New Pocket watch vs Vintage questions
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Thread: New Pocket watch vs Vintage questions

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  1. #1
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    New Pocket watch vs Vintage questions

    I know that very similar posts have popped up before comparing modern pocket watches (both Swiss and Chinese) to vintage watches, but I would like to ask some questions specific to my intended use. I wear a pocket watch (Charles Hubert - Chinese mechanical) most days to work. I spend my days at a computer keyboard, and wrist watches often find themselves laying on my desk anyway, as I usually prefer not having a wrist watch on while working. Additionally, I ride a motorcycle (H-D Sportster) most days of the year, which includes some summer heat and cold winter days. Usually, if it's above 30 or 35 degrees or so and the roads aren't icy, I ride a motorcycle to work. I would like to continue to carry a pocket watch to work, but the current Charles Hubert is just too small for my tastes. To me, the vintage 18s is a very nice size, but seems hard to find something new that is much bigger than 50mm, which feels much like it belongs in the hand of a woman than mine. I have an antique Illinois watch, but would prefer to leave that particular watch at home most of the time and not use it daily. So, my questions...

    1. Are modern Chinese mechanical watches (Hubert, Rapport, etc) serviceable? Or would a watch maker even bother servicing/oiling/cleaning one? Heck, would it even be worth the trouble for me to have it serviced even if it's possible?
    2. Considering I ride a motorcycle the vast majority of the time, would a vintage watch endure the vibration (probably not that bad) or the bumps in the rode (bumps cause some good jolts sometimes) if I chose to wear one daily?

    Good vintage mechanical watches (I'm thinking ones made around 1900 or so) can still be had for about the price of a "good" new Chinese mechanical. I like the idea of getting a better Chinese model, as I would care less about it if it got ruined and it's probably a little more vibration/moisture resistant than an antique. If it were something for occasional use, I'd buy some more vintage watches. But for a watch to wear daily, I'm a little concerned that the vintage watches might be stressed a bit more than they should be.

    Input?

    Many thanks!

  2. #2
    Member bsshog40's Avatar
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    Re: New Pocket watch vs Vintage questions

    I ride also. But I wear a wrist watch so I only chimed in for suggestions. Have you thought about more than PW? Like maybe a nice one left at work, if its secure, and maybe a quartz PW for on the bike. Waltham makes some quartz pocket watches that look nice but not very expensive at all. Another cheap quartz pw would be Calibri. I would think the quartz watches could handle the vibration and roughness of the bike rides.
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  3. #3
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    Re: New Pocket watch vs Vintage questions

    bsshog40,

    That isn't a bad idea. Quartz watches are nice for their ruggedness, but seem kind of boring to me. However, I have also considered a more modern styled quartz, and still have it in the back of my mind.

    Edit: I forgot to add, I'm not really too worried about modern mechanicals on a motorcycle. This cheapo Charles Huber seems to be keeping good time still. I wish they came in adult sizes. :)
    Last edited by Golanv; August 20th, 2015 at 22:25.
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  5. #4
    Vint. Forum Co-Moderator Mirius's Avatar
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    Re: New Pocket watch vs Vintage questions

    I can't say that I've ever had a problem from wearing any of my vintage watches as a result of riding my Sportster, even those without shock protection. And I should point out that mine is not a rubber mount.
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    Re: New Pocket watch vs Vintage questions

    Mirius,

    That's encouraging! While I tend to baby my possessions, I don't see much point in having things that aren't being used. How often do you wear vintage watches on your sportster? Has any odd wear been found when having it serviced? Would they need to be serviced more frequently, perhaps?

  7. #6
    Vint. Forum Co-Moderator Mirius's Avatar
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    New Pocket watch vs Vintage questions

    Well I don't own any modern watches so it's always a vintage watch. I do however cycle through a number of them so that would even any wear out.

    I can't say that it changes the service interval and I've not experienced any odd wear patterns. However if you get vibration from the bars in your fingers then you are holding on too tight. It's not uncommon for me to have to relax my grip as I realise I've tensed up. Your hand and wrist are pretty good shock and vibration absorbers. Watches are pretty robust.
    Last edited by Mirius; August 21st, 2015 at 09:51.


  8. #7
    Member AbslomRob's Avatar
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    Re: New Pocket watch vs Vintage questions

    I can't imagine your motorcycle provides any more bumps or vibrations then would have been found on a 1900's locomotive or early 20th century automobile. The standard size of a man's pocketwatch in that era was the 16s (the movement of which was 43mm wide). The 18s was leftover from the early pocketwatch days, and would have been ~45mm wide. The Swiss equivelent was the 19''' (like the early Omega's). I have a modern Tissot that's in the equivelent of a 16s size, but the movement is the Unitas 6498, which is a 16''' movement. That's about as large as movements come these days. There isn't a real need for larger movements though. MOvement size is somewhat loosely tied to accuracy; large movement means larger balance, and larger balance means more accurate timekeeping, all other factors being equal. But at this point, we can make the movement components accurate enough that the value of a larger balance is mostly out-weighed (pun intended) by the cost and robustness of a smaller piece. The 6498/7 are about the ideal size for a large movement (and the fact that they've been using the design for over sixty years with only slight modifications is somewhat of a testament to that).

    Yes, Chinese watches are servicable. The challenge is that servicing requires highly skilled labor which, in most markets, puts the cost of doing it far far above what it cost to make the watch in the first place. The cost of servicing a modern Chinese and a vintage Swiss or American will be roughly the same; the design, skills and materials required are nearly identical. Replacement parts are the big wildcard, especially since older mechanicals are apt to be using blue-steel mainsprings that become weak and need to be replaced periodically.
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  9. #8
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    Re: New Pocket watch vs Vintage questions

    Abslomrob,

    Thanks for that great post! That was really informative, and helps a lot!

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