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Need help choosing pocket watch, new, or old?

R

rev_jch

Hi everyone! I am new here.

I have always had a love for pocket watches, and just after receiving my grandfathers (gold filled) elgin from 1923, I have been looking for something to carry daily.

One I have been looking at is a colibri swiss heirloom that is suppose to be swiss made, Ive been told with a (16.5?) unitas movement? I can get one of these (fairly cheap, brand new), the company stopped selling them 3 years ago.

Ive also been looking at some older watches.

Illinois 17 J from 1930.

Hamilton model 917 17j.

Elgin 16 size 15j from 1922

Waltham 15j size 16 (14k gold filled) from 1917

All these older ones are in working shape and are around 120-150+ dollars.

I wanted something for daily carry that would hold up (keep good time) and last a long time.

I have been carrying my grandfathers watch (dont want anything to happen to it). Ive had it repaired. It had sat for a long time and the oil had dried out. Its been running 10 minutes fast so I had it adjusted and still runs 6 minutes fast so I have to take it back in to have it checked again.

Anyway, can anyone offer me any help, opinions, on the watches Ive listed (from the swiss made unitas movement (?) colibri, to the older watches)?

Thanks,
Sincerely

John
 
R

rev_jch

Hi everyone! I am new here.

I have always had a love for pocket watches, and just after receiving my grandfathers (gold filled) elgin from 1923, I have been looking for something to carry daily.

One I have been looking at is a colibri swiss heirloom that is suppose to be swiss made, Ive been told with a (16.5?) unitas movement? I can get one of these (fairly cheap, brand new), the company stopped selling them 3 years ago.

Ive also been looking at some older watches.

Illinois 17 J from 1930.

Hamilton model 917 17j.

Elgin 16 size 15j from 1922

Waltham 15j size 16 (14k gold filled) from 1917

All these older ones are in working shape and are around 120-150+ dollars.

I wanted something for daily carry that would hold up (keep good time) and last a long time.

I have been carrying my grandfathers watch (dont want anything to happen to it). Ive had it repaired. It had sat for a long time and the oil had dried out. Its been running 10 minutes fast so I had it adjusted and still runs 6 minutes fast so I have to take it back in to have it checked again.

Anyway, can anyone offer me any help, opinions, on the watches Ive listed (from the swiss made unitas movement (?) colibri, to the older watches)?

Thanks,
Sincerely

John
 

Don Dahlberg

Registered User
Aug 31, 2000
3,425
20
38
We are not allowed to comment on value on this message board. We also have no way of knowing the true condition of the watches that you are considering.

That said, I would stick to at least 17 jewels. With 15 jewels, you have the center wheel unjeweled and thus are in risk of substantial wear there. It is a lot of work to correct this error properly. I would rather replace a broken jewel than have to bush a warn plate hole.

From then on, it depends on what you like and moves you. Some of the watches you are looking at are 12 size and other 16 size. Which do you prefer? Unitas makes good movements. A relatively modern movement from Unitas would have shock resistent jewels, which allowed them to take more of a jolt without breaking. Still, for most of us, there is more romance to the older movement. The older watches are often in much nicer cases, most of them gold filled. Newer Swiss pocket watches are in base metal cases.

No matter which one you pick, condition outside and inside is very important. Outside, you are looking for brass showing on a gold filled case, or hairlines or cracks in an enamel dial.

The watch will run only as well as the servicing it has had. I suspect that the person who serviced your grandfather's watch did not do a proper service. It is not uncommon for "watchmakers" to just remove the watch from the case and remove the dial. Then they "clean" the watch in a combination cleaner/oiler. They usually only charge about $30-40 for this service, but is not even worth that much. The fact that your watch is running fast, says that something is restricting the motion of the balance. An incomplete cleaning often will allow the watch to run, but it will run fast. Adjusting a regulator is intended to adjust for seconds not minutes.

A proper cleaning involves, taking the watch down to about 50 pieces, cleaning (mechanical or ultrasonic cleaning followed by at least two rinces), inspecting the parts, correcting damaged parts, reassembly, proper oiling, rating and adjusting and finally testing in several positions over several days. A good watchmaker would not release the watch in your hands without being sure that the watch would run at a rate appropriate for the watch in several position again appropriate to the watch.

So, no matter which watch you purchase, you need to take it to a real watchmaker, who is qualified and willing to do a proper overhaul of vintage pocket watch.

Don
 

Tom Walker

NAWCC Member
Feb 22, 2006
88
0
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John,
Don provided excellent advise. Personally, a 12s, 17j or higher Hamilton, Elgin, Illinois, Howard, South Bend, etc., in a nice gold filled case are fine little watches to carry. Some of these are "thin models." IMO, these watches don't get the credit they deserve!
Tom Walker
 

RON in PA

NAWCC Member
May 18, 2005
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I can tell you based on experience with 3 watches with the ETA Unitas 6497 movement that they are good time keepers with incablock protection on the balance.
 

Dr. Jon

Moderator
NAWCC Member
Dec 14, 2001
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I suggest you look at 12 size Illinois A Lincoln watches. These are 19 and 21 jewel watches that were adjusted in 5 positions temperature and isochronism. They are ridulously low priced.

Hamilton 921 or 923 10 size waches are also very fine and similarly low valued.

It is important that they be in good running order.
 
R

rev_jch

Thanks, for the help, I really appreciate it! I am taking my grandfathers watch back to have it looked at. I paid 150.00 dollars to get it into working condition and of as yet, it only runs, does not keep good time. At first it ran 10 minutes fast. I took it back and it was adjusted and ran 6 minutes fast. It was adjusted again, and now runs 26 minutes fast. the watch store owner says he will have the person who worked on it make it right. The watch is a 17J, gold filled elgin watch. My mother said he stopped carrying it while she was still young, so that would have been the mid-late 30's. So the watch has sat for a very long time. He died in 73.

Thanks again for all your help it is very much appreciated!!

Knives I do know, but not watches (although I really enjoy carrying a pocket watch!)

Since my knowledge is pretty "weak", for the moment, I have decided to give this swiss made colibri a try. its pretty cheap, and is supposed to have the unitas (6497, or 6498?) movement with "incabloc" protection, so I'll give it a try for now.


Tell me, does anyone know anything about devosa pocket watches? I have a chance to get a mechanical one (that supposedly works fine).


Thanks,
sicnerely
John
 

RON in PA

NAWCC Member
May 18, 2005
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John, Re: "Devosa", proper spelling is Davosa and there is a web page, Davosa.com. They have a series of pocket watches using the 6497.
 

Kent

Gibbs Literary Award
NAWCC Fellow
NAWCC Silver Member
Aug 26, 2000
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John:

Even the most inexpensive 17-jewel Elgin of that period ought to run within a minute or so a day.
 

hc3

Registered User
Aug 29, 2000
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This poor man has fallen into the clutches of a bad watch repairer.
 
R

rev_jch

Well, I took it back to the store, the watch repairman was there. I explained what was wrong and I got the impression he didnt know what he was doing. The store owner was pretty upset with him (very obvious). So they took it and the store owner told me if he coudlnt fix it he would give me my money back. When I took the watch back there it was now 23 minutes fast!

If I get this watch back and it still doesnt work right, does anyone know anyone I could trust that could possibly fix it for a reasonable price?

Thanks,
Best regards,
Sincerely
John
 

Jeff Hess

Moderator
Gold Business Member
Sep 3, 2000
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rev, if you recieved you 150 dollas back do this: Save your watch as an heirloom. Then scout ebay or an NAWCC show for a very late model 1940's or 1950's Hamilton 17 j gents model 12 size. you can find one for 40 to 100 dollars for sure. You might be able to find a 21j model for 100 dollars.

Then pocket the difference or pay your NAWCC dues. ;)

Jeff
 
R

rev_jch

Thanks for all your help, i apppreciate it. Im still waiting to see what happens. The watch man still has it.

I have been offered a nice looking davosa pocket watch in new condtion, Im told it is still in the factory box. So Im thinking of trying it. It has a 6498 unitas movement.
 
R

rev_jch

Well, I ordered the Davosa I was thinking of getting. I just figured out that the watch case may be solid 925 silver. If it is, I really got a great deal on that one!

I spoke to Davosa and was told that the watch does use the 6498 unitas, and that this particular watch is still in production. The dial is in roman numerals with small military time numbers (arabic) right above each character. The second dial is right above the six (fitting the unitas 6498 layout).
 
R

rev_jch

Guys, i got the watch back, now it is 3.5 minutes slow. i talked to the watch man nad he got nast with me and told me he had "bent over backwards" to help me and woudl give me my money back if i came and tlaked to him. but he made it clear that he wa sunhappy. But then I paid him allot of money to fix it!
 

Tom Walker

NAWCC Member
Feb 22, 2006
88
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Rev,
Now both you and the "watch man" are unhappy. I suggest you try to work something out with him that's agreeable to both of you, then start over in your search for a nice watch to carry. Re-read the replies above on the great little 12s watches that would fit the bill -- I believe.
Tom Walker
 

Wes

Registered User
Aug 19, 2002
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Does anyone know of any good modern pocket watches? I have heard that the new Hamiltons use the Swiss Unitas/ETA 6497/8 movements, as do many other decent brands like Aerowatch. I assume these are serviceable and better than the Chinese throw away mechanical movements used in other watches.
 

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