pocket watch case compatibility

Thread: pocket watch case compatibility

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2012

    pocket watch case compatibility

    My question is about swapping movements between cases (not that I want to do just that, what I want to do
    is to find a case to fit a movement that I have). I understand, or think I do, the issue of size (and I have a
    size 12 Burlington movement that is the present center of concern). the other variable is whether the stem
    is at the 12 or the 3 o-clock position (this one is at the 12). So can I just pop this movement into a size
    12 case that I select, or are there other variables to consider?

    And among the size 16 "railroad" watches -- are movements interchangeable. Not that I have any
    intention of willy-nilly swapping cases and movements -- just wondering.

    Thanks! (Maybe this belongs on the watchmaking forum??)

  2. #2
    Member AbslomRob's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Canada

    Re: pocket watch case compatibility

    American style watches can, for the most part, were of a standard size, and any movement of the right size will fit into any case. Note I said "for the most part". There were some watch models that had very specific case requirements (the Waltham Colonial models, for example). Lever set movements have an additional case requiremnet in that there has to be a "notch" for the lever to be pulled out once the bezel is removed. You'll find that many cases actually have two of these notches; one for open face style movements and one for hunter style movements. Older cases are more likely to just have one notch though. Obviously not a concern if you're using stem-set movements.

    Swiss watches were a bit more problematic; some were specifically designed to fit in american style cases, while others were specific to the manufacturer.
    My growing collection of "affordable" vintages: http://www.abslomrob.com

  3. #3
    Zenith Forum Co-moderator
    Join Date
    Feb 2006

    Re: pocket watch case compatibility

    If it is just the case, you need to check:

    - the diameter of the case
    - the general position of the winding stem
    - the exact position of the winding stem relative to movement height
    - whether the movement is pin set and the case doesn't have the hole for the pin (!)

    If the dial is also an issue, you need to check the positioning of the dial feet relative to the holes in the movement. And possibly the size of the dial relative to case diameter.

    Hartmut Richter

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  5. #4
    Member Dch48's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Plattsburgh, NY

    Re: pocket watch case compatibility

    I have an empty 12s Wadsworth case that I'm looking for a movement to put in. I am looking at a nice 21j Lord Elgin grade 450 movement that comes with the original stem. The seller is claiming that it needs to use the stem that comes with it and that the stem already in my case will not work. Is this correct or should I just be able to put the movement in my case and have it work?

    It seems that the movement needs a special streamline case anyway so can anyone suggest a nice 12s movement that will fit a standard case and utilize the installed stem? Would an Illinois grade 406 movement work?
    Last edited by Dch48; January 7th, 2013 at 10:36.

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