Kind of odd Howard Model 1905 Series 2

Luca

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Jan 19, 2004
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Not sure what to make of this watch - not an expert on these. But it seems like it has elements of Series 2 but has some markings that seem inconsistent. Marked No. 9 and also Adjusted to 3 positions. This is in a 14k solid gold original case.
Comments?
Luca

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Kent

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Luca:

Nice watch!

Checking in E. Howard Watch Co. serial number 935355's near neighborhood (935001-936000) in Keystone-Howard 16-Size, 17-Jewel, 3/4-Plate Movement Examples comes up with a variety of not-so-commonly-marked movements.

What follows are my opinions, with precious little documentation to back them up. Nevertheless, I consider it to be an informed opinion, having spent decades trying to figure out just what was going on.

This seems to have been a time of transition at Howard. They seemed unsure whether or not the Series 2 was to be marketed as a railroad watch, a position in their line normally occupied by the Series 4..

Meanwhile, the railroads' time service rules were also in a time of transition. During the 1906-1908 era, pendant-setting watches and those that were only adjusted to three positions were beginning to be prohibited from entering service. Rules were starting to require that the watches be adjusted to five positions and be so stamped on the movement. The watch's standard grade name or number (as designated by the manufacturer) was starting to be required to be stamped on the movement.

These rules (and others) grew to be widespread over the next five or ten years. Simply put; at the beginning of the twentieth century (1900), pendant-set, hunting or open-face, private label watches having a Roman dial and 17 jewels and being adjusted to three positions (and meeting some other requirements) were allowed to enter railroad time service. By 1915, to get in on most railroads they had to be open-face, be stamped with a manufacturer's standard grade name or number and that it was adjusted to five positions, have a plain white (or, I guess, silver-finish) dial with black Arabic figures and each minute delineated (and meet some other requirements). I would have hated having to spend two weeks wages on a railroad watch during the period of change - even with the high probability (but not certainty) of it being grandfathered.

At Howard, the bridge model 17- and 21-jewel bridge movements were introduced around 1912 (thereabouts). It was only after that time that the Series numbers appeared on the bridge movements - the lowest serial numbered examples of the bridge model 17- and 21-jewel movements don't carry Series numbers.

Getting back to the 3/4-plate 16-size movements, I believe that the No. markings (such as the 'No. 9' on serial number 935355) were an early attempt to meet the requirement that Howard's standard grade name or number be stamped on the movement; but only when ordered. The No. markings seem to be both haphazard and slipshod. The 'No. 9' on serial number 935355 is not the only such marking that doesn't correlate with what the movement appears to be. All-in-all, there are way too few reported examples to make sense of what Howard did - if, indeed, there is sense to it.

I guess that the bottom line of all of this is that I don't really know why your very nice watch is marked 'No. 9' or even why its marked 'Adjusted - 3 Pos.'

By the way, is it lever or pendant set?
 
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Luca

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Jan 19, 2004
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Hi Kent,
Thanks for responding! I get what you are saying about the transitional period and Howard attempting to comply. I gather there are a number of watches with similar conflicted natures...
This one is pendant set.
Could be an interesting focus for a collector. These differently marked Howards.
 
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Kent

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I gather there are a number of watches with similar conflicted natures...
Yes; as I noted towards the end of my long winded post, "The 'No. 9' on serial number 935355 is not the only such marking that doesn't correlate with what the movement appears to be."

There are enough No,-marked movements floating around that, in general, I don't consider them to be uncommon; although a specific marking on a specific movement might be. There just don't seem to be enough to work out some sort of rhyme or reason.

The only one I have is a 'normal' combination of 'No. 5' on a Series 5 movement.

Thanks for mentioning the setting means on your watch.

16S_19J_1078270_No_5.jpg
 
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