My first railroad watch

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  1. #1
    Member trim's Avatar
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    My first railroad watch

    Thought I would share my 'new' railroad grade watch. As usual I am following a path less travelled - so no 1920-30s 21 or 23 jewel Vanguard or Riverside Maximus here.

    Instead, I am looking a bit further back in time - at the 1883 model, when standards were being established.



    It is a model 1883 sz 18 Waltham 'frosty' grade 35 lever set made in 1887-88. It has 15 jewels in gold settings and it is Adjusted to 6 positions and temperature - so 8 Adj. It is termed a 'frosty' due to the damaskeening of the solid nickel plates - many of these were gilt (cheaper). Despite being a 'nameless' grade they were a top spec movement. Unlike the named grades, the only way of telling if a 1883 movement is a grade 35 is to look up the serial number. It is a sidewinder as many were, the reason being is that almost all OF movements were pendant set, whereas almost all the hunter movements were lever set.



    What is really cool though is that it was the watch Casey Jones used - he had a 15-jewel grade 35 serial number 4,725,871.

    If you don't know who Casey Jones was, look here and here.

    The regulator is an evolution of the 1870 patent regulator in Eric's and Art's earlier watches.



    1887 (same date as this watch) advert



    1893 advert



    There is more info on the NAWCC site.

    The only thing really wrong with the watch is the dial is probably a later replacement, I believe the dial should read Am. Watch Co. Waltham, like this:



    More info on 1883 grade 35 frosties here - same serial number range as mine in this article.

    That said, the dial I have is pristine - so it will do while I wait for a good one to turn up.
    Last edited by trim; October 21st, 2010 at 08:48.

  2. #2
    Member Erik_H's Avatar
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    Re: My first railroad watch

    Nice frosted movement, grade 35 was a decent level watch for its time. The 1883 is a nice model to explore with a high level of variations, I have a few myself.
    Erik_H
    Member NAWCC Chapter 149

  3. #3
    Omega Forum Moderator emmanuelgoldstein's Avatar
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    Re: My first railroad watch

    A beautiful first RR. Congratulations on your latest arrival. I was over at the Waltham factory yesterday looking in the small museum. When I get the urge to purchase a new pocket watch I go over there for ideas.
    “Education is the inculcation of the incomprehensible into the indifferent by the incompetent”

    -- John Maynard Keynes

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  5. #4
    Member radger's Avatar
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    Re: My first railroad watch

    Good looking Waltham movement. The flush fitting jewel
    work is very nice, reminiscent of English work.
    That is interesting that the hairspring was fashioned complete
    with overcoil and only then hardened and tempered.
    Nice one.

  6. #5
    Member trim's Avatar
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    Re: My first railroad watch

    Quote Originally Posted by radger View Post
    The flush fitting jewel
    work is very nice, reminiscent of English work.
    That is interesting that the hairspring was fashioned complete
    with overcoil and only then hardened and tempered.
    Nice one.
    Yes, I think this sort of piece shows clearly how the American Watch industry was built on the ashes of the English. This pattern is certainly English in origin but in a much improved form. Elgins of the same period of course are similar.

    What I find interesting, is when I compare this watch, with the ones exported by Waltham to the UK in the same time period. Apart from the nice silver cases, the English were being short-changed on the quality of their movements, both import and local. At some point, I must do a part by part comparison of an English, an English import (US made) and a US 1883.

    What is also nice about this watch, is that it is from before the first jewel war (1890s+) - they put the effort and resources into other areas of the watch rather than into the addition jewels that did not really help with the time keeping qualities of the watch. The later 17J ones for instance are not as nicely finished or as well adjusted as these earlier 15J versions. The final jewel counts of 21 and 23 jewels for RR watches was the ultimate expression of marketing and advertising over engineering - I know that Waltham resisted this for a time, before unsold inventory and financial losses made them up-jewel the ones they had left in stock.

    It is funny this was all repeated in the second jewel war in the 60s, where, in exactly the same way marketing and advertising led to outrageous jewel inflation with numbers such as 67 and 100 jewels - however this time Waltham was leading the charge (although it was the company in name only by this time).

    The crazy thing is this marketing is still working 100 years later
    Last edited by trim; October 22nd, 2010 at 22:01.

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