At What Stage did the Factory put the Signatures and Serials on?

Bila

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Would anyone be able to shed some light on when the American Watch Manufacturers put the serial number and wording on the movement, before or after the damaskeening process, thank you?

Erin
 

Jerry Treiman

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Generally the stamping (name, grade, serial number) was done before the damaskeening, but some hand-engraving may have been done afterward. I have seen movements from Elgin and Hamilton "in the gray" like this. I also have a Waltham movement in the gray, with company name stamped in the plate, but not yet assigned a serial number.

It makes sense to do the damaskeening last so as to remove any rough edges from the stamping.
 

Tom McIntyre

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Jerry,

Is the gray movement late enough to not have assembly numbers? The assembly process is an interesting topic and not at all well developed.
 

GeneJockey

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I have seen on Ebay several listings of Elgin wrist watch train bridges, which had not been built as movements. They all had the full 'Elgin USA', grade number, serial number, and adjustments already stamped/engraved, even the ones that had not had their edges beveled yet, let alone the nickel plating applied.

So, I conclude it was a relatively early part of the machining process.
 

GeneJockey

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This makes me curious about the earliest movements, where the serial numbers were stamped on even parts as generic as the barrel and barrel cap. I presume that early manufacturing processes still required a lot of hand fitting of parts for best function, so I wonder whether all the parts that got serials were stamped before assembly? Or after test fitting?
 

terry hall

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Believe a recent J-H offering was a movement in gray watch.... search completed sales for its images.

edited to add...
halligan writings mention the 'retention' of the first 10 serial numbers in a 'block' to be retained in the grey for private labels and special finishes....
logic would tell me they would be serialized somehow... how else would they 'know' the first 10 numbers :)
 
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Robert Sweet

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I can only speak for the Hamilton 992B, but as the photo shows, the serial number has already been engraved on the pillar plate before other components are assembled. I would think that you would want the serial number on as early as possible so each movement can be tracked as it goes through the assembly process. Just a thought.

Looking closely, several jewels are in place.

Robert

992B Pillar Plate with Serial.jpg
 
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Rob P.

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This makes me curious about the earliest movements, where the serial numbers were stamped on even parts as generic as the barrel and barrel cap. I presume that early manufacturing processes still required a lot of hand fitting of parts for best function, so I wonder whether all the parts that got serials were stamped before assembly? Or after test fitting?
I don't know about it only being applicable to the "earliest" movements. I have a nickle 6s Elgin from around 1895 that has the full compliment of serial numbers on almost everything, including the barrel cap.
 

Frank N

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Speaking of marking movement plates, I have an early 18 size Rockford from 1876 with serial numbers stamped on the mainspring barrel and cap. All the gear train wheels have the last 3 digits of the serial number scratched on them. I don't imagine that lasted too long, but certainly interesting.
 

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Rockford's early high grade movements by Greg Frauenhoff