Railway Monarch Special

TCHOU

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Hello, I am a brand new Canadian member. Some time ago, I have inherited two still working pocket watches. One is a "Railway Monarch Special", its mechanism bears mention "21" Jewels. In the first cover, the name "DUEBER" is cast over "COIN" plus an anchor followed under by, I guess the serial number: 3301643. Could a knowledgeable member tell me more about this pleasant object and/or where I could read everything I should know about it. Merci.
 

Kent

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Hi TCHOU:

Welcome to the NAWCC American Pocket Watch Message Board!

You didn't give us quite enough information to go on.

The watch name "Express Monarch" was used by the Longines Watch Co. They also furnished a few watches marked "Railway Monarch" but use of the word "Railway" on a watch (in the U.S.) was judged to be reserved for the Hampden Watch Co. as a result of Trade Mark Infringement Case.

Your watch sounds like a 'private label,' or 'contract,' watch. Just about all the watch companies, including the Swiss firms, would mark both the watch movements and/or the dials in just about any manner for any customer who wished to pay for the service. I don't have any exact references for the costs, but I've heard (read?) that, for some companies, if five or more watches were ordered, there was no charge for marking the movements. Specially marked dials were said to cost 25 or 50 cents each. Some watch manufacturers were more liberal. Private label watches were contracted for by a large range of companies, from Sears, Roebuck down to the smaller jewelers in the little towns.

It would be helpful if you could post a picture of the movement (the "works"), the clearer and sharper, the better, other pictures will help a little, but this is the most important. We may be able to identify it by the shape of the plates. In trying to open the watch, you might find the information in "How To Open A Pocket Watch Case" useful.

To post an image, scroll to the top of the thread and click on "FAQ," then scroll down to "vBulletin FAQ" and click on the "How to post images" and follow the instructions. Note that there is no indication of attaching a file (picture) until you go to actually post your thread or your reply. The picture does not show up in the "Instant Reply" text box in which you've written your thread or your reply, nor does the picture appear in the "Preview"

Its also helpful if you can post all the markings that are on the movement (the "works") in case they can't be seen in the picture(s).

Only a small percentage of American watches (or Swiss watches for the North American market) were cased at the factories prior to the mid-1920's (even then, uncased movements were furnished to the trade at least until the 1960's). Most watch companies just made movements (the "works") in industry standard sizes. The case companies made cases in those same sizes. The practice at that time was to go to a jeweler, select the quality of the movement and then pick out the desired style and quality of case. The jeweler would then fit the movement to the case in a matter of moments.

Or, watches were sold by mail-order. Large outfits such as Sears, Roebuck & Co., Montgomery Ward, or T. Eaton (in Canada), would offer the movements in a variety of cases of different design and quality in their catalogs. Smaller mail-order retailers would case the watches, typically in a 20-year gold filled case and offer it only that way, with the buyer not having a choice of cases.

Note: The grade of a case is the quality of the materials and work that went into it. Each case grade was offered in many different engraved designs.

A short history of American watch cases, within the online article "Decorative Aspects of American Horology," by Philip Poniz, can be viewed on The Antiquorum Magazine website.

The history of The Dueber-Hampden Watch Co. is told in From Springfield To Moscow: The Complete Dueber-Hampden Story by James W. Gibbs, a revised and enlarged successor to the 1954 Supplement to the NAWCC Bulletin, Philadelphia, PA, 1986 (this should be available to members on loan by mail from the NAWCC Library & Research Center). Briefly, John C. Dueber established a watch case company in Newport, KY in the late 1870's. In the mid-to-late 1880's he purchased a controlling interest in the Hampden Watch Co. of Springfield, MA. In 1888-1889, both operations were moved to a dual, attached set of factory buildings in Canton, OH. The Dueber Watch Case Manufacturing Co. was a separate company from the Hampden Watch Co., although the ads used the Dueber-Hampden name and that name was (and still is) in common usage, and they were housed in adjacent buildings. It stayed that way until about 1925 when the companies were merged. Hampden movements were frequently offered factory fitted into Dueber cases, such as seen in an 1908 Ad. The companies continued in business, producing both watches and cases until falling sales in the mid-1920's led to receivership in 1927. The manufacturing equipment, parts on hand and work in progress were sold to Russia. Operations ceased in 1930 when the machinery was shipped to Russia. It is believed that all factory records either went with the equipment, or were destroyed, and there are no surviving records from which to match serial numbers of watches, or cases, against models and grades.

Dueber ads from the years 1891 and 1908 can be seen at:
elginwatches.org/scans/misc_ads/m_index.html

To view, go to the Elgin Watch Collectors Site Home Page at elginwatches.org, then copy and paste the address in your browser's address bar and click on 'Go'.

Good luck,
 
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TCHOU

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Kent,

Thank you for your quick and extensive reply, this is a great welcome to the forum. Unfortunately, I (still!) have no digital camera but will manage to provide pictures later on by asking a friend for service. Meanwhile, I did some research on Google from your revealed mention: "Longines". Based on the serial number of the watch, I assume it was produced circa 1916 - right? By the way, if Longines have furnished a "few" Railway Monarch (as you say), could you be more specific by a "few", and therefore, I guess, appraise the relative scarcity of this item. Best regards.
 

Kent

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TCHOU:

We still haven't established that it is a Longines watch movement. If it is a Longines movement and if the serial number on the movement is 3,301,643, then 1916 is a good approximation (give or take a couple of years).

However, the serial number 3,301,643 is quite a bit high for a Longines watch to be marked "Railway Monarch Special." Is this on the movement or the dial, or both? The data base of railroad standard (and other interesting) watches that Ed Ueberall and I maintain (presently about 40,000 watches listed) shows only a handful were marked "Railway Monarch" or "Railway Special" and their serial numbers were below 1,000,000.

The name "Railway Monarch Special" on a watch is uncommon. It could have been put on an inexpensive watch, made to look like a high grade watch, in which case very few people would care. If it is on a high grade watch, such as might have been used in railroad time service, than it would be of some interest to collectors.

So, it still remains to be seen if the watch was made by Longines or some other company, and whether it was a quality watch, or an inexpensive watch made to look like a high grade watch. We're waiting to see your picturees.
 

TCHOU

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Kent,

This watch belonged to an Irish gentleman named Henry O'Sullivan who, as a surveyor, designed railroads in the northern part of the Province of Quebec at the end of the 19th century. My mother (whose mother's cousin was Henry's daughter) indicates she has no doubt regarding the authenticity of this watch, and I look forward to providing you with a visual evidence.

The "Railway Monarch Special" mention appears on both the dial and the movement cover. Here is what can be read on the cover in question (top-down): Fast - Slow - Safety Pinion - Extra Adjusted - 21 Jewels - Railway Monarch Special - 741284 (!). Those six digits appear under the word Railway... Stupidly, I had not noticed those last six digits! Based on your info, "741284" could/must be the serial number, while "3301643" refers only to the silver case number by Dueber.

That would make sense since Henry O'Sullivan died in 1912; he could not have acquired this watch in 1916, i.e. 3 or 4 years after his death, of course. Then, how about 1892 as the production date by Longines?

Please comment.
 

Kent

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TCHOU:

This is much better information,
Movement:
Railway Monarch Special
21 Jewels
Extra Adjusted
S/N 741284

Although we still can't say for sure that it is a Longines watch movement, it sounds very much like a high-grade, Swiss-built watch. In fact, so much so, that I think it would be appropriate for the moderator to move this thread to the European & Other Pocket Watches Forum.

Meanwhile, we're still waiting to see the pictures of the movement, dial and case.
 

TCHOU

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Kent,
At last, pictures are enclosed. Sorry for the delay, the low quality, it is my first digital experience. Awaiting your feedback. Regards.
Tchou

http://bl109w.blu109.mail.live.com/att/GetAttachment.aspx?tnail=0&messageId=382575bc-87a2-49c0-963b-cacead81d8ad&Aux=44|0|8CB5D042265B5B0|
DSC_3753.jpg
http://bl109w.blu109.mail.live.com/att/GetAttachment.aspx?tnail=2&messageId=382575bc-87a2-49c0-963b-cacead81d8ad&Aux=44|0|8CB5D042265B5B0|
DSC_3754.jpg
http://bl109w.blu109.mail.live.com/att/GetAttachment.aspx?tnail=4&messageId=382575bc-87a2-49c0-963b-cacead81d8ad&Aux=44|0|8CB5D042265B5B0|
DSC_3757.jpg
http://bl109w.blu109.mail.live.com/att/GetAttachment.aspx?tnail=6&messageId=382575bc-87a2-49c0-963b-cacead81d8ad&Aux=44|0|8CB5D042265B5B0|
DSC_3761.jpg
http://bl109w.blu109.mail.live.com/att/GetAttachment.aspx?tnail=8&messageId=382575bc-87a2-49c0-963b-cacead81d8ad&Aux=44|0|8CB5D042265B5B0|
DSC_3762.jpg
http://bl109w.blu109.mail.live.com/att/GetAttachment.aspx?tnail=10&messageId=382575bc-87a2-49c0-963b-cacead81d8ad&Aux=44|0|8CB5D042265B5B0|
DSC_3763.jpg
http://bl109w.blu109.mail.live.com/att/GetAttachment.aspx?tnail=12&messageId=382575bc-87a2-49c0-963b-cacead81d8ad&Aux=44|0|8CB5D042265B5B0|
 

Kevin W.

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TCHOU these pictures do not open you have to upload them differently so we can see them.
Do you know the process to post pictures here?
 

Kevin W.

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I am posting these for Tchou, hopefully this time they will go through.
 

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Kent

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Although I would have liked to see the whole movement in one picture, there is no doubt in my mind that this is a Longines watch.
 

Kent

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Here is an excerpt from a 1912 Wittnauer material catalog that shows the movement as a Longines 21/59 model Longines movement.

It is a railroad watch. Many people have come to call any large old pocket watch, especially one with an engraving of a locomotive on the back of the case, a railroad watch. This usage is frequently is incorrect. The term "Railroad Watch" was used by the watch and jewelry trade (and is now used by collectors) to refer those high grade watches that met the requirements of railroad time service rules and standards. The railroad industry, and the railroaders themselves, referred to the watches as "Standard Watches," literally, those watches that met the railroads' time service standards.

Although the person who originally owned a watch may have worked for a railroad, it is not necessarily what could properly be called a "Railroad Watch." The use of a standard watch was only required of a portion of railroad employes (correct spelling, used in many older railroad documents), usually those directly involved in running the trains, or controlling, or affecting, the operation of trains. Other employes carried whatever watches they liked. Typical lists of those required to carry a standard watch appear in an 1892 report of Time Inspection on the Illinois Central Railroad and as Standard Time Rule No. 2 in a 1901 Edition of Canadian Pacific Railway General, Train, and Interlocking Rules. A later list of Burlington Route employes required to carry a standard watch is shown in these 1949 CB&Q Rules. The Union Pacific RR website has concise explanations of Past and Present Railroad Job Descriptions

To learn more about railroad time service, time inspection and railroad standard watches, see ”Just What Is A Railroad Watch?” On the Pocket Horology, NAWCC Chapter 174 Website (scroll down to the title of the article). However, please keep in mind that information that became available since the above was written indicates that hunting-case watches were not specifically prohibited from railroad time service, at least, not as early as 1906-1908.

Can you tell us if it is lever-set?
Lever-set means that you have to pull out a lever to allow the crown (winding knob) to engage the hands to set them. Starting just around 1907, it was generally required that watches used in railroad time service be lever-set. This was to prevent the inadvertent changing of the time while winding a watch. On an open-face watch, the lever is located under the bezel (the metal ring that holds the crystal). Typically, for open-face watches, the lever is at 11 minutes for an 18-size watch. There is be a raised lip, just clockwise of the pendant, with which to pry the bezel open on its hinge. To set the time, the lever is pulled out, parallel to the surface of the dial. Usually, people hold the watch in their left hand and use their right thumbnail to catch the lever's little tab and pull it out. Be careful not to catch the edge of the dial with your thumbnail, dials get chipped that way. Also, Pocketwatcher's website has some good instructions for Setting A Lever Set Watch.

This is a very nice watch and a wonderful family heirloom. Having gathered and printed out information about a family watch, it is a wise idea to write out as much as you know about the family member to whom the watch originally belonged. Then, add the names and relationships of the family members who passed it down to the current holder. Make up a booklet with this and all of the watch information and try to keep it with the watch. This way, the watch has real family heritage instead of it just being an old family watch, the identity and relationship of the original owner having been lost in the distant past.

Good luck,
 

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TCHOU

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Kent, I wish to thank you for your generous information and guidance.
Last thing: since you referred earlier to a data base on railroad standard watches (among others), could you be more explicit by defining the notion of "uncommon" item in this field, eventually by stating how many "Railway Monarch Special" have been recorded and their serial numbers (if not secret!).
Kevin, thank you for your private feedback and support.
 

Kent

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TCHOU:

This particular model of Longines watch has been used for their 19 and 17 jewel railroad grade watches, the Express Monarch in 23 and 21 jewel versions and the Express Leader in 19 and 17 jewel versions. There are enough of these as a group for them to be considered common, with the 21-jewel watch being the most common of them. Yours is the only watch in our data base that is marked "Railway Monarch Special." Since Ed Ueberall (who actually stated the data base) and I have been working at this for quite a few years now and we've been specifically listing Swiss-built watches that could have been used in North American railway time service, that makes this an unusual marking. So, you have a common watch with an uncommon marking.

I apologize if this sounds vague. We only have about 300 records of Longines railroad standard watches and about another 100 of other Longines watches. This isn't enough data to do anything but speak only in the most general terms. To me, if there are more than 4,000 of a specific watch, say a Longines Express Monarch, then its common. If less, then its uncommon.

For example, here are a few serial number groups of 18-size, 21-jewel Longines Express Monarch watches:

1,573,503
1,573,519

1,585,250
1,585,253

1,593,637
1,593,790

1,599,605

1,608,475
1,608,503
1,608,526
1,608,530
1,608,560

1,611,619
1,611,641

It appears that these were built 100 or 200 at a time, but even that is just a guess. Until somebody records the serial number of each and every Longines watch they see (on eBay, at shows, etc.), or until such time as the Longines production records are released (if they exist), we'll never really know if all the watches from, say 1,608,501 to 1,608,560 are 18-size, 21-jewel Express Monarch grade, or if these were just built ten at a time when a distributor order them.
 

Kent

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Thanks!
 

andrewshane

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I did not read Kent's entire post, but in scanning it I did not see mention of the case markings. Coin would refer to coin silver meaning 90% pure. The coin standard was used in the US up until the late 1800's and in some rare circumstances early 1900's. I can't ad anything significant to Kent's posting on the works though. Nice watch!
 

Kent

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I think that it is common in the U.S. (where the Dueber case was made) for coin silver to be .800 Fine, but I realize that a higher percentage is required elsewhere. .925 Fine is considered to be sterling silver.
 

andrewshane

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Yes, .900 is American coin silver. The term coin silver was actually first used based on the fact that US silversmith's would melt down US silver coinage to make their wares. That coinage was 900/1000 or 90% pure. Now, I have seen .800 (80%) coinage from European countries used to make silver pieces termed as coin silver as well, but not in the US.
 

Kent

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I think that it is common in the U.S. (where the Dueber case was made) for coin silver to be .800 Fine, but I realize that a higher percentage is required elsewhere. .925 Fine is considered to be sterling silver.

I gotta admit, I checked a bad reference. I also received a call from a friend (Ed) telling me that I was all wet and ought to change my post.

Sorry 'bout that,
 

andrewshane

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Not a big deal at all Kent. I felt hesitant to post it in the first place after seeing all the info you had on the movement. It kind of seemed trivial of me to do so, but I guess I just wanted to participate. I usually don't have too much to ad so I was excited I could actually give some info instead of always asking for help. Anyways, he sure has a nice watch here!
 

Kent

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Andrew, et.al.:

I'm glad that you questioned something that didn't seem right, be it something I posted or something somebody else posted. We all make mistakes at one time or another.

Ed and I constantly challange each other's points with the quesiton "How do you know?" If we can't produce a supportive reference, we back down from the point. We find that it removes opinon from a subject of discussion (unless we label it as only an opinion) and gets back to primary sources.

Way to go,
 

mrbill

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JUST RAN ACROSS THIS POST, I have a Longines Railway Monarch it's does not have "special" just Longines Railway Monarch serial # 1017921 Interesting reading about these fine watches.

mrwatchmaker@yahoo.com
 

Kent

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..., I have a Longines Railway Monarch it's does not have "special" just Longines Railway Monarch serial # 1017921 ...
mrbill:

It sounds like and interesting watch! Can you post some pictures of it?

Thanks,
 

Kent

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Neat watch!

Thanks for the picture,
 

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