A very unusual Waltham - circa WWI?

Discussion in 'Wrist Watches' started by Jerry Treiman, Apr 6, 2018.

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  1. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    Aug 25, 2000
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    I was very excited to finally get one of these rather uncommon Waltham wrist watches.
    5211_fobl.jpg
    It seems military in style, but the protective device for the crown does not really seem very practical for rough use. If you can’t tell, the bow holds the crown down so it cannot be pulled out accidentally. The case is also kind of a hermetic design. The 6/0 (Jewel Series) movement is fixed in a ring that also holds the crystal, and the entire assembly is installed from the rear and protected with a threaded-on back, so it is just a two-piece case.
    5211_apart.jpg
    So far I have only seen eight different examples of this model, and that includes the one shown in the Price Guide. Five are in solid gold and three are in silver cases with some gold elements to them. My biggest personal quest with these is to figure out who made these unsigned cases. Most are just marked “PATENT PEND.” and a 4-digit serial number, plus the gold or silver marking. I would also love to work out when these were made.

    Does anyone else have one of these?
     
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  2. Adam Harris

    Adam Harris Registered User
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    May 3, 2012
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    Hi Jerry
    It is indeed a very early and interesting piece, similar in thought to DEPOLLIER

    Suggest you contact Stan, who. he and I did research on a similar piece he had.

    Regards
    Adam
     
  3. Steven Thornberry

    Steven Thornberry User Administrator
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    Working on the suggestion of ca. WWI and the mention of the movement being fixed in a ring, I wonder whether the following patent is applicable.

    US1088097.pdf
     

    Attached Files:

  4. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    Thanks, Adam. Yes - Stan* was the first person I thought of and we have both been puzzling over this model for a while. The watch case has some special design elements that are reminiscent of features patented by Depollier and also by Ezra Fitch (Waltham’s president). The case construction and finish are, in some ways, similar to cases made by H.W. Matalene but also very different in other ways.

    Steven - thanks for the suggestion. The method of holding the movement in the case (the focus of the patent) uses a “locking bolt” (patent figure 3) This was used on Waltham watches with the Marsh movement protector but is not used here. My movement ring has three dog screws that retain the internal movement assembly in the case.

    *for those who do not know who "Stan" is, this is Stan Czubernat who has written separate books on Elgin and Waltham watches associated with the WWI era.
     
  5. Adam Harris

    Adam Harris Registered User
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    Yes, it is between Era Fitch patents and Depollier.
    If Stan has not seen it, then its pretty rare - he surely has done the greatest research in that area.

    Sorry, I can not help more - sadly all my files are still in Spain too.

    Good Luck and keep us informed
    Regards
     
  6. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    Here is an example in silver, and in remarkably original (though worn) condition. It is more evidently intended for service in the trenches than others I have seen (such as my gold example, above). It has a black dial with radium numbers and hands. The silver case, including the (probable) gold lugs, is coated with a non-reflective finish that I think is more than just tarnish. (For example, black tarnish on the gold lugs would be hard to explain). This watch has not been “improved” in any way by collectors or previous owners. The original unbreakable crystal likely shrank and fell out and I have added a temporary glass crystal to protect the dial and hands from further abuse.
    PatTr_front.jpg PatTr_back.jpg PatTr_buckle.jpg PatTr_ib.jpg PatTr_mvt.jpg

    What has been most illuminating for me in studying this watch is finding it still has the remnants of some type of seal between the movement “pellet” and the crystal opening in the outer case. I would guess it was either a rubber gasket or some kind of gum or pitch that is now black and brittle with age.
    PatTr_dial.jpg PatTr_oldgasket.jpg

    This seal, the threaded back (gasket missing) and the compression crown suggest this watch was meant to be water resistant. It may be that the pending patent (as announced in the back of the case) was for this entire assemblage of waterproofing features, or maybe just for the crown. I have so far been unable to find any issued patents matching the features on this watch case. I suspect it was made between 1917 and 1920 but have little yet to go on other than a hunch.

    Another aspect of this watch that is very new to me is its condition -- well used but all original, representing how this watch was made around 100 years ago. The strap is tearing a little and stitching has come undone, but I would not want to replace it. The black dial with radium numbers would be very difficult to restore without risking further damage and non-original reconstruction. The hands, too, show light corrosion and partial loss of the original lume. I really do not want to scatter bits of radium paint around, either. The movement is mechanically sound (it will tick), looks free of debris or dust, but is obviously a little gummy. I am nervous that removing the dial to clean the watch may risk damage to the dial and/or hands (the hour hand is very tight). The screwed-on back of the case has remarkably fine threads and the silver feels soft; it does not thread on/off easily and I am loathe to expose it to the possibility of cross threading or other damage, so I will open this as little as possible. So where does this leave me? I have a very interesting and probably rare watch that, for the first time for me, may be better off left in as-found condition rather than my usual cleaning and “touch up” to make a serviceable watch. Right now I will do nothing more to “improve” it.

    I would love to hear from any other collectors who may have a similar watch.
    PatTr_pair.jpg
     
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  7. Adam Harris

    Adam Harris Registered User
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    Hi Jerry
    Pretty sure Stan had one of these and it may have been posted here
    a
     
  8. musicguy

    musicguy Moderator
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    Jan 12, 2017
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    These are really great watches Jerry. I'm glad you
    added them to your collection and shared them with us.


    Rob
     

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