Grade 850 Illinois question.......

Harold Visser

Registered User
Aug 24, 2000
Gilbert Arizona
Yesterday I had the opportunity to save an Illinois from the scrap gold dealer. Not being very knowledgeable on 12sz Illinois watches, I thought I’d just take a quick look at the “book” to get an rough idea on it’s value, but there is no Grade 850 listed, The Ehrhardt/Meggers book does not show a Grade 850 either. The watch has a gold train, steel escape wheel, double roller and marked 19 jewels, but neither the pallet pivots or the escape wheel pivots have cap jewels, so it appears to be a 17j watch to me. Can any of the resident Illinois experts shed some light on the Grade 850 for me? Does Illinois have hidden jeweled barrels maybe to get the count to 19? Is this an unusual grade?
Thanks, Harold


Fred Hansen

Registered User
NAWCC Member
Aug 18, 2002
Glad to hear of the save! Too many nice gold watches are ending up scrapped these days and its always nice to hear of ones saved from this ruin.

I believe the "No. 850" marking of your watch should be considered along the lines of a private-label marking, and this would not be considered the grade of the watch.

The serial number of your watch shows it to be a grade 406 from about 1920, and apart from the damaskeen and "No. 850" marking it looks pretty typical to what would be expected of a 19 jewel grade 406. Looking at this Illinois grade as a whole, the 12 size gr. 406 was made with a wide range of custom or private-label markings and damaskeen patterns.

But back to the marking of your watch ... the "No. 850" marking falls into a fairly large class of watches that Illinois made over a long period with different "No." markings that were apparently unrelated to the grade of the watch. The earliest of these in my notes is a "No. 5" marked movement from about 1879, the latest in my notes is a "No. 900" marked movement from about 1922.

Here are the various "No." marked Illinois movements I've seen in 16 and 18 size and some info on the approximate date ranges I've seen them in ...

No. 5 (18 size, 1879)

No. 80, Cincinnati (18 size, 1879)

Our No. 1 (16 size, 1894)

No. 777 (16 size, 1896-1905)

No. 666 (18 size, 1897)

No. 523 (16 size, 1897)

No. 333 (16 size, 1897)

No. 555 (16 size, 1897-1899)

No. 444 (18 size, 1899-1905)

No. 989 Special (16 size, 1908)

No. 850 (16 size, 1915)

No. 900 (16 size, 1915-1922)

No. 805 (16 size, 1916-1921)

No. 500 (16 size, 1918)

I haven't recorded notes for the 12 sizes "No." marked watches I've seen, but I do remember having seen both the "No. 805" and the "No. 850" in 12 size versions that were similar in quality and timeframe to their 16 size counterparts with the same marking.

An interesting thing about these "No." marked Illinois watches I've seen is that they are all made from middle to upper-middle quality grades, with none being at the lowest end quality wise but also none toward the upper end of Illinois quality level for their time.

I don't think any of these "No." markings are too common, and I believe some may be pretty scarce, but from what I've seen I think that overall collector awareness (and interest) is relatively modest for these watches as a class.

I do not know the significance of the "No." markings or who they were made for. Apparently this was a successful theme for somebody though as evidenced by the 40+ year span of this type of marking on Illinois movements.

For a little more reading on some of these "No." marked movements here is another past thread ...;fid=3;gtid=55904

Hopefully this info has helped somewhat, and I think your watch fits nicely into the later end products of this category of "No." marked Illinois movements. And congrats again on the find and save from the melting pot.


p.s. Your watch actually is listed in the Meggers/Ehrhardt Illinois book, see page 249 which is in the private-label section of the book.


Jim Carroll

Registered User
NAWCC Member
Aug 27, 2002
Inverclyde Scotland
Hi Harold,
I have recorded another grade 406. Ser No. 3919745, with 850 on the movement; although the pattern is the same as yours the position of the No. 850 differs, the number is under the crown wheel next to the case screw.
Also I have recorded a grade 404. Ser. No. 3141105, with No.805 on a wavy lined movement; the position of the No.805 is where the adjustments are on your 406.


Jerry Treiman

Registered User
NAWCC Member
Aug 25, 2000
Los Angeles, CA
Hi Harold - as to the jeweling, take a closer look. I think there is a cap jewel on the escape wheel pivots.
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