Recase keywind watches--how to tell

jboger

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Over the years I have seen a lot of KWs advertised as if they were in their original cases. Most of these are in open face cases, whereas I think the majority of KWs--especially those from the 1860s and 70s--were originally in hunter cases. This may be true for some makers more so than others. For example, I think most New York Springfields were originally cased in heavy coin silver hunter cases, not open face cases. These thoughts are based on personal observation and not on a statistical analysis.

If one has a stem wind watch, it is easy to tell if it was made as a hunter or open face watch by the position of the stem. If one uses the wrong style case, then the orientation of the dial will be rotated 90 degrees from where it should be. I think so-called sidewinders were never sold that way, that the movement has certainly been recased, probably because hunter cases are structurally weaker than open face cases and wear out more easily, hence requiring the watch to be recased.

Kew winds, however, can be placed in either type case, and the orientation of the dial will be correct in either one. However, I think it's possible to distinguish between a hunter KW and an open face KW by the orientation of the balance cock with respect to the bow and crown. If the movement is in the correct case, then the balance cock will point generally downward. If in the wrong case, the the balance cock will point sideways. Once you spot this difference it's hard to miss.

If I am unclear, let me know. If I am wrong, let me know. If you would like pictures to illustrate what I write about, let me know. I have not seen a discussion of this in the literature, but then again, I have not read everything that has been written.

John
 

musicguy

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I think so-called sidewinders were never sold that way.
I would agree you never know if a watch has been re-cased if it's a sidewinder. But I would disagree
in that there were never original sidewinders.


I think it's possible to distinguish between a hunter KW and an open face KW
There are many OF KY cases and obviously many Hunting cases for them
They are convertible in the sense they can be put in either case
and function(unlike their modern sidewinder counterparts in OF cases). So
I don't believe you can tell(other than case screw marks or wrong time period for the case vrs movement).



Rob
 
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Rick Hufnagel

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Hi John,

Keywinders can be cased either way, and without a different movement (in regards to your analysis of the balance cock)

Case screw marks are the most obvious sign. Also, looking into the style of case and the maker can shed some light. For instance, if there is a New York Springfield movement in a Keystone case advertised as original... It's most likely wrong.

Sometimes a movement has the locator pin in a different location than the case. Rockford's come to mind here as I have seen quite a few that are just a bit askew. I feel like that's a good hint as well

Short of trying to study what cases were available at what time, and the case screw marks... I don't know what else to look for.
 

Jim Haney

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Most of the old KW/KS watches have a pin in the dial plate that is about in the 55 min area and if the pin lines up and the 2 holes in the dust cover are located where they should be, It doesn't make any difference to me if it was intended to be a OF or H.
;)
 

Tom Huber

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As Rick said, the case maker and case material is a clue. If the watch is an early KW and it is in a nickel silver case , it is a recase. Nickel silver alloy cases started in the 1880's.

I disagree that HC keywinds greatly outnumbered OF in early production. Open faced silver cases were significantly cheaper than hunter cases. So, it would make sense that more OF cases were sold.

Tom
 
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jboger

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Gentlemen:

All that you say is correct: keywinds can be put in either case and still have the dial in the right orientation. But, in the spirit of inquiry, l ask if US watchmakers had a preferred orientation of the balance cock that "pointed" in a specific direction whether an open face of hunter. If the answer is yes, then this might mean we can distinguish open face keywinds from hunter case keywinds just as we do for stem wind watches.

All the watches pictured here I believe are in their original cases. Yes, I understand I have no way of knowing that for sure, but it doesn't really matter. What does matter is whether they are in the "right" sort of case as originally intended.

The top row consists of two stem-wind watches, to the left a Waltham in an OF case, and to the right a Hampden in a hunter case. Clearly the open face Waltham movement was made for an open face case. Note the orientation of the balance cock with respect to the bow; it points in what I call down. This is true for either watch. I believe this is the orientation preferred by the watchmakers possibly done so for timekeeping considerations. Now look at the second row. These are two Waltham KWs. Note the orientation of the balance cocks. They point down same as the stem winds. Ditto for the bottom row, which includes two New York Springfields. If I were to re-case any of these KWs into an open face case, yes, the dial would be in the right position BUT the balance cock would rotate 90 degrees and be perpendicular (more or less) to the bow and crown.

This is regardless of the location of that pin mentioned above. And, although the bite marks of the case screws provide some information, it is not really relevant to this discussion, which concerns what the watchmaker originally intended, not how the movements were subsequently cased over time. So the question I have for my learned colleagues is, Did US watchmakers have a preferred orientation for the balance cock? If so, this could be a basis for distinguishing hunter KWs from open face KWs. In short, if the balance cock points perpendicular to the crown in an open face KW, might this be evidence for a re-case?

John

IMG_1299.jpg
 
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Greg Frauenhoff

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I think so-called sidewinders were never sold that way, that the movement has certainly been recased,
John,

Sorry, but I agree with musicguy that this statement is absolutely incorrect. The subject of original "sidewinders" has been discussed in detail in several previous message board threads. Most such "original" watches date to the 1870s to mid-1880s.

Greg
 

jboger

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I'm afraid my comment about sidewinders has been a distraction. Regardless, not really relevant as it pertains to stem wound watches, not key winds. So please forget that comment. That's a separate issue.
 

musicguy

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Ditto for the bottom row, which includes two New York Springfields. If I were to re-case any of these KWs into
an open face case, yes, the dial would be in the right position BUT the balance cock would rotate
90 degrees and be perpendicular (more or less) to the bow and crown.
I don't think they cared because they were interchangeable based on what
the customer wanted(OF or HC). Remember these watches were cased at the jewelry store.


Rob
 

Bila

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Nickel silver alloy cases started in the 1880's.

I was originally of the same opinion, but this is not quite the case (excuse the pun as it is unintended). There was another discussion elsewhere on the forum board about this and I think Clint showed excerpts from catalogues as early as the late 1860's that show cases for sale that were made from types of silver alloy material.
 

Rick Hufnagel

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Are you saying that the Hampden model three is in a hunter case? That would be very interesting if original. That's a grade 55, sold as an openfaced movement. Sort of like an opposite sidewinder.


Nice watches, btw! The Aaron Bagg looks great. I haven't seen one yet for sale with nice Gilt like that.


if the balance cock points perpendicular to the crown in an open face KW, might this be evidence for a re-case?
If you put a long cock new York in an openfaced case, it will be perpendicular.

I've always figured this open faced New York to be original. Regardless if it's recased or not, it would still be positioned the same way in the case.

6aee3dbff4de925c153766bab17566fe.jpg


I suppose your looking for a more technical answer, but figured this would be an example.
 
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Tom Huber

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I was originally of the same opinion, but this is not quite the case (excuse the pun as it is unintended). There was another discussion elsewhere on the forum board about this and I think Clint showed excerpts from catalogues as early as the late 1860's that show cases for sale that were made from types of silver alloy material.
Yes there were some early alloy cases. One that comes to mind is pewter. I have seen some early aluminum alloy cases. But the nickel silver alloy cases, ie Silverode, Silveroid, Silverine, Alaska Silver, etc all have patent dates in the 1880's.

Tom
 

Bila

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Thanks Tom for the clarafication on nickel silver, but is it not the case that albata or alabata was a nickel silver alloy. This is one of the metals in the forum post previously that I spoke about from the 1860's ads.
 
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John Pavlik

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John, what is the point of which way the balance cock faced? On a key wind it will face which ever way the movement is put in a case... aligning the movement pin ... manufacturers only made one style of key wind
movement .. They did not make hunting and open face...
 

vintageguy

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If you would like pictures to illustrate what I write about, let me know.
I enjoy collecting 1860s and 1870s era American watches in coin silver cases, and I would prefer that the movement have an original case (which is so hard to nail down) or be in a case that would at least be correct and plausible for the movement. On the early Americans, my procedure is 1) determine if there are any extraneous screw marks; if there are then, its not original, 2) if no extraneous screwmarks, then I try to figure out if the style of case is appropriate for the era; and 3) if I can't figure that out on my own, then I post here or PM one of the knowledgeable authorities on this board who know their way around early American watches and ask their opinion.

It's hard answer the broad question - "Recase keywind watches -- how to tell" in a vacuum. If you have a particular example you're interested in, suggest you post it here and let the experts have a go at it :)
 

Clint Geller

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As Bila has said, nickel alloy cases were referred to in the US as Albata in the 1860s and were often marked as such. I have seen a few perfectly original looking albata cases marked “Albata” on Waltham Model 1857s from the Civil War years. The AWCo’s 1864 sales catalog lists them for sale, and the J&H archive listings for Ellery grade Model 1857 movements include two or three examples in Albata cases as well. From memory, I believe Albata was a nickel-copper-zinc alloy, though it’s exact composition probably varied. This may well be the same exact alloy by another name as the later appearing “silverine,” “silverode,” and “ore silver” designations.

As for which style of case predominated in the 1860s, I think there is little question that the hunting style was most popular. I own eleven watches with Civil War provenances, including eight Waltham’s, a Howard, and one English and one Swiss movement both in American cases. All eleven are hunting case key winds. I have one pre-war Waltham, an AT&Co Model 1857 in an open face silver case. That watch is also unusual in having a serpentine Arabic numeral dial, perhaps further indicating that the watch was intended for a different market than rugged outdoorsmen. In his Model 1857 book, the notes to Ron Price’s movement tables for the early keywinds mention case style for many movements as well, and the cases listed are predominantly hunting style. The 1864 Waltham sales catalog gives detailed pricing for hunting case silver cases by weight, but only mentions open face cases as almost an afterthought. E. Howard & Co. introduced its first stem wound model in 1869, but its first open face stem wound model, the Series VIII, didn’t appear until the mid-1880s. Similarly, Waltham’s first stem wound model was introduced in 1868, but Waltham’s first open face stemwinders, which may have been some of the Model 1872s (someone please correct me, if I am wrong), didn’t appear until the late 70s or early 80s. The one exception of which I am aware to the preference for hunting cases in that period is that most English pocket chronometers from the 1870s and before seem to be open face.

As for some sidewinders being original, I have shown here an open face 18K case with a hinged front bezel and a screwed on exhibition back with a diameter, a thickness and a lever slot that uniquely fit a Waltham Model 1868 movement in a sidewinding orientation. Both 18K bezels have matching slanted reeding along their edges. I have seen other sidewinders with matching private labels on the dial and case.
 
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DeweyC

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John, what is the point of which way the balance cock faced? On a key wind it will face which ever way the movement is put in a case... aligning the movement pin ... manufacturers only made one style of key wind
movement .. They did not make hunting and open face...
I do not know when this analyzed, but the pinning points of the balance spring is a very important part of the watch adjustments. See Jendritski for more detail. I think Gribi (1905) may have discussed this as well.
 

Clint Geller

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Once micrometer regulators with adjusting screws were introduced on E. Howard & Co. movements, the orientation of the movement relative to the hinges of the dust cover and outer rear lid, as well as which side of the balance cock the adjusting screw was mounted on, became important, because that relationship determined whether you could get a screw driver in to adjust the regulator without taking the movement out of its case. The earliest Howard movements fitted with Reed's whiplash regulator, which first appeared around SN 23,301 in the N Size, and near SN 50,001 in the L Size, had adjusting screws facing outward toward the perimeter of the movement, and these regulators attached to hairsprings that spiraled outward from the hairspring collet in a counterclockwise manner. At about the same time that the configurations of watchcases shifted from offset to parallel front and rear case hinges some time in the 1870s, E. Howard & Co. began mounting their Reed's regulators with the adjusting screw facing inward toward the center of the movement. These were attached to hairsprings with a clockwise spiral.

Shown here are L Size movements SN 50,021, a very early Model 1869 (Series V) L Size movement with three case screws finished in September, 1869, and SN 56,327, an L Size movement finished in 1875 or 1876, which is one of a run of thirty nickel movements with fully functional key and stem winding and setting. The regulator adjusting screws have opposite orientations and the hairspring chiralities are reversed. One can also see that the hinges for the rear lids and dust covers of their respective cases have migrated from 7:30 to 9 o'clock (as one would see them from the dial side of a hunting case watch, with the pendant at 3 o'clock.) The cam, and the star wheel regulators used on many contemporaneous Waltham watches didn't need to be coordinated with the case design.

H 50,021 movt 3 case screws.jpg H 56,327 nickell KW-SW L Size.jpg
 
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Clint Geller

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On the more general subject of how one can tell whether a movement has been recased, it is important to keep in mind that the interchange of American watch movements between appropriate cases was undetectable by design! As Rob mentioned, many if not even most early American keywind movements left the factory uncased. So this very advantageous interchangeability design feature of American watch movements enabled retail purveyors to offer customers a wide choice of movement and case combinations with a limited inventory. Thus while exceptions exist, such as when a movement and case have matching serial numbers, which is mostly not the case even for original American watches, it is impossible to say more than that a case is completely "correct" for a particular movement. As a result, one can seldom absolutely prove originality. One can only disprove it in instances in which either the functional characteristics, incongruous indications of use (e.g., case screw marks), or the known provenance details (such as indicated by sales records or case markings) of the different parts of a watch indicate that the case and movement did not begin life together. I consequently judge that there is an important distinction between a movement that has been put in a case that is functionally and stylistically correct and which was intended for the same make and model of movement in the same period, and a movement in a case from a different period and/or which has been functionally modified in order to accept its current occupant. I think most other collectors make similar judgments.
 
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musicguy

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it is impossible to say more than that a case is completely "correct" for a
particular movement. As a result, one can seldom absolutely prove originality.
Absolutely.

It also holds true with factory cased watches in the US.
Even though I feel many of my own factory cased triple signed watches
are "original" I do currently see on eBay empty factory case's for sale without movements all the time.
Many of the solid gold cases with high grade movements were scrapped and people
regularly buy a lower grade movement in a
factory signed case and just pop their high grade in with the same screw mark locations.
Collectors have been doing this for years.

I do have some HG movements that came to me as solo movements and I have re cased
some of them and I do not think less of those watches.

100 years from now someone will post
on a forum, "look at my original watch" and it's the one I re cased. ;)

Rob
 

vintageguy

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Many of the solid gold cases with high grade movements were scrapped and people
regularly buy a lower grade movement in a
factory signed case and just pop their high grade in with the same screw mark locations.
Collectors have been doing this for years.
I think this is particularly true of Keystone Howards. Also, as I understand it, KH sold pendant-set watches in original cases with lever cutouts, which makes it even more difficult to determine original casing. I myself really like KHs, and the fact that they may be in a signed replacement case doesn't bother me too much so long as the case style seems appropriate for the movement serial number. A couple weeks ago I considered doing the reverse of what Rob describes: I saw up for sale a gorgeous 14K Keystone Howard case that would have been perfect for a 3/4 Plate Series 4. Didn't buy it at the time, more's the pity.

I consequently judge that there is an important distinction between a movement that has been put in a case that is functionally and stylistically correct and which was intended for the same make and model of movement in the same period, and a movement in a case from a different period and/or which has been functionally modified in order to accept its current occupant. I think most other collectors do too.
I agree. Clint's writing on the subject with respect to early EH&Co. watches has informed my thinking about antique watch casing in general. NAWCC members can access one such monograph here: Log In
 
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John Pavlik

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Dewey, Not sure what you are referring... I was trying to explain that Early key wind American movements
Were all configured the same so placing in a case was determined by what style case was used... pinning the hairspring was not changed as to how it was cased... While pendant up timing may be affected with positioning the same movement In either a hunter or open face case, not sure that was an adjustment factor used during this time frame ..
 

Clint Geller

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About the compositions of some metal alloys that have been used in pocket watch cases:

Nickel base alloys (known by various names, e.g., Albata, silverine, silverode, ore silver, ...): these consist of nickel, copper, and zinc, perhaps with other minor additives
Brass*: A copper-zinc alloy. "The color of brass varies from a dark reddish brown to a light silvery yellow depending on the amount of zinc present; the more zinc, the lighter the color."
Pewter (which was mentioned in this thread): A tin alloy with additions of antimony, copper, and bismuth, and sometimes silver or lead.
Sterling silver: 92.5 w/o silver and 7.5 w/o copper
Coin silver: 90 w/o silver and 10% copper
14 karat gold: 58.5 w/o gold mixed with copper and sometimes other minor elements to affect color
18 karat gold: 75 w/o gold, 25 w/o copper
22 karat gold (European): 91.7 w/o gold, 8.3 w/o copper
Platinum alloys (20th century): I'm not sure which elements may have been added to platinum to enhance its formability or visual appeal for use in watchcases, but platinum is frequently alloyed with other platinum group elements, such as palladium, iridium, rhodium, and ruthenium, with which it is often found, as well as with gold and nickel.

*brass is not to be confused with bronze, which is a copper-tin alloy.

"w/o" means weight percent, or percent by weight
 
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DeweyC

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Dewey, Not sure what you are referring... I was trying to explain that Early key wind American movements
Were all configured the same so placing in a case was determined by what style case was used... pinning the hairspring was not changed as to how it was cased... While pendant up timing may be affected with positioning the same movement In either a hunter or open face case, not sure that was an adjustment factor used during this time frame ..
I understand. I was referencing "side winders" as a class.
 

Clint Geller

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Once micrometer regulators with adjusting screws were introduced on E. Howard & Co. movements, the orientation of the movement relative to the hinges of the dust cover and outer rear lid, as well as which side of the balance cock the adjusting screw was mounted on, became important, because that relationship determined whether you could get a screw driver in to adjust the regulator without taking the movement out of its case. The earliest Howard movements fitted with Reed's whiplash regulator, which first appeared around SN 23,301 in the N Size, and near SN 50,001 in the L Size, had adjusting screws facing outward toward the perimeter of the movement, and these regulators attached to hairsprings that spiraled outward from the hairspring collet in a counterclockwise manner. At about the same time that the configurations of watchcases shifted from offset to parallel front and rear case hinges some time in the 1870s, E. Howard & Co. began mounting their Reed's regulators with the adjusting screw facing inward toward the center of the movement. These were attached to hairsprings with a clockwise spiral.

Shown here are L Size movements SN 50,021, a very early Model 1869 (Series V) L Size movement with three case screws finished in September, 1869, and SN 56,327, an L Size movement finished in 1875 or 1876, which is one of a run of thirty nickel movements with fully functional key and stem winding and setting. The regulator adjusting screws have opposite orientations and the hairspring chiralities are reversed. One can also see that the hinges for the rear lids and dust covers of their respective cases have migrated from 7:30 to 9 o'clock (as one would see them from the dial side of a hunting case watch, with the pendant at 3 o'clock.) The cam, and the star wheel regulators used on many contemporaneous Waltham watches didn't need to be coordinated with the case design.

View attachment 607424 View attachment 607425
My apologies. Movement SN 50,021 has a simple regulator. My lousy eyesight and the poor photo convinced me it had a Reed’s whip. However, the point I was making remains valid.
 

jboger

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I have not gone through all the comments and replies yet. There are a lot of them! I like musicguy's response that it was the jeweler who selected the case for the customer and both were indifferent to the orientation of the balance cock, whether perpendicular or pointing down with respect to the pendant.

I will read the rest of the comments as soon as I hve time.

John
 

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