Illinois Illini grade 538, 13S

Discussion in 'American Pocket Watches' started by mdloggins, Jan 21, 2015.

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  1. mdloggins

    mdloggins Registered User

    May 16, 2005
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    Found this nice Illinois Illini on ebay recently and just got it back from my watchmaker. This is a fairly normal configuration of an increasingly hard to find watch with its original 14k gold case and dial. It is truly unfortunate that so many gold cases have been scrapped especially where the case is pretty much limited to specific grade of watch. Recently, most all of the 438 or 439 movements I've seen are without cases and won't ever find a case to call home. All were originally in 14 or 18k gold cases which were made specifically for grade 438 Illini or grade 439 Illini Extra movements.

    Illinois, 13S, Illini grade 538, 21 jewel, 14k green gold caseDSCF0878.jpg Illinois, 13S, Illini grade 538, 21 jewel, 14k green gold caseDSCF0881.jpg Illinois, 13S, Illini grade 538, 21 jewel, 14k green gold caseDSCF0882.jpg Illinois, 13S, Illini grade 538, 21 jewel, 14k green gold cseDSCF0884.jpg Illinois, 13S, Illini grade 538, 21 jewels, 14k green gold caseDSCF0883.jpg
     
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  2. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    Aug 25, 2000
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    Nice watch, Mike. I like this earlier case style. If one is collecting the Illini variants this is an important one. I keep a log of most Illini that I see on the market (complete or orphaned), and it has gotten to the point that I am now seeing movements that I originally logged in nice cases. A very clean one just sold recently that I am afraid sold cheap enough that it will get melted.
     
  3. mdloggins

    mdloggins Registered User

    May 16, 2005
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    Thanks Jerry. It is really discouraging to see orphaned movements that are really important watches. These Illini movements with the DeLong 5 tooth click gets a collector access to one of the great watch designer/mechanic's of all time. Just about all watches with DeLong's other innovations are much, much more expensive to acquire. I was lucky and bought this for less than melt value of the gold. I can probably guess its fate if I hadn't won it.
     
  4. Paul Sullivan

    Paul Sullivan Registered User
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    Very nice watch!
     
  5. musicguy

    musicguy Moderator
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    Jan 12, 2017
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    How hard is it to find a case for a 538 Illini


    Rob
     
  6. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    Aug 24, 2000
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    You can take it from another 538 or 539. I do not think there are any other 13 size ultra thin models. I believe the 528 is a little different, but I have not measured them really carefully. This is a link to my Small Wonders collection that shows mine. AWCo Web
     
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  7. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    As Tom indicates, these were factory cased in a uniquely-sized solid gold case. I believe there may have been some aftermarket cases made to hold these at one time as I have seen a very few in gold-filled cases that seem to fit, but they are going to be hard to find. These movements are thinner than a 12x14 Howard and slightly smaller than a 14-size Colonial-A Waltham.

    The grade 528 is a little smaller -- the same size as the 3rd model XT or the Hamilton 400.
     
  8. pmwas

    pmwas Registered User

    Dec 12, 2010
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    Lovely watches, Illini... lovely :)
     

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