Men's or Women's

Jerry Treiman

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I would agree, mostly, with what Wayne said in his first point, except that I believe the 12 size has always been a man's watch (despite what John Cote might say :biggrin: ). Ignoring a very few early keywinds reported as 12-size, the first regular production of 12-size began with Howard's "J" size in 1890 and followed a few years later with Waltham's 1894 model, and then others. Although the 14-size had been marketed earlier as a "boy's watch", I believe the 12-size from the start was intended as a less-bulky man's watch.

Regarding timekeeping, though, there were always ladies watches of excellent quality available which could probably keep very good time.

[This message has been edited by Jerry Treiman (edited 05-09-2002).]
 
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Ball992B

A 1904 Sears and Roebuck catalog Begins with 3 pages of Railroad grade watches. Sold as movements only with a page or so of different cases. A nickel screw back was the cheapest.
There are quite a few pages of what Sears referred to as "Ladies" watches. Including the popular 6 size Elgin. There are 2 pages of different types of hunter cases to shoose from.

There is also a full page of "Boys" watches and they are listed as 12 size... Don
 

Tom McIntyre

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Who made the early 12 size ladies' watches? All the ones I have seen from Elgin and Waltham are 10 size. All the 10 size keywinds I have seen appear to have been intended as Lady's watches and the Waltham literature, at least, supports that.

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Jon Hanson

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What? Where do these guys some up with this stuff?

10s size KW Waltham, National Watch Co., and United States Watch Co. (KW & SW) watches ARE LADIES WATCHES, PERIOD! They were advertised as such.

Of course "the experts" here forgot about the 12s KW Waltham.

FEI, 14s size KW watches are referred to as "Boys" watches in the literature.

As far as fancy watches go, I know of and have seen thousands of fancy, large mens' watches and thousands of plain ladies watches! :biggrin:

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Jerry Treiman

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I have seen the production listings for both the Waltham and Elgin KW 12-size, but has anyone seen any ads or catalog pages for these? My guess is that these early ones were still for the ladies.
 

Tom McIntyre

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My comment was that I had never seen a 12 size keywind Waltham or Elgin. With only 400 production of the Waltham, that is not strange. From the old picture of Irv Roth's example in the Encyclopedia, it would appear to be identical to the 1861 model 10 suze down to the Fitt's patent marking. Maybe it was intended for slightly heavier ladies. :)

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Jon Hanson

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FYI, fancy means cases-THAT WAS THE ISSUE. Where oh where did I mention movements? Re-reading is in order!

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Jerry Treiman

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My comment on time-keeping ability was perhaps biased by my focus on Waltham watches, where I was thinking the ratio of quality movements (assumed good time-keepers) to cheaper movements seemed to me about the same for the two size groups (men's versus women's watches). [Maybe Elgin did not make as many high-grade ladies watches? ;) ;) ]. Thinking about it a little more, I must admit that the Railroad Watch market must have skewed 16 and 18-size production a little more toward the higher end. (Jon, it was I that mentioned the movements).
 

Jerry Treiman

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I stumbled onto this old thread while searching for something else and felt that some correction is needed based on research over the past 19 years.

I believe the 12 size has always been a man's watch
I was wrong, here. I now believe that the first 12-size watch from a major company (a Waltham keywind made from 1862-65) was a ladies’ watch. This is supported by Waltham’s 1862 factory catalog (Ehrhardt reproduction in his Encyclopedia and Price Guide, v.1, 1982) which lists their ladies’ watches as being available in two sizes (inferred to be 10 and 12-size). Here is my example from 1865.
45881.jpg

Ignoring a very few early keywinds reported as 12-size, the first regular production of 12-size began with Howard's "J" size in 1890 and followed a few years later with Waltham's 1894 model, and then others.
As it happens, the first 12-size watch for men or boys was also a keywind, but about 10 years later than the watch above. Both Elgin and Waltham made a 12-size KW in 1875-76, but primarily for export.
1875_12KW.jpg

The Howard J-size would be the first stem-wind 12-size model in 1892.
J-size.jpg
 

Dr. Jon

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If Jerry meant by the first 12 size for men really being the first 12 size made as a men's watch, I respectfully disagree but the watches were Swiss.

I believe Audemars Piguet, mostly private label under the direction of Wittnauer made the first ones, which date to the mid 1880's. I will post examples on the European section.

Perhaps Howard and the others reacted to the AP watches.
 

Maximus Man

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Thinner and 12 size watches became the norm, craze, or fad for men wearing suites in the 1920s and 1930s. It was more stylish. I have rarely seen an ad for 12 size women's watch during that period. Wristwatches and increased access to eyewear were helping that transition from large to small.
 

Jerry Treiman

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If Jerry meant by the first 12 size for men really being the first 12 size made as a men's watch, I respectfully disagree but the watches were Swiss.
I really was referring to the American watch industry. I could also quibble a little in that "12-size" was an American size (based on the Lancashire gauge) and in the mid-1800s the Swiss would probably not have made a "12-size" watch. 17 ligne is smaller than 12 size and 18 ligne is a little bit larger. In fact, I have in my collection an 18-ligne Longines (roughly 13 size) from the 1880s that would have suited the 12-size market. However, I think one should probably look to the British for earlier 12-size watches (according to the Lancashire gauge). I find several movements from Robert Roskell in my collection that appear to be 12 size. They have no cases but are probably from the late-middle 19th century. I do not know if these mid-size English watches were worn by men or women.
 

Jerry Treiman

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I forgot to mention that in the 1862 catalog they did not even refer to size, other than "Ladies' size". The movements shown are what we later recognize as the 1861 model 10-size. The watch description, in referring to two sizes, refers to a difference of one size or two lines larger or smaller than the other. By 1864 they refer to "10th English size" for their ladies' watch. The 1862 catalog is the only mention of the larger ladies' watch.
 

topspin

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Reading through all of the above, it is amusing to me how much effort has gone into differentiating between men's & women's watches - both here, and when they were first made & sold.

The lesson for me here is that once upon a time, back in the day, watches used to be a very binary concept. They had to be either one thing or the other. No middle ground.

I guess that's because "unisex" hadn't been invented yet.
 
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Dr. Jon

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The as until recently when many women have now become serious collectors, I think the vast majority of women's watches were not precision time keepers but rather something to put into a jewelry type case.

The men usually went for more precision timekeeping. There were significant exceptions and I have sought precision watches made for women. I find they often belonged to remarkable women.
 

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