Anyone care to tackle this long list of basic pocket watch questions from a novice writer?

Thread: Anyone care to tackle this long list of basic pocket watch questions from a novice writer?

Results 1 to 8 of 8
  1. #1
    Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    16

    Anyone care to tackle this long list of basic pocket watch questions from a novice writer?

    I would like to help but am short on time, can anyone help him/her? I will email him a link to this thread and hopefully he will join the forum.
    Thanks in advance
    Best Regards
    Robert Laughlin
    Trebor's Vintage Watches
    www.vintagewatch.ca

    Dear Robert,

    I'm a novice writer with a lot of ambition. I'm writing a story that involves an old pocket watch - say, about 70- or 80-years old. However, I don't know a thing about pocket watches. I do not need to know anything complex about pocket watches or their inner workings. I'm only looking for the basic terminology relating to the outside of the pocket watch. I could really use your help, Robert.

    Here are my questions:

    1) At the top of the pocket watch, the knob (???) you depress with your thumb to open the lid (???) in order to see the time is called the "stem" or is called the "lever," Robert?

    2) Does "stem wind" mean that you must wind the pocket watch yourself periodically?

    3) What does "lever set" mean?

    4) How does "lever set" differ from "stem wind and set," Robert?

    5) What does "double roller" mean?

    6) Would Roman numerals or Arabic numerals be more popular in a pocket watch manufactured in the 1920's?

    7) What does "silverode case" mean?

    8) What is a "bezel"?

    9) The "case" is the front and back of the pocket watch, I presume. The picture (or scene) is always "engraved" on the front of the case?

    10) Popular "scenes" engraved on pocket watches are hunting scenes, fishing scenes, and railroad steam / diesel engines, yes? Can you think of any others, Robert?

    11) What is a "three finger bridge"?

    12) Pocket watches can be manufactured from gold, silver, pewter, brass . . . any other materials?

    13) What I am calling the "lid" - the front of the case that springs open when the top is depressed with the thumb - is actually called what?

    14) If I were to have a pocket watch inscribed with writing, would the inscription usually be on the back of the case or inside the the lid (front of the case)?

    15) Is, "An inch of time is worth an inch of gold, but an inch of gold can't buy an inch of time" an inscription that is too long to have insribed on a pocket watch? What would you say is the maximum number of lines or words or letters that would fit on a pocket watch?

    16) How about putting a photograph inside the lid (front of the case)? Often done? Easily done? Any reason why not to do it?

    17) Are all pocket watch hands alike? Are some styles of hands better than others?

    18) Would all pocket watches manufactured in the 1920's have a glass crystal?

    19) What do you call the kind of second hand that is within a small circle at the bottom of the pocket watch dial (at the six o'clock position)?

    20) Would the dial of a pocket watch manufactured in the 1920's be marked "Official RR Standard" only if it was manufactured in the United States? How about a German-manufactured pocket watch from the same time period?

    Again, I'm extremely grateful to you for any help you can give me, Robert.

    Sincerely,

    Jan Cleri

  2. #2
    Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    16

    Re: Anyone care to tackle this long list of basic pocket watch questions from a novice wri

    I sent this email to Jan:
    Hello Jan
    I have copied and pasted your email to the Watchuseek vintage watch forum. This is a very friendly and informative forum and will be a great resource for your research about watches. Here is a direct link to the posting of your questions, I urge you to join the forum as I am sure you will want to interact with it's moderators and members.
    Best Regards
    Robert Laughlin
    Trebor's Vintage Watches
    www.vintagewatch.ca

  3. #3
    Member Ray MacDonald's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Almonte ON Canada
    Posts
    23,771

    Re: Anyone care to tackle this long list of basic pocket watch questions from a novice wri

    I'll do my best. First of all a 70 year old pocket watch isn't that old. I'd say 100 years is the latest I'd want to call old. We have seen examples in here that are 200 years old.

    1) At the top of the pocket watch, the knob (???) you depress with your thumb to open the lid (???) in order to see the time is called the "stem" or is called the "lever," Robert?


    You depress the button on the pendant crown to open the dial cover. This is only on hunter case watches. Open face watches don't have a cover, just a crystal over the dial. Railroad watches are all open face.

    2) Does "stem wind" mean that you must wind the pocket watch yourself periodically?

    Stem wind means you turn the crown to wind the watch as opposed to key wind where not surprisingly you use a key. All pocket watches have to be wound manually every day.

    3) What does "lever set" mean?
    Lever set means you can't pull out the crown to set the hands. Usually you need to unscrew the bezel and pull up a tiny lever at 1 o'clock to set the hands. This type of setting avoids inadvertently setting the watch to the wrong time

    4) How does "lever set" differ from "stem wind and set," Robert?

    Stem wind and set is done with the crown (the knurled knob on top of the pendant.)

    5) What does "double roller" mean?

    Double roller is a fancy type of balance staff escapement mechanism used on railroad and high grade watches to assure smooth operation of the balance wheel and pallet lever. Cheaper watches used single roller mechanisms.

    6) Would Roman numerals or Arabic numerals be more popular in a pocket watch manufactured in the 1920's?
    Arabic . Roman went out around 1910. Railroad watches had to be Arabic.

    7) What does "silverode case" mean?

    Silverode is a nickel based alloy used to make cheap and strong watch cases. Better grade cases were gold filled, silver or solid gold.

    8) What is a "bezel"?

    This is the ring around the dial that holds the crystal in place.

    9) The "case" is the front and back of the pocket watch, I presume. The picture (or scene) is always "engraved" on the front of the case?

    The case holds the watch movement. A hunter case has covers on front and back and both can be decorated. An open face case has only a crystal over the dial and would be decorated on the back.

    10) Popular "scenes" engraved on pocket watches are hunting scenes, fishing scenes, and railroad steam / diesel engines, yes? Can you think of any others, Robert?

    Just about anything - flowers, leaf motifs, you name it.

    11) What is a "three finger bridge"?

    A type of movement design popular in the 1890s and primarily on Swiss pieces.

    12) Pocket watches can be manufactured from gold, silver, pewter, brass . . . any other materials?

    Plates are made of brass, wheels of brass or gold, pivots of steel, jewels of ruby and sapphire.

    13) What I am calling the "lid" - the front of the case that springs open when the top is depressed with the thumb - is actually called what?
    The cover.

    14) If I were to have a pocket watch inscribed with writing, would the inscription usually be on the back of the case or inside the the lid (front of the case)?
    A hunter case would likely be engraved inside the front cover but the back cover is also possible. An open face watch on the back cover obviously.


    15) Is, "An inch of time is worth an inch of gold, but an inch of gold can't buy an inch of time" an inscription that is too long to have insribed on a pocket watch? What would you say is the maximum number of lines or words or letters that would fit on a pocket watch?

    "to Fred from Mother 25-12-14" You'd never get a big inscription like that on a watch. Who'd read it? Maybe "Tempus fugit".

    16) How about putting a photograph inside the lid (front of the case)? Often done? Easily done? Any reason why not to do it?

    Never done in my experience. It'd wear out or get lost. That's what lockets were for. Some watch chains had fobs where a tiny picture could go.

    17) Are all pocket watch hands alike? Are some styles of hands better than others?

    Lots of different types depending on the style popular at the time. The most common ones had a spade type hour hand.

    18) Would all pocket watches manufactured in the 1920's have a glass crystal?

    Yes. Celluloid or plastic crystals came later.

    19) What do you call the kind of second hand that is within a small circle at the bottom of the pocket watch dial (at the six o'clock position)?

    Sub-second hand. Sub-second dial.

    20) Would the dial of a pocket watch manufactured in the 1920's be marked "Official RR Standard" only if it was manufactured in the United States? How about a German-manufactured pocket watch from the same time period?

    US railroads only accepted US made watches for railroad grade. Only a Ball railroad watch would say "Official RR Standard." The others would just say "Elgin" "Waltham" Hamilton" Howard" "Illinois" or "Hampden" on the dial. The movement grade (and name) dictated the railroad approval.
    Canadian railroads accepted a few Swiss Makers like Patek Philippe or Vacheron / Constantin. Nobody accepted German watches as far as I know. USA was king of the railroad watch.
    Last edited by Ray MacDonald; September 10th, 2008 at 02:24.

    There are fathers who do not love their children; there is no grandfather who does not adore his grandson. ~ Victor Hugo

  4. Remove Advertisements
    WatchUSeek.com
    Advertisements
     

  5. #4
    Member Shangas's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    2,024

    Re: Anyone care to tackle this long list of basic pocket watch questions from a novice wri

    I'm not much more than a novice either, but here goes...

    ------------

    **EDIT: Whoops, I see Ray got there before me!**.

    ------------

    1) At the top of the pocket watch, the knob (???) you depress with your thumb to open the lid (???) in order to see the time is called the "stem" or is called the "lever," Robert?

    - The round knurled knob which you press to open the lid of a hunter-case watch is called a crown.

    2) Does "stem wind" mean that you must wind the pocket watch yourself periodically?

    - All pocket-watches must be wound by oneself periodically (Usually once every day). Stem-wind means that the watch is wound up by turning the crown (see above) in a clockwise direction.

    3) What does "lever set" mean?

    - A lever-set watch is one that uses a lever (Hidden behind the dial and bezel at the front of the watch), to set the time. You remove the bezel & crystal (glass lense) at the front of the watch and pull out the lever. Then, you turn the crown to set the time. With the time set, you close the lever and put the crystal & bezel back in-place.

    4) How does "lever set" differ from "stem wind and set," Robert?

    - Lever-set was one of the criterion for railroad watches. It's a safer (though in my opinion, trickier) way to set the time. It eliminates the element of chance that the crown may be left in the 'UP' position, thereby setting the watch to an erroneous time. The lever being covered by the crystal & bezel, can't accidently be left open.

    5) What does "double roller" mean?

    - No idea! (Ray, can you answer this?)

    6) Would Roman numerals or Arabic numerals be more popular in a pocket watch manufactured in the 1920's?

    - I would say either are equally desirable.

    7) What does "silverode case" mean?

    - Silverode (I think I have this right), is merely a fancy name for what is essentially a watch-case which is actually made of NICKEL.

    8) What is a "bezel"?

    - The bezel is the ring of metal around the edge of the front of the watch. Its job is to keep the crystal (glass lense), in-place.

    9) The "case" is the front and back of the pocket watch, I presume. The picture (or scene) is always "engraved" on the front of the case?

    - Unsure.

    10) Popular "scenes" engraved on pocket watches are hunting scenes, fishing scenes, and railroad steam / diesel engines, yes? Can you think of any others, Robert?

    - I can't think of any others. On women's watches, stuff like flowers & birds can be found...but for men's watches, I can't think of much else. Of coures, there is always just standard patterning.

    11) What is a "three finger bridge"?

    - Again, unsure. Ray might know this.

    12) Pocket watches can be manufactured from gold, silver, pewter, brass . . . any other materials?

    - Watches were made of brass, silver, gold, I suppose pewter as well (although I've never seen it), nickel, maybe platinum and perhaps stainless steel (although I think that's purely for modern pocket watches)

    13) What I am calling the "lid" - the front of the case that springs open when the top is depressed with the thumb - is actually called what?

    - As far as I know, it's just called a lid. But the entire case itself is referred to as a hunter-case (or a hunting-case).

    14) If I were to have a pocket watch inscribed with writing, would the inscription usually be on the back of the case or inside the the lid (front of the case)?

    - This generally depends on one's own preference. Inscriptions may be engraved in four or five places on a watch...

    a. Front of the lid.
    b. Back of the lid.
    c. Back of the case.
    d. Inside the back of the case on the secondary dust-cover (If there is one).

    15) Is, "An inch of time is worth an inch of gold, but an inch of gold can't buy an inch of time" an inscription that is too long to have insribed on a pocket watch? What would you say is the maximum number of lines or words or letters that would fit on a pocket watch?

    - Sounds rather lengthy, but then a gentleman's pocket watch was a pretty huge thing, so provided the inscription was small in font-size, I suppose it might fit in.

    16) How about putting a photograph inside the lid (front of the case)? Often done? Easily done? Any reason why not to do it?

    - Yes, that was done, although I'm not sure how frequently. It was known for people to have photographic miniatures taken of loved ones (husbands, wives, children etc), and have these photos put into the reverse-side of a hunting-case watch's lid.

    17) Are all pocket watch hands alike? Are some styles of hands better than others?

    - No, and I don't know about better, but some are more desirable than others to different people. I think it's up to personal taste.

    18) Would all pocket watches manufactured in the 1920's have a glass crystal?

    - Yes. Plastic is not a great material for making crystals, and at any rate, plastic of a kind that we could use to MAKE stuff with reliably, was in its very infancy in the 1920s, it would not be of a quality at that time, to be used for crystal-making (if indeed watchmakers had ever thought of it, which I doubt).

    19) What do you call the kind of second hand that is within a small circle at the bottom of the pocket watch dial (at the six o'clock position)?

    - Ain't they just great? I love watching that little hand spinning around. They're just called second-hands. But the whole thing would be referred to as a 'seconds bit' or a 'sub-second dial'.

    20) Would the dial of a pocket watch manufactured in the 1920's be marked "Official RR Standard" only if it was manufactured in the United States? How about a German-manufactured pocket watch from the same time period?

    - Ah. Here we come to company slogans. A watch which would have: "OFFICIAL RR STANDARD" on it, would have been made by the Ball Watch Company (which was an American watch-company, which produced - as the slogan implies - for American railroads). "Official RR (for 'railroad') Standard" was the slogan of the Ball Watch Co and I'm pretty sure it would have been found on the dials of most of their railroad-quality watches.

    ------------

    Hope that helped in some manner, Ray, Eeb or one of the more knowledgable people will be able to fill in the questions that I couldn't answer, or provide more detailed ones to the ones that I did!
    "Pipes are occasionally of extraordinary interest...nothing has more individuality save, perhaps, watches and bootlaces."

    - Sherlock Holmes.

    'The Yellow Face'.

  6. #5
    Member Ray MacDonald's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Almonte ON Canada
    Posts
    23,771

    Re: Anyone care to tackle this long list of basic pocket watch questions from a novice wri

    Not bad Shangas.
    I think between the two of us we've given him lots to think about.

    There are fathers who do not love their children; there is no grandfather who does not adore his grandson. ~ Victor Hugo

  7. #6
    Member Shangas's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    2,024

    Re: Anyone care to tackle this long list of basic pocket watch questions from a novice wri

    Jee, thanks, Ray. I wasn't sure how well I went in answering all those questions...was fun, though.
    "Pipes are occasionally of extraordinary interest...nothing has more individuality save, perhaps, watches and bootlaces."

    - Sherlock Holmes.

    'The Yellow Face'.

  8. #7

    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    130

    Re: Anyone care to tackle this long list of basic pocket watch questions from a novice wri

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray MacDonald View Post
    I'll do my best. First of all a 70 year old pocket watch isn't that old. I'd say 100 years is the latest I'd want to call old. We have seen examples in here that are 200 years old.

    1) At the top of the pocket watch, the knob (???) you depress with your thumb to open the lid (???) in order to see the time is called the "stem" or is called the "lever," Robert?

    You depress the button on the pendant crown to open the dial cover. This is only on hunter case watches. Open face watches don't have a cover, just a crystal over the dial. Railroad watches are all open face.

    2) Does "stem wind" mean that you must wind the pocket watch yourself periodically?

    Stem wind means you turn the crown to wind the watch as opposed to key wind where not surprisingly you use a key. All pocket watches have to be wound manually every day.

    3) What does "lever set" mean?
    Lever set means you can't pull out the crown to set the hands. Usually you need to unscrew the bezel and pull up a tiny lever at 1 o'clock to set the hands. This type of setting avoids inadvertently setting the watch to the wrong time

    4) How does "lever set" differ from "stem wind and set," Robert?

    Stem wind and set is done with the crown (the knurled knob on top of the pendant.)

    5) What does "double roller" mean?

    Double roller is a fancy type of balance staff escapement mechanism used on railroad and high grade watches to assure smooth operation of the balance wheel and pallet lever. Cheaper watches used single roller mechanisms.

    6) Would Roman numerals or Arabic numerals be more popular in a pocket watch manufactured in the 1920's?
    Arabic . Roman went out around 1910. Railroad watches had to be Arabic.

    7) What does "silverode case" mean?

    Silverode is a nickel based alloy used to make cheap and strong watch cases. Better grade cases were gold filled, silver or solid gold.

    8) What is a "bezel"?

    This is the ring around the dial that holds the crystal in place.

    9) The "case" is the front and back of the pocket watch, I presume. The picture (or scene) is always "engraved" on the front of the case?

    The case holds the watch movement. A hunter case has covers on front and back and both can be decorated. An open face case has only a crystal over the dial and would be decorated on the back.

    10) Popular "scenes" engraved on pocket watches are hunting scenes, fishing scenes, and railroad steam / diesel engines, yes? Can you think of any others, Robert?

    Just about anything - flowers, leaf motifs, you name it.

    11) What is a "three finger bridge"?

    A type of movement design popular in the 1890s and primarily on Swiss pieces.

    12) Pocket watches can be manufactured from gold, silver, pewter, brass . . . any other materials?

    Plates are made of brass, wheels of brass or gold, pivots of steel, jewels of ruby and sapphire.

    13) What I am calling the "lid" - the front of the case that springs open when the top is depressed with the thumb - is actually called what?
    The cover.

    14) If I were to have a pocket watch inscribed with writing, would the inscription usually be on the back of the case or inside the the lid (front of the case)?
    A hunter case would likely be engraved inside the front cover but the back cover is also possible. An open face watch on the back cover obviously.


    15) Is, "An inch of time is worth an inch of gold, but an inch of gold can't buy an inch of time" an inscription that is too long to have insribed on a pocket watch? What would you say is the maximum number of lines or words or letters that would fit on a pocket watch?

    "to Fred from Mother 25-12-14" You'd never get a big inscription like that on a watch. Who'd read it? Maybe "Tempus fugit".

    16) How about putting a photograph inside the lid (front of the case)? Often done? Easily done? Any reason why not to do it?

    Never done in my experience. It'd wear out or get lost. That's what lockets were for. Some watch chains had fobs where a tiny picture could go.

    17) Are all pocket watch hands alike? Are some styles of hands better than others?

    Lots of different types depending on the style popular at the time. The most common ones had a spade type hour hand.

    18) Would all pocket watches manufactured in the 1920's have a glass crystal?

    Yes. Celluloid or plastic crystals came later.

    19) What do you call the kind of second hand that is within a small circle at the bottom of the pocket watch dial (at the six o'clock position)?

    Sub-second hand. Sub-second dial.

    20) Would the dial of a pocket watch manufactured in the 1920's be marked "Official RR Standard" only if it was manufactured in the United States? How about a German-manufactured pocket watch from the same time period?

    US railroads only accepted US made watches for railroad grade. Only a Ball railroad watch would say "Official RR Standard." The others would just say "Elgin" "Waltham" Hamilton" Howard" "Illinois" or "Hampden" on the dial. The movement grade (and name) dictated the railroad approval.
    Canadian railroads accepted a few Swiss Makers like Patek Philippe or Vacheron / Constantin. Nobody accepted German watches as far as I know. USA was king of the railroad watch.
    Exactly what I would have said.

    Oh well, great job Ray and Shangas.

    Peace,
    Scott

  9. #8

    Join Date
    May 2008
    Posts
    467

    Re: Anyone care to tackle this long list of basic pocket watch questions from a novice wri

    Quote Originally Posted by trebor View Post
    I would like to help but am short on time, can anyone help him/her? I will email him a link to this thread and hopefully he will join the forum.
    Thanks in advance
    Best Regards
    Robert Laughlin
    Trebor's Vintage Watches
    www.vintagewatch.ca

    Dear Robert,

    I'm a novice writer with a lot of ambition. I'm writing a story that involves an old pocket watch - say, about 70- or 80-years old. However, I don't know a thing about pocket watches. I do not need to know anything complex about pocket watches or their inner workings. I'm only looking for the basic terminology relating to the outside of the pocket watch. I could really use your help, Robert.

    Here are my questions:

    1) At the top of the pocket watch, the knob (???) you depress with your thumb to open the lid (???) in order to see the time is called the "stem" or is called the "lever," Robert?

    2) Does "stem wind" mean that you must wind the pocket watch yourself periodically?

    3) What does "lever set" mean?

    4) How does "lever set" differ from "stem wind and set," Robert?

    5) What does "double roller" mean?

    6) Would Roman numerals or Arabic numerals be more popular in a pocket watch manufactured in the 1920's?

    7) What does "silverode case" mean?

    8) What is a "bezel"?

    9) The "case" is the front and back of the pocket watch, I presume. The picture (or scene) is always "engraved" on the front of the case?

    10) Popular "scenes" engraved on pocket watches are hunting scenes, fishing scenes, and railroad steam / diesel engines, yes? Can you think of any others, Robert?

    11) What is a "three finger bridge"?

    12) Pocket watches can be manufactured from gold, silver, pewter, brass . . . any other materials?

    13) What I am calling the "lid" - the front of the case that springs open when the top is depressed with the thumb - is actually called what?

    14) If I were to have a pocket watch inscribed with writing, would the inscription usually be on the back of the case or inside the the lid (front of the case)?

    15) Is, "An inch of time is worth an inch of gold, but an inch of gold can't buy an inch of time" an inscription that is too long to have insribed on a pocket watch? What would you say is the maximum number of lines or words or letters that would fit on a pocket watch?

    16) How about putting a photograph inside the lid (front of the case)? Often done? Easily done? Any reason why not to do it?

    17) Are all pocket watch hands alike? Are some styles of hands better than others?

    18) Would all pocket watches manufactured in the 1920's have a glass crystal?

    19) What do you call the kind of second hand that is within a small circle at the bottom of the pocket watch dial (at the six o'clock position)?

    20) Would the dial of a pocket watch manufactured in the 1920's be marked "Official RR Standard" only if it was manufactured in the United States? How about a German-manufactured pocket watch from the same time period?

    Again, I'm extremely grateful to you for any help you can give me, Robert.

    Sincerely,

    Jan Cleri
    There has been so much information shared in this thread!I would like to add a few thoughts...The 1920s is the period of early art deco...roman numerals would have been comnsidered old,stuffy and out dated...arabics were the new standard and romans were out dated except on some wrist watches.
    Engraving was very popular on pocket watches...the back and front were usually decorated...a personal message was always put on the inside the watch so only the owner could see it...a personal message was inapproprate for public viewing ...the early 20th century was a time of of hand engraving that was quality and beautiful....but there was a trend in the 1920s toward minimalist design and many art deco period watches had little or no engraving on the out side case.A photograph was sentimental and some were carried inside the cover ,but some photos were placed in small frames or a locket type fob to be put on the end of a watch chain.The scenes on a watch cover and back includes hunting,ships ect...but the engraving of owners initials in a shild or a oval or square shaped plaque was very fashionable through the early1900s and 1920s.
    Hope this may help with your research.

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
    •