The Appleton Watch Co (Wisconsin)
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Thread: The Appleton Watch Co (Wisconsin)

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  1. #1
    Sponsor thoth's Avatar
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    The Appleton Watch Co (Wisconsin)

    Well I picked up my 2nd Appleton pocket watch. Much like the first except running. The first one is still waiting to have a staff turned for it....5 years on. But this second one gave me a chance to dig further into these watches. There are many things that seem to not be said or maybe misinformation about them.

    The first thing I would like to point out is the usual misinformation in the "complete" guide. There are no 18 size Appleton and I am tempted to say there are no 16 size either. They all appear to be 17 size by correct measurement. Being that the guide mentions nothing about them being 17 size with stem attached I believe this was word of mouth rather than actual checking. The only possible exception is the "Northwestern Special" but I have yet to actually see one in person or measure it.

    The company had a very short life and even this there appears to be gaps in information. The Remington Watch Company actaully produced watches under the Appleton Watch Company name. There never was a Remington Watch Company watch, only the Appleton. The company supposedly built the factory in Appleton but there is a statement in the publication in 1947 by the HIA that states that the company started in Menasha WI and moved to Appleton WI. The source of that information is unknown.

    https://www.awci.com/wp-content/uplo...947-04-HIA.pdf

    The company appears to have a serial range that goes from 8XXXX to 93XXX. But the finding of any watches with a serial lower than 90XXX seems near impossible. I have started up a serial list and the lowest I have comes from a gilt looking top plate that has a 82658 serial on it. This plate, seen below, also has an odd point at where the pallet fork pinion would pivot. No other known examples have that point.

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    The watches were never very high quality and the ones at the very end of production do show that the company, in a last ditch effort to survive, tried to upjewel watches and created the NorthWestern Special as well to appeal to the market of higher quality watches. But it was all for nothing and they still closed. The low survival rate of the watches comes down to the low quality of the construction and lack of spare parts. You break a staff on one...you repivot if possible or turn a new one. You have no other choices. Parts wear and you have to either make them or get rid of the watch. They were never expensive so the cost of repair would far exceed the value.

    So in reading the guide you have to figure that the note of 16 and 18 size may be completely wrong and you are dealing with 1 size, 17. Now being all were given 2 or 3 stars in the book, that may have to be rethought. Based on the 20 some serials I have and only 2 being higher jewel count and those two are an Appleton with 15 jewels and a NorthWestern Special, I would guess survival may be at 100 tops out of the supposed 3000 or so made. That total also does not go well with the serials. Being the serial range is much higher than that I would say 3000 is just a guess. I believe the company produced material that could make 3000 watches or more but actual completed watches I think is far lower. Just dig into the total number sold in the last decade.....One may come up every 3 to 5 years.

    So anyway here is the newest addition to the collection.

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    The other piece of the puzzle is that Seth Thomas took over from Cheshire when Cheshire failed. But what happened in that time gape between the Cheshire failure and the guys starting up the Remington Watch Co\Appleton Watch Co? Remington bought out the Cheshire equipment and that point on the top plate does not match any Cheshire plate....and none of the Appleton ones either. Prototype? Test design? The finish has a faint damaskeening but looking in the screw holes and all other recesses I find no hidden nickel plate and only the scant buts on the edge that you see. It is also interesting to note the finish on the bottom of the 2 plates. The plain one is machined smooth where as the nickel finish almost has a cast look.
    Attached Images Attached Images

    https://www.ThePassthrough.com

  2. #2
    Member rickhufnagel7's Avatar
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    Re: The Appleton Watch Co (Wisconsin)

    Interesting reading, thank you for posting

    Sent from my Moto E (4) using Tapatalk
    thoth likes this.
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  3. #3
    Member SunnyOrange's Avatar
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    Re: The Appleton Watch Co (Wisconsin)

    Very, very beautiful watch, unique, I love the letters "The Appleton Watch Co." on dial, and those big numbers! The case, letters on movement, especially that "W"!
    Thank you for sharing this story, some things in history of watch production will remain a mistery for us, unfortunately...
    thoth likes this.
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  5. #4
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    Re: The Appleton Watch Co (Wisconsin)

    thoth...another fine Post!

    As I recall, Appleton used machinery bought from Cheshire, and the Wisconsin factory was only operating for a few years...around 1902-1904 (?). I do not recall as having worked on one--I'll check my records--but your excellent photos do bring to mind a few New York Standard pw's I wrestled with! I will always wonder why Entry-Grade ( shall we call them...) makers used hairspring studs so mounted as to maximize the chances of damage...if only they'd spent a few pennies (?) more, and gone with, say, a nice simple floating mount, as per Hamilton.

    It looks like your Appleton went together just fine, and that the hairspring is nicely-coiled and happy. Good work!

    And...to my eye, one of the neatest aspects of your Appleton is the dial: looks about Perfect. I have a decent collection of USA dials that have shown up over the years, and I'd certainly be tickled to find one as nice as this...a Real Collectible!

    Thanks again for the Post...always fun & instructive to see what you've accomplished. Michael.
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  6. #5
    Sponsor thoth's Avatar
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    Re: The Appleton Watch Co (Wisconsin)

    Hi Michael. This one is not the first one....that still resides with the father in law. The dimensions of a Cheshire model 2 staff should work. I was also told that a particular (not sure which) Elgin staff slightly modified on a late would work well too. But all of that is beyond my basic skills. Apparently the one in my first one was held together by glue....possibly multiple pieces of staff stuck together that would work.....well it may have for a few years. The balance wheel has a rather large hole in it. Some have actually crated a shim in a way using a tube put over the staff to make it larger to fit the wheel. Again though all this is because no one makes a staff for them and there are no spares.

    I have a couple Appleton dials spare if you would like to add to your collection. Not junk but not flawless. One Roman and one Arabic. They only had the 2 other than the Northwestern Special dial.

    All I have accomplished at this point is some research and opening my wallet lol

    My next oddity will arrive soon. A Seth Thomas Model 2 Key Wind....yes Key Wind, that was produced prior to the model 4 Key Wind, in a model 3 run. Yaaayyyyy mystery. Will be one of only a handful known and all others apparently were made at the end of the model 4 production. So a bit of an oddity lol
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  7. #6
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    Re: The Appleton Watch Co (Wisconsin)

    thoth...sounds good: these Projects do take some time & energy.

    But: they are FUN!

    Here's a thought @ balance staffs: I had the pleasure of doing quite a lot of business a number of years ago with a retired, 2nd generation Watchmaker in Oregon. He sometimes used a very nifty technique to 'restaff' old / unusual / weird (!) pocketwatches; he would grind the broken pivot off / turn-down the diameter a bit / find another, doner staff with a good pivot / cut it off / drill a hole in it / press it over the original staff / turn everything down to be smooth / re-grind the pivot to fit the jewel / DONE!

    Now: I reckon that there will be those who suggest that this is not the way to go, and I certainly respect other's opinions.

    For those who would rather turn a new staff, good: I imagine that most folks agree...it's the 'best' repair.

    Still: I absolutely respect my ( late ) friend's technique, too. He was perfectly capable of turning a staff...it's simply, that from time to time, it was fun for him to experiment a bit, and see if another technique would work.

    And...a Seth Thomas KW? ( time for me to paw through my Library, & see if I have any info on such a critter...! )

    Thanks, too @ the dial info..I'll certainly think on it--and, see if I have an Appleton mv't tucked away somewhere.

    Michael.
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  8. #7
    Member rickhufnagel7's Avatar
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    Re: The Appleton Watch Co (Wisconsin)

    There was just an export Seth Thomas keywinder up for auction. If I wasn't focused on other things.... Lol... it was Cased in an English case. Pretty thing. 7 jewel. I'm assuming it was export, its not a fact however. Looked all original.

    I just wrestled with a 17s Elgin Hairspring stud for an hour... My eyes are crossed. It was pinned, and man do I hope it's back where it's supposed to be because I don't feel like fighting with it again. Broke the pin and had to shape a new one... Just small and tedious. Never have I seen such an "economically built" Elgin.

    Anyways sorry to just jump in here, just figured if you are a Seth Thomas fan you would find an english cased one interesting, I did.

    Have a good day









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  9. #8
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    Re: The Appleton Watch Co (Wisconsin)

    Great post! Nice PW!
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  10. #9
    Sponsor thoth's Avatar
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    Re: The Appleton Watch Co (Wisconsin)

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Maddan View Post
    thoth...sounds good: these Projects do take some time & energy.

    But: they are FUN!

    Here's a thought @ balance staffs: I had the pleasure of doing quite a lot of business a number of years ago with a retired, 2nd generation Watchmaker in Oregon. He sometimes used a very nifty technique to 'restaff' old / unusual / weird (!) pocketwatches; he would grind the broken pivot off / turn-down the diameter a bit / find another, doner staff with a good pivot / cut it off / drill a hole in it / press it over the original staff / turn everything down to be smooth / re-grind the pivot to fit the jewel / DONE!

    Now: I reckon that there will be those who suggest that this is not the way to go, and I certainly respect other's opinions.

    For those who would rather turn a new staff, good: I imagine that most folks agree...it's the 'best' repair.

    Still: I absolutely respect my ( late ) friend's technique, too. He was perfectly capable of turning a staff...it's simply, that from time to time, it was fun for him to experiment a bit, and see if another technique would work.

    And...a Seth Thomas KW? ( time for me to paw through my Library, & see if I have any info on such a critter...! )

    Thanks, too @ the dial info..I'll certainly think on it--and, see if I have an Appleton mv't tucked away somewhere.

    Michael.
    My father in law used that idea on a large Lemania watch I have. He "repivoted" the staff. Still runs good to this day.

    If you find an Appleton movement and want to part with it let me know....dang things are like Pokemon...Got to catch them all. lol

    Don't confuse a model 2 key wind with a model 4. The model 4 were 3/4 plate and usually exported to the UK with a plain dial and the cases are marked to be 935 silver. This is a different creature so to speak. Look up serial 36089 on pocket watch db and you will see a pic. Mine will be 33195.

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  11. #10
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    Re: The Appleton Watch Co (Wisconsin)

    Excellent and fascinating topic. Thank you for making it.
    thoth likes this.
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