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  1. #1

    Default American Waltham Watch Co. Pocket Watch


    According to information in "Waltham Pocket Watch Identification and Price Guide," Roy Ehrhardt, Heart of America Press, Kansas City, MO, 1976 (A new edition is still in print - see Heart of America Press), serial number 5,905,865 is a model 1883, 18-size, grade No. 15 hunting-case movement, built in about 1891/1892. You can see the factory specification of the No. 15 at:
    (you should copy this link and paste it in your browser address bar since directly linking to this website from the NAWCC Message Board is not possible)

    You'll notice that the grade No. 15 is specified as having 15 jewels. During that period, the mass-produced 17-jewel watch was introduced and sale of 15-jewel watches slumped. Several years later, Waltham probably added upper and lower center jewels to the grade No. 15 among the many other 15-jewel movements remaining in inventory, and marked them "17 Jewels" (they had been previously unmarked). An 1894 Ad in the Jewelwes' Circular and Horological Review shows that they did this to some other grades. Its fairly certain that they did it to the No. 15's as well.

    Only a small percentage of American watches (or Swiss watches for the North American market) were cased at the factories prior to the mid-1920's. Most watch companies just made movements in industry standard sizes. The case companies made cases in those same sizes. The practice at that time was to go to a jeweler, select the quality of the movement and then pick out the desired style and quality of case. The jeweler would then fit the movement to the case in a matter of moments.

    Or, watches were sold by mail-order. Large outfits such as Sears, Roebuck & Co., Montgomery Ward, or T. Eaton (in Canada), would offer the movements in a variety of cases of different design and quality in their catalogs. Smaller mail-order retailers would case the watches, typically in a 20-year gold filled case and offer it only that way, with the buyer not having a choice of cases.

    A large proportion of movements are housed in gold-filled cases. These cases are made of a sheet of inexpensive, "composition" metal (brass), sandwiched between two thinner sheets of gold by applying heat and pressure. During the 1930's, one process of doing this gave rise to the term, "rolled gold-plate." The gold sheet that becomes the inside of the case is much thinner than the gold sheet that becomes the outside of the case. Frequently, the purity of the gold used in the sheets, expressed in karats, is stamped inside the back of the case. Some case companies indicated the thickness of the outer layer of gold by using different trademarks for different thicknesses. Before federal regulations outlawed the practice, some case companies indicated the thickness of the outer layer by the number of years for which the case was warranted. Not all case companies were forthright about marking the cases or honoring the warranty (which is what gave rise to the federal regulations). Frequently, the color of the gold (imparted by the metal with which the gold is alloyed) is expressed in conjunction with the term, "gold-filled." Thus it is not uncommon to see terms such as "yellow gold-filled," "white gold-filled," "green gold-filled," and so forth, used in case descriptions.

    The book, "History of the American Watch Case," Warren H. Niebling, Whitmore Publishing, Philadelphia, PA, 1971 (available on loan by mail to members from the NAWCC Library), has a fairly good history of the Philadelphia Watch Case Co., including reproductions of over twenty photos taken inside of the factory. Briefly, quoting from page 48,

    "MR. THEOPHILUS ZURBRUGG bought out the watch case company of Leichty & Le Bouba in 1884, in Philadelphia, Pa.

    "About 1888 he changed the name to the Philadelphia Watch Case Co. He made various types of cases, using a crown as one trademark and an arm and hammer as another. ... The company moved to Riverside, N.J. in 1902. ...

    "In 1904 this man managed a series of mergers, which brought together his own Philadelphia Watch Case Co., Bates and Bacon, Crescent and the Keystone Watch Case Co."

    From page 7:
    "... After a series of mergers in 1904 the name became the Keystone Watch Case Co., Riverside, N.J."

    A Philadelphia Case Catalog (with Movements) (courtesy of Duke University's "Emergence of Advertising in America" website) shows typical Philadelphia Watch cases.


    That guy down in Georgia
    That guy down in Georgia

  2. #2

    Default American Waltham Watch Co. Pocket Watch (By: Kent)

    From Roy Ehrhardtís Waltham Pocket Watch Guide (1976): serial number 5905865 is an 18 size, model 1883, grade No. 15, stem-wound, lever-set, adjusted 15-jewel hunting movement, produced about 1891.

    The case is gold-filled.

    Hope this helps!

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