Tips on pocket watch pricing

Thread: Tips on pocket watch pricing

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  1. #1
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    Tips on pocket watch pricing

    So, I'm very excited about my new Studebaker watch and am interested in possibly getting more. Is it likely I can find usable, working ones less than $100? I'd be looking for one that is in fair shape, attractive to me but still worked. No need for a railroad grade collectible.

    With that goal in mind, where does one get cases for working mechanisms? I've noticed a few of those sorts of animals on eBay, but I'm not sure how or where one goes about getting a case to install a watchwork into.

    What sort of price should I expect for a watchmaker to ask to install a mechanism into a new case?

    Thank you.

    Leo

  2. #2
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    Re: Tips on pocket watch pricing

    Hi Leo,

    gold cases are melted, and leave naked movements over. Guess what is easier? Find a case for a given movement, or find a movement for a given case?

    And this is only half the trouble: Sellers almost never give any useful dimension of a case, and if you request them, you can be pretty sure that they either don't understand your question, give wrong dimensions, or both.

    The most promising approach is to look for a complete watch with the very same movement, but in poor shape.

    Reards, Roland Ranfft

  3. #3
    Member AbslomRob's Avatar
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    Re: Tips on pocket watch pricing

    Most cases are scavenged from dead watches. Cases for swiss style watches (the ones with the stem attached to the watch movment, also known as postive-stem setting) can be somewhat particular to the specific movement, so a "new" case would probably need to be made specificall for the movement. American style pocket watches (which have a negative stem setting; meaning that the stem is part of the case, and fits into a square winding hole at the top or side of the movement) are usually more consitent. There are specific sizes (it's a gauge-like system, with most mens watches being 12 size, 16 size or 18 size). Smaller then that, and you're probably looking at a ladies watch. Watch movements can usually be swapped into any appropriately sized cased, and there are some places making "new" cases to these specifications if you look around hard enough. However, retail on these usually exceeds the value of the movement; you're paying for time and skilled labor for a product that doesn't have enough demand to benefit from mass production.
    My growing collection of "affordable" vintages: http://www.abslomrob.com

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  5. #4
    Vintage & NAWCC Forum moderator Ben_hutcherson's Avatar
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    Re: Tips on pocket watch pricing

    Quote Originally Posted by AbslomRob View Post
    Most cases are scavenged from dead watches. Cases for swiss style watches (the ones with the stem attached to the watch movment, also known as postive-stem setting) can be somewhat particular to the specific movement, so a "new" case would probably need to be made specificall for the movement. American style pocket watches (which have a negative stem setting; meaning that the stem is part of the case, and fits into a square winding hole at the top or side of the movement) are usually more consitent. There are specific sizes (it's a gauge-like system, with most mens watches being 12 size, 16 size or 18 size). Smaller then that, and you're probably looking at a ladies watch. Watch movements can usually be swapped into any appropriately sized cased, and there are some places making "new" cases to these specifications if you look around hard enough. However, retail on these usually exceeds the value of the movement; you're paying for time and skilled labor for a product that doesn't have enough demand to benefit from mass production.
    All of the above is true, but there are a handful of caveats, exceptions, and other things to watch out for where specific models of watch require specific cases. This was especially true pre-1900.

    Offhand, Waltham models 1860, 1862, 1868, 1872, and 1888 all require their own special model of case. The Elgin 16 size Convertibles likewise require cases made specifically for them. Some early 16 size Hamiltons use the same case as 1888 model Walthams. 1877 and 1879 model Walthams fit in a standard 18 size case, but most have male stems. Some keywind watches have unique winding/setting arbor locations that can make finding a properly fitting case a challenge(short of redrilling the holes). Most keywind Howards and the 1870 model Waltham come to mind.

    There are a lot more exceptions, but these are ones you are likely to encounter.

    I'll also add that collectors have been known to buy low grade cased examples of watches of these models just to get a case for a high grade movement. Many collectors-myself included-tend to frown on this practice. From a financial standpoint, it makes very little sense to hunt down something like 1888 model Waltham case for a low-grade movement.
    Member National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors
    Member, NAWCC Chapter 149. Vice President and Secretary NAWCC Chapter 140. Member, NAWCC Convention Committee.
    Serious collector of American pocket watches-Waltham(and the predecessor companies) is my specialty.

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