My Pop left me this old pocket watch and I'm having trouble identifying it.
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Thread: My Pop left me this old pocket watch and I'm having trouble identifying it.

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  1. #1
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    My Pop left me this old pocket watch and I'm having trouble identifying it.

    So it wasn't letting me upload the pictures so I uploaded them to imgur.com and here is the link, Someone help me identify this watch! - Imgur Hope that's okay.

    Now, I'm not very knowledgeable when it comes to pocket watches so I'll just sum up what I know and what is in the picture -

    1. It says it has 15 jewels which apparently is mid range
    2. On the movement (under the casing?) it has 'RANDS' written on it, a few quick Google searches I couldn't find much about it
    3. It has the number 253 on the movement, which I can only presume is the serial number
    4. It says Swiss made on the face and also on the movement.
    5. The case seems to be rather discoloured, like Brass (see pictures)
    6. The face 'Glass' isn't actually glass, it seems to feel plastic, I can push it in if I apply force to it, and it will just bounce back out (I don't do that often)

    Thanks heaps for any help you can give me :)
    Last edited by Jenkins9311; December 4th, 2013 at 08:00.

  2. #2
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    Re: My Pop left me this old pocket watch and I'm having trouble identifying it.

    Hi there.

    Nice watch!

    There are two entries for "Rands" in the Mikrolisk horological trademarks database:

    Word trade mark Image trade mark Manufacturer Location and details
    Rands Societe d'Horlogerie LaGenerale Uhren, Uhrenteile; Biel, Schweiz; registriert am 12.9.1912
    Rands Rotherham & Sons, OverseasLtd. Uhren, Uhrenteile; London, England; La Chaux-de-Fonds, Schweiz; registriert am 5.10.1928

    Other members here may have more information about these manufacturers. It seems like the first may have been acquired by a London company, Rotherham & Sons. But I don't know anything about any of these companies.

    The dial and hands have a real "railroad" vibe (bold and large), which makes me wonder whether it may have been created for and sold in the American market. Where are you located?

    15 jewels is nothing to sniff at, and the 3 adjustments is good -- it means it was originally adjusted for correct timing while being held in three different positions (probably dial up, dial down, and crown up). However, it definitely needs a service as the regulator is off the scale. The fact that it's running is a great sign -- any work that it needs should be minor.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Last edited by chronophobia; December 4th, 2013 at 03:37.
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  3. #3
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    Re: My Pop left me this old pocket watch and I'm having trouble identifying it.

    Wow thanks heaps for a quick reply! I'm in Australia and so was my Pop, whether or not he was the original owner or he got it handed down to him, I'm not entirely sure, he did ALOT of travelling in his younger years though so it's possible he got it while over seas. Yeah it seems to run fine apart from one thing, when I forget to wind it after a full day of it running, it'll stop (obviously) and then when I wind it up again it sometimes won't start ticking again, a light tap and it will start again though.

    What is the regulator and how do you tell it's off scale?

    Thanks again! :)
    Last edited by Jenkins9311; December 4th, 2013 at 03:44.

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  5. #4
    Member chronophobia's Avatar
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    Re: My Pop left me this old pocket watch and I'm having trouble identifying it.

    The regulator is the needle that hovers over the part with A/R and F/S. It's used for making quick modifications to the timing of the watch. If it's running too slow, you move it to the A or F side (A for the French "avance" and F for "fast"). Too fast, and you move it toward the R or S side ("retard" and "slow"). Major adjustments to the timing are made by tweaking the screws on the balance wheel (the rapidly spinning thing), but you can make minor changes using the regulator. Yours appears to need compensation beyond the intended range of the regulator -- a competent watchmaker will be able to modify the balance wheel and get the regulator closer to center. In the process, he or she will clean and oil it and diagnose any other problems.

    Regarding needing to prod it to get it to start up, I think that's common in older watches. The balance will often need a little nudge -- a light twist, a gentle shake, etc. Cleaning it may reduce or eliminate this.
    Last edited by chronophobia; December 4th, 2013 at 04:07.

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    Re: My Pop left me this old pocket watch and I'm having trouble identifying it.

    Ahh that all makes sense, I'll definitely get around to taking it to a watchmaker, thanks heaps for you help, hopefully someone else can help figure out more about the watch.

    And abut the prodding, that's good that it's normal, nothing too much wrong with it. :)

  7. #6
    Member AbslomRob's Avatar
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    Re: My Pop left me this old pocket watch and I'm having trouble identifying it.

    The red 12, case style and markings all suggest mid 20's to 30's. The 253 could be a caliber; maybe the Unitas 253? bidfun-db Archive: Watch Movements : Unitas 253

    Don't be put off by the difference in the bridge layout; this was an ebauche with different layouts available. The case looks like an alloy of some sort.
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    My growing collection of "affordable" vintages: http://www.abslomrob.com

  8. #7
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    Re: My Pop left me this old pocket watch and I'm having trouble identifying it.

    Wow thanks for more info! 20's to 30's, makes you wonder where it's been haha...and was chronophobia correct at saying this was sold, or made for America?

    Would there be a way of cleaning the case? To make it look less faded or would that ruin it?

    Also, would this have been a common pocket watch back then? Or uncommon, rare? Etc.
    Last edited by Jenkins9311; December 4th, 2013 at 14:12.

  9. #8
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    Re: My Pop left me this old pocket watch and I'm having trouble identifying it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jenkins9311 View Post
    Wow thanks for more info! 20's to 30's, makes you wonder where it's been haha...and was chronophobia correct at saying this was sold, or made for America?
    Entirely possible; it's a "Negative set" design, which means it was made to be put into a standard American style 16 size pocket watch case. That was pretty common for swiss "private label" watches sold to America. The markings on the movement are consistent with US Import requirements after 1929, and since it's only 15 jewels, it wouldn't have been subject to the super high import taxes levied on 17j movements.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jenkins9311 View Post
    Would there be a way of cleaning the case? To make it look less faded or would that ruin it?
    Alloy cases can ususally be polished a bit ; a simple polishing cloth will work. I'd avoid using polishing compounds unless you're competent enough to remove the movement from the case without destroying it, or else give it to a jeweler to do. Based on your description of it's working status, the whole thing probably needs a proper service anyway, and most decent places will give the case a quick buff as part of that.

    Don't keep using without getting it serviced; you'll (at best) scratch the pivots (making it run badly) or (at worst) break the pivots entirely.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jenkins9311 View Post
    Also, would this have been a common pocket watch back then? Or uncommon, rare? Etc.
    Common enough...Unitas was a ebauche maker, meaning they made basic watch movements and then sold them to whoever wanted to finish them. Yours is pretty typical of the type. The cost of servicing this will probably exceed it's resale value, if that's what's you're interested in. OF course, as a family heirloom it's priceless, and with a good service, it'll run as well as any new $1000 pocketwatch.
    My growing collection of "affordable" vintages: http://www.abslomrob.com

  10. #9
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    Re: My Pop left me this old pocket watch and I'm having trouble identifying it.

    Great info! I'll be sure to stop winding it until I get it serviced. And nah, I certainly don't plan on selling it or anything, it shall be passed down again. Thanks again (:

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