Correct winding wheels on a Waltham 1888?

Discussion in 'American Pocket Watches' started by Lorne, May 19, 2017.

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  1. Lorne

    Lorne Registered User

    Jul 31, 2008
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    Hello All,

    Are these wheels correct for this grade? They seem mismatched.


    Lorne
     
  2. MrRoundel

    MrRoundel Registered User
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    Dec 28, 2010
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    I can only say that my Am'n grade '88 has the non-decorated machine finish on the wheels. My wheels also have the chamfered and polished finish"caps" that stand above the plane of the wheels. Those remind me of what I'd see on maybe a Royal grade. My guess is that they are from a slightly lower grade, but I could be wrong. FWIW, my '88 Am'n HC is in the 5,000,*** range.
     
  3. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    Aug 24, 2000
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    My impression is the same, that the Am'n grade should have the polished hubs. I think there might also be a bit of decoration on some Am'n grade examples but the plain flat hub does not seem right. I have not made a study of that, but Jerry T. may have.
     
  4. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    Aug 25, 2000
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    I agree that those winding wheels appear to be from a lower grade movement.

    This is what I usually see on the Am'n Watch Co. grade movements.
    6028876m.jpg

    This alternate style, with polished cups instead of the raised washers, is also seen on some of this grade.
    4145086m.jpg
     
  5. topspin

    topspin Registered User

    Dec 14, 2014
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    I just checked a load of my 1888s (cased & uncased examples) starting from the lower grades (e.g. Sol, unmarked Fattorini etc) and working up. Only once I got to the Riverside did I find one that *didn't* have the 2 equally-flat wheels with the wavy lines on.
    So if we are confident that Lorne's watch is anomalous, to me the obvious next question would be whether it's because somebody switched them or whether it might have been like that since the watch left the factory?
     
  6. ben_hutcherson

    ben_hutcherson Registered User
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    Jul 15, 2009
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    You seem to enjoy concocting scenarios where something might have been done at the factory.

    I would say that the chances of Waltham letting what was at the time probably the 3rd or 4th highest grade movement they made(and made in relatively small numbers) leave the factory with much lower grade wheels to be quite small.

    On the other hand, I see the chances of a collector or watchmaker seeing a slightly less than perfect set of WWs on the movement and thinking they were "dressing it up" with clean dmked wheels off a lower grade movement to be quite high.

    Of course, everyone can draw their own conclusions. My good friend Fred H. Sr. likes to say there are two words you shouldn't use in collecting-Always and Never. At the same time, I think you have to consider how likely something that doesn't match the usual trends for a watch would have been to occur at the factory. In this case, I'd say it's a very low chance, while the possible explanations for why they would have been switched outside the factory are many and make a lot of sense.
     
  7. rolandantrobus

    rolandantrobus Registered User

    May 17, 2016
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    I've just looked through pictures of twenty or so model 1888s. Almost every one is unique in the winding wheel area across all sorts of grades! Be it damaskeening patterns on one or both wheels, flat raised or dished washers, even no washers.
    So I think it may not be possible to say with 100% certainty what wheels originally went with what grades. FWIW these are the two that I own and believe to have original wheels, but like I said I can't be 100% certain.

    [​IMG][​IMG]
     

    Attached Files:

  8. ben_hutcherson

    ben_hutcherson Registered User
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    Unless you looked at 20 Am'ns(which would surprise me) you can't draw any certain conclusions.

    The WWs on your Riv Max look good to me, but the overall finish is as important that a specific pattern.

    American grade 88s, for example, are known for a specific straight line pattern on the WWs. Whether or not that's an absolute, most collectors would seriously devalue a watch for not having those wheels even if a case could be made for them being original.

    When you get into higher grade Walthams-Americans in particular but Am'ns to a lesser extent-there are a LOT of things that are going to be an uphill battle to a collector if they are not what is expected.

    I was offered a '72 American a couple of years ago at Lexington for what I considered a give-away price. I think it was around $600. The seller is a friend of mine, and offered it to me privately before he put it on his table. The problem was that-from recollection-it had a lower grade balance cock, pallet bridge, pallet fork, and balance wheel. The seller was upfront about me on the balance wheel and cock, and then agreed when I pointed out the pallet problems. Those parts would be virtually impossible to replace, so I passed on it and decided to hold out for a better example. Aside from all of that, it had a lower grade dial-had it had an American dial, I'd have still bought it, but it didn't.

    On the other hand, I paid $200 for a piece of junk 20 size at Wilmington a few years ago mostly because it had a perfect dial. 30 minutes later, that dial was on a 20 size in my collection(mine was overall nice but had a small hairline under the seconds bit). This dial was identical to mine and the movement from the same serial block, so I didn't feel bad at all about the switch. An hour later, I sold the hairlined dial off my watch for $150. The perfect dial movement I'd bought was well beyond being salvagable, so after I'd taken it completely apart and documented it(I wanted to compare some specific features to my 20 size) I moved that movement on to someone who needed one of the undamaged wheels in the train to fix another watch.
     
  9. John Cote

    John Cote Registered User
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    Aug 26, 2000
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    To me what matters is that the original watch does not conform to researched and accepted factory specs. The absolute truth of whether this watch came out of the factory with these winding wheels is a great conversation for bulletin boards and hotel bars at NAWCC National Conventions etc. Talking about the absolute truth in this matter is a great way to start an argument.

    Here is the truth...this watch does not conform to what is known about the '88 Amn' Grade. Most experts will never believe in this watch. This is the same argument as whether a private label 18s Illinois Bunn Special which has been seen multiple times with a matching dial may also have come with an Illinois marked dial from a medium grade 18s Illinois watch...or multiple other arguments which can be heard in national convention hotel bars. I love these arguments and have participated in a lot of them. Long live watch fights.
     
  10. Nick23

    Nick23 Registered User

    Jul 21, 2009
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    This is my 17j, '88 Amn' Grade demi hunter.

    [​IMG][​IMG]
     
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