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  1. #1

    Default What do I have exactly?

    I was given an heirloom pocket watch today that my great-grandfather received as a gift in 1932. However, the dial is marked "Keystone Standard," which I understand to be a Lancaster,PA-based company that went out of business in 1890. The watch was likely purchased in the Lancaster area as well. To further complicate matters, the case is marked B&B Regal, an the movement is marked New York Standard. I would like to straighten out the history of the watch for sentimental value, if anyone can help me identify where it was made and by whom.

  2. #2
    Registered User richiec's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do I have exactly? (RE: DMartin)

    N Y Standard was likely the movement maker. Bates and Bacon I believe were the case makers. New York Standard was founded about 1887 and in 1903 were sold out to the Keystone Watch Co. with watches being made until about 1929. A good picture of the movement and the serial number would be very helpful and wonder if it has any markings as to jeweling, like 15 or 17 on it. It is doubtful if the exact date of manufacture can be ascertained from the serial number though but always helpful.

  3. #3

    Smile Re: What do I have exactly? (RE: DMartin)

    Hi DMartin:

    Welcome to the NAWCC American Pocket Watch Message Board!

    The watch movement sounds like it was made by New York Standard, a company owned by the Keystone Watch Case Co. Your watch case is gold-filled and was made by Bates & Bacon, another company owned by the Keystone Watch Case Co. None of these companies had anything to do with Keystone Standard Watch Company in Lancaster, PA, which was long out of business when the Keystone Watch Case Co. bought New York Standard.

    If you can post some pictures of the watch, including the movement, we ought to be able to give you an estimate of when it was built.

    Unless you know that it has been cleaned and oiled within the last few years, you should have the watch serviced before running it very much. It may be helpful for you to read the Encyclopedia article on Watch Service and its related links, especially the one to the message board thread on the subject. The Encyclopedia article on Choosing a Pocket Watch Repair Person may be useful as well.

    Once we come up with some information that can be gathered and printed out, 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. You might even include a CD or, better yet, a USB thumb drive with copies of the pictures or information, in addition to the printouts. Even though they may not be readable 100 years from now, some more recent descendent may transfer the files to the then current format and media. 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.

    Please feel free to ask about anything that isn't clear to you.

    P.S. I see that richiec posted while I was typing.

    Good luck,
    Kent
    That guy down in Georgia

  4. #4

    Default Re: What do I have exactly? (RE: Kent)

    So the "Keystone Standard" label is not connected to the company of the same name? Since my family is from Lancaster, PA I thought it likely that there would be a connection.I cannot provide pictures right now, as I'm on my phone at work, but I'll update tonight with a few.

  5. #5

    Smile Re: What do I have exactly? (RE: DMartin)

    Here is what a Keystone watch looks like. If the plates of your watch have the same shape as this one, then that would be a different story.
    Kent
    That guy down in Georgia

  6. #6

    Default Re: What do I have exactly? (RE: Kent)

    Here are some pictures I took of the face, movement, and the inside of the case.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Here you can see the "Keystone Standard" on the face. (also, yes, I know it's in bad shape. My great-grandfather was a farmer who used this watch every day for almost 70 years.)

    Click image for larger version. 

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    The inside of the case reads B&B Regal, 5051467

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    Here's the movement. I couldn't get a clear picture of the markings but I'm sure you'll recognize NEW YORK STANDARD WATCH CO USA. It has 15 Jewels.
    On the left at the 6:00 position is "Made in U.S.A. 1011024" I understand that this number is not a serial number but a part number. I cannot find a serial number.

  7. #7

    Smile Re: What do I have exactly? (RE: DMartin)

    Yes, that is a New York Standard movement. It looks like it is a 12-size watch. It's design was "borrowed" by another Keystone Watch Case Co. firm, the E. Howard Watch Co. (known as Keystone-Howard), to produce their Series 11 movement. This came about around the late 'teens. If you compare the two, you'll see the family resemblance.

    Judging by the design of the case, I'd say that you watch dates from the late 'teens to the late 1920s (NY Standard went under at the beginning of the depression).

    There's not all that much information available about NY Standard, which is surprising for a company that was estimated to have built around 30,000,000 watches. I think the problem is that NY Standard built very modest watches which don't appeal too much to collectors.

    Please feel free to ask about anything that isn't clear to you.

    Good luck,
    Kent
    That guy down in Georgia

  8. #8

    Default Re: What do I have exactly? (RE: Kent)

    The history that I was able to put together shows that my Great-grandfather got this watch as a Christmas gift in 1932, from his then-fiancee (they would be married the next year). Is it likely she bought the watch new or is it older than 1932 do you think?

  9. #9

    Default Re: What do I have exactly? (RE: DMartin)

    Quote Originally Posted by DMartin View Post
    ... Is it likely she bought the watch new or is it older than 1932 do you think?
    It's possible that it was built in the late 1920s and stayed in inventory through the first years of the depression and that she could have bought it new in 1932.
    Kent
    That guy down in Georgia

  10. #10
    Registered user. Dch48's Avatar
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    Default Re: What do I have exactly? (RE: Kent)

    My guess would be that since the NY Standard watches were like an economy brand and not up to the quality of the more expensive offerings from Waltham, Hamilton, Elgin, Hampden, etc., they weren't maintained as well by their owners, probably saw very hard use, so not as many have survived until today in running condition.

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