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Help Identifying a J. Conning pocket watch

tcwalker5

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Jun 21, 2021
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Hi, I have had a beautiful watch for many years that has been passed down through my family for many generations.

I am trying to learn more it, but unfortunately everyone on that side of the family is now deceased and I cannot get any more history from my family.

What I have is a pocket watch with the J. Conning Mobile marking. A number is stamped in the case 3032. I cannot find a way to open it up further to see the movement markings. My family is from Mobile Alabama, so it make sense that it would be from the silversmith James Conning.

I'd like to know what movement this might be, is the face something that J Conning did to a standard watch of the era or was this a regular production watch as it is. The marking on the back case is illegible to me. Could it be another marking for J Conning or something else?

I've attached pictures. I welcome any and all comments about this watch, history, or even how to see the movement. It still runs perfectly.

One thing that makes it even more special is that we have an original oil painting holding this exact watch which is probably around the time it was new.

tempImagewdlx68.png tempImageR3JLIv.png tempImageSAIdhv.png
 

Rick Hufnagel

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Welcome to the forum!

That's a beauty. In order for us to tell you what you have there, I'll try to walk you through opening the case to see the movement.

Take a look at this thread, and see if it helps. Please ask any questions you have!

Your case may not look exactly like one from that thread, but the idea is the same in opening them.

Have a good day!
 

gmorse

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Hi tcwalker5,
The marking on the back case is illegible to me. Could it be another marking for J Conning or something else?
If you mean the scroll on the outside of the case back, that probably contains the initials of an earlier owner, perhaps even your ancestor in the painting, but it's nothing to do with the makers of the movement or the case.

The marks on the inside of the case back are more interesting, and at first sight appear to be English hallmarks for the Chester assay office. However, although all these marks are rather rubbed, the mark on the right, which for Chester should be a shield with three wheat sheaves and a central sword, looks as though the sword is missing. This, together with the rather peculiar mark on the left which could be a leopard's head and was part of the Chester marks, was discontinued in 1839, makes me doubt that these are genuine English marks. Since this case has a winding crown and is what's known as 'stem-wind' it can't be as early as that.

It was fairly common for watch movements to be imported into the US without cases from the UK and other countries, for the purpose of reducing customs duties, and for cases to be made locally. These cases are usually of good quality, but occasionally the makers felt it was necessary to add what look like English hallmarks to enhance their appearance. Since many genuine cases produced in the Liverpool area were hallmarked in the Chester assay office, the Chester mark is one of the commonest marks to be copied in this way.

As Rick has said, we shall be able to give you more information if you can show the movement inside the case. Do you have a date for your painting?

Regards,

Graham
 

musicguy

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I would also like to add my welcome to the NAWCC Forum

My guess is that it's going to end up being a Swiss watch.

One thing that makes it even more special is that we have an original oil painting holding this exact watch which is probably around the time it was new.
I'd love to see this.






Rob
 
Last edited:

musicguy

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That is a very nice looking 19j waltham riverside!


Rob
 

topspin

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Yes, very nice it is too. Not rare by any means, but an excellent start to a collection.
The dial is quite unusual though. I'm sure it tells an interesting story.

 

Jerry Treiman

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That is a lovely watch with a rather special case and dial, intended to mimic the English styles. The Riverside movement is one of Waltham's better models (ca.1901) and one of which they were quite proud. Relevant to some jeweling discussions elsewhere on this board, your watch has the two extra jewels (beyond the typical 17) as cap jewels on the escape wheel. Within a few years they used a jeweled main wheel instead.
 
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Kent

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Hi tcwalker5:

Please add my welcome to those of the others.

To add to the good information posted by them:

Please excuse me if I repeat some of what you already know, or has been posted by others; it's easier for me this way. Checking the references listed in the Waltham Watches Encyclopedia article (and looking at your pictures to be confirmed upon seeing your pictures), Waltham movement serial number 10514811 can be seen to be
a 12-size,
model 1894,
Riverside grade,
Adjusted to Temperature and three Positions,
pendant-set,
open-face movement,
having 19 jewels,
and a Starwheel Patent Regulator.
The movement is fitted with a metal, Roman dial
It was built in about 1901, give or take a year or so. This was a popular movement of which just over 48,000 of this variation were made from about 1897 to 1902.

You can see a catalog description of the Riverside grade, along with a picture (whose large and small winding wheels are in the reverse position because a hunnting movement is shown) and where it fits in Waltham's line of 12-size movements, on page 77 of the Otto Young & Co. 1903 OY Co. Jewelry Catalog (below)

Unless you know that it has been properly cleaned and oiled within the last few years, you should have the watch serviced before running it very much. It may be helpful for you to read the Encyclopedia article on Watch Service and its related links, especially the one to the message board thread on the subject. The Encyclopedia article on Choosing a Pocket Watch Repair Person may be useful as well.

Having gathered and printed out information about a family watch, it is a wise idea to write out as much as you know about the family member to whom the watch originally belonged - or as far back as you can go, including (and clearly identifying) what you can guess. Then, add the names and relationships of the family members who passed it down to the current holder. Make up a booklet with this and all of the watch information and try to keep it with the watch. You might even include a CD or, better yet, a USB thumb drive with copies of the pictures or information, in addition to the printouts. Even though they may not be readable 100 years from now, some more recent descendent may transfer the files to the then current format and media. This way, the watch has real family heritage instead of it just being an old family watch, the identity and relationship of the original owner having been lost in the distant past.

Unfortunately, many of the links in our Encyclopedia articles were disrupted when we changed to the current version of our Message Board and its been a long process getting them all reinstated. So, if you come across a broken link and want to see what it led to, just let us know and we'll try and post it.

Please feel free to ask about anything that isn't clear to you.

Good luck,

1903_OY_Co_Catalog_Pg_77_Waltham_16S_&_12S.jpg
 

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