Burlington Special Identification Help

Erin Nicole

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Apr 3, 2021
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Hello,

We have a watch that was found in my father's dresser after he died in February. We know nothing about it, but it has what we think, may be a unique mark. If anyone has any ideas on what the mark might be, that would be really helpful for us.
We know my dad had family in Illinois (his uncle lived there) and he traveled back and forth by train from Waterloo, IN, as a child, to stay with his uncle and aunt. (He was born in 1939 and died February 2021, so the traveling back and forth would have been in '47, '48, '49, '50, maybe?)
We know that his father and uncle were Masons and that my father went through the initial steps of Mason initiation but did not actually join. The caliper in the mark reminds me of some Mason things. Could it have been his father's? Or his uncle's?
We really don't know and regret not having asked him about it before he died.
The photos are attached (fyi, this watch is not in my possession currently. It is with my mother in a different state than I live in).

Thank you all so much for any help you might offer!

Sincerely,

Erin 0ECDC9F3-7D22-496F-AB7F-FCC9A951F51D_1_201_a.jpeg F055F3CF-1F91-4D0A-B3DC-098F2AC65695.jpeg
 

viclip

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Hi Erin & welcome aboard.

If you know how to open the back, posting a pic of the movement would enable us to provide info of interest including the approx. date of manufacture based upon the movement's serial number.

Also a pic of the inside back cover of the case may provide some clues as well.
 
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Christopher Burris

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Erin, welcome to NAWCC message board. Your Burlington Special was made by the Illinois Watch Co, and is likely 19 or 21 jewel movement adjusted to 3 positions.
The back cover looks like it a screw off and would be remove by turning it counter clockwise.

We'd love pictures of the movement once you get it open and even a picture of the inside of the case cover could bring information for you.

Chris
 
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Kent

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Hi Erin:

Please add my welcome to those of the others.

While we're waiting for your mother to unscrew the back and send you the movement's serial number and other markings, here is some likely information. It could be a different watch, but only a hundred of those were made.

Checking the references listed in the Burlington Watch Co. Encyclopedia article (and looking at your pictures, to be confirmed upon seeing your mother's description of what's actually marked on the movement and inside the case back), your Burlington watch can be assumed to be
a 16-size,
model 5 or a model 9,
Burlington Special grade,
Adjusted to Temperature & Position and Isochronism, the number of positions is unspecified but assumed to be three,
probably lever-set,
open-face movement,
having 19 jewels,
and a Patent Regulator.
The movement is fitted with a double-sunk, Arabic dial having a R5MT (Red 5 Minute Track), which can be replaced.
It was built in about 1908-1917, we can narrow this down somewhat upon learning the movement's serial number. This was a popular watch of which tens of thousand of this variation were made from 1908 to 1917.

Based upon some wear visible in your picture, your Watch Case is gold-filled. The mark on the back is most likely a monogram - Burlington was big on these.

Unless you know that it has been properly 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.

Having gathered and printed out information about a family watch, it is a wise idea to write out as much as you know about the family member to whom the watch originally belonged - or as far back as you can go, including (and clearly identifying) what you can guess. 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.

Unfortunately, many of the links in our Encyclopedia articles were disrupted when we changed to the current version of our Message Board and its been a long process getting them all reinstated. So, if you come across a broken link and want to see what it led to, just let us know and we'll try and post it.

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

Good luck,

1915_Dec_Burlington_Color_Case_Ad.jpg
 
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Erin Nicole

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Thank you so much for all of this information and the friendly welcome!
Hopefully, I can walk my mom through opening the watch over the phone. If not, I will give it a shot the next time I'm down there.
I'll keep you posted!

Thank you again!
Erin
 

Downing

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Here's a photo of my 1915 16s Burlington Special's dial to inspire you to replace that one. While the Special may not be all that "special" in the sense that there are lots of them around, I think it's a really good looking watch. Replace that dial, have it serviced and you'll have a really cool heirloom to pass down to your kids. s-l1600-3.jpeg
 

Kent

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Those numbers are super cool!
Yeah, I liked them from the first time I saw them (about 55 years ago).


Erin:

The person who services your watch ought to be able to come up with an an exact, original replacement dial, should you wish to do so. If not, he/she might not be the right person to service the watch.

1912_Jan_Burlington_A_Watch_Offer_Without_Parallel.jpg 1912_Feb_Burl_Spcl.jpg 1913_Jun-29_Burlington_Startling_Offer.jpg
 
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