displaying pocket watches

Discussion in 'American Pocket Watches' started by CentreKeystone, Jan 16, 2019.

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  1. CentreKeystone

    CentreKeystone Registered User
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    Pocket watches are in some ways an unusual collectable. The case, face, and movement can be equally interesting. However, the case hides the movement and prevents display unless removed. Since pocket watches were originally sold without cases the movements are often very attractively decorated and the movements themselves can be fascinating. That raises the interesting question of exactly how should pocket watches be displayed. Is it ethical to remove the cases for display or transfer the movements to salesman cases?
     
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  2. Dave Coatsworth

    Dave Coatsworth Senior Administrator
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    I have done that with a couple of watches where I wanted to display the movement. I just tag the original case so I know what movement it belongs to. I also make a note in my 'inventory'.
     
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  3. luvsthetick

    luvsthetick Registered User

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    I like displaying movements for guests to enjoy. I always have some nice looking movements on display. Here are some examples.

    While I do have some glass back (salesman's) cases, I prefer using two crystal movement holders. They fit well in a display stand like a watch case.

    DSC_0001a.jpg DSC_0002a.jpg

    My favorite are the holders that were made by Waltham because of the presence of a stem. Both types I show here were made in different sizes.

    DSC_0001.JPG

    Like Dave I label each empty case as to movement removed.
     
  4. Bill Manders

    Bill Manders Registered User

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    I have found with some of my watches, instead of putting them in salesmen cases just reverse the front bezel with the rear bezel, works well in open face watches.
    Bill
     
  5. Rick Hufnagel

    Rick Hufnagel Just Rick!
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    I've noticed you can do that with allot of cases, switch the front and back, but some are different sized threads.

    Those large Philadelphia nickel cases work great for a display case. They're generally heavier and better quality than the snap together ones. They're inexpensive. Plus I feel like it's easy enough to find some trashed ones for donor bezels.
    I did this with a watch for a display, just to show what the movements look like. Then they go back into their rightful cases. This one just stays like this though as a carry watch.

    IMG_20181106_145113079.jpg
     
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  6. Keith R...

    Keith R... Registered User
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    I'm like Rick, call me old fashioned. I do carry them, but wind it once in the morning with
    a key.

    I do this for old Howard series III key wind movements and house them in antique Dueber
    Hampden salesman display hinged glass backs I purchased long ago (4).

    Howard key winds are impossible to case, so if you like the movements, it's a way to carry
    them and display them.

    Keith R...

    103_6267 (800x600).jpg 103_6273 (800x600).jpg
     
  7. Ethan Lipsig

    Ethan Lipsig Registered User
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    Although my home is very secure and never been burgled, I feel compelled to keep my collection in the Citibank vault. I "display" my watches in my copiously illustrated catalog, including as many photos as I like. I've sometimes daydreamed about how I would display my collection in a museum setting, e.g.,
    1. Grouping: I would likely display watches by maker, rather than chronologically or by movement type, but I might deviate in a few cases, e.g., displaying purse watches as a group or displaying obsolete mechanisms (e.g., virgule or Pouzait) as a group. Within a group, e.g., Illinois watches, I would probably display the watches by grade, and within a grade, chronologically.
    2. Mounting: I likely would hang the watches from their bows (except for a few uncased movements, all my watches are cased), on long enough hooks so that the back of the watch could be seen in a mirror behind the watch.
    3. Face displayed: I would display the dial, leaving hunters open so that their dials can been seen.
    4. Movement: I would display a movement photo beside each watch.
    5. Text: I would display a descriptive label beside each watch.
    But this is only a daydream.
     
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  8. PatH

    PatH Registered User
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    I like your display dream, Ethan. Your grouping methodology is especially interesting as it allows comparison and the ability to follow the development. I've often wondered about displaying watches hanging in front of a mirror to be able to see the movement, but have always come to the conclusion that it would be too distracting. Your solution sounds better. Alternatively, it would be wonderful to have them in cases similar to the ones at the NAWCC Museum where some of the watches are hanging in displays that are glass on the front and back. I would probably want to include more space between them to allow a nice description, especially for those with an unusual history or feature. Aesthetics are nice, but education trumps aesthetics for me.
     
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  9. Ethan Lipsig

    Ethan Lipsig Registered User
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    I don't think I have ever seen a truly effective way of displaying pocket watches. It's been years since I visited the NAWCC museum. I don't remember how watches were displayed there. I was in the British Museum a few months ago. Its watch display was quite nice -- it has wonderful watches to display -- but my daydream display would show more aspects of each item. A few months before that visit, I saw the watch display at the Ashmolean. It too has some wonderful pieces, but they were shown very ineefectively. there were no labels and just one view of each item, e.g., the closed front of a hunter case. The Sir David Saloman's collection in Jerusalem was effectively displayed, but again with less than all aspects visible. The Patek Philippe museum in Geneva is gorgeous and its collection is incredible, but there is little interpretive information.
     
  10. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    This discussion really points up the challenge of displaying watches. We want to see the whole package as it appeared to the user, but we also want to see the movements. I like Ethan's plan, particularly with a large movement photo and text to tell us what we are seeing and what is significant about it. When I visited our museum I found the watch display disappointing in this regard.
     
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  11. Tom McIntyre

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    The Time Museum in Rockford had the two sided glass display cases with watches hanging and that seems to be the most popular design with the NAWCC and ACWM both having similar displays.

    The problem with such displays is that there is little room for interpretation and only those with very good eyesight can see much detail.

    That concern has been the impetus behind my work on the new AWCo.org site that gives stories and multiple views of the artifacts and then arranges the artifacts in multiple collections to develop a story around each of those concepts. I recently decided to add an attribute index to the material so that the items can be grouped by the popular characteristics that collectors like to use for identification.

    When items are displayed in a museum as I hope these will be, I think there needs to be provision for displaying the contents of the collection database on local screens and on smart phones that viewers will undoubtedly be carrying while viewing the exhibit. Some museums are now using iPads or similar devices that can be checked out to give the context of the exhibits on display with background images, etc.

    here are screenshots of the site in development on my laptop.
    upload_2019-1-18_14-11-7.png upload_2019-1-18_14-13-23.png upload_2019-1-18_14-16-6.png

    Here are views of the site as it is displayed on my iPhone 6S with 3 portrait views and a landscape view of the enlarged lightbox view of an image.
    53AD2363-06D1-4B9C-B7E5-B666D76D842D.png 3F58D86F-1396-4A5C-9F8C-7F8A009E8CB3.png 78C28301-BC60-417A-912C-3EDD14A96CD7.png 127C9696-8F80-49A2-8676-BF6ED1B148CC.png
     
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  12. Ethan Lipsig

    Ethan Lipsig Registered User
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    Tom, your website has been the best resource I've ever found. When will its new features be fully functional?
     
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  13. Allan C. Purcell

    Allan C. Purcell Registered User
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    This is just an idea-I feel sure it could be done with the antique watches too. Allan


    upload_2019-1-18_21-28-28.png
     
  14. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    For me, there are two competing tasks. One is to finish the site design and try to make it as idiot proof as possible so it will work as a public site. The second is to finish photographing and cataloguing my collections. Both projects are impossibly ambitious for a person 82+ years old, but my health seems to be holding up, so I am hopeful they will get done.

    From a basic structure point of view there are a set of editors for collections, artifacts and assets (images of material).. The new feature that has not been implemented is the attribute view of the items as shown on the right hand side of the displays. That is still in the late concept phase with no real code behind it yet. I decided to do it when I noticed I was stretching the "collection" concept too far and the need to filter over multiple descriptors. i.e. gold Waltham ladies luxury for example.
     
  15. Fritz Katzenjammer

    Fritz Katzenjammer Yeah... that Fritz....
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    I tend to wear all of my watches, so removing them from their cases to put in display cases isn't in the cards. I have one or two in display cases but wearing such a beast makes me nervous... too much glass to bust.

    My wife, supporting my addiction in a crazed moment, set me up with a nice cherry case to display the pocket watches, its now full of almost exclusively railway watches I can spend quite bit of time just standing admiring the silly things.

    hanging it next to a big honking ex-CNR station clock doesn't slow the day dreaming! Dad spent 41 years with the CN starting out on steam engines, so there's no shortage of railway stuff floating around.

    P1010820.JPG P1010520.JPG P1030095.JPG P1030096.JPG
     
  16. Keith R...

    Keith R... Registered User
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    Now I like the "Fritz" presentation.

    Believe it or not, I live near a fault line. Once in a blue Moon we get an earth quake on the Richter
    scale of about 6.5. Back in 2002 we had a quake in KY that registered 6.2. At the time, I was the
    site manager for constructing and commissioning the Marshall County Gas turbine plant when it
    struck, (Western border meets Missouri). Needless to say, we had a 24 hour shut down to check
    for broken gas mains and piping. Brian Kruze, who's a member here, was our Director.

    I would be to fearful here with 20 or so watches hanging on the wall. But where there's no quake
    concerns, I'd score Fritz's 100!! My Dad and Grand Dads worked for the railroads.

    Here's what I do to allow them to present flat. All of mine have hinged glass tops. Like Fritz, I plan
    on doing the next one in Cherry wood.

    Keith R...

    100_1903 (800x600).jpg
     
  17. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    My father ran a mom/pop hardware store from the 1950’s into the 1980’s. When he no longer carried one particular brand of scissors he let me have the wood and glass display case. I covered the back with black velvet and put in 35 cup hooks on which to hang my watches.
    Wiss_2.jpg

    I kept the case on top of a low bookshelf until February 9, 1971 when, in the early hours of the morning, my room started shaking. >*< EARTHQUAKE >*< I jumped out of bed and put the display case on the floor, then asked myself what the heck I was doing worrying about my watches and found a safe place to ride out the shaking. Ever since then I have not shown my better watches in an open display case; they are in the bank, (and being 12-size they fit neatly in rows of empty dental floss boxes).

    My movement collection is more available at home - individual plastic boxes or factory shipping containers kept in flat wooden drawers and cigar boxes. Being without cases I figure they would be less interesting to a common burglar.
    movements_1.jpg 12s_movements2.jpg
     
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