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Hot Rod Pocket Watch

Bruce W Sims

Registered User
Jul 13, 2014
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Hi, Folks:

Strictly speaking this is not a repair question as such. Duffers like me, however still remember a time when cars had points and plugs, jen-u-whine carburators and manual shifters that rose high between the seats. We also knew that particular location---an asphalt strip of road -- where guys could go up against the products of their respective garages.

Moving across decades and fields of interests I was wondering how this approach plays in the field of watch making. Have any of the folks here taken an old William Ellergy and tinkered with it just to see what can be made of the general architecture? Adding jewels, changing springs and maybe taking a stab at treating the plates with eye candy was what I had in mind. Anyone interested in sort of thing?

Best Wishes,

Bruce
 

Kevin W.

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Apr 11, 2002
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I for one am for preservation of time pieces, which i hope is the goal for most here.
 

darrahg

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Dec 22, 2006
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Nope! Restoration and preservation is my main goal. However, I did purchase a necklace for my wife in which an artist encased a small (8 size) movement along with additional gears in resin. I only purchased it after I had convinced myself that it was basically a parts movement and would have never made it as a decent complete watch. I still feel guilty about purchasing it even though it has been commented about its great appeal from others.
 

Jerry Treiman

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Aug 25, 2000
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Have any of the folks here taken an old William Ellergy and tinkered with it just to see what can be made of the general architecture? Adding jewels, changing springs and maybe taking a stab at treating the plates with eye candy was what I had in mind.
As others have stated, most of us are concerned with preservation of these legacy timepieces as they were in the day. However, even when these were new there were many instances of factory employees taking a movement or parts off the production line and putting together their own "hot rod". Search this forum for "employee specials" and see what comes up. I believe some modern watch assemblers have also taken orphaned movements and dolled them up for wrist watch application - - a more controversial practice. I have also seen this done as some watchmaking school projects.
Here is one of mine - a 23-jewel Waltham movement made up after hours at the factory from parts of a 7-jewel watch and a few others.
99bridge.jpg

Here is an Illinois movement that was probably upgraded by an employee from 7 jewels to 16 jewels.
930215m.jpg

When the modifications are historic or from the watch factory era they are accepted a little more easily that modifications made in modern times. Perhaps the difference is that back then they were still making these marvelous machines whereas today they are no more replacements. Once gone/modified they are lost.
 

Al J

Registered User
Jul 21, 2009
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I personally see no issue modifying your own property. I certainly wouldn't do it to something rare, but let's face it, most of the pocket watch movements out there aren't particularly rare or all that valuable. There are loads of orphaned movements out there that have had their cases scrapped for gold, and will never see the light of day, so taking one of those and doing something to make it useful again is fine by me. In fact in the past I did this with a number of Hamilton 10 size pocket watch movements that had no cases and were being sold on eBay, which I made into wrist watches. Giving them a new life wasn't in any way problematic in my view.

For actually modifying watch movements, there are a number of companies over the years that have taken vintage movements and modified them, making improvements in both performance and finishing. One of my personal favourites is the Observatoire model made by Kari Voutilainen, which is based on a vintage Peseux 260:


KVO1.jpg


KVO2.jpg

This watch was awarded the Grand Prix d'Horologerie de Genève in 2007.

For a more modest example, there's a company called Clinique Horlogere that is taking some older Omega 30T2 Chronometer movements, and updating them with different decoration, and will be releasing a series of these for sale in new cases with new dials - one example they have shown:

30T2 decorated.jpg

There's another version where all the bridges have been decorated with perlage.

This sort of thing might be taboo here on this forum, but in the industry it's not seen this way. Of course it can be done very poorly as well - if you are on eBay very much looking at watches you have likely seen some of the very poor pocket watch conversions that come from places like the Ukraine. I had the unfortunate experience of working on one of these, and it was a mess, so if anyone here is asked to work on one my advice is to give it a pass.

Personally though, if it's not something particularly rare, I have no issues with this sort of work.

Cheers, Al
 

Bruce W Sims

Registered User
Jul 13, 2014
66
16
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Thanks for the great responses! I am currently the proud owner of some 50 movements of different sources and heritage courtesy of EBay, so my evenings will be busy with cleaning and tinkering for the foreseeable future. That was also a great tip about doing a search for "employee specials". For myself the joy of watch ownership is in the doing and sometimes it seems like watch making can have unlimited challenges to master. Thanks again for the feedback.

Best Wishes,

Bruce
 

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