Trench watch - pocket watch conversions - 35mm+ trench watch?
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  1. #1
    Member Sparcster's Avatar
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    Trench watch - pocket watch conversions - 35mm+ trench watch?

    Hi Chaps,

    After my recent splurge into trench watches and the increasing number of threads I have posted on the subject, I have been asked a few questions by new members about buying a 'trench style' watch.... which Im happy to help with, but am certainly no expert - im still learning day by day!

    These questions have included links of watches people are interested in buying.... more than one of which have been pocket watch conversions!

    Most of you dont need to look at this, as its common (obvious) knowledge... but, it will help me to 'cut and paste' this thread in future messages - if needed, instead of explaining!


    OK...

    Most, if not all original trench style watches are 35mm or LESS.... I say most, as I cant say for certain and there are probably some out there bigger.... but if you want a trench style watch, you just have to live with the fact it will be smaller than modern day standards.... as such, 38mm... 42mm... even 45mm+ (and everything inbetween) being sold as 'wrist watches' would most likely have started life as a pocket watch!

    I recently bought a matchless west end wrist watch as a bit of a project... quite quickly, I spotted a spare that I thought would be good for parts - it was a non runner, but had what looked like a set of hands i needed... but from the blurry pics and poor description, I did not notice/gauge the size....


    ''Project' wrist watch on the left.... cheap 'spares' watch on the right...




    The original wrist watch is 33.5mm.... the pocket watch conversion is 40mm! But from looking from the outside... it does just look like a big trench watch!


    The original pocket watch could have looked something like this:





    but if you rotate the dial... remove the neck of the pocket watch and weld on some lugs......





    But... if that has not put you off buying a 'watch' like this.... note the following!

    The movement in a pocket watch cant just be rotated with the dial, neither can the position on the sub second dial relate to the crown/stem... On the pocket watch, the sub second is below the crown which is at '12'... on a wrist watch the crown is 90 degrees at '3'.





    So, in this instance, the movement and case would not have been an original match... neither would the dial! Taking the watch apart shows this quite clearly...

    Taking the stem out, you can see that this has been 'put together'.... also the stem was covered in dark oil!




    Unscrewing the mis-matching case screws and removing the movement, I then took a quick pic of the poorly filed down neck of the original pocket watch:




    The case inside also shows the poor job of the soldered in lugs...







    moving onto the movement....


    the dial screws are just glued in place.... these should screw into dial feet that hold the dial in place... but as I say above, the dial/movement is not a match.... so... the dial just gets glued on!





    once the dial has been prised off.... you can see that the dial feet have just been filed down, as they dont match with the holes in the movement!





    What Im left with is.... a cheap pocket watch case that has been butchered, a movement (maybe west end - but the mark looks a bit dodge) in a poor state, a mis-matching dial and some hands that dont fit my wrist watch!


    In summary, its tat! dont bother wasting your money on 'big' trench watches.... unless you are happy with what you see above!


    Marc
    Last edited by Sparcster; May 7th, 2012 at 23:01.
    A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away...

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  2. #2
    Member john87300's Avatar
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    Re: Trench watch - pocket watch conversions - 35mm+ trench watch?

    Thanks Marc,

    you post, I learn, so please keep posting!

    Once I've learned enough then maybe I'll be confident enough to go for a trench watch or two. Until then I'll stick to my mid 20th century frogs, (and the occassional "foreigner").
    John
    Watch Website: www.chambresdebelair.com/watches.html last update 07/11/2012

  3. #3
    Member joeuk's Avatar
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    Re: Trench watch - pocket watch conversions - 35mm+ trench watch?

    Great info for all to read

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  5. #4
    Member Marrick's Avatar
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    Re: Trench watch - pocket watch conversions - 35mm+ trench watch?

    Yes indeed. Thanks for all that effort Marc.

    Also remember that some watches are a lot SMALLER than they look in pictures as well. I've fallen for that.
    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.

  6. #5
    Member trim's Avatar
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    Re: Trench watch - pocket watch conversions - 35mm+ trench watch?

    Yeouch.

    Good tutorial Marc

  7. #6
    Member Sparcster's Avatar
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    Re: Trench watch - pocket watch conversions - 35mm+ trench watch?

    Quote Originally Posted by trim View Post
    Yeouch.
    Luckily this was a cheap mistake.... costing only a few pounds! But, if it can help someone else from making a bigger mistake.... it was worth it!!

    We can all learn from other peoples mistakes!!

    Marc
    A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away...

    Antoine de Saint-Exupery

    Twitter: quickpicmarc

  8. #7
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    Re: Trench watch - pocket watch conversions - 35mm+ trench watch?

    Do not forgetbthat it is possible that some conversions could have been made using a Savonette pocket watch.

    Do you feel the small Trench watch movements were made specifically for the (wrist) trench watches, or were they from a Ladies Savonette PW?

  9. #8
    Member Sparcster's Avatar
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    Re: Trench watch - pocket watch conversions - 35mm+ trench watch?

    Quote Originally Posted by Janne View Post
    Do not forgetbthat it is possible that some conversions could have been made using a Savonette pocket watch.

    Do you feel the small Trench watch movements were made specifically for the (wrist) trench watches, or were they from a Ladies Savonette PW?
    Hi Janne,

    It is a good point.... and in this instance, I can only assume the movement is a Savonette.... that said, its not that small at 17'''

    David Boettcher writes an interesting piece on his website:

    Sometimes it is written that "early wrist watches used small pocket watch movements". I have probably been guilty of this myself. However, there is no difference in principle between a pocket watch and a wrist watch movement, they are just "movements". (OK, in practice, most pocket watch movements are larger than wrist watch movements, but that is not a difference of principle. A small pocket watch movement can be the same as a wrist watch movement.) A pocket watch movement is the movement in a pocket watch. A hunter movement placed in a wrist watch case becomes a wrist watch movement. The movement becomes a "pocket watch movement" or a "wrist watch movement" depending on what case it is put into.

    Taken from:

    Vintage Watch Straps - History

    I would say many (if not all) my early Borgel cased wrist watches have what you could class as 13''' pocket watch movements... but as David explains above... as my Borgels were manufactured and used movements for the purpose of a wrist watch... it is a wrist watch movement!

    Marc
    A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away...

    Antoine de Saint-Exupery

    Twitter: quickpicmarc

  10. #9
    Member Marrick's Avatar
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    Re: Trench watch - pocket watch conversions - 35mm+ trench watch?

    Well explained Marc. By way of illustration:


    and apologies to whoever I pinched this image from.
    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.

  11. #10
    Member Monocrom's Avatar
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    Re: Trench watch - pocket watch conversions - 35mm+ trench watch?

    Excellent info.

    Thank You, Marc.

    I recall seeing one pocket-watch converted into a trench watch that simply had lugs welded on at the 3 and 9 O'clock positions. The ring cut off. Rest of the crown left in tact. Looks odd today. Back in World War One it likely was seen as a necessity. You held your arm down directly in front of you, and looked down to tell the time. Ironically, seems a far better solution than trying to reposition everything around.
    "The World is insane. With tiny spots of sanity here and there. Not the other way around." ~ John Cleese.

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