Opinions on up-jewling a watch

Thread: Opinions on up-jewling a watch

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  1. #1
    Member trim's Avatar
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    Opinions on up-jewling a watch

    Hi All,

    a somewhat hypothetical question (for now)

    I can borrow, so I want to get some practice in with a Seitz friction jeweling kit.

    I am playing with the idea of upgrading a 7 jewel pocket watch, to 13 jewels or 15 jewels as 'practice'. The watch itself is currently being repaired, and is therefore an obvious candidate.

    So, here is the real question...

    Will I destroy the intrinsic value of the watch by doing this? It is not a valuable watch - probably US$3-400 at full stretch, but it is an interesting and uncommon watch from a second tier indigenous US manufacturer (circa 1900). Hence I would say it is not without a degree of historic interest.

    I don't see any point in doing this to an Elgin or Waltham for example, as it would be sensible to get a better movement. However, this particular watch was never available in more than 7 jewels. On one hand, I would like to keep it, so jeweling it will help preserve it - but on the other hand, I don't much feel like being a vandal either.

    Question:

    (a) 'would you (as a collector) be put off a watch that had been fitted with additional jewels' and
    (b) 'would it be any more acceptable if it was done in sympathy to the correct period style (i.e. brass chatons)'

    Feel free to flame away...

    K.

    Yes, I am being deliberately vague about the intended victim as I don't want that to be a factor
    Last edited by trim; August 23rd, 2010 at 04:31.

  2. #2
    Member Eeeb's Avatar
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    Re: Opinions on up-jewling a watch

    Of course the collectability of a watch is diminished by modifying the movement. But the reality is low jeweled movements are generally have far less appeal to a collector than a similarly priced high jeweled movement. And given that one should usually factor in the cost of service when making an acquisition, low jeweled movements become even less attractive.

    Have fun. Learn something. Over a decent time horizon, movements will have a substantial net benefit because of the sills you acquire.
    "Forever is composed of nows." - Emily Dickinson

    "The watch has to be surrounded by a history.
    You need more than just a great design. You need to create an atmosphere around the product.
    Who is the company behind it? Why are they using this material?
    People need to be able to identify the watch with themselves. It's based on emotion." - Ralph Furter

    ...that's just my opinion and I've been wrong before and will be again and might be now!

  3. #3
    Member Outta Time's Avatar
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    Re: Opinions on up-jewling a watch

    There is a possibility that the watch will be rendered worthless. I would look at this as a project piece, that may or may not work properly afterwards. Precision holes need to be drilled, and exact tolerances observed. Jewels will run you at least 5 bucks apiece, and you need to match the centre holes to your pivots, so this may dictate the new drilled hole size. If you really want to do this, I would recommend practising on a broken watch plate and bridges first. Drilled holes need to be precision reamed to the exact size for the jewel in question, and keep in mind jewels can and do break.
    I also should add that the watch will probably run no better being fully jewelled if it is in good condition to start. Full jewelling was resisted back in the day, and old watchmakers ( I won't mention any names) will tell you even now that it is unnecessary.
    But in the interest of learning a valuable skill, I say go for it!

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  5. #4
    Member Erik_H's Avatar
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    Re: Opinions on up-jewling a watch

    My only concern is with your statement of which watch to upjewel. If it is as you say an interesting and uncommon 7j watch that might have a potential value of US$3-400, it must be quite uncommon indeed, and of historical interest. This is a modification that can not be reversed. I would look for a very common candidate instead. Would love to know the watch in question.
    As a side comment, I have a Waltham grade 820 17j that was upjeweled by the factory from 15j in 1904 to make it more sellable. Such factory modifications happened quite often during that period, these are of course considered original.
    Erik_H
    Member NAWCC Chapter 149

  6. #5
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    Re: Opinions on up-jewling a watch

    I concur with Eric. With the large number of 7 jewel watches available for less than $50 why mess with one that may be worth several hundred. To me the perfect candidate would be a watch thats jeweled on the bridge side but not the plate side. The extra Jewels would be unsee except when the watch is disassembled.

  7. #6
    Member trim's Avatar
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    Re: Opinions on up-jewling a watch

    Mmmmm....

    Quote Originally Posted by Erik_H View Post
    My only concern is with your statement of which watch to upjewel. If it is as you say an interesting and uncommon 7j watch that might have a potential value of US$3-400, it must be quite uncommon indeed, and of historical interest.
    To be honest Eric, that surprised me. I didn't think an absolutely max US$400 watch would be considered that way. I had arrived at that value by seeing one of the more common 16s (mine is an 18s) for US$395 BiN on the 'bay. I decided they were probably being a little 'optimistic', but that was a reasonable value to use in my original post as 'stretched'. I expected a more reasonable max sum would be about US$150-200. I didn't really think of this in terms of 'such a price for a mere 7J' and the implication this had on 'historic' interest.

    Having just looked at my public library an old (2007) Shugart lists an A grade as $400, and this one of mine is pristine.

    Erik and Mike are correct - this would be definite vandalism . Thank you both for realigning my thinking on this one (OK, I admit - I was being an idiot).

    I will use my 7J Waltham as the project watch instead.

    BTW, Shugart also lists 7,10,11,13 and 15J versions, so that was interesting. They all more-or-less have the same listed valuations - so I will stick with my 7 Jewels.

    I will post pic's of the watch here when I have her back together.
    Last edited by trim; August 23rd, 2010 at 11:30.

  8. #7
    Member AbslomRob's Avatar
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    Re: Opinions on up-jewling a watch

    There are tons of 7 and 15 jewel movments on the bay that have broken jewels in them; why not start there? They can be had for $10 or less each.
    My growing collection of "affordable" vintages: http://www.abslomrob.com

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