Rockford Case

John Cote

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Tim,

I have seen quite a few 16s Rockford marked cases but I can't remember seeing an 18s case. They may have had their name put on some 18s cases but the vase majority of 18s Rockfords were sold as movements with dial and hands only.
 
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darrahg

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Rockford movements were primarily cased by 'sellers' (jewelers). However, and you will hear this word a lot, there was a Rockford Watch Case Company that was eventually a department within the Rockford watch company that made cases mostly for 16s and smaller movements. They did make cases for the 18s but very few are found today and not sure if Rockford mated them with movements. Rockford sold complete watches such as the indicators and named grades such as Iroquois, Pocahontas etc. and a few others (e.g. Extremethin cases and other 0s) but these were 16s and smaller sized movements. They had a 18s reversible case named 'muckle' and these could have been sold complete with movement by either source but, there again, don't know for sure. Rockford watch movements are found in many different case brands that include Star, Keystone, Dueber, Muir, Fahys, Philadelphia, etc. and I am sure can be found in many, many more due to switching and parting that is prevalent today. The only hint of finding one that might be original is when there are no extra case screw marks but that does not guarantee any originality.
 

darrahg

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Rockford movements were primarily cased by 'sellers' (jewelers). However, and you will hear this word a lot, there was a Rockford Watch Case Company that was eventually a department within the Rockford watch company that made cases mostly for 16s and smaller movements. They did make cases for the 18s but very few are found today and not sure if Rockford mated them with movements. Rockford sold complete watches such as the indicators and named grades such as Iroquois, Pocahontas etc. and a few others (e.g. Extremethin cases and other 0s) but these were 16s and smaller sized movements. They had a 18s reversible case named 'muckle' and these could have been sold complete with movement by either source but, there again, don't know for sure. Rockford watch movements are found in many different case brands that include Star, Keystone, Dueber, Muir, Fahys, Philadelphia, etc. and I am sure can be found in many, many more due to switching and parting that is prevalent today. The only hint of finding one that might be original is when there are no extra case screw marks but that does not guarantee any originality.
Let me correct my above statement by saying that I did not mean to include indicators in the above statement.
 

Bila

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Probably a little of track here, but Dueber did make 18 Size cases for the Rockford Watch Company, with the Rockford name on as well as the Dueber "Anchor in shield" logo to denote it was made by them.
 
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Greg Frauenhoff

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Another comment (to help with the confusion). When Rockford introduced their 18s model 5 (the 3/4 plate design) (around 1880) they did contract with the Keystone Watch Case Co. to have some special (as in thinner) cases for such made. These cases are marked "Made for the Rockford Watch Co." (or something similar).
 
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Greg Frauenhoff

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Darrah,

Terrific watch. Your case is a Dueber and the ones I recall seeing were Keystone; perhaps other period case makers were contracted as well. I'll try to dig out the mention of such cases in an old Rockford catalog.

Re the later (after 1900) Rockford watches in Rockford marked cases (all that I know of are 16s, 12s and smaller) it is my recollection that M. C. Eppenstein became the majority owner of Rockford around this time and that he also owned (or controlled) a watch case company. This might be where the Rockford marked cases of this period came from.

Greg
 

darrahg

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Makes sense Greg. I will be interested in the reference to which you refer especially with reference to the case company.
 

Bildeborg

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I don't know if this is of any use to the OP but my recently acquired Rockford 18s from 1910 is housed in a Muhr/Zurbrugg 'B crown II' hunter case which I believe to be 14 carat gold filled.

Regards,

Jay.
 

Kent

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my recently acquired Rockford 18s from 1910 is housed in a Muhr/Zurbrugg 'B crown II' hunter case
Jay:

There's a bit of a disconnect here. I don't think that the case is original to your movement. The Crown B, No.2 cases were made by H. Muhr's Sons circa 1891. The line was sold to Zurbrugg in 1898 which became merged into the Philadelphia Watch Case Co. Although various trade marks continued under the new conglomeration, I don't think that the Crown B, No.2 case line survived the merger.

The picture of your Rockford movement/case in the thread entitled "My First Rockford & My First Two Tone Movement." seems to show a case screw mark, from an earlier inhabitant of the case, near the right barrel bridge screw.

1891_April_22_H_Muhrs_Sons.jpg 1898_Mar-30_J_Muhr_&_Bro_Case_Biz_Sold_To_Zurbrugg.jpg
 

Bildeborg

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Kent, that's a very interesting observation you make. I have since looked again under the microscope and can see the screw marks you mention, indeed one case screw is actually pressing directly upon the hinge, the very hinge that when all covers are closed is extremely sharp. When I say sharp I mean it could easily draw blood!

So I'm now left wondering what case this watch previously inhabited, something I suspect no one can answer with any certainty. I'm also wondering why it was re-cased......perhaps it had a gold case that was scrapped and the 'B crown ll' case just happened to be available?

Regards,

Jay.
 

Kent

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You're correct, its highly unlikely you'll ever learn what case the movement originally inhabited.

There are a whole bunch of reasons why a movement may have been recased, starting with the most mundane; the original case wore out or was irreparably damaged. On the other end of the spectrum, somebody, some time in the last 100 years, thought that the nice-looking movement belonged in a nicer-looking case than the one in which it was originally housed.

Another less common, but still possible occurrence may be the the original purchaser had the new movement placed in the case of an existing watch he/she was upgrading. Several watch companies advocated this during the teens (see below ads),

1917_Feb_LR.jpg 1915_Aug_South_Bend_Meets_Future_Reqs.jpg
 

W.T. Owen

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Well I guess I am very fortunate as to met Darrah when I first got started into the watch collecting. I,by chance, come up on an 18s Rockford in a Rockford case. Darrah told me this was an oddity without going into great detail and told me hang on to it because the combination wasn't common. So now i know and i owe many thanks to Darrah for the advice because i would have had no idea.
 

PatH

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Another less common, but still possible occurrence may be the the original purchaser had the new movement placed in the case of an existing watch he/she was upgrading. Several watch companies advocated this during the teens (see below ads),
Kent, thanks for sharing the ads and discussion of this possibility. Does this concept seem to be related to materials/resources being allocated to the war effort and a shortage of cases? I know that WWII era ads strongly advocated taking care of older watches, and having them repaired until production for non-military consumption could begin again. The suggestion is a subtle part of the ad, and I hadn't really picked up on this point in WWI ads.

Know this post is slightly off topic of this thread, but changes related to the wars played a key part in the American watch industry.

Thanks,
Pat
 

Kent

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Pat:

I don't think that this is related to materials/resources being allocated to the war effort. Both of these ads pre-date the US's entry into WWI and neither mention a need to conserve metals. I believe that the appeal to use an existing watch case was economic, or perhaps sentimental.

WWII seems to have had a much greater effect on the watch industry and the availability of watches (see "The Standard Watch in World War II") than WWI, but Waltham had difficulty getting higher grade watches adjusted during The Great War as many of their key people (especially adjusters) went off to war (as related in Timing a Century - History of the Waltham Watch Company, Charles W. Moore, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1945, pp134-5). I suspect all the U.S. watch watch companies suffered from this problem, but only Ball (whose movements were being made by Waltham at that time) acknowledged it in ads. The problem must have been severe for Ball since mention in ads continued at least until June 1919.

1919_Apr_Hold_On_To_Your_Ball.jpg 1919_Feb_Ball_Turnip.jpg 1919_Jun_Ball_War_Shortage.jpg 1919_Mar_Turnip_&_Ball_Shortage.jpg 1919_May_Ball_Shortage.jpg
 
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vintageguy

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Here is an example of what Greg is referring to on the 18s model 5.
Just bought this terrific 18s 3/4 Plate Model 5 as discussed by Greg and Darrah in this post. Dueber case with dust cover marked "Made for Rockford Watch Co."

IMG_7410x.jpg IMG_7427x.jpg IMG_7427xxx.jpg IMG_7432x.jpg IMG_7446x.jpg IMG_7446xxx.jpg IMG_7450x.jpg
 

Greg Frauenhoff

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darrahg

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Vintageguy, this is also a bit off topic but note that your movement has one case screw which indicates that it is key set only. Model 5s with two case screws are lever set.
 
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vintageguy

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Here's some info from an 1882 pocket catalog on the 3/4 plate.

522707-1d806a65add3c1cde0e91cea0824b150.jpg
Thanks guys.

I think my example is in one of the "special (thin) cases" referred to in the catalog. Here it is compared to an Am. W. Co. 3* coin case:

IMG_2574.jpg IMG_2575.jpg
 
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