New to Pocket watches.

Thread: New to Pocket watches.

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  1. #1
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    New to Pocket watches.

    I've always loved pocket watches, I don't know why, I just do.

    I had a cheap, open face, stem-wind that I dropped and broke . Now, after getting a bit of the finances in order.

    What's a semi-good, hunter-style pocket watch to start with?

    Not looking for real collector value, just something that's going to keep time and look interesting at the same tim.

  2. #2
    Member Shangas's Avatar
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    Re: New to Pocket watches.

    Anything above 15 jewels and made by a good American watch company ought to be good.
    "Pipes are occasionally of extraordinary interest...nothing has more individuality save, perhaps, watches and bootlaces."

    - Sherlock Holmes.

    'The Yellow Face'.

  3. #3
    Member Marrick's Avatar
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    Re: New to Pocket watches.

    There are some decent used Swiss pocket watches as well that sometimes go fairly cheap on ebay - such as Cyma and Lanco. Less well-known brands can be cheaper - e.g. Working Oriosa Swiss Gold Plate Hunter Fob Pocket Watch | eBay UK

    Or Russian Molnija - cheap but well-regarded (for example) "MOLNIJA"~18J cal.3602 Hunter Case | eBay UK

    Remember to allow for servicing costs. I would suggest you avoid new Chinese made ones - unlikely to last too long.
    Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects."

    Will Rogers (1879 - 1935)


    Please don't PM me to ask for a valuation - I won't attempt one.

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  5. #4
    Member AbslomRob's Avatar
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    Re: New to Pocket watches.

    Rather broad and open ended question. You can buy new Swiss watches using ETA 6498's in the $1000 range; good, solid design; full warrantee with shock protection, etc. For significantly less, you can find 10-20 year old Molijna's in often gaudy cases for $40 or less; probably as good and solid as the ETA's, but less "flashy". The Chinese have been flooding the market lately, but that's a crap shoot. Quality ranges from "nearly as good as the Swiss", to "you're lucky if it works when you buy it". Price and brand are the key; pay the extra money to buy from a higher-profile brand, and you'll probably be alright.

    Continuing back through time, there are a broad range of smaller Swiss pocketwatches stretching back to the 50's and 60's. Many were what I call "Nostalgia" watches, designed for those who missed the pocketwatch heyday. They would use a regular wristwatch movement (with really big spacer ring!). Cheap, durable, but not all that accurate. Usually not hard to get parts for. Not very authentic since they usually have center-seconds. True swiss pocketwatches could be had too, in a range of sizes. Again, fairly cheap and durable, and parts supplies are okay, but these pocketwatch sized movements weren't as popular, and thus not as many parts. Older swiss pocketwatches can be had from such illustrious names as Omega, Rolex etc, and for suprisingly good prices (modern Omega collectors don't seem to appreciate old Omega pocketwatches, unless some Ukraine hack has turned it into a wristwatch...) Again, good quality, but parts can be a problem. Anything swiss that is older or less well known is apt to be a problem for parts; as in they just don't exist, and would need to be fabricated.

    American pocket watches, on the other hand, can be had from as early as 1870 up to '50s/60s. But the big American makers sorta struggled coming out of the depression, so the true gems tend to either be from before that or limited to Elgin/Hamilton (the only two that really survived). Post 30's Walthams are a bit of a gamble, but generally, any that survived to today were probably okay. Parts are usually very accessible, but you have to be careful; its not hard for a hack to repair a watch with the wrong part just 'cause it fits, and while the result will work, it won't work well. Getting a good repair person is key if you're dropping any significant amount of money.

    I've also tended to find that Hunter cases on old american watches are increasingly scarce, which is partly why you see so many "sidewinder" watches sold (that's an open face case with a hunter-grade movement, so that the crown is at 3:00).

    Old English and Swiss (mid 1800's and earlier) can be found for not too much, and represent a level of meticulous, individual craftmenship that modern watches can't touch. But they require equally meticulous, individual service and maintainence, and so ...

    All opinions expressed are, of course, my own, and I'm sure will be subject to disagreement... ;)
    My growing collection of "affordable" vintages: http://www.abslomrob.com

  6. #5
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    Re: New to Pocket watches.

    This thread is full of neat information. Bravo, gentlemen.

    Edit: Whoops. I meant to post this in that vintage railroad watch thread.
    Last edited by ImitationOfLife; May 3rd, 2011 at 18:35.

  7. #6
    Member Shangas's Avatar
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    Re: New to Pocket watches.

    Since Rob invites it, I shall disagree with him.

    American watchmakers really started going downhill in the years after WWII, although it is true that 1930s Walthams were not what they were in the 1900s. However, a nice 1920s-1930s Art-Deco American watch should be a good purchase.
    "Pipes are occasionally of extraordinary interest...nothing has more individuality save, perhaps, watches and bootlaces."

    - Sherlock Holmes.

    'The Yellow Face'.

  8. #7
    Member Tick Talk's Avatar
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    Re: New to Pocket watches.

    Quote Originally Posted by AbslomRob View Post
    ...unless some Ukraine hack has turned it into a wristwatch

    This trend is really beginning to p*ss me off Most surprising is the large money people are willing to pay for a decorative piece that now has zero collector's value...it only encourages the molestors. Let's hope the price of gold settles down soon
    Tick Talk says, "A watch in the hand is worth two on the wrist"

  9. #8
    Member AbslomRob's Avatar
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    Re: New to Pocket watches.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shangas View Post
    Since Rob invites it, I shall disagree with him.

    American watchmakers really started going downhill in the years after WWII, although it is true that 1930s Walthams were not what they were in the 1900s. However, a nice 1920s-1930s Art-Deco American watch should be a good purchase.
    Well, just consider how many watch companies existed at the turn of the century, and then consider how many existed in 1930. Waltham had gotten rid of their R&D dept, and worker morale was abysmal. Elgin was still being innovative, but they were still work with machines and designs from the turn of the century. Hamilton was the new kid on the block, and was in the best position (one of the reasons they were the only one making chronographs in WWII).
    My growing collection of "affordable" vintages: http://www.abslomrob.com

  10. #9
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    Re: New to Pocket watches.

    Where was Gruen in all of this? Just curious.

  11. #10
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    Re: New to Pocket watches.

    I don't mind learning how to maintain a nice, older watch; if I can take care of an antique firearms, I can take care of an antique watch.

    What names should I look at if I were to look for a English or Swiss watch and how much should I look at paying?
    Last edited by MrBackpack; May 4th, 2011 at 08:07.

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