How do I find the grade of my Illinois watch?

Thread: How do I find the grade of my Illinois watch?

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  1. #1
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    How do I find the grade of my Illinois watch?

    Okay, I just received my Illinois pocket watch on EBay today. I made out better than I thought...I think. What I ended up paying $38.50 (shipping included) for was a 12s "Marquis Autocrat", serial number 4,881,488, which I believe places it at 1927. The case isn't anything special: it's a Keystone snap-back that is simply marked "metal" under the Keystone logo; however, the movement is beautiful, and seems to be in good, running order (too soon to see how accurate it is).

    What I am wondering is, is there any way to determine what grade my movement is?

    (by the way, that's not rust on the movements - it's gold-colored lettering. I SUCK at photography... The movement is IMMACULATE!!!:D)

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  2. #2
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    Re: How do I find the grade of my Illinois watch?

    Another thing: were these ever sold in lower-grade cases? All the other ones I have seen for sale online were in either white or yellow gold (or gold-filled) cases. This one, the only manufacturer's marks are the Keystone company logo, and the word "METAL".

    Stainless, maybe???

  3. #3
    Member Ray MacDonald's Avatar
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    Re: How do I find the grade of my Illinois watch?

    Case might be Silverode (nickel, copper, manganese alloy). The movement looks like a Model 3 12T 17 jewel.

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  5. #4
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    Re: How do I find the grade of my Illinois watch?

    It certainly appears to be a high-quality movement - all the visible jewel settings are screwed down, center wheel appears to be made of gold (looks different from brass), nice finish, etc. Why would they put such a movement in a cheap case, though?

  6. #5
    Member Erik_H's Avatar
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    Re: How do I find the grade of my Illinois watch?

    Your Marquis Autocrat is a grade 525 made in 1927. It is 17j and adjusted to temperature, isochronism and 3 positions. Ruby and sapphire jewels in raised gold settings, and gold center wheel. 40401 were made 1923-1928. These were cased at the factory, most observed had gold filled or solid gold cases. Does your case have additional case marks? If it is a base metal snap on back it is unlikely it is original.
    Erik_H
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  7. #6
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    Re: How do I find the grade of my Illinois watch?

    No, no additional case marks. Could the case itself be original, with a replacement back? There is a small jeweler's registry number scratched inside the case back, indicating it has been serviced at least once. Maybe the case back was damaged, and replaced at that time?

  8. #7
    Member Erik_H's Avatar
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    Re: How do I find the grade of my Illinois watch?

    Grade 525 is an Extra Thin movement and should have an extra thin case. I doubt Illinois would have equipped this watch with a base metal snap back case, I believe they had screw back and bezel cases. To your question about switched caseback, a snap back caseback will not fit a screw bezel case. This was a medium-high quality gentlemans watch at its time. A comprehensive book about different Illinois grades 'Illinois Watch Co Encyclopedia' by William Meggers and Roy Ehrhardt states as a note for grade 525 that "it was offered with a variety of 14K solid or filled gold cases and a variety of metal dials, including solid silver".

    Of course I may be wrong, and that such a combination existed. It would be a bit weird from the Illinois marketing department though. I think your case is a 1930ies affordable case. Maybe the original was damaged or sold off for cash during the depression?
    Erik_H
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  9. #8
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    Re: How do I find the grade of my Illinois watch?

    Quote Originally Posted by Erik_H View Post
    Of course I may be wrong, and that such a combination existed. It would be a bit weird from the Illinois marketing department though. I think your case is a 1930ies affordable case. Maybe the original was damaged or sold off for cash during the depression?
    That is entirely possible. The lady who sold it to me said it was her father's in the 1930's. The dial shows some minor scuffing, but the movement definitely fits the case properly - and it is a very thin case. The bezel snaps on as well. Doesn't matter to me, as I bought it to use, not to be an investment or for display (I haven't worn a wrist-watch in over 13 years). I'd buy a railroad watch in a nickel case for the same reason.

    In fact, I have a really nice Dueber screw back-and-bezel Silverine case for an 18S movement that I would LOVE to put a railroad movement in some time...

  10. #9
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    Re: How do I find the grade of my Illinois watch?

    Here's an interesting thread on the subject - the case may be original after all:

    I've never seen anything quite like this one... - Topic

    here's another one that has a base metal case:

    Illinois, 17 Jewel, 12 Size Marquis Autocrat. ... (Total: 1 Items) TimepiecesPocket (post 1900)

    Another auction site. Lot 529 has one, with a later serial number (4,9xx,xxx), that looks nearly identical to mine, and listed as "base metal case":

    http://www.jones-horan.com/0703/html/0703p.htm

    According to the thread in the first link, stainless was actually considered to be a "fashion metal" in gentlemens' watches in the '30s.
    Last edited by Rich K.; May 27th, 2011 at 18:56.

  11. #10
    Member Erik_H's Avatar
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    Re: How do I find the grade of my Illinois watch?

    Enjoy the watch, it is a nice one.
    Erik_H
    Member NAWCC Chapter 149

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