My "new" New York Standard pocket watch

Thread: My "new" New York Standard pocket watch

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  1. #1
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    My "new" New York Standard pocket watch

    Hey fellas,

    I picked this up cheaply ($35.00). I like it because the case is pretty unique. Anyway, it doesn't run, but balance wheel moves freely; I can also move the hands. I plan to get this watch running by myself when I learn how to service a watch. How long until that happens? I really don't know. But for now, the watch is in my safe keeping.

    My guess is that the watch is from the very early 1900s, but it is possible that it dates to the late 1800s.

    The dial appears to be made of some type of metal with raised gold dots and numbers. The case has some very nice engraved designs that in particular attract me to the watch.


    The dial engraving is especially cool. Don't worry--the "Standard" logo isn't really rubbing off. The crystal just needs to be polished in that spot. Oddly enough, other than that the crystal is in excellent shape.


    Nice little design on the back.


    While they aren't visible, there are a few service markings on the inside of the case lid. Unfortunately, I can't really decipher them.


    Here's the movement. I apologize for the low quality photo. It is a 15 jewel movement and the serial number is BF218535. Obviously it was made in the U.S.A.


    Any information or comments would appreciated. I really like this watch.
    Last edited by ImitationOfLife; January 22nd, 2011 at 00:54.

  2. #2
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    Re: My "new" New York Standard pocket watch

    Hi,

    what you have is a New York Standard (NYS), size 12, model 1570, Open Face. This is actually what the first two letters of your serial number mean:

    B = New York Standard Grade
    F = size 12 OF

    The digits are sadly not useful for dating. As there are only 6 digits and NYS was producing around 1 million units per year, so repeated on a almost yearly basis.

    It is not as old as you think, this model being very late teens, 20s. NYS shut down in the 1929 and was owned by Keystone Watch Case Company along with Howard.

    You have one of the better New York Standard movements. Your balance pivots measure .15, and 15 Jewels with a split compensated balance and breguet hairspring. This makes this very much a mid range quality watch - comparable to lower grade offerings from waltham and Elgin. NYS was a lower end watch company, well above the dollar watches, but in general below the equivalent specification Walthams and Elgins. They are not highly regarded (unfairly) by collectors apart from a few models, such as the worm drive escapement (very very rare), the convertibles and the chronographs. I personally have a soft spot for them and have 3 of the first model chronographs. Parts are somewhat of a problem (which is one of the reasons for collector apathy), but Tom from dashto.com has some listed, as does PTPWP.com

    They are an interesting watch company from an interesting time in USA watch making history - and were surprisingly innovative. They did have some shady business practices that I find fascinating - including marking watches such that jewelers could easily modify the markings (11 -> 17 jewels) and supplying sterile movements to rail road watch fakers.

    I include a quote from Bob O, NYS historian that captures this interesting facet of the company.

    Less reputable dealers knew that one short stroke of a graver was all that was needed to sell them as 17 jewel high grade watches. The 11 jewels mark was done at the factory in an overly large and ornate style for this very purpose. One of the 11 jewels was used at the center wheel,normally a sign of a higher jeweled watch & fake winding wheels screwed to the back plate added to the illusion. Never signed NYS, New Era, or other mainline names, the 11 jewel had its own list of "watch co" names such as Baystate, Eldridge, Hamlet,Jefferson, LaSalle, Pacific, Remington, Rosemere, Tribune, Waldemar, Washington,and Wilmington Special. Standard also made outright fake watches marked 23 jewel adjusted. Many were sold from the Sears catalogs along with similar models from Seth Thomas & Trenton, all signed with the Sears house name, Trainmans Special. Standard also signed many fakes Tribune USA & Chicago USA for sale through other mail orders brokers that agreed not to disclose the true makers identity.
    Anyway, it is a worthy watch, and such an example should be welcome in any collection of American pocket watches. Sounds like it needs a basic service - I imagine the oil is just thick and sticky.
    Last edited by trim; January 22nd, 2011 at 02:58.

  3. #3
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    Re: My "new" New York Standard pocket watch

    Well, I guess you learn something new every day! Thanks for the info. I figured it was from the time period that I referenced because the seller told me that that she thought it from that specific time period. I should have known it was incorrect when I had trouble finding reliable NYS serial number banks through Google. Anyway, I, too, find your mention of shady business practice fascinating--it sure wouldn't be an easy feat to get away with something like that today.

    I guess I can estimate the date of the watch from somewhere between 1918-1925ish then...

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  5. #4
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    Re: My "new" New York Standard pocket watch

    Yep, that date range is ok. Aparently I got the model 1570 wrong, should be 1571. Actually the parts catalogue does not differentiate, where as the add below does.

    Period Advert here of your movement, it is in the middle of the page and cost $5.60
    Last edited by trim; January 22nd, 2011 at 03:57.

  6. #5
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    Re: My "new" New York Standard pocket watch

    That is a great find. Nice Engraved design gives the watch that touch.

  7. #6
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    Re: My "new" New York Standard pocket watch

    Just a comment on age, the case design with its short stem belongs to mid twenties or later. The case may be newer than the movement though. I like New York Standard watches, they have some interesting models but are largely ignored by collectors so can be found at very nice prices.
    Erik_H
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  8. #7
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    Re: My "new" New York Standard pocket watch

    Quote Originally Posted by Erik_H View Post
    Just a comment on age, the case design with its short stem belongs to mid twenties or later. The case may be newer than the movement though.
    Could easily be, when they shut down the factory - they sold off what inventory they had left, so all sorts of combinations came out at the end, sometimes with older stock movements. I believe this closedown started mid 20s finalised 1929.

  9. #8
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    Re: My "new" New York Standard pocket watch

    Interesting... So was the closedown due to upcoming effects of the Great Depression? Or was the company just simply bought out?

    I do find it odd that you say the company was owned by Keystone Watch Case Company, yet my watch is a Star Watch Case Company case. In any case (pun intended) you're probably right, Erik H, though I guess we'll never really know.

  10. #9
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    Re: My "new" New York Standard pocket watch

    Remember casing was done by the jeweler at this point in time, not the watch company (except Gruen). NYS I have seen have had every brand case fitted possible.

    Great depression killed NYS.

  11. #10
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    Re: My "new" New York Standard pocket watch

    Quote Originally Posted by trim View Post
    Remember casing was done by the jeweler at this point in time, not the watch company (except Gruen). NYS I have seen have had every brand case fitted possible.
    Makes sense. I believe I read somewhere that people bought movements and then picked out a case to put it in until the early '20s, you know, instead of the watch company casing the movements.

    I almost feel bad that this watch will be my first victim of an attempted service. Hopefully I won't screw it up.

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