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Thread: Black Dials

  1. #1
    Registered User Ethan Lipsig's Avatar
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    Default Black Dials

    I estimate that less than one percent of pocket watches had black dials. Were black dials ever in vogue on pocket watches and, if so, when?

    See below for photos of the two American examples I have collected. Please post photos of the black-dialed pocket watches you have collected.

    I am posting a similar thread on the European etc. Pocket Watch Forum.

    14k Elgin Grade 543 "Lord Elgin," Circa 1940


    Base Metal Hamilton 23, Circa 1940s
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  2. #2
    Registered User Jerry Treiman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Black Dials (By: Ethan Lipsig)

    This photo was included in "Through the Ages With Father Time" by Roy Rutherford Bailey, published around 1922.
    It is a C. H. Hulburd presentation model Elgin.
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    Jerry Treiman, NAWCC member since 1971
    Charter member of Pocket Horology Chapter 174

  3. #3
    Registered User Clint Geller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Black Dials (By: Jerry Treiman)

    Here are my two favorite black dials. Both watches are N Size Howards. The personalized dial with Gothic versals is on a hunting case nickel keywind Model 1871 ("Series IV"), and the Arabic numeral dial is on an open face Model 1884 (3/4 plate "Series VIII"). Both dials are signed on their reverses by the Howard dial room foreman, Josiah Moorhouse. The very different Howard signatures on both dials are both highly unusual. The signature on the Gothic personalized dial has the characters "E," "H," "&," "C," and "o" superimposed on one another. I have only seen that done on one other Howard dial. The movements and cases are gorgeous too.
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    Clint Geller, FNAWCC, # 84,947

  4. #4

    Default Re: Black Dials (By: Ethan Lipsig)

    I don't have any watches with black dials yet, but I like them. Sometime in the future I'll hopefully get one.

    Robert

  5. #5

    Default Re: Black Dials

    I.W.Co.

    Found on Serial #98660

    No longer in my collection.


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    Last edited by TimeAntiquarian; 03-19-2017 at 07:51 AM. Reason: Better Photo

  6. #6
    Registered User Clint Geller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Black Dials (By: TimeAntiquarian)

    I no longer own the two black dial Howards I mentioned, either. They are still in the family, though, so to speak, as they belong to a close friend who lives a block away from me. I still have visitation rights.
    Clint Geller, FNAWCC, # 84,947

  7. #7
    Registered User Ethan Lipsig's Avatar
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    Default Re: Black Dials (By: Clint Geller)

    Beautiful dials, Clint. I am glad they're "still in the family."

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Black Dials

    Often wondered about the reasons for scarcity of black dials with the great variety of other colors in 10 and 12 size p.w. I have one only. 1930's Lord Elgin in gold SOLIDARITY 12s case. artbissell

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  9. #9
    Registered User Ethan Lipsig's Avatar
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    Default Re: Black Dials (By: artbissell)

    Another beauty, Art!

  10. #10

    Default Re: Black Dials (By: Ethan Lipsig)

    Black dials are very common on military watches, e.g. the Waltham "GSTP" of WW2 (and Elgin equivalent, if I recall correctly.)
    They're also very common if you take a trip to somewhere trendy like Camden Market and look at the cheap watches mass-produced in China.
    I have some Russian examples here, too.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Black Dials (By: topspin)

    Right you are about watches other than 10 and 12 size. Gruen was a pioneer using many metal dial designs in their popular 10s p.w. And used many black dials in w.w. Show me a Gruen p.w. with a black dial? art

  12. #12
    Technical Admin Tom McIntyre's Avatar
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    Default Re: Black Dials (By: artbissell)

    Painted black metal dials can be very striking, but they are a rather simple variation of the dial. An enamel dial is another matter. All the examples I have seen use a standard enamel on copper blank like a normal white dial, but apply a negative image on the face of the dial in black, leaving the white numbers visible or apply a full black coat and then do the marks in white enamel. Either of those processes is fraught with difficulty and the yield was almost certainly much lower than for a normal dial.

    The black negative approach was very difficult to execute while the white on black approach required a level of opacity in the white that was generally not available. I will try to dig out some of my black dials to post, but it will be a while since I am way overbooked at the moment.
    Tom McIntyre Click me.
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  13. #13
    Technical Admin Tom McIntyre's Avatar
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    Default Re: Black Dials (By: Ethan Lipsig)

    This dial is not exactly black, but I think it fits the category. At one time I thought I was going to own it, but it did not happen.
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    Tom McIntyre Click me.
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    you won't have anything to laugh at when you're old.
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  14. #14

    Default Re: Black Dials (By: Tom McIntyre)

    I only have one example of a black dial PW, and probably one of the most common ones: A 1944 Elgin Jitterbug Timer. Absolutely love these Elgin Timers (both the 15j Jitterbugs and the 7j 60 seconds variants). Well built, easy to work on, affordable.

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  15. #15
    Registered User Clint Geller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Black Dials (By: Tom McIntyre)

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom McIntyre View Post
    This dial is not exactly black, but I think it fits the category. At one time I thought I was going to own it, but it did not happen.

    Tom, If I am not mistaken, I believe that dial may also be signed on the back by Josiah Moorhouse, from the period before he came to Howard, when he worked for the American Watch Company.
    Clint Geller, FNAWCC, # 84,947

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