Beginning pocket watch enthusiast...
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  1. #1
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    Beginning pocket watch enthusiast...

    I've been getting interested in mechanical pocket watches as of late, and would perhaps like to make this into a hobby of mine, but I'm a bit lost when it comes to types of watches and how they work.

    I would like my first pocket watch to be a keeper, something I can bring with me wherever I go (perhaps for the rest of my life) and maintain myself, but I'm not going to spend insane amounts of money. $200-$300 tops. (I'm 20 and poor.) Perhaps I can throw in a few hundred more for something special.

    I'm deciding between an antique and a fresh-made watch. I would like to own a watch with a history behind it, but I also like many of the Charles-Hubert watches I see. Charles-Hubert is only a 20 year old company though. It seems the old-time watch makers aren't making a good selection of pocket watches anymore, and nowhere near my price range. Anyways, all pocket watches were new at some point, so buying a new one is alright with me.

    I like German things, a German-made watch would be great, perhaps there's pocket watch makers in Germany I could visit when I get around to traveling there. Or I could eBay an old German watch, but there don't seem to be many around.

    What are good books or resources I can get to help me get started? Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated. Questions are welcome as well.

  2. #2
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    Re: Beginning pocket watch enthusiast...

    I personally wouldn't buy a new pocket watch, for a number of reasons. #1 Most are cheap quartz crap #2 most new mechanical watches will cost a fortune #3 there are TONNES of antique watches within your price range #4 anything old will maintain value.

    You can find lots of watches that were a little lower end that go for cheap, or just ebay postings that are sort of vague let you get a chance at nicer deals. At 200 to $300 you can still get a pretty nice vintage watch depending on what brand, or how collectible that specific watch is.

    Maintaining your own watch is great... if you have the tools and knowledge. I would love to maintain my own watches as well, but I lack the time and money to aquire such a skill and toolset at the moment.

    Someone else will have to chime in about the german watches because i'm not help there.
    Last edited by Ebouwman; December 28th, 2011 at 02:15.

  3. #3
    Member AbslomRob's Avatar
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    Re: Beginning pocket watch enthusiast...

    Mechanical watches are a bit like cars; it <sounds> like a good idea to "maintain" them yourself (especially after seeing a repair bill), but the reality is a bit more complicated then that. You certainly wouldn't want to "learn" on a watch that you also want to be a "keeper", 'cause there's a fair to middling chance you'll destroy it the first time out.

    If you want to learn, troll the 'bay for common 15 jewel size 12 or higher pocket watch movements without cases (you can get them for less then $20 on average), a loupe, decent tweezers and screwdrivers and some watch oil. Probably cost you $100 or so all. Then practice until you can take them apart and put them back together and still have them work. Get some books on watch repair from the library to help with the basics (and there's a lot of material on the net as well) You might have to buy a few more movements. Once you've got that down, you can start looking for a decent cased watch to maintain. But remember that tinkering with watches takes a lot of practice to be any good.

    Otherwise, you'll probably want to find yourself a decent local watchmaker or enthusiast who can help you select and buy a good vintage watch, and who can do the regular service required.
    My growing collection of "affordable" vintages: http://www.abslomrob.com

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    Member joeuk's Avatar
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    Re: Beginning pocket watch enthusiast...

    Like mentioned great idea to repair yourself, but I have found 2 guys in the uk that can service them cheap for me, so ask your local watch repair guy how much it would cost to service a PW. When searching for a Pocket watch avoid keywind PW as parts can be harder to find. And also stay away from pin lever movements as these tend to wear down, nothing wrong with them I own one but most were never serviced and hard to take a part. Dont get me wrong my ingersoll was super cheap and runs great even though its a pin lever movemen.

  6. #5
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    Re: Beginning pocket watch enthusiast...

    Hmm, I've found that Charles-Hubert Paris is actually a Hong Kong based company, and most (affordable) modern pocket watches are Chinese or Japanese imitations of Swiss movements. (No wonder it was so hard to find anything about the company history or location, even on their website.)

    What I want is a European-made mechanical pocket watch. I would prefer a skeletonized watch but it seems these were uncommon in earlier times. It's just the vintage watches seem a little plain to me, but I don't want something from Hong Kong either. Perhaps I'll go with vintage after all.

    I'm looking at Soviet pocket watches on eBay and many are suspiciously affordable. I am paranoid about buying something that isn't authentic and feeling like a fool 10 years later. I am also wary of buying something that doesn't keep good time.

    So unless someone can suggest an (affordable) European watch maker that still makes pocket watches, I'm most likely going vintage watch hunting.
    Last edited by Moskau; December 28th, 2011 at 04:32.

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    If you're worried about how well it keeps time then look to get at least 17 jewels. 17 is considered "fully jeweled"

    Are you located in Europe? Is that why youre looking in that direction? Because there were some really good american watch manufacturers that made some good stuff at the start of the century.

    And also good luck finding a skeleton watch :p

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    Re: Beginning pocket watch enthusiast...

    Quote Originally Posted by Ebouwman View Post
    If you're worried about how well it keeps time then look to get at least 17 jewels. 17 is considered "fully jeweled"

    Are you located in Europe? Is that why youre looking in that direction? Because there were some really good american watch manufacturers that made some good stuff at the start of the century.

    And also good luck finding a skeleton watch :p
    Plenty of skeleton watches to be found from Charles Hubert, Rapport of London, Desperado, etc.

    But these are modern manufacturers. (Except for Rapport of London, they go back to the turn of the century I think.)

    I'm not in or from Europe, I just like Europe in general, I figure that it's not so much about the watch itself as the history and flavor of it, which is why I hesitate to buy a watch made in Hong Kong.

    At this point though I'm beginning to feel that a good European watch (antique or not) is going to break the bank no matter what, so I don't know about this future hobby of mine. Just not comfortable paying 300 dollars plus for a plain-as-paper, open-faced watch, even if it is old or quality-made. Still sizing up the Soviet stuff, but if I know the Soviets, they didn't build things to last, or even function at anything but a rudimentary level.

  9. #8
    Vintage & NAWCC Forum moderator Ben_hutcherson's Avatar
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    Re: Beginning pocket watch enthusiast...

    Why does it have to be European?

    100 years ago, American made watches were the best in the world. Good American railroad grade pocket watches are well within your budget, plus will be much higher quality and many times more repairable than just about anything coming out of China now. Look for a Hamilton 992, an Illinois Bunn Special, or a Waltham Vanguard to get quality as good as you could want within your budget.
    Member National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors
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    Serious collector of American pocket watches-Waltham(and the predecessor companies) is my specialty.

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    Re: Beginning pocket watch enthusiast...

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben_hutcherson View Post
    Why does it have to be European?

    100 years ago, American made watches were the best in the world. Good American railroad grade pocket watches are well within your budget, plus will be much higher quality and many times more repairable than just about anything coming out of China now. Look for a Hamilton 992, an Illinois Bunn Special, or a Waltham Vanguard to get quality as good as you could want within your budget.
    I'm much more interested in the looks and design of a watch than its time-keeping.

    If a watch has an engraved design or visible movement, I'm interested. Heck, if it's from the Art Deco period I'm interested, or even a hunter case model, but the railroad watches are just too plain for me. I want something that's easy on the eyes.

  11. #10
    Vintage & NAWCC Forum moderator Ben_hutcherson's Avatar
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    Re: Beginning pocket watch enthusiast...

    Well, you can always get an American railroad grade movement in a glassback case. Most American movements are more decorated than ANYTHING ever made in Europe.

    dali3464 likes this.
    Member National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors
    Member, NAWCC Chapter 149. Vice President and Secretary NAWCC Chapter 140. Member, NAWCC Convention Committee.
    Serious collector of American pocket watches-Waltham(and the predecessor companies) is my specialty.

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