View Full Version : Waltham Gold Cases

11-02-2008, 11:10 AM

Quick question about Waltham banner hallmarked gold cases. I have a watch with the Waltham banner hallmark. It is listed in Roy Ehrhardt's book as having 14k on the outside and 8k on the inside by Waltham's patent.

What exactly does this mean? Is this referring to the two plates which make each lid, the outer being 14k and the inner being 8k? Or is it referring to the entire watch being 14k, with the dust cover inside being 8k? When I tested my watch for all 3 covers and the bow with acid, it tested 14k. I'm confused.


Bill B
11-02-2008, 11:26 AM
They are talking about the whole case being made out of 3 layers 2-14 kt and one 9 kt like a sandwich.

Tom McIntyre
11-02-2008, 04:16 PM
If Waltham put a 14K mark on the case it would assay at 14K. They were composed of two grades of gold but not necessarily 8K and 14K. In Fitch's original patent, the outer layer was 18K and the inner layer was 12K to assay at 14K. Over the years the process shifted. I think the banner marked cases will actually assay at about 12K. To do that assay, you need to melt the entire case. :o

The positioning and thickness of the gold is not uniform. There is more high grade gold in high wear areas. The number of layers may have changed over time, but the original patent is two layers. (289340 Nov. 27, 1883 assigned to Robbins & Appleton)

The only other way to know besides the destructive assay would be to find the records or contemporary ads from Waltham.

11-02-2008, 05:39 PM

I'll try testing for 18k which I haven't done up till now... I originally tested for 14k and it was positive.

Jeff Hess
11-02-2008, 06:04 PM
As an aside, you should also watch for the "banner" marked cases (14k outside and 8k inside) to be marked by shady folks AFTER the fact.

I have noted a ton of these. The marks are usually pretty crude but sometimes quite good.


Nigel Harrison
11-02-2008, 06:38 PM
Hello Hudson,

If your case is a later Waltham banner case it will always test as 14k solid gold due to you only testing the 14k top layer. Unless of course your case is heavily worn down to the 8k middle layer.


Nigel Harrison.

11-02-2008, 08:58 PM
This is the case. I can't determine the age of the case, except for the movement which I believe is orginal to the case (no other markings for case screws), made in the 1889.
The banner hallmark looks to be real, right? Using the year 1889, do we know what was the composition of the banner cases?

Bill B
11-02-2008, 10:02 PM
Do any of the covers carry a karat mark like 18k or 14k also not just banner?

11-02-2008, 10:12 PM
The covers do not show any karat marking. I did the acid test on all three lids and it tested for 14k. I didn't try 18k. Do they need to say a karat marking also besides the banner hallmark? It was my understanding from Ehrhardt's book that the hallmark alone was enough to know that it was solid gold and not gold filled.

Tom McIntyre
11-02-2008, 10:27 PM
An acid test is pretty meaningless even on a GF case unless you file down the to the inner layer. The outer layers will always be at least 14K. Some of the newer impedance testers can be used without damaging the case.

If you have handled enough cases the feel of the case will usually give you enough information for a buying decision.

The mark you show should be valued at 12K for weight in my opinion. That is what I would base my calculations on. However, if the case is pretty, the difference between 12K and 14K should not have much effect on value.

Jon Hanson
11-02-2008, 10:29 PM
Your case is NOT 14K; 10 or 12 carat.

11-02-2008, 10:59 PM
Tom, I'm only concerned because if I ever want to sell this watch, I want to make sure I market it for its true gold content. I would think if it is 14k outside, and 8k inside, then it should be closer to 12k like you said.

Bill B
11-02-2008, 11:27 PM
Without the karat mark I would say that case is gold filled.

Jon Hanson
11-02-2008, 11:28 PM
Without the karat mark I would say that case is gold filled.

Dead wrong!

Bill B
11-02-2008, 11:35 PM
Well Jon what is it.

Jon Hanson
11-02-2008, 11:59 PM
low carat gold!!!

Bill B
11-03-2008, 11:43 AM
Interesting All covers test as 14k but it is low karat gold, I can't see how it can be both. :confused:

11-03-2008, 02:00 PM
Bill B,

When I first purchased, I was told the case was X-Ray assayed at 14k. I hadn't ever heard of that, though on further research there is such a thing, and it is pretty reliable.

I think the seeming contradiction between 14k and low karat gold comes from the fact that the case is similiar to a gold filled case, but instead of the inner plate being brass, it is actual 8k gold. When the case is then melted down, the amalgamation of 8k with 14k will result in something in the middle, I guess 12k. When I paid, I paid for it as if it were a 14k case so I'm a little upset. Although one member on here said the quality and ornateness should offset the case to make it comparable to 14k prices.

Harold Visser
11-03-2008, 02:21 PM
Hudson, if it bothers you that much that it might not test out as 14K, might I suggest you leave the ever dwindling supply of gold watches alone and purchase Krugerands or the like. That way you can be sure of what the assay is. What you bought is a piece of history, what difference does it make whether it tests 12 or 14K, unless heaven forbid you plan to scrap it :(enjoy it for what it is, not for what it could be worth as far as gold content....

Jeff Hess
11-03-2008, 02:51 PM
Another view:

In Appraisal circles, the watch would not be considered gold at all.

Legally it is yellow metal of gold filled.


Big discussions of this type of thing on the appraisal boards. If not at least 10k gold it is not gold in the usa. (These "Apprasial purists", as annoying as they are, appraise 9k as gold colored metal and insist that they might get fined or go to jail if they describe 9k as "gold", I kid you not)

11-03-2008, 03:15 PM
Hi Harold,

You're absolutely right, in one way.

What bothered me was that I paid for it in July at a scrap price for 14k because I was told it was assayed at that (and I knew from the book that it's hallmark was a "solid gold mark". At the time I was comfortable assuming the mark, and what I was told made sense. I didn't know (unfortunately) about Waltham's patent or banner cases.

Obviously if it is 12 or 10k I would have paid probably 400 less or more. But with the timepiece itself I am not dissatisfied, it really is beautiful.