• The NAWCC Museum and Library & Research Center will reopen starting Wednesday, January 6, 2021 as per Governor Wolf's reopening mandate.

Post Photos of Your Thinnest Pocket Watches

Ethan Lipsig

Registered User
NAWCC Gold Member
Jan 8, 2006
2,273
1,736
113
72
Pasadena
Country
Region
There only have been a few threads in these forums dedicated to very thin pocket watches, most notably Thinnest possible movements?. None of these threads solicited collectors to post photos of their thinnest pocket watches (even if they are not all that thin). That's what I am hoping many readers will do in this thread. Please include thickness measurements if you have them handy (I don't for most of my watches).

To get things started, here are two photos comparing a range of some of the thinnest watches in my collection, in order of relative thinness, starting with thinnest (1) below.

DSC06778.JPG DSC06781.JPG

Top row, left to right: (1) platinum & diamond Cartier (shown below), (2) platinum, 18k & enamel Verger-cased unsigned movement by Louis-Elisee Piguet (or a successor) with two Geneva seals, (3) platinum, enamel & diamond Verger-cased V&C, (4) 18k or platinum & enamel unsigned watch with two Geneva seals, (5) 18k V&C.

Bottom row, left to right: (6) 18k & platinum Touchon, (7) 14k Cress Arrow-case C.H. Meylan, Type A in my classification system, (8) 18k & enamel Cress Arrow-cased C.H. Meylan, Type N in my classification system, (9) 14k Illinois, Grade 438, (10) platinum Waltham Maximus A

I think the thinnest watch presently in my collection is the Cartier (watch (1) above), which is 3mm thick, cased.

z cartuer plat dial.jpg IMG_1327.JPG IMG_1328.JPG IMG_1329.JPG

I understand that V&C made an even thinner pocket watch movement, but they are quite uncommon and I have not been able to acquire one.

Audemars Piguet also made some very thin pocket watches. I used to have one that was about as thin as the Cartier. The photo below shows that watch (bottom right), the Cartier (bottom left), and a stack of two quarters, showing how thick those watches are. Behind the quarters is another very thin watch (I forget which), but it is a thick watch compared to the Cartier and the Audemars.

IMG_7934_edited - Copy.JPG

I no longer have the Audemars because it was not in good running order when I bought it and it proved to be unrepairable. Even Audemars Piguet could not repair it. That sad tale reveals the unhappy side of very thin pocket watches: They are quite fragile. Mainsprings are hard or impossible to find for them. I obviously am attracted to very thin pocket watches, but I am trying to resist buying any more of them, since they are a headache to own. For example, in the 16 years I have owned the Cartier, it has had to be professionally overhauled three times even though it resides in my safety deposit box and only gets wound a few times a year.

View attachment 618867 View attachment 618868 View attachment 618869 View attachment 618876
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • Like
Reactions: Dr. Jon and etmb61

Jerry Treiman

Registered User
NAWCC Member
Aug 25, 2000
6,540
2,186
113
Los Angeles, CA
Country
Region
I have not really tried to collect ultra-thin watches because, frankly, they scare me a little. These three are probably among the thinnest I have, but at this level, thickness of the watch also depends heavily on the crystal. On the left is an Elgin Hulburd model case and dial (I'm still waiting for the correct movement to complete it). The Hulburd movement was the thinnest American movement. Next is an 18-ligne Longines - not particularly thin by Swiss standards, but the thinnest I have. On the right is a Waltham 14-size Colonial-A -- the thickness of these varies with the case.
thin watches.jpg

Here is another Hulburd compared to an 18-size watch --
thick&thin2.jpg

Here is an array of Waltham Opera watches. These are on par with the Hulburd and Longines (7-8 mm), depending on the crystal, but they also achieve thinness by using a small 6/0 movement.
6_Opera.jpg

This could be my thinnest if it were complete and had a case. It is the remains of a Touchon movement.
Touchon_thin.jpg

I remember in the 1970s I worked for a clockmaker/watchmaker and he had a fascinating jar of unfinished ultra-thin Swiss ebauches, much like the Touchon. I wonder what ever happened to those!
 

Ethan Lipsig

Registered User
NAWCC Gold Member
Jan 8, 2006
2,273
1,736
113
72
Pasadena
Country
Region
Jerry, your Touchon is a rare variety, Type TO3 in my classification system. I have only seen four other examples. What is the serial number of your movement?

I have an uncased Type TO3 movement that isn't working. If you would like to explore combining the parts of our two movement to create a working movement, please let me know.

IMG_3489.JPG
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • Like
Reactions: Dr. Jon

Jerry Treiman

Registered User
NAWCC Member
Aug 25, 2000
6,540
2,186
113
Los Angeles, CA
Country
Region
Jerry, your Touchon is a rare variety, Type TO3 in my classification system. I have only seen four other examples. What is the serial number of your movement?

I have an uncased Type TO3 movement that isn't working. If you would like to explore combining the parts of our two movement to create a working movement, please let me know.

View attachment 619004
My movement is #252094. Considering condition and completeness, mine may be more useful to restore your movement.
 

Ethan Lipsig

Registered User
NAWCC Gold Member
Jan 8, 2006
2,273
1,736
113
72
Pasadena
Country
Region
Thanks, Jerry. I'd seen your movement before. It is one of the four I have seen.
 

SKennedy

Registered User
Jan 5, 2017
218
107
43
Country
Not owned by me but I had to replace both top and bottom balance hole jewels on this one.... I think it was around 2.5mm (plus glass)

IMG_6800.jpg
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jerry Treiman

Ethan Lipsig

Registered User
NAWCC Gold Member
Jan 8, 2006
2,273
1,736
113
72
Pasadena
Country
Region
SKennedy, great photo! Tell us more about the watch on the right.
 

SKennedy

Registered User
Jan 5, 2017
218
107
43
Country
Its mid 19th century, Swiss, cylinder escapement, key wound and set. The other side of the movement plate is fully engraved, exposed when the back of the case is opened to wind/set with the special male key, but other than the winding ratchet no moving parts were exposed on that side of the plate. As you can see, the chapter ring sits level with the top of the cocks/bridges, only the motion work bridge above it. The movement dropped into the case from behind (no separate bezel for the glass) so the balance cock had a small gear mechanism for adjusting the regulator with an arbor through the plate so you could turn it with the key from the back side.
I couldn't resist taking that shot of it with late 17thC watch I had on the bench at near the same time.

Edit: Just found my notes. The movement is 1.9mm thick to the top of the train cocks/bridges, the barrel slightly taller at 2.2mm.


IMG_9056.jpg
 
Last edited:

Dr. Jon

Moderator
NAWCC Member
Dec 14, 2001
6,189
669
113
New Hampshire
Country
Region
I beleive this is called a Bagnollet calibre, The maker is not well known. PIguet and Capt are the prime suspects.
 

Dr. Jon

Moderator
NAWCC Member
Dec 14, 2001
6,189
669
113
New Hampshire
Country
Region
My thinnest wates are also my smallest but here is small thin watch similar to Johns


Face 12.png
Edge1.png MVT_full.png

The watch is about 30mm in diameter.

It is a Breguet compensated ruby cylinder. It is very unusual in that the center wheel pivot is jeweled, very unusual for a watch circa 1835, but this is consistent with its stated jewel count.

cuvette.png

It is not a Breguet style ruby cylinder

Underdial.png

The ruby cylinder is between the pivots while Breguet ruby extends below the lower pivot.



Undeer Tooth.png
 
  • Like
Reactions: Ethan Lipsig

John Pavlik

Registered User
NAWCC Member
Dec 30, 2001
2,203
377
83
Green Bay, Wi
Country
Region
I found another, not quite the quality of most of the others... but its has a verge escapement .. Distance
between plates is 1.88 mm .. Unusual plate lay out, appears to be Swiss or French... No makers name except the
reference to LePine on brass dust cover .. Setting from the rear... 57mm diameter over all ... Total thickness is 13.7mm
with a pretty heavy glass ...
Case appears to be gold, but no markings... minus the crystal crack at the edge, runs very well...

0BDD47DA-4350-4EAA-85B9-5535EF00707D.jpeg 57060092-8093-4743-A8BE-9D49A6632A36.jpeg 0CBB77B9-1C31-4004-82AF-5FEED911296B.jpeg 9DAB9468-BFFF-4A35-8619-5AD8925AAEC6.jpeg ED47D90C-0328-40AB-B843-44D631244AE3.jpeg B922F9AD-942B-427B-849E-E94C72FC521F.jpeg
 

John Pavlik

Registered User
NAWCC Member
Dec 30, 2001
2,203
377
83
Green Bay, Wi
Country
Region
The fusee with Geneva stop is remarkable but are yuo sure it is a verge?
Jon, as far as I can see looking between plates it is a verge.. .. Unless another type of escapement has the crown wheel and contrate wheel..... At some point I should disassemble, and clean it, but it runs fine when wound ... When set up correctly Would the stop work provide the pre load to mainspring and eliminate the need for a stop work arm on the fusee ?
 

Dr. Jon

Moderator
NAWCC Member
Dec 14, 2001
6,189
669
113
New Hampshire
Country
Region
If it has a crown and contrite wheel it's almost certainly a verge.

I was surprised that it has a Geneva stop because the fusee preload and stop arm lifted by the chain does the same thing as a Geneva stop.

A verge fusee that thin is amazing.
 

John Pavlik

Registered User
NAWCC Member
Dec 30, 2001
2,203
377
83
Green Bay, Wi
Country
Region
If it has a crown and contrite wheel it's almost certainly a verge.

I was surprised that it has a Geneva stop because the fusee preload and stop arm lifted by the chain does the same thing as a Geneva stop.

A verge fusee that thin is amazing.
Jon,
I think I should disassemble it to see exactly how they made so thin.. I had another example of a thin one a long time ago, it was quite a project reassembling it, hence my hesitation .. On this one you can see the typical Swiss adjustment for the crown wheel positioned pretty far in, between the plates..
 

gmorse

Registered User
NAWCC Member
Jan 7, 2011
11,983
1,875
113
Breamore, Hampshire, UK
Country
Region
Hi John,

When set up correctly Would the stop work provide the pre load to mainspring and eliminate the need for a stop work arm on the fusee ?
Yes, I suppose it would. The main function of the fusee stop work is to prevent the chain being broken by attempting to wind past its full length.

On some thin verges I've seen, the crown wheel is recessed into the full thickness of the top plate, but of course it can't be in the pillar plate because the centre wheel is in the way. My thinnest Swiss/French movement is 2.3mm between the plates, so not a very extreme example.

Regards,

Graham