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  1. #1

    Default Durable pocket watch

    Hi all... this is my first post, so I hope you can help me. I picked up a Waltham model 1899 pocket watch earlier this year that had been rebuilt. I initially had an issue with the mainspring and had to send it back for repair, and now, I believe the balance wheel is having issues as it will only keep time when it is face down. This is a major problem for me as I like to keep this in my pocket as my time piece.

    This has me asking a question of durability. Obviously, things that are over 100 years old should be treated with care, but is the watch just too fragile as a daily timepiece? If so, is there something someone can recommend that I look for to use as a daily timepiece? I like the manual wind watches and would love to be able to use the one I have due to the character that it has (and its age). Does anyone make a modern pocket watch that might be more suitable that won't cost a fortune, is a manual wind and has an open face?

    Any help would be appreciate. Having to send the watch all the way across the country to have it serviced under the sellers warranty is a pain, and soon that warranty will be expiring. Having to pay an antique watch guy to fix it I'm sure will get expensive, and no, I don't think I would want to try and repair it myself.

    Thank you all

    John

  2. #2

    Default Re: Durable pocket watch

    It seems you could have been sold a "dud". A "rebuilt" watch that has all these faults is just wrong. These watches are usually very reliable. Please do not let this experience put you off buying old American watches. Just try a different seller.
    Bear in mind tho' that these watches are not shockproof like modern watches. A sharp knock may well break the balance pivot.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Durable pocket watch (By: rolandantrobus)

    Thanks for the reply. Yes, I can understand how a sharp knock can damage the balance pivot. I normally will not wear them if I am out working in the yard or banging around. I always wear them with a chain, keep them in the coin pocket if my pants have them. If I am wearing work clothes, my pants do not have one of those, so I normally will just keep it in a pocket all by itself. At all times, I have a chain on it.

    The seller was actually really cool about the process and has repaired the watch once already, picking up the shipping costs as well. I would think the watch should be durable enough for a daily wear watch, but are there others that would could recommend as well? I was almost thinking of picking up a dollar watch (e.g. Westclox), but part of me wonders if these are more fragile since they didn't cost much to make in the first place.


    Thanks,

    John

  4. #4
    Technical Admin Tom McIntyre's Avatar
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    Default Re: Durable pocket watch (By: kd8tzc)

    The cost savings in dollar watches are due to the manufacturing process which makes them mostly un-repairable. They will keep adequate time during the day. So will the pocket watches at K-mart and CVS. None of these have any lasting value or romance associated with them.

    You should be able to buy a 15 or 17 jewel Waltham or Elgin for well under $100 that is in good running order and will be an interesting artifact to own.
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  5. #5
    Registered User musicguy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Durable pocket watch

    Obviously, things that are over 100 years old should be treated with
    care, but is the watch just too fragile as a daily timepiece?
    Many of these watches were used(and made for) "working people", there should be
    no problem for you to have a daily wear watch that is reliable.
    You don't need a dollar watch unless you want to collect them too.
    I wear a high grade watch in my jeans pocket every day. I also have many
    that I don't wear that I collect. Maybe you need someone else to service
    your watch.

    Post a photo of your watch.



    Rob

  6. #6

    Default Re: Durable pocket watch (By: musicguy)

    Rob, I will get a picture posted shortly.

    Tom, you say I should be able to get a 15 or 17 Jewel Waltham or Elgin for under $100... Most I have seen seem to be a bit higher than that. Should I be looking for those that say serviced? Is there something I should pay attention to in the advertisement that ensure that it will last? Obviously, any watch can break if mishandled, so my big concern is getting a watch that is "barely" running, but can be listed as running.

    Just curious, does anyone know what it would cost to have the balance shaft replaced on this (assuming that is what is wrong with it)?

  7. #7

    Default Re: Durable pocket watch (By: kd8tzc)

    I have a number of pocket watches that I carry on a routine basis.

    The oldest is a 15j, 18s Elgin from about 1911, in a Silverode case. It keeps excellent time, fits the watch pocket nicely, and because it's a very common grade, I don't worry too much about it. Parts can still be found for it, but I serviced it carefully, and it's always in a watch pocket, on a sturdy silver chain.

    I also have 3 keywind Elgins from the first decade of Elgin's existence. These I will OCCASIONALLY carry. They keep pretty good time, even the two with solid balances, but parts for them would be hard to come by!

    If you're looking for a nice, sturdy carry watch, though, the 16s Elgin 570 series, from the late 1940s/early 1950s are a great choice. They have modern alloy hairsprings and monometallic balances, friction-set jewels, and they come in attractive but sturdy gold filled cases. Easy to work on, parts in abundance still available.

  8. #8
    Technical Admin Tom McIntyre's Avatar
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    Default Re: Durable pocket watch

    I am skeptical of sellers I do not know that say "serviced." If I have a watch serviced that has nothing wrong with it except it is dirty, I pay about $200. The "serviced" watches on eBay mostly have had some oil added.

    You may not be able to buy a reliable watch on eBay for under $100, but they are often available at NAWCC local chapter meetings. You will need to settle for a not very attractive case to get that price. Loose running movements are often much cheaper but need to be cased if you want to wear them.
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  9. #9

    Default Re: Durable pocket watch (By: Tom McIntyre)

    Don't have the watch with me so I can't take a picture, but here is the listing when I bought it (scroll down).

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/c1906-Fully-...vip=true&rt=nc

  10. #10
    Registered User musicguy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Durable pocket watch (By: kd8tzc)

    Everyone gets burned on their first pocket watch. There is a learning
    curve on what to buy, where to have it serviced, how much to pay.
    This one seems like the seller is giving a 6 Month Limited Warranty.
    I would send it back to him and ask for your money back, or the watch
    fixed. You should not feel guilty doing this.

    Personally since I have all my watches serviced when I get them,
    I don't care what the seller says(or if they work). I look at the photos of the movement,
    the dial, and the case. If I like what I see, and the price is right, I buy it.
    I have purchased watches that were listed as not running
    and they run perfectly(when I get them). And I have purchased watches
    that say they run, when the main spring is obviously broken when I got it.

    Mostly, you do take a chance when you buy on
    ebay, and you do need to have patience, and do some homework, and
    you will find ton's of nice watches for reasonable prices.


    Rob

  11. #11

    Default Re: Durable pocket watch (By: musicguy)

    The Waltham you purchased is a good choice for a carry watch. Remember, this watch has been fired up and now used for probably the first time in decades. Stuff happens when you do that. You can't anticipate everything when you service a watch under these conditions. That's why a reputable dealer will offer a warranty. Send it back and have it fixed. If this is a reputable dealer, he will be glad you did that rather than going away mad and not doing further business with him.

  12. #12
    Registered User musicguy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Durable pocket watch

    ****edit****

  13. #13

    Default Re: Durable pocket watch (By: musicguy)

    I agree with Dave that your Waltham is a fine choice for a pocket watch to carry daily. In looking at the auction, it does look like the seller did as he said, and completely disassembled the watch for cleaning, etc. Heck, they even removed the hairspring from the balance, which would be unnecessary for a basic clean and oil. It is possible that the staff was replaced, and that was why the hairspring was removed. Hard to say...unless he said.

    From the images, the watch doesn't show any obvious signs of abuse, or even hard use, over the years. That's a good thing. The case is a nice, durable silverode, and really good for a watch to be worn daily. It has the looks of a winner, so I hope you can get the balance issues sorted out. Good luck.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Durable pocket watch (By: MrRoundel)

    Thanks... I hope he contacts me back. I sent him an email yesterday, but I have not heard back from him. He also doesn't have anything listed on EBay, but maybe he don't sell too many. I love the watch, and hope to get it fixed. If I have to pay $200 to repair it with someone else though, I don't know, as that was more than I paid for it. I see the part is not expensive, but with anything, it is the time to get to it, and fit it into the watch. I'm sure that is not quick and simple. I wish I had the know-how to do that, but I would need to invest in a bunch of equipment that I know isn't cheap, and then I would still need to have someone show me how its done, so I know that will not happen.

    I need to start looking for a second watch it appears as who knows how long it will be until I hear back from him. Maybe he is on vacation, who knows. I would love to find something similar with a sub-dial, but I haven't had much luck.

    Thanks all,

    John

  15. #15
    Technical Admin Tom McIntyre's Avatar
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    Default Re: Durable pocket watch (By: kd8tzc)

    If you contacted him through eBay you should hear back soon.

    The watch has eBay's money back guarantee as well as the seller's service warranty. I checked his feedback and it is all perfect, so I would just relax if I were you and wait to hear from him. He is a member of both the NAWCC and AWCI where the members subscribe to a code of ethical conduct.

    It is just possible that the Christian Holy Week has occupied some of his time since the sale.
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