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  1. #1
    Registered user.
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    Feb 2009
    Montreal area

    Default Waltham - Grandfather's pocket watch

    Enclosed pictures are provided by a friend (Mike) who got this pocket watch from his late grandfather, years and years ago. Besides what is already explicit in this superb item, what can be added "horologicallywise"? Your expert appreciation and comments will be transmitted. Thank you.
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  2. #2
    Registered User RON in PA's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    S.E. PA

    Default Re: Waltham - Grandfather's pocket watch (By: TCHOU)

    Very nice Waltham model 1883 watch with a lever set movement, either grade 83 or 84 made in 1892. One of approximately 5.4 million model 1883s made till 1920. At the time a 15 jewel watch was considered fully jeweled by most.

    What is most interesting to me is the watch case paper from the case manufacturer, Keystone. Remember, at that time most watches were not sold cased. The purchaser chose a movement and a case and then the watchmaker/jeweler married them.

  3. #3

    Smile Re: Waltham - Grandfather's pocket watch (By: RON in PA)


    To add to the good information that Ron posted:

    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 Serial Number link accessable from the NAWCC Information Storage website. Don't use any commas in entering the serial number.

    There is also a Glossary 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 explanation 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").

    Should the date not be listed in the search of the NAWCC Information Storage - Waltham Serial Number Data Base, Oldwatch.com's Waltham Production Date Chart, or the Pocket Watch Site's Waltham Date Table 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.

    Looking up movement serial number 6,255,895 in the above references, it can be seen to be a grade No. 84 movement, built in about 1896.

    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 "Decorative Aspects of American Horology," by Philip Poniz, can be viewed on The Antiquorum Magazine website.

    All cases marked "J. Boss" or "Jas. Boss" or having a balance (scale) as a trade mark (indicating that it is a J. Boss grade case) are gold-filled cases. 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 NAWCC Lending Library), with additional notes in blue based upon an article in an 1889 issue of The Keystone, posted by Greg Frauenhoff, 30-Apr-04 and quotes in brown, based upon the online article "Decorative Aspects of American Horology," by Philip Poniz, on The Antiquorum Magaizine Website:

    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. 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.

    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 (within which, 12 employees produced 6 cases per day at 618 Chesnut St.) 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+ - ... 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 ...

    1877 - E. Tracy, a manufacturer of solid gold and silver watch cases, was acquired.

    1880 - the company moved to a six story building on Nineteenth St., with an equal-size annex on Wylie St.

    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.

    1887 - the Nineteenth St. building was almost doubled in size and a four story adjacent building was occupied by Keystone.

    1889 - the firm was producing 1,500 cases per day.

    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 Riverside, NJ in 1907. Keystone stayed in business another 80+ years.

    Good luck,
    That guy down in Georgia

  4. #4
    Registered user.
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Gatineau, QC, Canada

    Default Re: Waltham - Grandfather's pocket watch (By: Kent)

    Dear friends,

    I am the "secret" owner of this watch that TCHOU kindly posted on my behalf since I hesitated to dispaly my total lack of knowledge and experience in this area. However, I was so impressed by the depth of knowledge of Ken and Ron that I decided to come out especially to thank them both.

    The watch belonged to my great grand father who most likely bought it towards the end of the XIX century. I suspect that, as it was suggested, it was bought from T. Eaton as my family lived in a small town in Southwestern Quebec and ordered most non perishable goods from the T. Eaton's catalogue.

    Once again, thank you so much for taking the time to respond. The watch carries a sentimental value for me well above its market value and your insight into its origin was very precious to me. Thank you

  5. #5

    Smile Re: Waltham - Grandfather's pocket watch (By: UOHCT)

    Hi UOHCT:

    Welcome to the NAWCC American Pocket Watch Message Board!

    Here's something of which you might not be aware: Major Canadian libraries have microfilms of T. Eaton catalogs, dating back at least to the 1890s. For those not in the know, Timothy Eaton & Co. was a huge mail-order retailer, similar to Sears, Roebuck & Co. in the U.S.

    The earliest copy of a T. Eaton catalog page I have is the Fall and Winter Catalogue (No. 47), 1901-1902. It only shows open-face watches, not hunting, because that was what I was interested in when I collected the copy. Nevertheless, watch catalog numbers W239 (?-Silver), W247 (14K gold-filled) & W263 (10K gold-filled) are 15-jewel movements of the same or similar grade of your watch. The prices shown are (of course) in Canadian dollars. You can expect that the hunting version of the same quality case would cost $1 - $2 more.

    Watches that are carried daily need to be cleaned and oiled at regular intervals. Railroad time service rules varied, but requirements for cleaning on a basis of once every year and a half were typical for railroaders at the turn of the century. By the mid-1920’s this was extended to two year intervals.

    The “Sears, Roebuck and Co., Inc. Catalogue No. 104,” Chicago, IL, 1897, reprinted by Chelsea House, Philadelphia, PA, 1968 had this to say on page 371:

    We Guarantee for Five Years All the movements sold by us. This does not refer to the life of the movement, but that we will for five years from date of purchase, correct free of charge any fault which may occur from defective material or workmanship. Any well made movement will run a lifetime if properly cared for.
    Remember That your watch should not run longer than one and one-half years without having the old oil cleaned off and fresh oil supplied. This must be done at the expense of the purchaser.
    “The balance wheel of all modern watches makes 18,000 beats or revolutions per hour; 432,000 per day, or 157,788,000 per year. An engine or sewing machine will be oiled several times per day, but we have known people to carry a watch for ten years without having it cleaned or fresh oil applied.
    “Usually, a movement thus treated is of no value, being entirely worn out. Take good care of your watch if you wish it to perform its duty properly, for it is a very delicate machine. Our charge for cleaning and oiling is 75 cents. The regular retail price is $1.50.”

    Watch cleaning and oiling costs a bit more today than it did a hundred years ago. Check out What You Need To Know About Watch Repair at Wayne Schlitt's Elgin Website.

    Also, check out Frequently Asked Questions on the Pocket Watch Site.

    Also, Ed Ueberall, of The Escapement has put together some notes on the Use And Care of Your Vintage Watch that may be helpful.

    Service Frequency
    If the watch is run continually, a cleaning and oiling is needed every 3-5 years. If you're only going to wear your watch occasionally, this ought to be done once at the onset and about every ten years thereafter. If you're not going to carry it (or run it), don't bother getting it serviced. Many of the watches in my collection (that aren't run) haven't been cleaned and oiled in 20 or 30 years or more.

    Having gathered and printed out information about a family watch, it is a wise idea to write out as much as you know about the family member to whom the watch originally belonged. Then, add the names and relationships of the family members who passed it down to the current holder. Make up a booklet with this and all of the watch information and try to keep it with the watch. This way, the watch has real family heritage instead of it just being an old family watch, the identity and relationship of the original owner having been lost in the distant past.

    You have a nice family heirloom, take care of it.
    That guy down in Georgia

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