Feelings on re casing or switching cases

Discussion in 'American Pocket Watches' started by musicguy, Mar 19, 2017.

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  1. musicguy

    musicguy Registered User
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    Jan 12, 2017
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    I had an obvious case(no pun intended :)) where I switched a case for my son.
    He bought an 1881 Elgin G M Wheeler that was not working, missing
    it's crystal and the minute hand), and was in a 1920's case. My friend fixed it,
    and I switched it into a 1890's case that had a broken 7j low quality movement(not rare)
    in it that was not worth fixing(for me). My son's $25.00 investment
    in his first watch is now a beautiful looking watch and case.

    That being said, I'm sure there are purists that don't ever want
    to switch cases ever. I would never even think of changing
    any of my factory cased watches, or any of my old cases without
    case screw marks.

    As someone with many PW's of all different grades.
    I sometimes want to switch a nice movement into one of my
    nicer cases(assuming both have case screw marks). How many
    people here do that?


    Rob
     
  2. SHBKF

    SHBKF Registered User

    Nov 11, 2016
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    I have switched a few when first buying pocket watches a bit over a year ago. But now I hesitate to do so & like to leave watches as found. I do have some obviously incorrectly cased watch movements that may migrate to an appropriate case as it becomes available to me. So far, I don't buy via the net so it limits my options a bit. I just enjoy the watches for what they are regardless. I admit that the period correct assemblies are most pleasing.
     
  3. darrahg

    darrahg Registered User
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    Dec 22, 2006
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    I try and purchase where switching is not necessary and have done it only on a rare occasion. Marrying a movement to a case could be justified these days as it will now make a watch whole again and save some very interesting movements from being parted out. The most irritating thing for me is extra case screw marks and I will avoid them unless it is a movement needed for study (research) and have no other option. I value watches with extra case screw marks less than if none were present. Finally, your watches are your own and you can do with them what you want. It seems as though you respect the old originals and that is good.
     
  4. Andy Dervan

    Andy Dervan Registered User
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    Oct 23, 2002
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    Hello,

    There have a number of threads discussing switching watch cases.

    Originally a customer came to jewel and he selected a movement and case and the jewel installed the movement in the case and made sure everything worked ok. That could have been easily welll over a hundred years. Cases can damaged over time might need to be replaced.

    The largest compliant is individuals who switch movements, dials, and cases to make a "more valuable pocket watch" and sell to unsuspecting individuals for profit.

    If you have a loose movement and dial and want to protect it by putting it an appropriate age case that is acceptable. There are so many loose movements as gold cases and now gold filled cases are being scrapped for the gold content - a real shame.

    Andy
     
  5. SHBKF

    SHBKF Registered User

    Nov 11, 2016
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    Had a stellar week this past week. Found a triple signed Burlington, a Hamilton 950B in a #11 case with a Canadian dial & an Elgin BW Raymond 455 in a Philadelphia Silverode case. All three will remain "as found" but the Elgin needs a glass crystal. The 950B was quite a stretch for me to acquire but it was impossible to pass up. Be awhile before the watch fund recovers.
    More than a year ago the first Burlington I found had a poor condition metal Illinois dial & a base metal case with a DC 3 on the back. I did get the dial changed to a Burlington Monty. Just love the case for what it is. What an interesting path I have been on with these fine old watches.
     
  6. Mindless

    Mindless Registered User
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    Mar 27, 2013
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    I will put a movement into a nicer/better case if needed or if I have a movement I like that I want to case. Which I do. Having said that, I won't switch a movement from it's case if it appears to be, or if I believe it's possible that it's original. If the original case is completely trashed or worn out and I want to carry the watch I might put it into a better case if available but I would keep the original with it. That's not something I've had to do and probably never will.

    Basically my opinion is if it's original, keep it that way if any way possible. But if I can put an orphan movement together with an appropriate case and have a working watch without taking away from either one I will.
     
  7. GeneJockey

    GeneJockey Registered User
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    Mar 2, 2012
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    Last year, I faced a tough choice. I had inherited my grandfather's 7j Reliance (Trenton) watch, in a coin silver hunter case, in which my grandfather had inscribed his name and address inside the caseback. The case is in beautiful shape, but the movement was shot. The center and 3rd bushing holes were not only ovalized, but the had previously been re-closed with a punch, then wore out AGAIN. The upper center wheel arbor was completely nailheaded. Should I keep the same movement, knowing that I could never wear and use it as a watch? Or replace the movement, to have a WORKING watch. I asked my siblings, and they all said, "Go for it!", so I found an identical movement in good shape, and swapped it in, retaining the dial and hands from the original movement. I also, of course, kept the old movement, but now I have my grandfather's watch in working shape, and I'm looking at the same dial and hands he did.

    That replacement movement came in its own coin silver hunter case, which was now empty. So I found a 17j Elgin movement to go in it. Now I have another working watch, not original, but age correct.

    One finds a lot of naked movements for sale, and a smaller but significant number of empty cases. I inherited an 18s silverode case in excellent shape, compete with crystal. Probably untouched for 100 years, based on the other watches that were with it. So I found a movement for it, a 15j Elgin OF movement from about 1911. Now it's one of my favorite carry watches.

    A while back, I bought an early (1872) Elgin keywind movement, an 11j WH Ferry, and shortly after a coin silver case for it. Now I have another watch, from two orphans.

    A few years ago, I acquired an Elgin 450, a 21j Lord Elgin movement, one of the Streamline series. Beautiful thing. It had come from the factory in a solid gold case, which no doubt got melted. I found another Streamline series watch, with a broken 17j 479, a very common movement. I swapped in the 450, and now I get to carry it.

    I'm not selling any of these, but if I ever did, I would make sure the buyer knew that these were not original.

    Because prior to 1920, most American watches were not cased by the factory, and because a century plus has passed, it's hard to know whether the case a movement comes in is original anyway. You can, of course, often tell whether the case held a different movement, because of the screw marks, but you don't know when that was done. Could have been last year, could have been a hundred years ago. Lacking the provenance of the whole watch, even if the screw marks match, the best you can say is that the watch MAY BE original, or the case may have held a similar movement. So, for these, personally, I go for age correct pairings.

    Mind you, if you find a late 1800s movement in a 1930s case, it might have been recased by the original owner when the old case wore out. It might be more original that way, than in an age correct case!
     
  8. topspin

    topspin Registered User

    Dec 14, 2014
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    Unless we're talking about some really rare and important piece - go ahead & switch whatever you want to. Build yourself something nice, that works.
    Also (again unless we're talking about something really special) don't be shy of making alterations to cases, if that's what it'll take for it to house the movement you want it to.
     
  9. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    Aug 25, 2000
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    A big problem with random switching and modification is that as a newbie (and even as an experienced collector) it can be difficult to know what is or isn't an important watch movement or case. I suggest switching or modification with great caution and nothing irreversible. When I was a young collector I made some switches that I still regret.
     
  10. SHBKF

    SHBKF Registered User

    Nov 11, 2016
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    Even as a new collector I can really relate to the above. Fortunately I still have all the watches I have purchased so far & have kept extensive records as to what has gone on with each watch. Well not quite completely correct. One inexpensive Elgin has been traded off for a fancier Elgin but I will likely go get it back shortly. I have switched several back to as found & have great hesitation to switch any more especially if they are at least period correct. I have added one dial to match a movement but it is still in a case that is at least fifteen years off.
     
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