No free lunch in horology...

Discussion in 'American Pocket Watches' started by Lorne, Oct 5, 2012.

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  1. pmwas

    pmwas Registered User

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    Nice discussion has come out of my post - cool :). I thnk that in most cases, a movement missing it's plates is automatically a for-parts movement. On the other hand, if it is an entire, not re-cased watch, being a historical piece, with just the balance cock missing, I think replacing the cock and balance, even though 'serialized', is a better idea than scrapping a nice, historical piece. Every case should be taken individually, I think.
     
  2. Jim Haney

    Jim Haney Registered User
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    Steve,
    It seems that the only posts you feel compelled to participate in are , Reported Posts, shots at me and misleading statements.

    Where did the junk pile comment come from?

    If you don't agree that millions of low jewel watches should be repaired with other plates, fine, but I doubt it.

    My comments are backed up by the production numbers of low jeweled common watches that Waltham & Elgin produced compared to the few that other companies produced. If some of these have odd features, such as, 2-tones unusuak dmk P/L ,etc. they are considered collectable and I believe everyone agrees with that.

    However, saving common 7-11 jewel watches by switching plates to "Breathe new life into them "is not a good thing to do.

    Do you agree with this, or not.

    Trying to slant opinion by saying that people who collect low jeweled watches are somehow not to be considered as collectors is a low ball type of thing that most should be able to see throughl.Collectability is in the eye of the collector. To each his own. I have a big collection of Dollar watches,so I love them all.

    Bottom line is that lower grade watches should not be repaired with donor plates and should be in parts drawers.

    . It not like you are going to have a shortage and they do not need saved by switching plates. I believe in them being saved, but only in conventional ways.
     
  3. pmwas

    pmwas Registered User

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    Good post. On the other hand, replacing balance with the cock of the same model is, as a method of servicing watches, a conventional way. It happens all tha time. Trouble is that in some oldies... these are signed with S/N, so such repairs surely make them less collectable. The same thing happens in Soviet Pobeda watches - they were not shockproof and often needed repairs, so many, many of those had the cock replaced. And there is the same argument - is it at all aceptable or not... Either way, those with all plates original are much more valuable.
    Definitely an ultimate way, and I agree that a damaged original cock is way better than undamaged non original one...
     
  4. Steven Mercer

    Steven Mercer Registered User
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    Jim

    I was going to leave this thread alone but since you brought a few things up:

    First off I have not posted in the Pocket Watch Forum for over a year because of people like you, so your statement of:

    Is unfounded. Other than taking you to task for your statement in this thread for your statement of:

    I would like to know where I have taken shots at you or made misleading statements.


    Now, for this thread your point that “switching plates will ruin collectors horology in the future as unsuspecting people will buy these watches in good faith” is valid and something that I also believe.

    You could have made your point though without making the absurd statement about Waltham’s and Elgin’s under 15 jewels. There are many collectors of these watches and when they read this type of statement on a horological message board it probably makes them less likely to participate in discussions.
     
  5. Jim Haney

    Jim Haney Registered User
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    Steve,
    I will stick with my "absurd statement,

     
  6. richiec

    richiec Registered User
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    Boy, talk about thin skin. In defense of Jim, he did not deride the collectibility of the low jeweled watches, just stated that they are not high on the real collectors list. He was just stating that changing parts is not the way to go in resurrecting these watches. I try not to change anything if possible but, as these low jewel watches may not garner top dollar or even bottom dollar, if you want to use it as a carry watch and reveal the truth when selling it that parts have been switched, the no one has been harmed. Steve, I collect 90% Walthams, very few others, and love them for their variety. I have pretty much sold off everything else I owned to concentrate on these and carry an 1883, 7 jewel watch in a silver case that keeps very good time. These personality conflicts harm the hobby and turn people off at a time when we need to get membership up. Not everyman can be a purist as it is financially expensive.
     
  7. R.G.B.

    R.G.B. Registered User

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    I've got a nice sterling cased Waltham 7j export that I like, but I'd hope a friend would drive me to the closest neurologist if I started walking around calling it my precious. The only circumstance I can think of for switching a bridge or cock would be if I was giving the watch to a child to try and spark an interest. I've given a few to friends kids for birthdays but as yet haven't needed to franken them up to do so. Anyway, back to the OP. When i look back over everything I've bought on ebay I've done pretty good but then I buy a lot of non running watches to restore. For tools I check with the various sellers who are members here first because there's an added level of trust. If I only wanted to purchase running models in good condition, I don't think I could handle the anxiety so I see your point.

    Rob
     
  8. Marty W

    Marty W Registered User

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    Would you please define what a "real collector" is? Are you defining "real collectors" as purists? Guys with unlimited budgets? 21+ jewel collectors? Please explain. I only collect 18 size watches in coin or sterling silver cases, and switch cases to my heart's content to satisfy myself. So.......am I a real collector or just one of the periphery types that irk the elitists?

    Marty
     
  9. John Cote

    John Cote Director
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    I just want to say that I am completely with Jim Haney here. Also that I am about to puke. Switching plates is not OK. It is not illegal so go ahead and do it but I think it would be good if the NAWCC banned anyone caught engaging in this practice or at least anyone who was caught trying to sell one of these frankenwatches. Baaaaarf!
     
  10. Marty W

    Marty W Registered User

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    Please bear with me, as I have a few more questions that need clarification.

    Why do we have 'parts drawers' for spares?

    Why should we not change a balance cock or plate, but it's o.k. to change/replace inner parts that are unseen? Is it because they are not numbered?

    If one is to be a purist he must be one all the way and not preach 1 thing and do another. Those who clammer for watches exactly as they left the factory are on an unattainable path because all have been through repair at one time or another and therefore lack their originality from when they left the manufacturer's hands.

    Am I right or wrong? Do some of us push originality beyond attainment? I believe so.

    In the case of railroad grade/approved watches I believe that they should be considered as original if they are in the same configuration as they were when the last railroad employee used them on job, no matter if he purchased a new case, or a replacement dial.

    I will not retreat and await the salvos,
    Marty
     
  11. Marty W

    Marty W Registered User

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    John: We all have opinions and even though I do not agree with yours I respect the right for you to voice your opinion, but must ask one question.

    Have the NAWCC ban these folks from what.....membership? Would that stop the practice which to you is unethical? I doubt it.

    What may happen is the same as in the classic auto restoration world. You can buy repro parts today, so close to the originals it's almost impossible to differentiate, including the addition of original part or stock numbers thereon.

    Marty
     
  12. David S

    David S Registered User
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    Hi Marty I am a clock guy, not a watch person. But I frequent other MBs to learn something new. This topic of replacement has come up in clocks as well, and there are those who strive for absolute originallity. If one of my clients would like their clock to work again, but are not prepared to pay for "original" or as close as we can get to it, then I usually make parts. I give them back the original and a document with full disclosure to be a completely transparent as I can be.
    It seems like in any hobby there are those at both extremes. I have no problem with that as long as they are stating their personal preferences and not trying to admonish those with different views.

    Some times I just have to put on my flack jacket and carry on.
     
  13. Marty W

    Marty W Registered User

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    David:

    Thank you for you thoughts.

    I always believed that restoration was ultimately more important that originality. Have a broken watch.......? Get that thing to work so it does what it was meant to do 100 years ago, not how it left the factory before humans took hold of it.

    Many historical WWII weapons that came home with GIs were decimated by purists who insisted that they could only be collected if in original factory condition, so an M1 that went through Tarawa, Iwo and Bouganville, and had it's stock changed because the original was broken on an enemy's head, or had the barrel replaced because the original was shot out, is no longer collectible because it was issued with a different cartouche or barrel date.

    Gimme a break,
    Marty
     
  14. R.G.B.

    R.G.B. Registered User

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    Getting that thing to work and restoration are two different things entirely. As far as I know restoration is returning the watch to original condition so how it's more important than originality seems to be contradictory. Plates under normal use do not wear so there's very few circumstances they would be replaced. Jewels, pinions and pivots would be changed but those are subject to wear when the plates are not. Whether the practice will stop after banning is irrelevant as is Car parts and firearms. It's abundantly clear that matching or near matching numbers are required by every serious collector in horology and no amount of misdirection or internet outrage is going to change that.
     
  15. richiec

    richiec Registered User
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    I think there are two different aspects of collecting here, one is originality and restoration to factory specs and the other is provenance. Some items can be more collectible in a modified state if the provenance can be proven and restoration may become secondary. In the case of pocket watches, unless it was damaged during some historic event or modified by some icon of the horological world and the provenance proven, then the collector probably would not give it a premium. In watch repair/restoration today, the key words are "do no harm" which means don't do anything to the watch that cannot be reversed. I enjoy watches that run and can be carried, if I have a 7 jewel watch that has broken or missing parts like a balance cock, If I switch it I have to remember to tell the next owner that not all the parts came with it.
     
  16. pmwas

    pmwas Registered User

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    Well.. I've been working onthat watch again. It's not a great timepiece anymore, so I;ve decided to test new cleaning/polishing agent on it's plates, and now it looks great :)

    http://img441.imageshack.us/img441/4961/springfieldmason0m.jpg


    By accident. I've polished one of the bridge screws (the regulator I did purposly, because of too much rust on it, but I believe just one or two rubs too much), otherwise it went perfect. It doesn't remove too much gilt and makes the plates nice and shiny again. The glue residue seems unremovable and so are the scratches, but the movement looks way better now :)
     
  17. Jim Haney

    Jim Haney Registered User
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    pmwas,

    It looks much better, BUT, the method you are using is incorrect. What you are doing by polishing the plates is removing the very fine gilt finish. A gilt finish is a grainy gold colored textured look.

    By using polish on the plates it levels the grainy surface into a smooth finish.

    The proper cleaning method is the way watchmakers have been doing it for 100 years. They used ammoniated cleaner (L& R concentrated) as the method it cleaned the plates but just as important is that the ammonia causes a chemical reaction to the finish and it brightens up the plates as well as polishing does.


    As with MB discussions this has gotten off track.

    The main message I want to convey, especially to beginning collectors, is that using different serial numbers plates is NOT the approved method of repair. I was using the great number of low grade movement that Elgin & Watham produced only as an example because combined that they account for over 100 million watches produced ,compared to 4 million for makers like Illinois & Hamilton, so there is no shortage of parts movements.
    If there is no shortage why would someone mix up a serialized plate watch for some unsuspecting person to own 100 years from now with no clue why he has a non-collectable watch.

    I realize that we can't legislate a person's behavior or morality, as an example would be Laws on prostitution and smoking, people are going to do what they want to do, however if they can see the reason for not mixing up watches, hopefully it will sink in that it is not the right thing to do.

    Stay on track with the post and don't stray into the moral reasons because it usually ends up with someone condemning another person for doing what they are going to do anyway.

    Just returned from the York, PA regional and am catching up on the posts. Thanks:D:D
     
  18. CGC

    CGC Registered User

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    I enjoy fixing watches. It is like a puzzle, however, I long since learned that I am better off buying working watches rather than fixer uppers especially on ebay. These fixer upper watches are almost as expensive as the working watches, I guess they are selling hope! HA HA. And when you added in parts which are not alway available the broken watch cost more than the working watch. And I can return the working watch after inspection, if I see it is held together with spit alone.
    I think I need a new hobby.
     
  19. richiec

    richiec Registered User
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    I have purchased numerous non-working watches, most are still in the repair drawer because they need more work than is financially feasible. Once in a while I pull one out and diddle with it and get another issue repaired with it but, from a profit standpoint, they are not worth fixing in the end unless thay are highly jeweled examples, they just become running watches which I can only get 20-30 for.
     
  20. pmwas

    pmwas Registered User

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    #70 pmwas, Oct 29, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2012
    OK, well... I know polishing plates is not a proper way, but these were bad. They are still far from perfect, so I'll just give up. It's a really bad feeling, because I've bought it as a fine watch, but the movement is 'frankenized', and likely recased, too. I'll just keep this nice Illinois Springfield dial and hands, and maybe one day I'll find a nice watch in need of those. A slow train 4th wheel might also be needed some time.
    Looks like from now on I'll buy watches only from reputable sellers, who can guarantee no mismatched parts inside. A good lesson - I dodn't even think it could turn out that way :(

    Oh, and - maybe this discussuin has gotten off track, but I'm surely convinced, that with the plates mismatched, the movement is wirth nex to nothing, just parts value. I'd stll argue if a mismatched "small" serialized parts (like minute whell for example) impaoirs the value of the watch, but now I'm also convinced that the plates have to be (not just should) all original, to talk about a collectable watch at all. Maybe I;ve now become too radical, but it's better than standing somewhere between. I'll just leave my GM Wheeler with mismatched cock, as I like it a lot as a funcional daily watch for it looks and fine timekeeping, but the rest will go to parts box immediatly. A bit of a shame I've paid so much for a parts movement, but that how it goes in collecting watches. Not the first time I've paid too much for crap :( And even though I'm more experienced now, probably not the last, too.
     
  21. Dano4734

    Dano4734 Registered User

    Well I just nailed this Hamilton 925 for 100 bucks on a buy it now. I am thrilled. needs a crystal and balance staff both of which I have
    1.jpg 2.jpg 3.jpg 4.jpg
     
  22. R.G.B.

    R.G.B. Registered User

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    If you enjoy the watch PM then everything else is secondary. The mismatch may put it further down the list in your collection but there are many more out there. I can hear them calling. :)
     
  23. Scott Erholm

    Scott Erholm Registered User

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    I'm amused at the fact that I've been inactive on this forum for a couple years, and when I come back, the same discussions are going on, with many of the same people. Far from exasperated, I am glad to see that folks are passionate about their positions.

    Myself, living where I do, I must buy watches online, and most of those have been eBay. I actually love looking for the non-working watch which appears to only need a good COR or minor repair to get it running again. I have gambled and lost a few times, but have been lucky enough to have won most of the time, and sold the same watch, now running, for twice as much. If that watch was a 15-jewel Elgin, the 2x as much may not be that much absolute money, but fun all the same.

    When I first started out, anything enthralled me. Even 7-jewel skippers were treasures to me. As I learned more and more, I started getting a little more picky. I won't buy a common Elgin or Waltham anymore, mostly because I have too many already! Regardless, a properly running 15-jewel Elgin is still a mechanical marvel, even if not highly prized by collectors. There's a place for everything.

    Not that anyone really cares, but my personal opinion is that a watch becomes nearly worthless once the numbered parts are mixed. If serial numbered parts are switched on a valuable watch, it should have instead been fixed properly. I doubt that seasoned collectors would even bother to switch numbered parts on a common watch, so it is a limited occurrence.

    I think I like buying the fixer-uppers because I am more of a mechanic than a collector. However, as I have become seasoned, I try my best to buy only less common watches that are all original, and I don't mind if I have to put 10-20 hours into making something like that run.
     
  24. Tref

    Tref Registered User

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    I have to believe the count of watches I've looked at on ebay numbers in the hundreds of thousands. I've bought far, far less than that of course.
    I have made a bad purchase or two but by and large, once I learned more about what I was doing I've been fortunate in that I have received what I paid for the vast majority of the time. I am very careful though.
    Ebay for me is as much about having a way to learn about what's out there, and what once was, as it is about buying, and I have never sold anything I've bought. There are good sellers, bad sellers, and sellers who are honestly unknowing of what they are selling. Our responsibility as a buyer is to get a good feel of what kind of seller we are dealing with, and proceed with caution. There are usually tells to aid you, it's a matter of looking closely at all aspects and being willing to take chances. The more you know, generally the smaller the chance.
    That being said, I agree with the OP, there are no free lunches. But then that's true about life itself for the most part, is it not?
    Given the chance I would always choose to buy from someone I know, and have had the opportunity to do just that from some who frequent this board. It's fun to buy from an acquaintance who shares an actual interest in horology. But my circumstances ensure that ebay will continue to be my primary hunting ground.
     
  25. k12cop

    k12cop Registered User

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    Bought my first watch, a waltham 1908, on ebay...got shafted...started learning about watches on thus site and scored a beautiful Father Time that works Damn near perfect...went with the same seller as the Father Time to get a "beater" to wear at work, and it also runs very well and was very inexpensive.

    My point us, though I'm no collector, if I need another watch, I'm going to stick with the same seller.
     

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