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  1. #1

    Default Please help identify American Waltham Watch Co..

    Hi All, I'm new to this forum so please excuse me for that. I recently inherited an American Waltham Watch Co. pocket watch and I'm interested in learning more about it. I have looked elsewhere on the internet but can't seem to find too much.

    Here's what I know. The serial number on the "gears" part is 13248367 making it from 1903?
    It's in a hunter's case? stamped Keystone 14k

    that's pretty much all I know as I can't seem to find any photos online of this exact watchface and case.

    Any input would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Rachel

  2. #2

    Default Re: Please help identify American Waltham Watch Co.. (RE: mcfaddra)

    Anyone? I'm interested in knowing the size, jewels, etc.

    Thanks!

  3. #3
    Registered User RON in PA's Avatar
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    Default Re: Please help identify American Waltham Watch Co.. (RE: mcfaddra)

    I punched-in your s/n at the Waltham data base and came up with the following:
    Model 1891
    Grade 61
    Size 0
    7 jewels

    Please bear-in-mind that there are errors in the data base so that the info might be incorrect.

    From your brief description you seem to have a small, ladies' size watch and that certainly is what the data base is showing.
    NAWCC LARC
    Volunteer

  4. #4

    Default Re: Please help identify American Waltham Watch Co.. (RE: mcfaddra)

    Thanks Ron!

  5. #5

    Default Re: Please help identify American Waltham Watch Co.. (RE: mcfaddra)

    Hi Rachel:

    Welcome to the NAWCC Pocket Watch Message Board!

    To add to what RON in PA posted:
    The American Waltham Watch Co. (Waltham, MA) had its origins in the 1850's. It was the first successful company in America to manufacture watches in mass production using machinery to make identical (or at least, near identical) parts. Over the next hundred years or so of its existence, its output of jeweled watches (over 34 million) was only exceeded by one other company, the National Watch Co. at Elgin, IL. Commonly referred to as "Waltham," the company made a full line of watches ranging from modest, affordable watches to some of the finest watches made in this country. An 1884 article on the [colour=red]American Watch Co.[/colour] is available on Greg Frauenhoff's website.

    You can find out some basic facts about your Waltham watch by entering the serial number on the movement (the "works") in the field on the [colour=brown]Serial Number[/colour] link accessable from the [colour=red]NAWCC Information Storage[/colour] website. This is probably how RON in PA
    got the information he posted. Don't use any commas in entering the serial number. There is also a [colour=red]Glossary[/colour] of the terms provided by the serial number lookup. Note: When a number appears by itself in the Comment Column, it is the page in the factory serial list where the entry and explaination appeared. i.e. "Comment 42" is on page 42 of “Serial Numbers With Description of Waltham Watch Movements,Waltham Watch Co., Waltham, MA, 1954, (commonly referred to as "The Gray Book"). Or, a similar search may be done at the [colour=red]Swiss - Waltham Website[/colour]. This website also has a short history of the American Waltham Watch Co. and other interesting information.

    Should the date not be listed in the search of the NAWCC Information Storage - Waltham Serial Number Data Base, Oldwatch.com's [colour=red]Waltham Production Date Chart[/colour], or the PocketWatchSite's [colour=red]Waltham Date Table[/colour] are a means for determining the approximate production date. In general, we think of serial number vs. date lists - created by using the average number of watches produced over a period of years - to only be accurate within a year or two at best, and recognize that there are numerous exceptions wherein which the dates may be off as much as 3 years or more. This is not just for Waltham, but for other watch manufacturers as well.

    Thus, attempts to use serial number vs. date lists (created by using the average number of watches produced over a period of years) as anything other than gross indicators of date of production are flawed to a greater or lesser extent.

    Having written all of the above, 1903 is a pretty good estimate for the year your watch was built.

    Catalog Information for your 0-size, grade No. 61 Waltham movement can be seen online in the scan of page 78 of the:

    1903 Oy Company Catalog at:
    [colour=brown]www.elginwatches.com/scans/sales_catalogs/1903_Oy_Company/m_index.html[/colour]

    [colour=blue]To view, go to the [/colour][colour=brown]Elgin Watch Collectors Site Home Page[/colour] [colour=blue]at[/colour] [colour=brown]elginwatches.org[/colour], [colour=blue]then copy and paste the address in your browser's address bar and click on [/colour]'Go'.

    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 (even then, uncased movements were furnished to the trade at least until the 1960's). Most watch companies just made movements (the "works") 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.

    Note: The grade of a case is the quality of the materials and work that went into it. Each case grade was offered in many different engraved designs.

    A short history of American watch cases, within the online article "[color=blue]Decorative Aspects of American Horology[/colour]," by Philip Poniz, can be viewed on [colour=red]The Antiquorum Magazine[/colour] website.

    The following chronology and information is from "History of the American Watch Case," Warren H. Niebling, Whitmore Publishing, Philadelphia, PA, 1971 (available on loan by mail to members from the [colour=red]NAWCC Library & Research Center[/colour]), with [colour=blue]additional notes in blue based upon an article in an 1889 issue of The Keystone, posted by Greg Frauenhoff, 30-Apr-04[/colour] and [colour=brown]quotes in brown, based upon the online article [/colour]"Decorative Aspects of American Horology[/colour]," [colour=brown]by Philip Poniz, on The Antiquorum Magaizine Website[/colour]:

    1853 - Randolf & Reese Peters were making cases in Philadelphia, employing James Boss.

    1859 - J. Boss received a patent for "spinning up" cases made of "gold-filled" type material. That is, material made of a sheet of composition metal (usually brass) sandwiched between two thin sheets of gold. [colour=brown]Boss formed cases by rolling sheet metal as opposed to the traditional method involving soldering and cutting. Rolling increased the molecule density of the metal. His patent, No. 23,820 of May 3, 1859, revolutionized the watch case industry by enabling the production of not only less expensive, but considerably stronger cases. ... Unlike gold washed cases, which were made using electroplating, cases produced by means of rolling had much harder gold surfaces and were thus less apt to wear.[/colour]

    1871 - J. Boss sold patent rights to John Stuckert of Philadelphia.

    1875 - T.B. Hagstoz & Charles N. Thorpe formed Hagstoz & Thorpe, purchasing the manufacturing facilities ([colour=blue]within which, 12 employees produced 6 cases per day at 618 Chesnut St.[/colour]) and "J. Boss" patent from the estate of John Stuckert. Hagstoz & Thorpe seems to have made only gold-filled cases using the J. Boss patented method.

    1876+ - [colour=brown]... orders increased so rapidly that larger quarters became necessary immediately. The landlord of their first premises, 618 Chestnut Street, was George W. Childs, ... When Childs’ learned of his tenants’ need for more work space, he offered $100,000 and became a silent third partner. A new plant on Brown Street was erected ...[/colour]

    [colour=blue]1877 - E. Tracy, a manufacturer of solid gold and silver watch cases, was acquired.[/colour]

    [colour=blue]1880 - the company moved to a six story building on Nineteenth St., with an equal-size annex on Wylie St.[/colour]

    1883 - 1885 - T.B Hagstoz withdrew from the company which became C.N. Thorpe Co. and shortly thereafter it was reorganized as the Keystone Watch Case Co.

    [colour=blue]1887 - the Nineteenth St. building was almost doubled in size and a four story adjacent building was occupied by Keystone.[/colour]

    [colour=blue]1889 - the firm was producing 1,500 cases per day.[/colour]

    Keystone then went on to absorb other case companies (and several watch companies). For example, Jerry Treiman reported in a message board thread about a watch made by the U.S. Watch Co.) that "... the history provided in legal documents for the anti-trust case against Keystone ... states that all of the capital stock of a newly organized Philadelphia Watch Case Co. (August 1900) was owned by Keystone. Thus, Keystone become one of the largest case manufacturers in the country. The combined company built a large factory in [colour=red]Riverside, NJ[/colour] in 1907. Keystone stayed in business another 80+ years.

    This [colour=red]1888 Ad[/colour] from the Keystone Watch Case Co. shows the trade marks used in a variety of their pocket watch cases. Your watch case sounds like it may be 14K gold, especially if it is marked as shown in the 1888 ad.
    A few other ads for Keystone cases can be found at:
    [colour=brown]elginwatches.org/scans/misc_ads/1905/m_index.html[/colour]
    [colour=blue]To view, go to the [/colour][colour=brown]Elgin Watch Collectors Site Home Page[/colour] [colour=blue]at[/colour] [colour=brown]elginwatches.org[/colour], [colour=blue]then copy and paste the address in your browser's address bar and click on [/colour]'Go'.

    Good luck,
    Kent
    That guy down in Georgia

  6. #6

    Default Re: Please help identify American Waltham Watch Co.. (RE: mcfaddra)

    Wow Kent, lots of good info down there in Georgia

    thanks!

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