Entranced by RR pocketwatches

Thread: Entranced by RR pocketwatches

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  1. #1
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    Entranced by RR pocketwatches

    At first, I was just interested in the Russian pocket watches but as I searched ebay, I saw all those cool RR pocket watches. I think I will save up money to buy one. I am not sure about them so I need some help finding out which brands and eras are best for me and my price range. I'm currently watching some on ebay to determine what price the ones I like sell for.

    What are the common but good quality ones? I'm not looking for unique or very expensive ones. From reading, I know about standard movements so which one is what I'm trying to figure out.

    Thanks for your help.
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    .:.:. Vintage Seiko 5 .:.:. Alpha Milsub .:.:. Boctok Komandirskie T34x .:.:. Paketa 24 World Time .:.:. HMT Pilot .:.:.:.::..::..:::.:.:..:.:.
    .::..::..::..::..::..::..::..::..::..::..::..::..: :..::..::..::..::..::..::..::..::..::..::..::..::. .::..::..::..::..::..::..::..::..::..::..::..::..: :..::..::..:..:::..:..:.:.

  2. #2
    Member Shangas's Avatar
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    Re: Entranced by RR pocketwatches

    Hi PhillyJ,

    Railroad pocket watches of the kind you're thinking of, were manufactured from the 1890s up to the late 1960s. Good brands and models typically included the...

    Elgin Father Time.
    Waltham Riverside.
    Waltham Vanguard.
    Hamilton 992B.

    Any watch made by the Ball Watch Company.

    ALL watches made by BALL were railroad chronometers. NOT all watches (of the models mentioned above) were railroad watches. Some were, some weren't. So knowing the details of a railroad watch are very important. Let me give you an example...



    This is my Ball 435C, ca 1955. This is a railroad watch. It's a 21-jewel, 16-size, open-face watch with large numbers, lever-set and adjusted for temperature and to six positions.



    Ignore the watch on the left. The watch on the RIGHT is my Waltham Riverside. 17 Jewels, 16 size. Large, clear numbers. But this one is not adjusted to 5 (or more) positions and is NOT lever-set. This is NOT a railroad watch.

    So knowing *all* the deails of what a railroad watch is, or is not, is crucial to buying a good one.

    There are "railroad grade" and "railroad approved" watches. Which one do you want?

    Railroad GRADE means that it's of a quality to be used on a railroad, but doesn't meet all the criteria. The Riverside above is such an example.

    Railroad APPROVED means that they CAN (and were, such as my Ball) be used on the railroad.

    The models I mentioned above were the ones most commonly used on railroads starting around 1900. In fact, the Hamilton 992 (and 992B) were considered *the* railroad watch, coming second only to the Ball 435 series (which is what my watch is). A railroad watch costs a fair bit, so if I were you, I'd be doing TONS of research about everything first, before buying one.
    "Pipes are occasionally of extraordinary interest...nothing has more individuality save, perhaps, watches and bootlaces."

    - Sherlock Holmes.

    'The Yellow Face'.

  3. #3
    Member Erik_H's Avatar
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    Re: Entranced by RR pocketwatches

    Quote Originally Posted by Shangas View Post

    ALL watches made by BALL were railroad chronometers.

    Railroad GRADE means that it's of a quality to be used on a railroad, but doesn't meet all the criteria. The Riverside above is such an example.
    Railroad APPROVED means that they CAN (and were, such as my Ball) be used on the railroad.
    Not entirely correct.

    Ball also produced Commercial Grade watches, for those who wanted a Ball watch but did not need to meet railroad standards. These received less adjustments than their official railroad grade watches.

    Railroad grade is a watch made by manufacturers to meet or exceed railroad standards.
    Railroad approved: Each individual railroad line had their own list of watches they would approve for railroad time service. This list changed over time. Employees who had a job involving time service needed to buy a watch that could be found on that list.

    I am not sure what you mean by a Hamilton 992/992B coming second only to a Ball 435. It is a strange statement...
    Erik_H
    Member NAWCC Chapter 149

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  5. #4
    Member Shangas's Avatar
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    Re: Entranced by RR pocketwatches

    That last bit was related to some research that a friend discovered. Never mind, it's not really relevant. Thanks for fixing up my boobies, Erik :)
    "Pipes are occasionally of extraordinary interest...nothing has more individuality save, perhaps, watches and bootlaces."

    - Sherlock Holmes.

    'The Yellow Face'.

  6. #5
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    Re: Entranced by RR pocketwatches

    The best place to get information on "standard" or RR watches is the NAWCC message board at NAWCC.org.

    Ball was a Cleveland, OH jeweler that assembled RR watches using movements made for him by the major US watch manufacturers. In the last days Swiss movements were used. Ball never made movements. Ball was also well known for maintaining time service requirements for many US train companies.

    Some well known RR watches:

    Waltham Vanguard and Crescent St. grades in size 18 model 1892 watches and size 16 model 1899/1908 watches.

    Elgin Veritas, Father Time and B.W. Raymond in size 18 and size 16 watches of a huge number of grades.

    Illinois Bunn and Bunn Specials in many grades.

    Hamilton size 18 model 940, size 16 models 972, 996, 992, 950, 992B and 950B.

    In addition Hampden, Keystone Howard, South Bend and Rockford made many RR watches.

  7. #6
    Member Shangas's Avatar
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    Re: Entranced by RR pocketwatches

    I've never heard of the Elgin Veritas. What does it look like? All the others I've heard of & seen.
    "Pipes are occasionally of extraordinary interest...nothing has more individuality save, perhaps, watches and bootlaces."

    - Sherlock Holmes.

    'The Yellow Face'.

  8. #7
    Member AbslomRob's Avatar
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    Re: Entranced by RR pocketwatches

    Based on what I've seen and read over the years, I believe the only two "real" categories were watches that met "Railroad Standard Grade", and watches that were "Railroad Approved". The former refers to watches that met the general standards laid out (and frequently updated) after the crash in 1878. The latter refers to watches that were specifically approved for use by a specific railroad.

    Both have problems from the collectors standpoint. The "Railroad Standard Grade" changed over the years, so to know if a given watch met the standard, you have to know when the watch was produced and what the standards were that year. Originally, I think there were fairly simple (15j, lever set and 'Adjusted'), and they got more detailed over the years (as a result of marketing and technological changes). "Railroad Approved", on the other hand, could (and often did) include watches that didn't actually meet Railroad Standards, because each railroad was free to impose their own rules (it was a guidance, not a law). If nothing else, most railroads would "grandfather" existing watches owned by their employees if they met the minimum timekeeping requirement (+/-30 seconds per week), even if they didn't meet the standards. They were only required to get a standard watch if they were getting a new watch. Then there's the fact that the "Railroad Standard" was a largely american thing, and there are railroads in other countries too. The Waltham "CPR" branded 1883's were notable for not being lever set (often considered the most definitive railroad watch technology; I managed to see one at a NAWCC meet last week. Sigh.)

    Your biggest problem is that nowadays, anything that might have met "railroad standard grade" (and many that don't) get advertised as a "railroad watch". Also, these watches were only required for people like conductors, engineers, station masters, etc; there were a lot of people who worked "for" the railroads that had watches which weren't (and didn't need to be) "Railroad Approved". Amazing how many of these show up as being "Railroad Watches".
    My growing collection of "affordable" vintages: http://www.abslomrob.com

  9. #8
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    Re: Entranced by RR pocketwatches

    Quote Originally Posted by Shangas View Post
    I've never heard of the Elgin Veritas. What does it look like? All the others I've heard of & seen.
    Here you go.






    The 18 size 21 jewel Elgin Veritas they also made them with 23 jewels those are more sought after.

  10. #9
    Member Shangas's Avatar
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    Re: Entranced by RR pocketwatches

    Oh River Rat.

    Trust YOU to have an Elgin Veritas in mint condition! Hahahaha!!

    Wow, that's quite a watch! I love it!
    "Pipes are occasionally of extraordinary interest...nothing has more individuality save, perhaps, watches and bootlaces."

    - Sherlock Holmes.

    'The Yellow Face'.

  11. #10
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    Re: Entranced by RR pocketwatches

    For a genuine RR standard, will I be looking at around $500 or more? That is what I'm assuming from reading the posts? Well, I won't be able to afford that any time soon. I'll be on the look out for other nice pocket watches though
    .:.:..:.:..:.:..:.:..:.:..:.:..:.:..:.:..:.:..:.:. .:.:..:.:..:.:..:.:..:.:..:.:..:.:..:.:..:.:..:.:. .:.:..:.:..:.:..:.:..:.:..:.:..:.:..:.:..:.:..:.:. .:.:..:.:..:.:.::..:.:.:.
    .:.:. Vintage Seiko 5 .:.:. Alpha Milsub .:.:. Boctok Komandirskie T34x .:.:. Paketa 24 World Time .:.:. HMT Pilot .:.:.:.::..::..:::.:.:..:.:.
    .::..::..::..::..::..::..::..::..::..::..::..::..: :..::..::..::..::..::..::..::..::..::..::..::..::. .::..::..::..::..::..::..::..::..::..::..::..::..: :..::..::..:..:::..:..:.:.

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