Hidden Key 18s Cases

Discussion in 'American Pocket Watches' started by Kevin Neathery, Jul 3, 2018.

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  1. Kevin Neathery

    Kevin Neathery Registered User
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    I have always thought the idea was interesting of the hidden key in the stem. Out of John's collection I manged to get 2 and I am looking for more just because I like them

    I got to thinking though....how common are they? Do they command a higher premium over a non hidden key case?

    I have my eye on a watch that has a hidden key but if I am chasing after a rather common thing thinking it is not just interesting but scarce....I want to make sure my thinking is correct and I am not paying higher for something that is not worth any more than a regular coin case.
     
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  2. Tim Fitzgerald

    Tim Fitzgerald Registered User
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    I have one and have often wondered the same thing. :)
     
  3. Keith R...

    Keith R... Registered User
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    There used to be a note in the price guides I think, about an adder for hidden key.

    Keith R...
     
  4. Kevin Neathery

    Kevin Neathery Registered User
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    My out of date guide is at home at the moment. I remember seeing that somewhere in the front section of the book. That said, the book and reality are not always the same thing.
     
  5. topspin

    topspin Registered User

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    It's worth whatever you're prepared to pay for it.
    If you like it, or find it interesting, then buy it.
     
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  6. Kevin Neathery

    Kevin Neathery Registered User
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    That is a dangerous thought there. :) It's worth is actually what the average is paid for it in a larger market. One person can spend $800 for a beat up 992 with the wrong dial and a cross threaded case and bad staff.....does not mean that the watch is worth $800 when put back out on the open market in the same condition. At that point the real market value comes into play when a wider buying group then values it mostly the same and pays accordingly.

    The issue is that when searching to try and see if the feature of the screw down key plays a role in price.....It is hard to tell because of the wide variety of movements that were used in them. Waltham, Elgin, Illinois, Rockford, Cornell.....So unless you can find the exact same model movement in the same condition in a non hidden key case of similar quality and condition you would have 1 to go by to start with.

    I was wondering if it is a general situation with collectors that if you find one with a hidden key that you are more likely willing to buy that over a similar one without. Then if you would pay a bit more because of it.

    Then it also comes to how often that kind of case is seen. It is like the screw down crown type cases. I like the one I have because it is an interesting feature. I don't see them often and when I do, they are usually not listed as such.
     
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  7. Greg Frauenhoff

    Greg Frauenhoff Registered User
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    KW cases with a hidden key are worth substantially more than ones without. How much of a difference depends on condition and the available buyers.
     
  8. John Pavlik

    John Pavlik Registered User
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    I agree with Greg... everyone that collects key winds should have one.... There are plenty around... If advertised as “Hidden Key” they will bring more money... the trick is to identify the case without the seller realizing it has that feature .... :) Easy to do if you study the cases and their unique features..
     
  9. darrahg

    darrahg Moderator
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    I never cared whether the 'key in case' concept was rare but did acquire one just because I found it a unique and super idea for storing keys.

    Waltham 18s mdl 1857 649612 key in case.jpg Waltham 18s mdl 1857 649612 key in case mvt 2 cpd.jpg Waltham 18s mdl 1857 649612 key in case case logo.jpg Waltham 18s mdl 1857 649612 key in case dial cpd.jpg
     
  10. Kevin Neathery

    Kevin Neathery Registered User
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    I like cases that have something odd. Hidden hinge, screw down crown hidden key, Antimagnetic shield etc....
     
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  11. ArcticCollector

    ArcticCollector Registered User

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    From a value perspective this is all subjective.

    A watch is worth what the buyer and seller agree on.

    That said, I like to think of the value as what I figure I could reasonably see actualized if I sold it in a month or twos time.

    Now, some watches will be more valuable to you in comparison to what you could see in a regular sale.

    I have a 23j Illinois Bunn Special with a rare case and dial. It appears to be all original and is worth quite a bit more than I paid for it. I don’t plan on selling it though, so really it has more value to me than the money it would generate.
     
  12. Brian C.

    Brian C. Registered User

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    I've seen many regular key wind cases in my time, but only a few key in case ones.
     
  13. Nick23

    Nick23 Registered User

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    This is the only one that I have.
    DSCF0142.JPG DSCF0143.JPG DSCF0148.JPG

    Nick DSCF0145.JPG
     
  14. MartyR

    MartyR Moderator
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    I thought you might be interested in this English watch by Barraud & Lunds which includes this "removable stem key", which is a J.A.Lund patent #914 of 29/3/1870. This watch dates to 1876, and is one of two B&L watches which I have with the feature.

    31 1 Barraud & Lunds.jpg 31 5 Barraud & Lunds.jpg 31 6 Barraud & Lunds.jpg

    I don't know if Lund licensed his (British) patent in America, or whether someone else patented a design there.
     
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  15. Mike M.

    Mike M. Registered User
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    Beautiful watch!
    I have at times wondered if the idea for stem wind watches didn't stem from the hidden key cases. Your watch seems to support this.
     
  16. Keith R...

    Keith R... Registered User
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    #16 Keith R..., Jul 9, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2018
    Mike, one of the American Watch companies that experimented early with stem wind
    watches was the the United States Watch Co. of Marion NJ. The concept for stem
    winding goes back quite a bit on the English side.

    Martin is showing you an English Barraud with a stem winding patent from about 1876.

    Credit for the first American stem winding watch goes to the US Watch Co. Marion NJ
    in 1867.

    The American watch companies entertained the need to go to stem wind watches and
    gave us transition models that provided key wind, stem wind and lever set watches
    at that time. Here is one of mine, Rockford sn# 66146 from about 1876.

    Keith R...

    103_7496 (800x600).jpg 103_7906 (800x600) (2).jpg 103_7922 (800x600).jpg
     
  17. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    Hidden keys may predate Lund's patent, but stem winding is much older and other forms of keyless work a bit older than that.

    It is generally described as a cheaper alternative to full stem winding. The "standard" form is the female key used in the Lund Brothers grade of watches.

    upload_2018-7-9_12-44-7.png

    here is another example in the higher grade that uses the male winding key.

    upload_2018-7-9_12-50-28.png
     
  18. rdixiemiller

    rdixiemiller Registered User
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    I had a thread on a couple I own here a while back. The BW Raymond was discovered to be a hidden key case about a month after I bought it. The empty case was not advertised as a hidden hey, but it looked like it to me.

    Hidden Key Cases
     
  19. Mike M.

    Mike M. Registered User
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    Thanks Keith and Tom,

    I've never owned a Marion watch, but I did purchase the book by William Muir & Bernard Kraus at a regional a few years back. I probably should have read it.:(

    I always just assumed (I know, I know) that stem winding evolved as an improvement over key winding. I think I'll head over to the European watch section to see what I can learn.
     
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  20. Keith R...

    Keith R... Registered User
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    #20 Keith R..., Jul 11, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
    Careful Mike, I wondered over to the European side and the next thing I know, I was hooked.
    Our American watches owe their development from our early American watch makers and English
    watch making in general. This is one of my latest restorations confirmed for the hallmarks 1832
    and a 17J conventional train. Many an old English patents can be googled.

    This one is Lewis Samuel 1832 and the other a US Watch Co. Marion NJ 15J about 1868.
    The Lewis in sterling case and 17 size, the USWCo coin case 18 size.

    Martin's hidden "Removable Stem Key" patent #914, dated 3/29/1870, just use Google. Our site Patents are not up and running yet.

    For Tom's patents, just follow his Lund presentations.

    Keith R...

    100_2407 (800x600).jpg jj519 (800x600).jpg 103_6591 (800x600).jpg 103_7811 (800x600).jpg
     
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  21. gmorse

    gmorse Registered User
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    Hi Keith,

    Thomas Prest, at one time John Roger Arnold's foreman watchmaker, had his name on a patent for keyless work in October 1820, (English patent number 4501). This was the first commercially viable keyless winding system.

    Regards,

    Graham
     
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  22. Bildeborg

    Bildeborg Registered User

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    Keith, your Lewis Samuel movement has to be the nicest decorated gilded movement I've ever seen.....truly beautiful!

    Regards,

    Jay.
     
  23. Keith R...

    Keith R... Registered User
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    #23 Keith R..., Jul 11, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
    Thanks Graham and all the English contributors. Mike M, as Graham demonstrates,
    keyless winding could have been a reality as far back as 1820.

    I have found my place in English watches with a target window for original watches and
    movements 1811 to 1825. I believe this time frame produces Verges, Rack levers, Cylinders,
    Levers (both conventional and runners with reverse planted trains), Savage 2's, STR's). I
    encourage all American collectors to dabble in this explosive stage of pocket watch
    development, that lead to our early American watches, right up to that 24J Bunn Special.
    My verge from 1811 and it times within 1 minute per day.

    I do think Hidden keys and or stems, were an early means for watch owners to carry their
    watch of choice, without the need for a separate key or stem on hand to wind them.

    Thanks Jay, we were typing at the same time!

    Keith R...

    KVERGE (800x600).jpg
     
  24. Tom McIntyre

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    It is not a big deal, but "keyless" does not equate to stem wind. There were pump wind, chain wind cover wind and lever wind examples at least and likely a few more. There is also Jacot's key attachment that is sometimes seen where the key is recessed into the inner back cover and fixed to the winding arbor. All of these variations were called keyless.

    Prest was the first stem winding watch, but Phillipe was the first with winding and setting with Nicole & Capt very close behind in the 1840's if I recall correctly. Prest's patent still required a mechanism to set the hands although some of the early ones just used heavier hands which were moved directly by pushing on the minute hand. Those are confusing at first with no square arbor on the front or the back for setting.
     
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  25. Keith R...

    Keith R... Registered User
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    #25 Keith R..., Jul 11, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
    Thanks Tom and Graham. Graham was helping me understand the history involved
    with English patents, starting with post #20. I'll take all the help I can get as a student,
    team!

    Keith R...
     
  26. Greg Campbell

    Greg Campbell New Member

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    Here is a William H Bracy patented key that folds down and can stay with the watch or be removed. Only example I have seen.

    B296256F-8175-4DEE-870D-B3A3937A7A17.jpeg CA9BCDAC-B02B-402A-A18B-37BBF23B9D6F.jpeg
     
  27. MartyR

    MartyR Moderator
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    I've sen several English watches with this kind of device as an after-sale attachment. The following is a watch by James McCabe dated 1870, but I have no idea when the "key" was fitted.

    90440 5 James McCabe.jpg
     

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