Pocket Watch sat idle in box for over 50 years

Wileyhouse

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Complete noob here, so sorry for the pedestrian question....

I was given a Seth Thomas Model 3 pocket watch over 50 years ago, and it has been inside a box unused and unwound the entire time. The serial number is 30209, and online resources say it was made in 1889, has 11 jewels, and is grade 55. Externally, the watch appears to be in excellent condition. It is a family heirloom, originally owned by my great-great grandfather, and has his initials engraved in the case.

I'd like to get it running, but I'm not at all sure how to proceed. Is it safe to go ahead and wind it? Will it need to be sent out for service (clean, lube)? Due to it being a family heirloom, I want to be as careful and conservative as possible. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Watch_Front_reduced.jpg Watch_Rear_reduced.jpg
 

Rick Hufnagel

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Hello and good day! Welcome to the forum!

If you open both rear covers and give us a clear picture of the movement inside, and also a clear photo of any case trademarks found inside the rear lids, we can confirm and add any information!

Mechanical watches do require periodic maintenance. Completely disassembled, cleaned and properly lubricated. Since yours has been sitting so long, it will certainly need a service. It's best not to run it much untill then, as it could potentially damage the watch having it running in dirty or dried up pivots. It shouldn't hurt it to give it a couple winds and see if it runs, though.

Great heirlooms and it looks like it's in very nice condition, thanks for posting!
 
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Wileyhouse

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Hi Rick,

Thank you very much for your thoughtful reply, this is exactly the kind of advice I was hoping for. In an abundance of caution, I will refrain from winding the watch until it has been properly cleaned and lubricated.

This leads me to my next question- how can I find someone who is qualified to work on a watch of this vintage?

Per your suggestion, I took another set of pictures at higher resolution, including the various marks inside the lids. Hopefully you will be able to zoom in enough to make out the details.

Thanks,
Dan


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Kevin W.

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Hi Dan, check and see if you have a NAWCC Chapter in your area. If so, most likely someone there can steer you to someone that does watch repairs.
 

179

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Dan, as this is a cherished family heirloom, you want it treated with the utmost care. I would suggest American Timekeeper in Darien Center NY. Eric is a collector and has a nice website. You can contact him and check with him as to his prices and turn around time. Good luck and enjoy this piece of family history. I would not have anything done to the case, just the movement serviced.
 

Wileyhouse

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Aug 4, 2021
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Dan, as this is a cherished family heirloom, you want it treated with the utmost care. I would suggest American Timekeeper in Darien Center NY. Eric is a collector and has a nice website. You can contact him and check with him as to his prices and turn around time. Good luck and enjoy this piece of family history'
Thank you for the recommendation, I will keep it in mind. I contacted my local chapter in Ventura, CA hoping to find someone within driving distance to do the service. I would like to avoid shipping the watch if at all possible as it is irreplaceable.
-Dan
 

musicguy

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This leads me to my next question- how can I find someone who is qualified to work on a watch of this vintage?
If you need another referral let me know by Private
Conversation

and welcome to the Forum!



Rob
 

topspin

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If it was mine then I would at least give it a couple of winds and a bit of a wiggle, just to see whether it runs at all. Thus facilitating some slightly more informed conversations about what work might need doing.
 

Dave Coatsworth

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Wileyhouse

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Aug 4, 2021
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When I received the watch those many years ago, I'm certain I had it running and there were no serious issues with it.

Thank you all for your very helpful advice, I really appreciate the knowledge and enthusiasm of this forum. I have found a reputable repair service. After a good phone conversation, I felt confident in his abilities and went ahead shipped my watch to him. I'll report back once the service is complete.
Thanks again,
Dan
 

Wileyhouse

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Aug 4, 2021
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I want to thank everyone in the forum for helping me with this pocket watch. I found a reputable watchmaker who cleaned, lubricated, and replaced the mainspring. The watch just arrived today, and it is working perfectly. You can send me a private message if you want details on the gentleman who did the work.

I enjoy putting artifacts into historic context. While I was waiting for the watch to be serviced, I did some digging and confirmed that this watch belonged to my great-great grandfather William Wallace Faris. He was a minister and co-founder / principal of Union Academy school in Anna, Illinois. He resigned his positions in 1891 to re-locate to San Francisco. We surmise that this watch was presented to him as a gift either from the church or the school for his 8 years of service there, as he left just two years after the watch was manufactured. Attached is a photo of him and his watch.

Many thanks again,
Dan

William Wallace Faris+ Watch.jpeg
 

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