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Columbus Watch Company

GD1

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I always wanted and recently picked up a Columbus Railway King with the Choo Choo dial. This is the only Columbus I own. I was wondering how the Columbus watches stacked up in overall quality to some of the other major watch makers of the same time period? Any opinions appreciated, good or bad.
 

Kent

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Would you please share the serial number and other details (AN or RN, color of locomotive, HC or OF, PS or LS)? Or, perhaps put up some pictures?

Thanks,
 

Kent

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Thanks!
 

Rob P.

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There was a recent thread which had some information on Columbus watches buried in a link. Here's the link:
http://www.railswest.com/time/watchesapproved.html

It's a list of Railroad approved watches compiled from (you guessed it) this forum. The Columbus part says:

Combined list of Railroad Grade Watches:

This is a combined list of railroad grade watches which is generaly attributed Webb C. Ball. Not all of these were railroad approved even though all are railroad grade.
BALL WATCH CO.
All official R.R. standard with 17, 19, 21 & 23J, adj.5p, 18 & 16S, open face. COLUMBUS WATCH CO.
18 Size: Columbus King, 21, 23, 25J Railway King, 17-25J Time King, 21-25J 16 Size: Ruby Model
 

Rob P.

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Personally I think that too much emphasis is being placed on "railroad watch" with the front runners being Bunn Specials, Hamilton 992's, NY Standard, Ball, etc. while the rest of the field is being ignored.

There are plenty of 12s watches that are the equal of the 16s RR watches in accuracy and BETTER THAN the 16's in cases, plate engraving & damaskeening and dials. Yet these are ignored by the uninformed who think that ONLY RR watches are worth collecting. (Mostly because the RR watches bring high prices - so these must be "better" than the others.) The only "difference" is that the 16's were "RR time standard approved" while the 12's weren't. Big deal. Most 16s RR watches never saw a day of RR service any more than the 12's did.

Does anyone really think that a 12s 23j Seth Thomas in a hunter case couldn't keep RR time within the standard? Does anyone think that a 12s, being 1/4" or so smaller in diameter, is too difficult to read as accurately as a 16s?

Really? Me either.

Anyway, your Columbus is probably like all the other makers out there. Some good, some bad, and some mediocre. None of them is as accurate as quartz and all of them tell time within a reasonable level of accuracy necessary for both yesterday AND today.
 
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Jim Haney

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Personally The only "difference" is that the 16's were "RR time standard approved" while the 12's weren't. Big deal. Most 16s RR watches never saw a day of RR service any more than the 12's did.
Rob,
You did say "Personally" but it is a big deal and you can post your thoughts and preferences however, don't look for the collecting market to agree with you.

You could contiune this line of thought with companies,example Hampden's(Or whatever) are under appreciated, but that is the nature of collecting things.
 

179

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I was not aware that N.Y. Standard was a front runner in the " Railroad Watch " category.
 

ben_hutcherson

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I was not aware that N.Y. Standard was a front runner in the " Railroad Watch " category.
I was not aware that NYS was any kind of runner in the "Railroad Watch" category ;)
 

Tom McIntyre

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New York Watch Co and the other watch company owned by the owners of New York Standard, were pretty respectable. :)

Of course none of them could hold a candle to the Illini. :eek:
 

GD1

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Apr 22, 2004
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I don't recall making any references to the term Railroad watch. I just wondered what the collecting community thought about Columbus watch quality overall inasmuch as I have never owned one. I have to admit I'm partial to larger watches, i.e. 16 vs. 12. I actually prefer 18's over 16's although I don't think that's a universal preference. Just my preference. All that being said, I have no argument that a high quality 12 size watch is the equal of a larger watch in terms of quality and/or timekeeping ability. I sell watches occasionally and my personal experience that a 12 size watch of any kind is a harder sell. If you like 12's that's a plus for you as they normally bring less money in my experience.
 

onsite

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New York Watch Co and the other watch company owned by the owners of New York Standard, were pretty respectable. :)

Of course none of them could hold a candle to the Illini. :eek:
Tom, I have used the term many times without even really thinking of its origin.

Meaning

To compare badly to an known authority - to be unfit even to hold a subordinate position.

Origin

Apprentices used to be expected to hold the candle so that more experienced workmen were able to see what they were doing. Someone unable even to do that would be of low status indeed.
 

artbissell

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There is much historical info about Dietrich Gruen's first watch company. The first products were his specified movements of high quality from the Swiss Aeby and Landry. Made to fit in American sized cases. Originals commonly seen in many different American cases. As a Gruen collector I have 0s, 10s, 16s, 18s. His own designs as Columbus watches were conventional American style in 6s, 16s, 18s. Emphasis on being r.r. grade from the beginning about 1883? Experimented with a variety of movement regulator designs. All very collectible in my opinion. Gruen family used 1876 start of Columbus Watch Co.(good history here) in advertising as starting date for Gruen Watch co. 1895 when Dietrich left Columbus. Any comments critical of this sketchy info or improvements of it very welcome. art b.

EARLIEST: col 17s2.jpg aeby col.jpg
 
Last edited:

mauleg

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In terms of quality, I'd place Columbus' higher-end offerings right up there with similar movements from Elgin, Waltham & Illinois. The detail and damaskeening on the 18S Railway Kings that I've seen is some of the most beautiful and detailed available.

In terms of collectability and valuation, I'd wager that Columbus watches are also on par with comparable Elgin, Waltham & Illinois watches, although not as prevalent in today's marketplace.


Rob,
You did say "Personally" but it is a big deal and you can post your thoughts and preferences however, don't look for the collecting market to agree with you.

You could contiune this line of thought with companies,example Hampden's(Or whatever) are under appreciated, but that is the nature of collecting things.
^ This.

I'm with you, however, Rob, in that I also appreciate a nice high-grade 12S; I have many in my collection. I also don't put a premium on "Railroad" when contemplating adding a watch to my collection. I'm more interested in unique or beautiful damaskeening, high grade/jewel count for the era, and overall condition. Of course, "rarity" is also a compelling feature, but by no means a condition.

As onsite observed, the market emphasis on "Railroad" works in our favor. I exploit this on a regular basis to get phenomenal deals on amazing watches.
 

Fred Hansen

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I like Columbus and there are many fun areas to collect ... great railroad markings, odd jewel counts, unusual damaskeens, cool dials, interesting private labels ... but there are some areas of finish where most Columbus watches come up short against many of their competitors. A good example is the lack of gold jewel settings among many of Columbus' later high jeweled watches, and a prime example being the 25 jewel Columbus King which frequently have brass settings.
 

GD1

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Apr 22, 2004
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Thanks for all the input. I have found it very interesting and informative.
 

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