Decisions, decisions, decisions...

Discussion in 'American Pocket Watches' started by Rob P., Oct 21, 2019.

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  1. Rob P.

    Rob P. Registered User

    Dec 19, 2011
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    Let's assume you're on the hunt for a new victim to mangle, er, I mean pocket watch to fix. You find orphan movements, a Waltham and an Elgin.

    Both are approximately the same age, the same size, and have the same fairly high jewel count. One has pressed in jewels and the other has screw down jewels. Both are in sad shape with a broken staff but complete. Both are the same price (cheap!). With the exception of the broken staff(s) the condition of the other jewels/pivots, mainspring, and gear train are unknown.

    Which to buy? And why?
     
  2. luvsthetick

    luvsthetick Registered User

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    I would buy both. You say cheap, so no drawback here. You need in hand exam to determine condition beyond balance staff (which is an easy fix).

    My .02.
     
    Keith R... likes this.
  3. Rob P.

    Rob P. Registered User

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    My purpose with the question is to get more knowledge about which watches are better built and have better "value" when repaired. Not from a "reselling" perspective, but from a knowledge and learning perspective.

    Anything can be repaired. That's not the question. The question is which is the better CHOICE to repair..

    Let's add a layer of complexity. Let's say one is a Lord or Lady Elgin and the other a PSB or AT&Co. Waltham. Same size, same jewel count, same winding/setting mechanisms, same running condition (busted flat in Baton Rouge), and same age. Both orphans with no case and neither are "special run" or "historical" in nature. Neither are particularly desirable to collectors as is.

    2 movements, both high grade for their era but otherwise equal in every way other than the jewel settings. One could assume the one with the screw down settings would be the selection to make. Why? Or why not?
     
  4. Chris Radek

    Chris Radek Registered User
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    If you're new to repairing, and the Waltham has a friction staff, prefer that one. You are much more likely to succeed at restaffing it without causing damage, assuming you get the right staff, which is trickier than it should be.
     
  5. GeneJockey

    GeneJockey Registered User
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    If you're trying to figure out which one's better build, wouldn't you need to buy both?
     
  6. Rob P.

    Rob P. Registered User

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    Not necessarily.

    Some watches aren't "RR grade" yet are more than capable of holding that standard when it comes to timekeeping. For instance, a 12 size BW Raymond isn't "accepted for RR service" yet it's a BW Raymond and still should hold to the same standard of fit and finish as well as timekeeping as a 16 or 18 size BW Raymond which is "accepted for RR service".

    So, given the same overall jewel count, age, size, etc, which is the "better" movement from the example I gave? And why?
     
  7. GeneJockey

    GeneJockey Registered User
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    I think you'll need to specify two actual movements to compare. Quality at both Elgin and Waltham varied over time and across their range of products. I've read that Waltham cut costs and quality after WWI, which lead to their earlier demise, for example.
     
  8. Rob P.

    Rob P. Registered User

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    I don't really want to be too specific about the 2 movements I'm looking at.

    Suffice it to say both are high grade, non "RR approved", orphans of the same size / configuration / and gilding. The only real question between them is whether screwed down chatons are indicative of higher finishing quality than rubbed in jewels. Unless something like a Lord or Lady Elgin is always made with a higher finish than something like a PSB or AT&Co.

    Either movement would work in my collection but I'm starting to move toward "nicer" watches with more interesting characteristics.
     

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