Waltham 1883 comparative quality
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  1. #1
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    Waltham 1883 comparative quality

    This post is kind of kicked off by a post from Radger in the best american thread. I am currently repairing some model 1883 walthams, I thought some might be interested in a little comparison between the grades.

    There were a lot of different named and unnamed grades in the 1883 lineup - at various prices. In general, the higher the price the better the specification, although the unnamed grades were typically more watch for the money - you paid a premium for the named grades.

    From the 1887 SF Meyers Catalog - movement price only.

    Grade Material Price RR Grade
    Sterling 7J - Gilded 11.00 No
    Wm. Ellery 11J - Gilded 13.50 No
    R.E. Robbins 13J - Gilded 17.00 No
    P.S. Bartlett 15J - Gilded 19.00 No (Adj Temp)
    Grade 25 15J - Nickel 24.00 No (Adj Temp + 3 pos)
    Waltham Watch Co. 15J - Gilded 25.30 No (Adj Temp)
    Waltham Watch Co. 15J - Nickel 30.00 No (Adj Temp)
    Appleton Tracy 15J - Gilded 30.00 Yes (Adj Temp + 3 (or 5) pos)
    Grade 35 15J - Nickel 36.00 Yes (Adj Temp + 6 pos)
    Appleton Tracy 15J - Nickel 48.00 Yes (Adj Temp + 3 (or 5) pos)
    Crescent St. 15J - Nickel 70.00 Yes (Adj Temp + 6 pos)

    You can see solid nickel plates add considerably to the cost.

    People have said the grade 35 is equivalent to the Crescent St. without the name. But it turns out this isn't quite true. I'll focus on some minor little items to make my point:

    Here is a minute wheel from a Sterling grade:



    Actually it is the same minute wheel for the P.S. Bartlett, AT&Co and Grade 35. In my 1911 catalog this would cost you $1.50

    Here is the minute wheel from a Crescent ST grade:



    This solid Nickel minute wheel (also for the later Vanguard) would have set you back $3.00

    Similar deal for the hour wheel:



    Prices were again $1.50 for the gilt and $3.00 for the nickel respectively.

    Actually here are all 3 from the Crescent St. even the cannon pinion is a huge step up from the next model down - although I can't find the photo I took of the ordinary one, might edit this later.



    So, a grade 35 is not equivalent to a Crescent St. in finish - although it was in adjustments. That was what was under the dial, what about the visible side of things?

    AT&Co regulator:



    Grade 35 Regulator:



    Crescent St. regulator:



    As you can see, the shaft is rounded, highly polished, and the adjuster is scalloped. Missing from both the other (RR grade) grades as shown.

    Following are some assorted photos of the level of finishing on the 1883 Crescent St. model, its all in the detail, and just taken that little (or a lot) more.

    Top plate:



    Underneath of top plate (almost as good):



    Lever setting:



    Mirror finished, literally - that is the reflection of the tree outside my door



    Anyway, thats it for now - Crescent St. is waiting on a new lower pivot jewel to arrive.

  2. #2
    Member radger's Avatar
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    Re: Waltham 1883 comparative quality

    Great post.
    As you point out very well with these pics, it's all in the detail.
    Amazing pic with the trees reflected.

  3. #3
    Member Erik_H's Avatar
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    Re: Waltham 1883 comparative quality

    Interesting post. There were a lot more grades/model combinations for model 1883 through its 37 year production timeline, and a wide variety of damaskeening. It is one of my favourite models.
    Erik_H
    Member NAWCC Chapter 149

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  5. #4
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    Re: Waltham 1883 comparative quality

    Quote Originally Posted by Erik_H View Post
    There were a lot more grades/model combinations for model 1883 through its 37 year production timeline, and a wide variety of damaskeening.
    Yes absolutely. These are all early models from the first 10 years or so of production. All with serial numbers in the 3 millions - in some ways the 1883 model in its purest form - before people got sidetracked by more than 15 jewels etc.

    Unfortunately I don't have the time or resources to look at the full 37 year period.

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    Vintage & NAWCC Forum moderator Ben_hutcherson's Avatar
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    Re: Waltham 1883 comparative quality

    Thank you for this post, and for the interesting comparison.

    I've heard more than one say that the gr. 35 and Crescent St. are equivalent, but it's simply not the case. The 35 is definitely an unmarked AT&Co, and nowhere near Crescent St. quality.

    By the way, I'm just curious if you have a reference as to the AT&Co and Crescent St. being adjusted to 6 positions. I've seen multiple references describing the gr. 35 as such, but every reference I've seen to the other two just describes them as adjusted to "positions."

    The Crescent St. grade is a special interest of mine, and the 1883 models are really interesting for all the damaskeen variants. I have three '83 Crescent Sts, and generally pick them up whenever I find them reasonably.

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    Re: Waltham 1883 comparative quality

    Hi Ben,

    I have only ever seen the AT&Co listed as 5 and then later 3 in the 1883 model - if it was actually 5 pos, it was only for the very early days of the 1883 model.

    As for the crescent street at 6 positions - I have seen this exactly once in an advert, which I lost in a HDD crash. I am sure I stumbled on it while looking for non magnetic information, but I can't find it immediately.

    Kris.

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    Vintage & NAWCC Forum moderator Ben_hutcherson's Avatar
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    Re: Waltham 1883 comparative quality

    Kris,

    Thanks again for your response. I'd be very interested to see that should you happen to come across it again.

    One other point worth mentioning on the Crescent St. grades is the quality of the dials. All of mine(and all the ones I've seen) have really high grade double sunk glass enamel. I've not seen these on any other '83 models, most of which have the conventional hard enamel double sunk dial.

  9. #8
    Vintage & NAWCC Forum moderator Ben_hutcherson's Avatar
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    Re: Waltham 1883 comparative quality

    Just for fun, and since I like showing off my watches



    Gr. 35



    Gold flashed AT&Co








  10. #9
    Member AbslomRob's Avatar
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    Re: Waltham 1883 comparative quality

    The "Grey book" (and the database) list three material grades for the watches, "U", "A", and "P". My understanding is that this related to the physical materials that went into the watches and wasn't necessarily a reflection of the quality of finishing or final adjustment. In the book, the Gr. 35, AT&Co and Crescent are all listed as "P". Since the minute and hour wheel parts aren't really a factor in the "performance" of the watch, it was probably a purely cosmetic difference. My 1936 Material book lists only one part number each for the minute and hour wheel, and lists the option of "gilt" or "Nickel". Mind you, by 1936, people probably didn't care about the nuances much. Waltham themselves certainly didn't. Anyone have an earlier materials book?
    My growing collection of "affordable" vintages: http://www.abslomrob.com

  11. #10
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    Re: Waltham 1883 comparative quality

    Hi Rob,

    The one I was using was 1911, they list out separately over 4 grades. Sterling, PSB, AT&C and Crescent St.

    Anyway Rob, that is the point, fine finishing and adjusting is what costs time and therefore money. In this case the Grade 35 and Crescent street are equivalently adjusted, but the finishing and materials are quite significantly different. I chose minor items, as it is much easier to see the differences here. Likewise, if you look at the non visible plate finishing, the lesser grades are plain finished, not machine turned as in the crescent st.

    Definitely the conclusion here is that a Grade 35 is an 'up' adjusted nickel AT&Co, rather than a down finished Crescent St.

    Anyway, I'll continue this thread in a bit, and the really interesting thing is this Crescent St is from the first run of Non Magentic Crescent St. and the interesting things to look at are the differences in materials in this instance.

    Hi Ben,

    very nice 1883s. I still need a gilt damaskeened 1883.

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