 3570.50

    Grails:

    PP Aquanaut
    Rolex Submariner 116619


  6. #6
    NAWCC Forum moderator Ben_hutcherson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Kentucky, USA
    Posts
    1,495

    Re: What are the best vintage pocket watches?

    Waltham is a great choice, although just be forewarned that a lot of the later ones(especially post-1920) were not that great of watches even in the higher grades. The railroad grades are still more than capable of holding RR time, they're just not as pretty or as well finished as the earlier one.

    For the 16 size Vanguards, I like the earlier ones with diamond endstones on the balance. I also really like the 18 size 1892 model Vanguards, although my preference is for the earlier 17 and "21 Ruby Jewel" ones rather than the later 21 and 23j ones(even though the later ones do have a diamond endstone, something lacking in the earlier ones).

    For a "better than usual" Waltham at around $600-800 in gold filled or $1500-2000 in gold, look for a Riverside Maximus. These are a huge step above the usual railroad quality. The Premier Maximus or "American Watch Company" grade would be a further step above this.
    Member National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, member NAWCC Ch. 149 Early American Watch Club

    Serious collector of American pocket watches-Waltham(and the predecessor companies) is my specialty.

  7. #7
    Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Posts
    8

    Re: What are the best vintage pocket watches?

    Have you ever looked into fusee or verge escapements ,early ones ? .I tend to steer away from the turn of the century ones as i love the detailing ,shape and sound of the older pair cased watches ,in fact one that i have been watching and my wife has actually disabled my paypal account or i would have had this one 180966103430 on ebay (cleanest one i have seen for a while) ,restored it will be worth a lot of money ,so a shrewd investment .I have had a lot of walthams etc ,think i have a half hunter waltham badged up as swiss made ,but i would swap 10 walthams for one pair cased watch absolutely have a serious problem with them .

  8. #8
    Member radger's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    N.E England
    Posts
    2,886

    Re: What are the best vintage pocket watches?

    I don't know what to make of the pretty Damaskeen on U.S watches.
    It produces a dazzling result, no doubt, you almost need sunglasses to view some U.S railroad watches.
    I prefer the Howards for their more subdued approach to decoration.
    The pretty engine turned Damaskeen is no measure of quality and can be seen also on cheap U.S watches.

    I'd also pick the Waltham with Kew certificate over a comparable Patek Philippe, these must be rare as hens teeth
    and would be worth a fortune to the die hard U.S collector. Are any of these still in existance? Did they send these
    to a master English watchmaker/adjuster for modification and adjustment before submission to the tests?

    But the original question who produced the best?

    I'd say P.P, V&C and several others over Waltham or Illinois and Hamilton, disregarding best value or best affordability
    or best glitz or best stock of spare parts.

    Best Swiss Geneva watches were built to Geneva seal standards, this assured a quality the best U.S watches never managed to achieve,
    I'm more than happy to be proved wrong on this but as yet can find no evidence to the contrary.

    As far as accuracy was concerned, the best Swiss watches would be supplied with observatory certificates, those that
    were not would still be adjusted to temp and position to a high standard of accuracy of far better than 30 secs a week.

    Observatory chronometers and other extreme rarities aside, only the most dogmatic, diehard American collector would pick
    a high grade Waltham over a Patek Philippe.

  9. #9
    NAWCC Forum moderator Ben_hutcherson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Kentucky, USA
    Posts
    1,495

    Re: What are the best vintage pocket watches?

    Quote Originally Posted by radger View Post
    The pretty engine turned Damaskeen is no measure of quality and can be seen also on cheap U.S watches.
    Actually, I'm not so sure that I agree with that. While a lack of a fancy damaskeen pattern certainly does not indicate a lack of quality, there ARE quantifiable and discernible differences between different grades of American watches and in many cases they are an indicator of quality.

    In particular, low grade watches tend to have fairly simple and relatively easily executed patterns.

    Higher grade watches tend to have more complicated and difficult patterns. Furthermore, at least on better grade Walthams of the 1870s through 1890s, the patterns are essentially unique on each individual example. On some particular watches, especially the 1872 and 1888 model "American Watch Company" grades, there are differences in the pattern on every example. I collect 1883 model "Crescent St" grades(I'm up to 10 of them now) for this very reason. I have been told that the rose engines employed in the damaskeen department required a master to operate, and that the artists were given a good deal of freedom as to what they did with them.

    Furthermore, American watches tend to have the pattern spread out over multiple plates, and on many high grade watches(especially the top grades of the 1872 model) the pattern is also carried over to the pillar plate. I'm told that it required a great amount of skill to get perfect registration of the pattern across multiple plates, and higher grade watches tend to do this.

    At the end of the day, damaskeening adds about as much to the timekeeping ability of a watch as do chamfered plate edges, and as I explained above, can allow the maker to show their skill.

    I'd also pick the Waltham with Kew certificate over a comparable Patek Philippe, these must be rare as hens teeth
    and would be worth a fortune to the die hard U.S collector. Are any of these still in existance? Did they send these
    to a master English watchmaker/adjuster for modification and adjustment before submission to the tests?
    I have heard of one. As far as I know, they were adjusted entirely in-house(Waltham did have very capable adjusters).

    Best Swiss Geneva watches were built to Geneva seal standards, this assured a quality the best U.S watches never managed to achieve,
    I'm more than happy to be proved wrong on this but as yet can find no evidence to the contrary.
    The later 10 size "thin model" Howard meet Geneva seal standards.

    The Edward Howard is very, very close but fails in having banking pins. Even so, it excels in other areas(such as in having a free sprung balance) and I would still choose this over any time-only Patek.
    Member National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, member NAWCC Ch. 149 Early American Watch Club

    Serious collector of American pocket watches-Waltham(and the predecessor companies) is my specialty.

  10. #10
    Member sherwoodschwartz's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    635

    Re: What are the best vintage pocket watches?

    interesting. it was my impression that time-keeping ability wasn't one of the stipulations of the geneva seal. so, with this in mind, i have always found it an over-rated standard. i'd be interested in counter-points.

Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Posting Permissions

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