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Rockford Grades 500 - 505 & 510 - 515 - High End 16s 21J Pieces

Nigel Harrison

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Hi Folks,

I was just performing some research on a Rockford 16s 21J Grade 510 hunter. Just looking at the Rockford sales brochure and was surprised to see that that the Grade 500 & 505 was nearly twice the price of a grade 510 & 515. I can see some slight differences in adjustment (5 vs all positions (8?)) and the 500 & 505 had ruby pallets as well as maybe one or two other minor things, though I could not see how they could ask $100 for the 500 & 515 and $60 for the 510 & 515. Visually both movements are finished to be near identical, and their major features are all the same - finish, solid gold train, ruby jewels, balance wheel, dial etc. What are peoples thoughts there, worthwhile price difference?

The production figures of these grades in general show there were not many made of all these grades: a few hundred each of the 500 and 505? from what I can see and under 500 for at least the grade 510..and 1600 for the 515. So I guess price vs features restricted them in general overall...in comparison to other makers eg. Elgin and Waltham. They are great looking pieces though :)

If anyone has any exact production figures of these grades that would be good to know.

Looking on the Rockford database on the 149 site shows the piece I am researching shows up in a run of 515's instead of a 510 run SN: 546771
 

Fred Hansen

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The 500 and 505 are beautiful movements and have some terrific finish elements ... the winding wheels mirror finished over their entire surface, the eye catching circular polished steel disk around the escape wheel setting, and the beautiful frosted and engraved area around the balance jewel setting. I like the 510 and 515 quite a bit, but the 500 and 505 are indeed a step above for visual appeal.

Whether these (and any other) features of the 500 and 505 really justify a $40 higher original list price can be debated, but the 500 and 505 were the premier pieces in Rockford's 16 size line and the company wanted to promote them as such with the lofty price being a part of this image.
 

Fred Hansen

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Also worth note that the 12 size 23 jewel grades 300 and 305 are similarly beautiful and also had an original $100 list price.
 

Nigel Harrison

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Ok Thanks Fred, I was looking at a grade 500 from G&H and I have to say I could not see the different finish...but in saying that it was not the best example as it did have oxidisation on parts, so that would affect it overall. Here it is: http://www.jones-horan.com/0604/images/tr8_d.jpg

I just found a couple of 505's on G&H and I can start to see some more niceties, one here: http://www.jones-horan.com/0604/images/tr8_d.jpg

I think it is one of those situations where I would need to have one of each hand in hand to compare and appreciate by the sounds. Most likely will not happen with me being in Aus and not really a Rockford collector, that could well change though :excited:. I will definitely latch onto a Rockford 24J 18s piece one day as they just look ....great!

I have read past posts about the 12s 23J and how amazing it is, I have to say they rarely come up for sale and this would be another piece to really have in hand to appreciate I would imagine.

I do appreciate the info mate.
 

Tom McIntyre

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Since Fred brought them up, here is a picture of my 305. It really is an interesting little watch. The 300 and 305 are 23 jewel watches with the quirky feature of cap jewels on the 3rd wheel.

movement.jpg Dial.jpg

Below is a picture of my 300 HC which is in the as found condition needing a whiplash and a winding wheel. However, it does show the other half of the 12 size pair.

Movement.jpg Dial.jpg

movement.jpg Dial.jpg Movement.jpg Dial.jpg
 
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darrahg

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The pics aren't great but here is a 500 (dial and back plate views) and 515 so folks can some idea of what you guys are talking about.
Rockford 16s gde500 movement.jpg Rockford 16s mdl5 g515 fix.jpg

Rockford produced other grades that are just as attractive and are within, what I consider, a low production count and might be worth mentioning. The 525 grade comes to mind but haven't examined it in detail for comparison with the other 500s. The dial view is of the 500 that I could not figure out how to remove.

Rockford 16s gde500 movement.jpg Rockford 16s m4 g500 dial plate view.jpg Rockford 16s mdl5 g515 fix.jpg
 
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Nigel Harrison

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Thanks for sharing Darrah, it is interesting to to note that some of the same grade movements slightly differ in movement marking even though not many were made. Your grade 515 has no RG text but has 515 marked on it, where others I have seen have the reverse.
 

Jim Haney

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Darrahg,
In the 1st picture is the escape cap jewel a factory setting?

It just looks too weird to me, like someone made it from a balance cap jewel.
 

Fred Hansen

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The unusual escape setting is factory original and one of the most eye catching features of the grade 500 and 505. Here's pics of a 505 I had a few years ago ...

xyzzytom_231863

xyzzytom_231864
 
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Tom McIntyre

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I bought a 505 about 25 years ago based solely on the bright polished cap jewel setting and the RG marking. I traded it right away for a silver cased series II Howard and have regretted that ever since. :(
 

darrahg

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There are lots of 'neat' Rockford grades out there. I don't usually look at production runs when shopping but eye appeal and quality certainly float to the top when searching. I prefer marked grades and good plate patterns over everything else. Condition is very important too. I must admit though that if a movement is marked by grade, it has a lot going for it in the first place. For example, this grade 525 is something I just could not pass up. I believe about 1300 were produced in total so it falls within what most call an uncommon find in term of numbers. Strange, but I don't hear many comments about them.

Rockford 525 21j_2 cpd brighten.jpg
 

Nigel Harrison

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Yes a very nice piece Darrah. I guess there is mainstream brands and then the smaller manufacturers. I find there is always plenty of followers of all manufacturers out there somewhere, especially when you see an rare piece up for sale on ebay from a smaller manufacturer, they all come out and start bidding and you still usually can't get them cheap. :) So they are there, just more percentages follow the mainstream manufacturers.

Greg, I still can't get a 15 Ruby jewel at a reasonable price..:p so there is enough Aurora collectors out there.

Tom the 505 you bought are rarely seen so that would have been a shame, but a series II Howard is also very nice, not as rare but depends on the features you got on it...and the original cases are quite rare if original....as you wold know. :) I have many situations like that, I keep some and sell some but in the end you can't keep all of them and have to trade and sell to get what you are more passionate about..at the time. Also sometimes it does not make financial sense to keep some.

Very nice pics Fred :), great to see some more examples. I do love the pinwheel damaskeening that Rockford use....and on some of their winding wheels. The 510 and 515 grades have have a very intricate small checkered pattern that is very cool and looks time consuming.
 

darrahg

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Pmwas, yours appears to be a grade 515 without the RG and 515 marking. Would you state the first character of the serial number so I can try and confirm it?
 

pmwas

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Oh, sorry - forgot to mention, yes, it's a 12 size... (meant to write 12s 21j 5p ;) )
Still - what I meant is that the finish of the top Rockfords is remarkable :)
I'm still waiting for a 16s RR grade Rockford, but they are... expensive :)
Once I nearly got myself a 16s Winnebago, but the seller would not reduce the price to what I would call reasonable...
 
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darrahg

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My bad. I should have noticed the flared balance cock. That would be more like a grade 315.
 
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Greg Frauenhoff

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The 16s 21j Wind Indicator is also a fine looking Rockford, but my personal favorite in this category (16s 21j Rocks) is the Pocahontas.

BTW, an early (1898 or so) product line catalog shows the 500/505 as having 23 jewels. Has anyone come across such a beast?
 

pmwas

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The Indicator is... not very affordable :( Otherwise would bre on the high top of my (realistic) wishlist. Currently it's just among the beautiful dreams...
 

darrahg

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Pocahontas that is on my list for sprucing up. Pocahontas pre_restore.jpg
 

Greg Frauenhoff

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Pocahontas that is on my list for sprucing up. 212835.jpg
Darrah,

Thanks for the pics of your 500 and Pocahontas. As for sprucing them up, I think the most problematic part will be finding the correct ratchet wheels.

Greg
 

darrahg

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Greg, I generally don't do replacements. I finish them by hand to where most damage will be gone. The only thing I can't do is bring back pitting from severe rusting. And, I don't like to purchase those. My 500 shown above was in slightly worse condition.
 

Nigel Harrison

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I am in Japan at the moment with the family and had no real notion to spent too much time looking for pocket watches or in fact find any quality pocket watches, but happened to find a shopping mall with a bunch of small watch shops that mainly sold wristwatches and in one I found a handful of pocket watches. Most were all overpriced 12s and 16s simple pieces but what hit me straight away was the cheapest pocket Watch there. The owner actually said was "It is junk" and said no warranty as it was not running and the stem dust cover rind was loose which made it seem more messed up than it was. I was very happy to take the junk off his hands for 6000 Yen(Approx US$55)

21j Grade 510 Only 500 made!! and the balance is good. I don't mind the recase for that price.

Excuse the quick photos.

IMG_1799.JPG IMG_1798.JPG
 

darrahg

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Nigel, that is a nice piece of 'junk'.
 

Nigel Harrison

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That's what I thought!

When I saw the dial I thought that should be a pretty high grade piece inside, but dials can be deceiving and when he said it was junk before I asked him to open it I though the dial was just on some low grade Swiss made movement or something.

I could not believe when he opened the case and flashed those crosshatched rhodium plates and solid gold fittings at me - the movement matched the dial! I then thought this guy has to realise the watch is something more decent now, but he just glanced at the movement and quickly handed it to me. I quickly looked at it then quickly closed it up. Since it wasn't a Rolex wristwatch it just didn't rate for the seller, basically in Japan pocket watches don't really rate much at all it seems. There is just not many around and researching their history they were just too expensive to the average person up until around 1920's when seikosha brought out more affordable mass produced pieces.

Yes very happy to take the junk!
 
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