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New Guy Questions on Pocket Watches

Lrrp

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I’m still learning to navigate this NAWCC website. As such, I’ve stumbled into some informative discussions that are interesting but waaay above my pay grade! So, in lieu of this, I would like to toss out a few questions that may help me do things in a systematic and productive way. So here goes:
1. Since I’ve decided to focus on Waltham pocket watches, what is the best reading material to start with?
2. And if I want to learn movement cleaning? (Too ambitious?) brick and mortar school? On line? Mentor?
3. Who does on trust to work on Waltham’s or guide one’s decision making on repairs, etc.?
I live in the South Bend, Indiana area.

Thank you you in advance!!
 
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darrahg

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You might want to try contacting watch folks in your area. Here is a link (below; hopefully you do not need to be a member to obtain this info) that will take you to information on two chapters in Indiana. Contact one of the members (email can be found there) and ask how you can attend to get the info you are requesting. If not, then let us know.
Local Chapters - National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors, Inc.
 
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musicguy

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Since I've decided to focus on Waltham pocket watches, what is the best reading material to start with?
American Pocket Watches | NAWCC Forums

Waltham Watch Co. and Waltham predecessor threads
Presidential Presentation 20 size
20 size American Watch Co. grade
20 size dials
1857 model discussion
1857 model pinned plates
1857 model "George Washington"
1883 model private-labels
1883 model 21 Jewel
1883 model "Dominion Railways"
1883 model "Empire State Special Railways"
1883 model "Santa Fe Route"
1883 model "Special" 2-Tone
1883 model A,T. &Co. Gold flashed movements
1883 model "El Tiempo De Waltham"
1883 model C.P.R. HC
1883 model C.P.R. train dial
1883 model Fancy dial
1883 model grade 35 with 12 circle damaskeen
1892 model Vanguard in 6 million serial range
1892 model Vanguard with jewel count "plug"
1892 model Crescent St.
1892 model Crescent St. 2-tone
1892 model Royal
1892 model Appleton Tracy & Co. first run
1892 model Appleton Tracy & Co.
1892 model Appleton Tracy & Co. "Premier" open face
1892 model Riverside
1892 model Riverside
1892 model discussion
1892 model Non-Magnetic
1892 model Vanguard 19J HC model
1892 model Vanguard Non-Magnetic
1892 model Canadian Pacific Railway
1892 model Santa Fe Route
Warren #18
5 minute repeaters
1872 models in Centennial 1876 Expo
1872 and 1888 model American grade dials
1888 model "Diamond Express"
Riverside Maximus lever-set
American Watch Co. bridge model
16 size Horological school watch
16 size Cronometro Victoria
Riverside, railroad grade or not
Equity grade research
"Marca Blanco" 24 hour dial
25 Jewel Swiss made
25 Jewel Swiss made
25 Jewel Swiss made
14 size star mark
12 size "Crest"
6 size plate layout
4 size Crystal plate
1882 model Am'n Watch Co.
Bigelow, Kennard & Co.
Waltham Tiffany & Co. or not (Tierany & Cox.)
Eagle Cases
Earliest 2-Tone?
Conel hairspring
Oversized dial with scene
 
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Lrrp

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Jan 19, 2022
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Lrrp

Registered User
Jan 19, 2022
8
16
3
70
Country
American Pocket Watches | NAWCC Forums

Waltham Watch Co. and Waltham predecessor threads
Presidential Presentation 20 size
20 size American Watch Co. grade
20 size dials
1857 model discussion
1857 model pinned plates
1857 model "George Washington"
1883 model private-labels
1883 model 21 Jewel
1883 model "Dominion Railways"
1883 model "Empire State Special Railways"
1883 model "Santa Fe Route"
1883 model "Special" 2-Tone
1883 model A,T. &Co. Gold flashed movements
1883 model "El Tiempo De Waltham"
1883 model C.P.R. HC
1883 model C.P.R. train dial
1883 model Fancy dial
1883 model grade 35 with 12 circle damaskeen
1892 model Vanguard in 6 million serial range
1892 model Vanguard with jewel count "plug"
1892 model Crescent St.
1892 model Crescent St. 2-tone
1892 model Royal
1892 model Appleton Tracy & Co. first run
1892 model Appleton Tracy & Co.
1892 model Appleton Tracy & Co. "Premier" open face
1892 model Riverside
1892 model Riverside
1892 model discussion
1892 model Non-Magnetic
1892 model Vanguard 19J HC model
1892 model Vanguard Non-Magnetic
1892 model Canadian Pacific Railway
1892 model Santa Fe Route
Warren #18
5 minute repeaters
1872 models in Centennial 1876 Expo
1872 and 1888 model American grade dials
1888 model "Diamond Express"
Riverside Maximus lever-set
American Watch Co. bridge model
16 size Horological school watch
16 size Cronometro Victoria
Riverside, railroad grade or not
Equity grade research
"Marca Blanco" 24 hour dial
25 Jewel Swiss made
25 Jewel Swiss made
25 Jewel Swiss made
14 size star mark
12 size "Crest"
6 size plate layout
4 size Crystal plate
1882 model Am'n Watch Co.
Bigelow, Kennard & Co.
Waltham Tiffany & Co. or not (Tierany & Cox.)
Eagle Cases
Earliest 2-Tone?
Conel hairspring
Oversized dial with scene
Wow! Thank you!!
 

Marty101

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Friend, do not be over-whelmed!
Learn the basic lingo first and you will be able to communicate. If you are new to almost everything in this hobby (and Walthams) I suggest getting any old copy of "The Complete Guide To Watches". It is packed with info for beginners, and will guide you.

But ask questions here-please! Nowhere is more data stored than the NAWCC.
 

John Cote

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LRRP,

I live in Indy and am a member of Chapter 18. Chapter events have been fewer during COVID but should start up again in the spring. Indy is a haul from South Bend but let's keep in touch. I buy a lot of watches in the South Bend/Elkhart/St Joe etc area. It does get more and more difficult to find nice examples in the wild but I managed to buy a really great Waltham in South Bend earlier in the year. What I would say, especially about Walthams is that you should not be random about your collecting. Study first and learn the product line and the history. Figure out what kind of Waltham watches tell the story you want your collection to tell.

Waltham was the original American mass producer of watches and made the second most watches of any American company next to Elgin. They made a lot of models and grades within those models. They made the sublime and the cheap and everything in between. I know a collector who has made it his quest to acquire one of each. He keeps turning up examples he did not know existed. I know collectors who simply want to have one example of each type of watch, 2 each from the first two runs of 1892 Vanguards...4 watches...a cool and possible collection.

I also know people who have been random...simply collecting/hoarding everything that they can buy on the cheap. I know several folks like this who have thousands of random watches. Again, for me the difference between an accumulation and a collection is a story. I love Waltham but the 4 watch collection from the first two runs of '92 Vanguards is a story...a collection...something I can talk about with my nerd friends.

Welcome to nerd-dom.
 

Watching the Wheels

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Jan 21, 2022
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I just got into this hobby as well. I also love Walthams. My first watch is Waltham. Serial # 13084567 I just got the watch a month ago. I am in a similar situation. I took an ok online course Tick Tock Pro for $90. I learned a bunch of things, but still have many questions. I really want to interact with someone who knows what they are doing it person. I want to be an apprentice. It is also difficult to prioritize what to get next because I have a watch allowance, and at this rate, it'll be June before I get my first watch done. I'm too scared to take apart my beloved Waltham, so I bought a cheap not-working-but-all-there Elgin that I've been disassembling and reassembling for about a week now.
I also acquired another Waltham 625 at an estate sale 2 weeks ago. Same movement as my first. It is running, but not when held dial down. I'm going to dive into this one next.
I don't want to assume your budget, but for me this is a super expensive hobby and I am terrified that I won't even be able to get a watch cleaned. I live in MA less than an hour from Waltham. I went to the watch shop down the street from the original factory and talked to a Waltham expert whose grandfather worked in the factory. He would charge $500 to service my watch. It would be worth it if I didn't want to take on the hobby myself. Ive spent a bunch more than $500 learning hobby watchmaking and my watch is no cleaner. But she keeps good time and will hold a wind for at least 12 hours. So I build my skills on other watches.
So far, I've spent another $67 for a rough running Waltham 625, $30 on the non-running-but-all-there Elgin, and $15 for a lot of 6 for-parts movements. $20 on screwdrivers - trash. $160 on good screwdrivers - good. $170 on a vintage mainspring winder, and $80 on an ultrasonic cleaner. $90 online course and $90 NAWCC membership. And a lot more much smaller purchases. I am getting somewhat inexpensive tools for somethings, but more expensive tools for other things. I'm going to try to go vintage when I can for tools. I think I'll be able to clean a watch that just needs a mainspring and new oils by this summer, and probably for about 3 times what it would cost to have a professional clean it, but then I get to collect watches and clean them myself. But will take longer and a bigger investment before I could do more advanced part repairs.
A watch, good screwdrivers, magnification and tweezers is all you really need to start to see if you think you can do it before you go too far down the rabbit hole. If you like you existing watches but are fearful of breaking them, buy a practice watch.
Good luck and have fun,
- John
 

topspin

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Dec 14, 2014
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If (like me) you guys are collecting Walthams, then you can quickly and easily build a large collection, and hence just as easily find yourself with a large and rapidly-growing repairs queue. Therefore, if you want your watches to be running, then tools & training for DIY servicing will be a most excellent long-term investment.
 

Lrrp

Registered User
Jan 19, 2022
8
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I just got into this hobby as well. I also love Walthams. My first watch is Waltham. Serial # 13084567 I just got the watch a month ago. I am in a similar situation. I took an ok online course Tick Tock Pro for $90. I learned a bunch of things, but still have many questions. I really want to interact with someone who knows what they are doing it person. I want to be an apprentice. It is also difficult to prioritize what to get next because I have a watch allowance, and at this rate, it'll be June before I get my first watch done. I'm too scared to take apart my beloved Waltham, so I bought a cheap not-working-but-all-there Elgin that I've been disassembling and reassembling for about a week now.
I also acquired another Waltham 625 at an estate sale 2 weeks ago. Same movement as my first. It is running, but not when held dial down. I'm going to dive into this one next.
I don't want to assume your budget, but for me this is a super expensive hobby and I am terrified that I won't even be able to get a watch cleaned. I live in MA less than an hour from Waltham. I went to the watch shop down the street from the original factory and talked to a Waltham expert whose grandfather worked in the factory. He would charge $500 to service my watch. It would be worth it if I didn't want to take on the hobby myself. Ive spent a bunch more than $500 learning hobby watchmaking and my watch is no cleaner. But she keeps good time and will hold a wind for at least 12 hours. So I build my skills on other watches.
So far, I've spent another $67 for a rough running Waltham 625, $30 on the non-running-but-all-there Elgin, and $15 for a lot of 6 for-parts movements. $20 on screwdrivers - trash. $160 on good screwdrivers - good. $170 on a vintage mainspring winder, and $80 on an ultrasonic cleaner. $90 online course and $90 NAWCC membership. And a lot more much smaller purchases. I am getting somewhat inexpensive tools for somethings, but more expensive tools for other things. I'm going to try to go vintage when I can for tools. I think I'll be able to clean a watch that just needs a mainspring and new oils by this summer, and probably for about 3 times what it would cost to have a professional clean it, but then I get to collect watches and clean them myself. But will take longer and a bigger investment before I could do more advanced part repairs.
A watch, good screwdrivers, magnification and tweezers is all you really need to start to see if you think you can do it before you go too far down the rabbit hole. If you like you existing watches but are fearful of breaking them, buy a practice watch.
Good luck and have fun,
- John
Thanks for your response, John. I feel the same way as you in many respects. After reading the all the generous responses to my post I’m realizing that a formal pocket watch education will be a good investment to start with. I also intend to join a local NAWCC club as a sort of “them mentoring me” opportunity. Otherwise I can see money flying out the window if I don’t take this step by step.
Please keep in touch and let me know your progress.
Tom
 

Lrrp

Registered User
Jan 19, 2022
8
16
3
70
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LRRP,

I live in Indy and am a member of Chapter 18. Chapter events have been fewer during COVID but should start up again in the spring. Indy is a haul from South Bend but let's keep in touch. I buy a lot of watches in the South Bend/Elkhart/St Joe etc area. It does get more and more difficult to find nice examples in the wild but I managed to buy a really great Waltham in South Bend earlier in the year. What I would say, especially about Walthams is that you should not be random about your collecting. Study first and learn the product line and the history. Figure out what kind of Waltham watches tell the story you want your collection to tell.

Waltham was the original American mass producer of watches and made the second most watches of any American company next to Elgin. They made a lot of models and grades within those models. They made the sublime and the cheap and everything in between. I know a collector who has made it his quest to acquire one of each. He keeps turning up examples he did not know existed. I know collectors who simply want to have one example of each type of watch, 2 each from the first two runs of 1892 Vanguards...4 watches...a cool and possible collection.

I also know people who have been random...simply collecting/hoarding everything that they can buy on the cheap. I know several folks like this who have thousands of random watches. Again, for me the difference between an accumulation and a collection is a story. I love Waltham but the 4 watch collection from the first two runs of '92 Vanguards is a story...a collection...something I can talk about with my nerd friends.

Welcome to nerd-dom.
Thanks for the encouragement and information, John. I will definitely stay in touch and would also like to explore joining Chapter 18. Thanks again for your response.
 

musicguy

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pmurphy

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Speaking of money "flying out the window"...

Pulled the trigger on my second Waltham which I haven't received yet but I have set a budget to keep myself and my significant other from going crazy.

1) Under $100 for a running watch which precludes any "railroad grade" or anything like that but I'm not really interested in those at this time until I become a more seasoned and knowledgeable collector.

2) Limited to one watch every two months or so.

3) No budget on tools at this time however I will have to save up for a set of Bergeon (or similar quality) screwdrivers to replace the crappy ones from India that I have.

Of course none of this is set in stone as my strategy at first was to acquire at least one example of a watch from each manufacturer but I may have to adjust this criteria to achieve that goal.

I've been seriously thinking of joining the NAWCC and a local chapter myself but I'm still deciding on how committed I want to be. As a side note I am (or actually was) an endurance cyclist and have been assembling bikes and building bicycle wheels since the nineties so I have learned a lot about patience from that activity. Since entering my sixties that part of my life has been winding down - no pun intended - but I will still ride until I can't. I also collect coins and precious metals but that's another subject entirely and I won't get into that here.
 
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John Cote

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www.johncotephotography.com
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Speaking of money "flying out the window"...

I've been seriously thinking of joining the NAWCC and a local chapter myself but I'm still deciding on how committed I want to be. As a side note I am (or actually was) an endurance cyclist and have been assembling bikes and building bicycle wheels since the nineties so I have learned a lot about patience from that activity. Since entering my sixties that part of my life has been winding down - no pun intended - but I will still ride until I can't. I also collect coins and precious metals but that's another subject entirely and I won't get into that here.
I am a very prejudiced person when it comes to NAWCC membership. Know that when reading what I have to say...So here goes. I think there is no better way to learn about watches or bicycles than to hold them in your hands and to the extent you can, to take responsibility for them. My dad was an enthusiastic watch collector and cyclist. We never got new bikes or watches in our family. My dad bought junkers and if we wanted to ride or keep time we had to learn to restore them.

My dad was also a member of the NAWCC from the earliest of my memories. I began to learn about watches by watching him buy and by listening to how he judged originality, quality and service history...watchbreakers vs watchmakers. In my opinion there is no better way to hold watches in your hands and to hear about them from mentors and experts than to join the NAWCC and go to local chapter meetings and regionals.

I will never ever say that all of the people in the NAWCC are great people to learn from. I will never say that all of the watches for sale at NAWCC events are great watches or great bargains. That said, you can hold them in your hands before buying. You can hold them in your hands not to buy but to ask questions and learn. You can bring your own watches and let other people who care hold them in their hands and talk about them. There is no better place to learn.

I was a bike mechanic in a great college biking town when I was in college. I learned more about fixing bikes and making them run to a high spec working on racer's bikes and selling racers bikes than I could ever have learned on the internet or from books (no internet when I was in college anyway). The NAWCC is like a high end bike shop. Almost all of the pros are members. Almost all of the pros realize that there is a mentor-ship think involved in membership. If we don't teach and pass on, we won't have a next gen of collectors. WELCOME.
 

richiec

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pmurphy, you will find $100 or under is a really tight budget, you may be better off buying every other cycle and getting better quality. 16 and 18 size gold filled cases are going for over $100 all by themselves these days. I started off buying everything I could get my hands on but have ended up with a good supply of parts to say the least. Now I buy more at marts where I can see and feel the watch rather than take an Ebay vendor's description. I also now look for cased watches as more cases get scrapped they are getting harder to find in decent shape without spending a fortune. One step I took was taking the basic watch repair class at the NAWCC school, I know it is a long trip for you but learned a lot and got to see top flight equipment and also a visit to the museum. If you ever need parts, don't hesitate to call.
 

Watching the Wheels

Registered User
Jan 21, 2022
28
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I just got into this hobby as well. I also love Walthams. My first watch is Waltham. Serial # 13084567 I just got the watch a month ago. I am in a similar situation. I took an ok online course Tick Tock Pro for $90. I learned a bunch of things, but still have many questions. I really want to interact with someone who knows what they are doing it person. I want to be an apprentice. It is also difficult to prioritize what to get next because I have a watch allowance, and at this rate, it'll be June before I get my first watch done. I'm too scared to take apart my beloved Waltham, so I bought a cheap not-working-but-all-there Elgin that I've been disassembling and reassembling for about a week now.
I also acquired another Waltham 625 at an estate sale 2 weeks ago. Same movement as my first. It is running, but not when held dial down. I'm going to dive into this one next.
I don't want to assume your budget, but for me this is a super expensive hobby and I am terrified that I won't even be able to get a watch cleaned. I live in MA less than an hour from Waltham. I went to the watch shop down the street from the original factory and talked to a Waltham expert whose grandfather worked in the factory. He would charge $500 to service my watch. It would be worth it if I didn't want to take on the hobby myself. Ive spent a bunch more than $500 learning hobby watchmaking and my watch is no cleaner. But she keeps good time and will hold a wind for at least 12 hours. So I build my skills on other watches.
So far, I've spent another $67 for a rough running Waltham 625, $30 on the non-running-but-all-there Elgin, and $15 for a lot of 6 for-parts movements. $20 on screwdrivers - trash. $160 on good screwdrivers - good. $170 on a vintage mainspring winder, and $80 on an ultrasonic cleaner. $90 online course and $90 NAWCC membership. And a lot more much smaller purchases. I am getting somewhat inexpensive tools for somethings, but more expensive tools for other things. I'm going to try to go vintage when I can for tools. I think I'll be able to clean a watch that just needs a mainspring and new oils by this summer, and probably for about 3 times what it would cost to have a professional clean it, but then I get to collect watches and clean them myself. But will take longer and a bigger investment before I could do more advanced part repairs.
A watch, good screwdrivers, magnification and tweezers is all you really need to start to see if you think you can do it before you go too far down the rabbit hole. If you like you existing watches but are fearful of breaking them, buy a practice watch.
Good luck and have fun,
- John
Tonight the Elgin has been keeping time for two hours. I have a long way to go but it's ticking!
 
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