Month's Goal: $300, Received: $235.00 - (78%) Contribute Now
Donate whatever you can or Join the 15,000 other NAWCC members for only $72 (plus $10 for hard copy publications). Check it out here.

Page 1 of 5 12345 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 69
  1. #1
    Registered user.
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    133

    Default Whats best RAILROAD watch made and why?

    I love those American Railroaders and have often wondered what watch or watches are contenders for the title of BEST and just as importantly Why.
    This would make great reading for any new chum (like me) and probably be of helpto those starting a collection of RR
    My best so far is a Ball Hamilton 999 and I feel its better than my others because of its beautifull easy to read dial.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails DSC00386.JPG  
    Last edited by George; 01-04-2010 at 02:46 AM.

  2. #2
    Registered user.
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    So. Calif.
    Posts
    2,852

    Default Re: Whats best RAILROAD watch made and why? (RE: George)

    Hi George,

    This sort of discussion has come up often, and I think you will get many opinions. To me, a lot depends on what you mean by "best" and what period in the history of railroad timekeeping you are talking about.

    By "best" do you mean the most technologically advanced? The one that is the easiest to overhaul and repair? The most accurate? The one with the most ornate finish (damaskeening) on the plates? You mentioned that the dial on your Hamilton Ball is easy to read, but that was true of most railroad watch dials. Railroad watch requirements called for dials that were easy to read; I wouldn't call dial design a mark of best or worst.

    And the time period is important, too. In the early 1940s Hamilton introduced their completely new 992B (21-jewel) and 950B (23-jewel) 16-size railroad watches with the newly developed Elinvar Extra alloy hairspring that was far superior to the earlier Elinvar alloy. These watches had all the latest improvements that made them better timekeepers, as well as being easy to service and repair. In other words, they were "state of the art." But is it fair to compare them with what might have been considered best back around 1900 or 1910 or 1925? Are you looking at this from the collector's point of view, or that of the watchmaker or the railroader who used it?

    Back in the early 1970's I was corresponding with a Canadian jeweler/railroad watch inspector. In his opinion, as he put it, there wasn't much to choose between any of the American railroad watches; they were ALL good.

    Many years earlier he had apprenticed and worked at the Canadian Ball Watch Co., Ball's branch office in Winnipeg, before going into business for himself. He wrote me that the people at Ball said that their "best running" watch was the 16-size, 19-jewel Waltham Ball model. Also, the Waltham representatives that called on them felt that their best running railroad watch was the 19-jewel Waltham Riverside, upon which the Ball was based. Note that these were not their most expensive or most highly-jewelled grades.

    It's late here, so g'night all.

    Larry
    Last edited by Larry Treiman; 01-04-2010 at 05:27 AM. Reason: Late night, sleepiness-related errors. It's been a long day.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Whats best RAILROAD watch made and why? (RE: Larry Treiman)

    If you are talking about the time frame from 1940 forward, my choice would be the 992B or 950B.

    With respect to accuracy for railroad watches, the criteria has been a variation not to exceed 30 sec. a week going back to at least 1900, so all that met this standard were very accurate timepieces.

    Robert

  4. #4
    Registered user.
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Georgia
    Posts
    1,206

    Default Re: Whats best RAILROAD watch made and why? (RE: Robert Sweet)

    Tough call, appears that by the 40's Hamilton had refined its 16 size watches to a level that few competing companies could match. In the early days going back to the late 1800's you would almost have to pick small periods of time and pick a candidate for each period because so much was happening so quickly that some truly great watches and concepts were coming forward along with improvements that neglecting them would be wrong also.

  5. #5
    Registered user.
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    133

    Default Re: Whats best RAILROAD watch made and why? (RE: 49stude63)

    Mouth watering stuff...keep them coming in!..It surprises me no one has mentioned Illinois, the damaskeening was just awesome, I have a Waltham 845 which has a beautiful finish, lovely damaskeening and I imagine in its time a top watch yet twenty or so years later that beautifull finish had disappeared on Waltham..did the bean counters get in charge?..I havent got a full handle on these but am learning. I am just a lover of old watches in particular Railroaders and chronometers.

  6. #6
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Arroyo Grande, Ca
    Posts
    1,396

    Default Re: Whats best RAILROAD watch made and why? (RE: George)

    Taking the question literaly, there are only two models that qualify, one of which wasn't even railroad grade! the 999E and the 999F. As the 999F is rarer maybe it is the best? Or if you want quality than the 999E is the way to go!

    Seems reasonable that the only Railroad watches were made by the Railroad Watch Co. All the rest are railroad grade/standard/ approved, etc but not actual railroad watches.

    happy hunting,

  7. #7
    Registered user.
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    133

    Default Re: Whats best RAILROAD watch made and why? (RE: BILL KAPP)

    Thank you all and in particular Bill and Larry,I will need some time now to digest what you have said. I like the sound of the 950b, the 999e etc is probably never going to come on the market. thanks for the input.
    regards George

  8. #8
    Registered user.
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    133

    Default Re: Whats best RAILROAD watch made and why? (RE: George)

    Bill I think we could keep it fairly basic...just Railroad grade or standard, and in fairness pieces that only had 100 or less made ..realy are non events cos no one is likely to ever get the chance of buying one
    Perhaps a ceiling of 1000 US dollars (To purchase one) would be sensible
    I realy saw this as a chance for idiots like me to learn about Railroad grade watches and for me it would need to be reasonably simple.
    I like the sound of the 999e etc but what would it cost if on market?
    Thanks Bill George
    Just need a wee bit of time to fully digest the other posts,

  9. #9
    Registered user.
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    So. Calif.
    Posts
    2,852

    Default Re: Whats best RAILROAD watch made and why? (RE: George)

    George, I think that when Bill Kapp brought up the 999E and 999F, he was trying to add a little humor to the thread (note the smiley-face Emoticons). I think it might have gone way over the heads of those who don't have Bill's knowledge of Ball esoterica. For example, maybe he should have explained that the letter suffixes "E" and "F" don't actually appear on the watches (even the 999 doesn't appear on the earlier Ball watches). The E and F were part of a series of letters used by Hamilton in records and other documents to differentiate between the various grades of movements they made for Ball. Actually, the 18-size 999E and 999F were the cheapest grades that Hamilton furnished to Ball. The E's were single-roller escapement watches that Ball could sell at a lower price on railroads that didn't require double rollers. The 999F grades were for sale to those customers who did not have to pass railroad inspection. They were the so-called "Commercial" grades. It is my understanding that "commercial" was a fairly common term in the watch trade for non-railroad watch movements.

    Bill, as they say, "eschew obfuscation!"

    Larry
    Last edited by Larry Treiman; 01-05-2010 at 04:37 AM. Reason: To eschew my own obfuscations.

  10. #10
    Registered user.
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    133

    Default Re: Whats best RAILROAD watch made and why? (RE: Larry Treiman)

    Thanks Larry I was at the point of sinking, Your earlier imfo has great reading and the threads lead you on and on ..even read about President Lincolns watch with a hidden message,. Thinking about where this is going ........
    I now think Lets keep it simple no rules except WHY ITS THE BEST RAILROAD WATCH from an Engineer railroad employees perspective.
    Cmon guys you must have heaps of thoughts?
    regards George

  11. #11
    Registered user.
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    133

    Default Re: Whats best RAILROAD watch made and why? (RE: George)

    CMON guys..surely you have a favourite railroad watch youd like to mention and why.....no rules except that its a supposed view from a railroad engineer..

  12. #12
    Registered user. rrpocketwatchbuddy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    florissant missouri
    Posts
    95

    Default Re: Whats best RAILROAD watch made and why? (RE: George)

    the best railroad approved pocket watch, the very best is a waltham crescent street 21j 16s lever set 5 pos c.1924 has a 1611E dial. in a b&b 20 year gold filled case. why... a) because its mine and b) its not so extraordinary that it cant be worn and used on a daily basis. half the fun is being able to use it daily. i would rather have my watch than any other watch that is on the cutting edge of technology today.

  13. #13
    Registered user.
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Georgia
    Posts
    1,206

    Default Re: Whats best RAILROAD watch made and why? (RE: rrpocketwatchbuddy)

    Elgin grade 453, 16 size 23 jewel that should hang with the best of them.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Whats best RAILROAD watch made and why? (RE: 49stude63)

    Elgin - ehhhh. Now I truely love Elgins - my first watch was an Elgin KW, and you know what they say about first loves

    BUT - the finish on the "hidden" parts of every Elgin I've encountered is not as good quality as I've seen from others. Have a look at the bottom of any bridge in a high grade Elgin (where the locating pins are), then compare to say, a Hamilton 974. You may be surprised what you find!

  15. #15
    Registered user.
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    133

    Default Re: Whats best RAILROAD watch made and why? (RE: Junkhunter)

    Hi What do you think of the Illinois units..the finish of them the magic damaskeening I think is among the best...And yet no one has thought them to be a contender.!

Similar Threads

  1. What are the best books for wrist and pocket watches?
    By Timebroker in forum Horological Books
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 06-26-2007, 07:46 AM
  2. Railroad watches and rail fans
    By rg in forum American Pocket Watches
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 05-12-2006, 08:07 AM
  3. What is it with pocket watches? And, why so many passwords??
    By railman in forum American Pocket Watches
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 05-24-2002, 02:58 PM
  4. What's the neatest and most accurate railroad watch?
    By railman in forum American Pocket Watches
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 04-09-2002, 03:50 PM
  5. What's the best regional for pocket watch collectors? (and why?)
    By Jon Hanson in forum American Pocket Watches
    Replies: 14
    Last Post: 11-05-2001, 10:06 AM

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •