Having a vintage watch engraved

Discussion in 'American Pocket Watches' started by musicguy, Nov 28, 2018.

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  1. musicguy

    musicguy Moderator
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    Having a vintage watch engraved, has anyone else here
    had it done? If so post some photos.

    I've contemplated a long time having one of my daily carry
    watches engraved with my Wife and Son's names. I know there
    are purists that might think this is not a good idea(sorry). I will
    never sell this watch and there were over 185,000 of them made.
    The case is 14k gold filled but a lot of brass is showing through
    the thin gold layer. It will be a lot more worn down by the time I finish wearing
    this Elgin 478.

    I will post some photos when it's finished.

    Before engraving
    D060F1C4-75AE-4F56-BDCA-58DF24175CD6.jpeg


    Rob
     
  2. Jim Haney

    Jim Haney Registered User
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    Rob,
    It is your watch & case so do whatever you wish. You won't sell it but 50 years from now someone will.

    To me,that case is a candidate for scrapping because it's finish is gone, but to answer your question, I would not have a modern engraving done on an antique watch, however, in your example it wouldn't make any difference because it has lost it's value because of the wear.

    When I see a watch on eBay with a modern date engraved on it I just pass it by.
     
  3. musicguy

    musicguy Moderator
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    #3 musicguy, Nov 28, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2018
    I am not putting a date on it, and I will never know what will happen
    with my watches after I pass away(they all might be scrapped one day) that is out of my control.
    My son's love pocket watches so there is a high chance that this watch
    will last in the family at least one more generation. I'm not
    fooling myself of what will happen to my watches, or tying to fool
    future people of when this watch was engraved.

    My mother has a 0s watch that was engraved in
    1901 with her grandmothers initials and date
    1942 with her mothers initials and date
    1950 with her initials and date

    Rob
     
  4. Firegriff

    Firegriff Registered User
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    I've been thinking of having my uncles railroad retirement pocket watch engraved with his name and work info.
     
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  5. rolandantrobus

    rolandantrobus Registered User

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    Rob,
    A good idea if that's what you want but I wouldn't have it done in a modern font or style, but that's just me, its your watch you can do as you will. For me I think the difficulty may be in finding someone who can engrave it in at least the style of when the watch was made.
     
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  6. Rick Hufnagel

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    I can't say I would never do it... But not a fan. As far as your mother's watch, that's just awesome. I would certainly continue that.

    Personally I don't carry.one watch around long enough to engrave it, and I'm not engraving a whole bunch of watches.

    If something has an engraving already it doesn't bother me . I feel it adds to the history, and I also like it because people pass on them and I can snag them for a better price. I do agree however, that modern engravings on antique cases definitely turn me off.
     
  7. musicguy

    musicguy Moderator
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    rolandantrobus
    I agree, my goal is not to have a modern looking engraving but a vintage style
    but that is more for my own personal preference.

    Also(this is an afterthought)……... if I put my wife's first name and both my sons first names
    on the back there are now three people who might want to keep the watch.
    That increases it's chances of staying in the family;).

    Rob
     
  8. DeweyC

    DeweyC Registered User
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    Rob,

    You are not trying to make a fake and it is yours. I presume you ask so others could offer thoughts you may not have considered.

    For family artifacts, it would certainly be a permanent record kept with the watch of who used the watch and why. Plus it might help keep it in the family. (just saw we crossed on the internet)

    I presume you will send it to Fassler so it can be done well?
     
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  9. musicguy

    musicguy Moderator
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    Rich,
    I have quite a few watches and I would not engrave 99.9999 of them. This particular
    watch is my daily carry watch and is worn down to the point people might pass it
    by if I sold it today, and I don't really care if anyone in the future would purchase it.
    But, I bet someone still will because it's a B W Raymond RR grade
    watch, and I'm sure they will enjoy it as much as I do. By that time the engraving
    will be as worn down as the rest of the case.

    Rob
     
  10. Ethan Lipsig

    Ethan Lipsig Registered User
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    #10 Ethan Lipsig, Nov 28, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2018
    There have been nearly endless debates about whether engraved watches are less desirable to collectors than the same watch would be if it hadn't been engraved. I am firmly in the camp of those who are completely comfortable with engraving, provided that was artfully done. Fortunately, that was the case as to most antique watches that I would collect. Although I am sure engravers are around who are as good as those long-gone engravers, most of the recent engraving I have seen is relatively crude. I can't abide crude engraving.

    Here is an example of engraving that I think adds value (on a circa 1864 18k Charles Frodsham OF WI)

    IMG_1062_edited.JPG IMG_1064_edited.JPG IMG_1065_edited.JPG

    Here is an artistic example from the 1920s (on a 14k Elgin C.H. Hulburd)

    IMG_5304_edited.JPG

    As with the first watch shown above, engravings sometimes provide meaningful history. That's the case with the 18k George Welsh PL V&C shown below, which was the Welshs' own watch.

    IMG_3549.JPG IMG_3554.JPG

    However, as I said at the outset of this message, the art of engraving seems in serious decline. I wince every time I see the engraving shown below (on a C.H. Meylan in an enameled Cress Arrow platinum case) even though it isn't as crude as many modern engravings I've seen.

    IMG_7572_edited.JPG

    So, MusicGuy, have your watch engraved, but have it done beautifully.

    DSC02846.JPG
     
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  11. musicguy

    musicguy Moderator
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    Not really;), I do care what others think but I had already made my decision.
    I posted because I was curious if anyone else was as crazy as me
    and engraved a vintage watch.

    I am very happy with my decision and will be even happier when I show my wife and Son's. As well
    as when I pull it out of my pocket everyday(multiple times a day) and see their names.
    That's why I'm doing it.

    Rob
     
  12. Rick Hufnagel

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    Looks like someone went to that store in the mall for Mike's watch engraving!

    I've been getting each kid, niece and nephew..... Slowly.... A nice watch for them to have when they get older, and I have toyed with the idea of having them engraved.
     
  13. GeneJockey

    GeneJockey Registered User
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    A well done, but anachronistic engraving would bother me a lot less than a crude, modern attempt to obliterate an old engraving. I have a Lord Elgin 10 pocket watch that was given as a service award to some employee of Continental Can, back in the late 1950s. A previous owner had tried to grind off the engraving on the back of the gold filled case, incompletely removing the engraving, but wearing through the gold right down to the brass in a small area in the center of the back. I still bought it because it was one of the 543s that was built AFTER Elgin stopped applying serial numbers in 1955.
     
  14. LloydB

    LloydB Registered User

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    One of my more recent purchases was a small
    SW Omega, 1897... not at all my focus, not of
    any likely collector interest.

    It's running nicely, in a plain-ish gunmetal case,
    with hairlines, and a chipped dial. On the back,
    is engraved: "From Willy", and a DOB and death.
    Also there, are several lines of a then-popular
    English Christian hymn, asserting: 'one day we'll
    be in a happier condition'.

    Reading (not all that much) between the lines,
    it most likely memorializes someone lost in the
    Boer War. Yes, this one 'got' me... purchased
    to preserve the rather plain engraving.
     
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  15. Tom McIntyre

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    #15 Tom McIntyre, Nov 28, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2018
    I thought I had posted something here about the "generations of Lawyers” watch. It is a nice gold KW16 Appleton Tracy that was presented to its orignal owner on his 21st birthday, September 29th 1863 and the the following recipients of the same name (except for one) for a total of 5 generations. The third generation in 1919 was Herbert Ansty Lawyer but the other 4 were all Henry Nathan Lawyer. The engravings are dated 1863, 1889, 1919, 1938 and 1969. All with the possible exception of the Herbert Ansty Lawyer were on the 21st birthday so it is easy to track the "length" of the generation. It is also interesting that Henry Nathan Lawyer III was 2 years old when his father was given the watch. We do not know how old his father was but his grandfather was 51 when III's father got the watch and 70 when he got it, if still alive.
    143C5A2A-A283-46E0-AA3D-1985F097F6CE.jpeg CA3A17DE-8346-4522-8283-63248982FC8B.jpeg B23C4AC1-8EF2-4F97-AD08-A0861BDE491A.jpeg 055BC880-F5E4-4CBE-A8ED-3EA6C7D6A6F0.jpeg 54D0D877-BDB6-4D82-8541-17120F3EDAB3.jpeg BE1F6FE5-CE4B-4354-A3A1-672D73041294.jpeg 13239693-6C51-4AAD-8EAA-442B0737E988.jpeg
     
  16. Lee Passarella

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    #16 Lee Passarella, Nov 28, 2018
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 28, 2018
    I agree with everything you say here, Ethan. For me, engraving enhances the value since it adds historical, and human, context to the watches I acquire.
     
  17. Kevin Neathery

    Kevin Neathery Registered User
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    Engravings help for those interested in history or if it is a family piece. A military piece with a name rank and serial helps in my opinion. Adds that human context as was said. The watch is yours and there are those such as family and friends that it would have meaning to. Would I take a mint condition watch in the box and engrave it....no. I would almost consider it a disgrace.

    So what is the difference in swapping a case from original to non original and engraving the original? Both take away the originality. If it was a nice original case and I had the need to engrave it.....I would find a different case and have it engraved. Better yet....just find a case back and have it engraved and swap it. Hang on to the original and have the best of both worlds.
     
  18. Jerry Treiman

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    I offer an alternative, non-destructive approach. Inscribe (print) your modern presentation on a circular watch paper that can be inserted in the back of the case. This would work very well for a hinged back case or hunting case, but maybe not as satisfactorily for a screw back or swing-ring case.
     
  19. musicguy

    musicguy Moderator
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    Enlarge the photo below and look at the condition of this case. I am
    not going to stop carrying this watch everyday(it's part of my enjoyment of collecting watches).
    I picked this beat up cased watch with not too beautiful looking movement
    just because I wanted to use it as a daily carry watch and not worry about it.
    Just wearing it is more destructive to this case than putting my kids name on the back.
    It probably won't have any gold on it in two or three years from now.
    This is not a rare or unusual case, and the front bezel(the metal not the glass) has a
    small crack(or separation due to wear).

    It's something I want to do, I regret bringing up this idea here.


    d060f1c4-75ae-4f56-bdca-58df24175cd6-jpeg.jpg
     
  20. Jim Haney

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    Rob, as most of us have stated, it's your watch do what you want to.

    I think Jerry was talking about a nice or new condition case, ,which your is not :p;)
     
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  21. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    Definitely! I was offering a suggestion for other circumstances. I have no problem with what you (Rob) are doing with your case and think it is a lovely sentiment.
     
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  22. musicguy

    musicguy Moderator
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    Hey Jerry,
    I know you know that I'm not frustrated with you in any way. I hope
    I didn't come across too strong. :mallet:

    Rob
     
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  23. GeneJockey

    GeneJockey Registered User
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    Hey, it's not like it's a platinum-cased Hulburd, being engraved with the name of a girl you'll break up with in a couple weeks! ;)
     
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  24. Ethan Lipsig

    Ethan Lipsig Registered User
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    It's always safer to use your own monogram. The owners of these platinum Hulburds took that route to avoid the issue GeneJockey raised. (If any of you have a correct or better crown for the first Hulburd, let me know.)

    DSC00256.JPG IMG_4778.JPG
     
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  25. musicguy

    musicguy Moderator
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  26. Tref

    Tref Registered User
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    I've seen some watches whose engraving made the watch look especially nice, especially those done so as a presentation timepiece. In this case, as others have said, your watch your choice. And it matters not, with this particular case because you're not changing something of "important" historical value.

    But if I may go a bit off topic, I've always wondered how engraving which goes well below the surface and the gold filling there can be done and still look as if it was engraved before the filling was applied.
     
  27. musicguy

    musicguy Moderator
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    grade 86 1.jpg

    Rob
     
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