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  1. #1
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    Mar 2009
    Northwest Connecticut

    Default Rockford Watch Co. Illinois

    I have a Rockford Pocket watch with a movement marked J.B. Capron, New Milford, Conn. Serial number 15991. Does anyone have any information about this watch. I don't have any key for it, but it tries to run if you move it around, I don't know if it is wound or not. The hour hand is broken, who does anyone reccommend for repair, this is my Great, Great, Grandfather's watch, and is irreplaceable to me. I am trying to attach some photos.
    Any help greatfully appreciated.
    Walt Beeman
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  2. #2

    Smile Re: Rockford Watch Co. Illinois (By: Walt Beeman)

    Hi Walt:

    Welcome to the NAWCC American Pocket Watch Message Board!

    A brief history of the Rockford Watch Co. is available Online, while basic information about a Rockford watch may be obtained online using Henry Burgell's Interactive Rockford Serial Number Lookup Table. Since some of these serial numbers are based upon a "recreated serial number list, there may be occasional errors. More information, especially a discussion of the different models, about Rockford's watches is available in Darrah G. Artzner's fine online article Review of the Rockford Watch Company And It’s Watches With Emphasis On Model Identification.

    A comprehensive list of private label Rockford watches is available Online, thanks to John Fogarty.

    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.

    The history of The Dueber-Hampden Watch Co. is told in From Springfield To Moscow: The Complete Dueber-Hampden Story by James W. Gibbs, a revised and enlarged successor to the 1954 Supplement to the NAWCC Bulletin, Philadelphia, PA, 1986 (this should be available to members on loan by mail from the NAWCC Library & Research Center). Briefly, John C. Dueber established a watch case company in Newport, KY in the late 1870's. In the mid-to-late 1880's he purchased a controlling interest in the Hampden Watch Co. of Springfield, MA. In 1888-1889, both operations were moved to a dual, attached set of factory buildings in Canton, OH. The Dueber Watch Case Manufacturing Co. was a separate company from the Hampden Watch Co., although the ads used the Dueber-Hampden name and that name was (and still is) in common usage, and they were housed in adjacent buildings. It stayed that way until about 1925 when the companies were merged. Hampden movements were frequently offered factory fitted into Dueber cases, such as seen in an 1908 Ad. The companies continued in business, producing both watches and cases until falling sales in the mid-1920's led to receivership in 1927. The manufacturing equipment, parts on hand and work in progress were sold to Russia. Operations ceased in 1930 when the machinery was shipped to Russia. It is believed that all factory records either went with the equipment, or were destroyed, and there are no surviving records from which to match serial numbers of watches, or cases, against models and grades.

    Dueber ads from the years 1891 and 1908 can be seen online at
    Wayne Schlitt's Elgin Website.

    Your watch appears to be a 15-jewel movement. Key sizes for key-wound, key-set watches are expressed as a number from 1 to 12, with #1 being the largest, see Barry Parker's Key No. vs. Size Table, below. Once the size is known, you can then contact the material suppliers listed below. If you lack a micrometer or caliper with which to measure the stud, measure as best you can with an ordinary ruler. Fortunately, the keys are inexpensive enough that you can get an assortment of five or six in the neighborhood of your measurement. Or, a whole set of 12 is priced at $20 or less at several of the suppliers.

    Barry Parker's Key No. vs. Size Table
    #1 = 1.85 mm. = 0.0728 inches
    #2 = 1.75 mm. = 0.0689 inches
    #3 = 1.68 mm. = 0.0661 inches
    #4 = 1.61 mm. = 0.0634 inches
    #5 = 1.54 mm. = 0.0606 inches
    #6 = 1.47 mm. = 0.0579 inches
    #7 = 1.38 mm. = 0.0543 inches
    #8 = 1.29 mm. = 0.0508 inches
    #9 = 1.19 mm. = 0.0469 inches
    #10 = 1.1 mm. = 0.0433 inches
    #11 = 1 mm. = 0.0394 inches
    #12 = 0.9 mm. = 0.0354 inches

    Watch Materials are available from:
    Brian Cavanaugh, pwpartsetc@pwatch.com
    Bryan Eyring, bdeyring@hotmail.com
    Jules Borel (search the keyword "key")
    Otto Frei
    Uncle Larry's Watch Shop

    However, if you are going to get your watch serviced, whoever does the work should be able to furnish a key.

    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.

    Please feel free to ask questions if any of the above isn't clear to you, or there's something else you'd like to know.

    Good luck,
    Last edited by Kent; 04-06-2009 at 04:51 PM.
    That guy down in Georgia

  3. #3
    Registered user.
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Northwest Connecticut

    Default Re: Rockford Watch Co. Illinois (By: Kent)

    Thanks Kent,
    That is a lot of information. My watch appears to be style 2 and is key wound but I see no way of setting the time, does any one have a picture of a "lever set" watch or a picture of the two key sets that should be on mine? Mine appears to be from 1877 according to the serial number.
    Walt Beeman

  4. #4

    Smile Re: Rockford Watch Co. Illinois (By: Walt Beeman)


    If you look carefully at the post that holds the hands, you'll see a square boss at the center. The watch key fits over this and is used to turn the hands to the correct time.

    Oh, I forgot to mention it earlier, the marking "Coin" on the case indicates that it is coin silver.
    That guy down in Georgia

  5. #5
    Registered user.
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    San Antonio

    Default Re: Rockford Watch Co. Illinois (By: Kent)

    It is a Model 1 Rockford, as it is key wound and key set on the time.
    If it was key wound and lever set, then it would be a model 2

    As Kent said, the key fit over the 4 sided shaft on the front and the hands moved as the key was turned.

    It is very easy to break a hand, when winding, as your watch shows.

    The surviving hour hand is a Rockford "Fleur-de Lis" hand are they can still be found in hour and minute hands.

    The hour hand is best fit over the shaft with tweezers, then gently pushed into position with the tweezers, being careful not too break the hand.

    These old keywind watches are amazing durable, and many of them still run.

    The Rockford Records grouped all the first 114,000 Rockford into Model 1, and did not describe the jeweling.
    Agree with Kent, probably a 15 Jewel watch, and maybe an 11 Jewel watch.

    Do not see any extra screw marks on the rim of the case, so it is likely the orginial Coin Silver Case.

  6. #6
    Registered user.
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Northwest Connecticut

    Default Re: Rockford Watch Co. Illinois (By: HenryB)

    Thanks for the info, now I understand how you set the time, that shaft is so small and short that I never gave it a thought. I have other pocket watches that are 2 key where there is a separate post to set the time. I would like to get this one fixed professionally, does anyone know of a reputable dealer in northwestern Connecticut, I prefer to bring the watch somewhere, I have terrible luck with my mail getting "lost".
    Thanks Again for all of your help.

  7. #7

    Smile Re: Rockford Watch Co. Illinois (By: Walt Beeman)


    As it says on Wayne Schlitt's Elgin Website, "... it is much better to find a good watchmaker than a close one." The watch can be sent safely via registered mail. You might consider The Escapement

    Click for info.

    Good luck,
    That guy down in Georgia

  8. #8
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    Boston, Ma.
    Blog Entries

    Default Re: Rockford Watch Co. Illinois (By: Kent)

    CORRECTIONS: Rockford data, serial number looks ups, etc are the PRODUCTS OF CHAPTER 149 and its members; these are copyrighted by Chapter 149.

    All credit should be given to the correct owner!


  9. #9
    Registered user.
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Northwest Connecticut

    Default Re: Rockford Watch Co. Illinois (By: Jon Hanson)

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Hanson View Post
    CORRECTIONS: Rockford data, serial number looks ups, etc are the PRODUCTS OF CHAPTER 149 and its members; these are copyrighted by Chapter 149.

    All credit should be given to the correct owner!

    I don't understand, the serial number lookup states chapter149 as does the model identification page, I'm sorry if I caused trouble, I won't ask for info again.
    Walt Beeman

  10. #10

    Smile Re: Rockford Watch Co. Illinois (By: Walt Beeman)

    Hello Walt and welcome to the NAWCC American Pocket Watch Forum!

    As Kent and the Ch 149 look-up have indicated, you have a nice private label (likely) 15 jewel KWKS Rockford.

    By all means, please do not hesitate to ask questions here on the message board.

    Our goal here is to enlighten members and newbies alike, so do not let some member-to-member banter dissuade you from asking away! :o


  11. #11

    Default Re: Rockford Watch Co. Illinois (By: Bryan Eyring)


    You might look at our sister organization at http://www.watch-clock-makers.org/

    No matter who you consider, you need to ask them how they overhual a watch. They should describe how they take it apart to all moving parts (about 50), clean it in a mechanical or ultrasonic cleaner, followed by one or more rinses. They then examine each part and make replacements or repairs as needed. They reassemble the watch, oil and grease as appropriate, adjust and rate the watch appropriate to the grade. They should run the watch for several days in several positions. They should stand behind thier work for several months to a year.

    Kent recommended The Escapement, and I have no problems at all with that recommendation.


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