Newbie, looking for a skeleton pocket watch

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  1. #1
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    Newbie, looking for a skeleton pocket watch

    Hello everybody,

    I've got little to no experience in watches, and am currently looking to get a skeleton pocket watch because I really like seeing the working parts in motion.

    Right now, the only pocket watch I have is a Majesti skeleton with a 17-jewel Chinese movement that I got off ebay for $10 about a year ago (this brand seems to retail for $20-$40 but it's not too hard to find a cheap NOS or second-hand one on ebay); it keeps time alright, although after a year of use it currently seems to be gaining a minute every day or two. It's a fun piece for a non-collector like me, but I've decided to look into getting something of a bit higher quality.

    My knowledge of watches is limited to the info I got from a couple days of surfing the internet (on a seperate note, I'm currently hunting the 'Bay for a working Elgin, Waltham, or Hampden in the sub-$100 range), so I thought I'd run a few questions by you guys before spending any money on another skeleton watch.

    I see a lot of no-brand $10 (which includes shipping) Chinese skeleton pocket watches on eBay, they all seem to use the same 17-jewel Chinese movement. In fact 95% of skeleton watches on ebay seem to be of this sort. Would these be of the same general quality as my Majesti?

    I see on eBay and Amazon that the brands Colibri, Avalon, and Charles Hubert make skeleton pocket watches. They seem to have lower-end watches in the $50-$80 range and higher-end ones in the $150-$200 range. Are these brands significantly better than my $10 Majesti, or is the difference not that great? The $50-$80 Charles Hubert and Colibri watches seem fairly identical in style and design to my Majesti.

    Amazon also has skeleton watches by Tissot, Jacques du Manoir, and Kienzle going for about $500 (Charles Hubert also has a watch in this range, but it seems to be their regular watch with a sterling silver case). I hear Tissot is a good brand, but I'm not familiar with the other two.

    And... that's all I can find on ebay or Amazon. Are any of those good for the price they're going for? Does anyone have any recommendations for a decent-to-good quality skeleton pocket watch or any reliable place online after ebay and Amazon that I can look around for watches of that type?

    Thanks, everybody.

    ******

    Also, another slightly tangential question; a few months ago while visiting New York and looking for a gift for a friend, I saw a very nice looking large-size, open-face skeleton watch at a high end boutique. There was no face (or perhaps just a very small one around the edge), just a very clean view of the entire mechanism. I really liked the look of it, but the price ($2,000) was way outside my price range, especially for a walk-in buy without any prior info. I've been looking for more information about that watch online, but I forgot the brand name and can't seem to find anything that looks like it (the only brand I can remember from that boutique is Aerowatch). Would anyone happen to know of a watch that sounds like the one I'm describing?

  2. #2
    Member Shangas's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie, looking for a skeleton pocket watch

    I'll give you one word of warning:

    If you're going for a gold watch, keep in mind that most modern pocket watches (apart from the ones from the really high-end watchmakers) sell watches (skeleton or otherwise) in gold-plated or gold-tone cases.
    "Pipes are occasionally of extraordinary interest...nothing has more individuality save, perhaps, watches and bootlaces."

    - Sherlock Holmes.

    'The Yellow Face'.

  3. #3
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    Re: Newbie, looking for a skeleton pocket watch

    The Chinese skeleton watch that you have uses a skeletonized Chinese "standard" movement. I'd go over to the Chinese watch form on this web site and do some searching for other skeleton movements. Also if a wrist watch will do, you can go to stores like Walmart and Target. They sell Armitron wristwatches with skeleton movements made by Seagull. These are rather impressive in appearance IMHO.

    As an alternative look for watches with Swiss ETA Unitas 6497 and 6498 movements that have been skeletonized. Davosa is a Swiss brand that makes such a watch, but you will pay for it. You mentioned Aero Watch, they have a web site and do make pocket watches with 6497/98 movements, but I don't know if any are skeletonized.

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  5. #4
    Member Shangas's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie, looking for a skeleton pocket watch

    Hey Waffleking,

    Do you also need a watch-chain? Or do you have one? There are some places which don't sell pocket watches with accompanying chains, and some which do. You may have to buy the chain separately.
    "Pipes are occasionally of extraordinary interest...nothing has more individuality save, perhaps, watches and bootlaces."

    - Sherlock Holmes.

    'The Yellow Face'.

  6. #5
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    Re: Newbie, looking for a skeleton pocket watch

    You can also look for a "salesmans case" pocket watch. They are glass on the back to see through so you can watch the movement. They usually have a better movement, maybe 21j or better but the price is higher. I got my last hamilton 21j salesman cased watch for $140, but you should always have a vintage cleaned and serviced before using on a continuous basis. You might want to try the affordable forum to find places for new watches.

  7. #6
    Member Shangas's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie, looking for a skeleton pocket watch

    How common or rare were salesman's case watches? I've only ever seen them here on WUS. They sure are awesome, though.
    "Pipes are occasionally of extraordinary interest...nothing has more individuality save, perhaps, watches and bootlaces."

    - Sherlock Holmes.

    'The Yellow Face'.

  8. #7
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    Re: Newbie, looking for a skeleton pocket watch

    Send me a reasonable Elgin or other inexpensive American pocket watch and I'll make you one. Years ago when I was an apprentice, when things were slow my boss at the time had us upgrade really butchered Elgin 7 jewel watches and jewel all the the holes that had been closed with punches and other types of horological malfeasance. Once we had straight up and down lines in six positions (ha!) on the timing machines, he then had us skeletonize them, and sold them in his shop. He demanded a quality, artistic job, so we produced good looking watches and they sold quickly.

    who knows, maybe you'll see one on eBay some day.

  9. #8
    Member AbslomRob's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie, looking for a skeleton pocket watch

    I may be talking through my hat here, but from what I've seen, skeleton movements are a fairly "modern" type of thing (possibly fueled by the whole steampunk notion) outside of truely rare bespoke pieces. I'm not sure that the early mass-production machines would have been able to do it (it certainly wouldn't have been very cost effective).
    My growing collection of "affordable" vintages: http://www.abslomrob.com

  10. #9
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    Re: Newbie, looking for a skeleton pocket watch

    Quote Originally Posted by AbslomRob View Post
    I may be talking through my hat here, but from what I've seen, skeleton movements are a fairly "modern" type of thing (possibly fueled by the whole steampunk notion) outside of truely rare bespoke pieces. I'm not sure that the early mass-production machines would have been able to do it (it certainly wouldn't have been very cost effective).
    I have a sense that you're correct about this. While not being by any means an expert on pocket watches, I can't recall seeing very many skeletons.

  11. #10
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    Re: Newbie, looking for a skeleton pocket watch

    I have a 1940 Shell Oil GP that was my grandfather's. There was one on ebay recently. It is quite nice and collectible.





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