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Silver cased Waltham masonic pocket watch, circa 1910

Ticktocktime100

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Hi all,

I’m mostly a clock enthusiast, but I also collect watches. I was very pleased to add this fine silver cased Waltham, with a flawless enamel dial depicting the Masonic symbols, to the horological family. Could anyone enlighten me regarding the history of this model, year of manufacture, movement, rarity, and possibly value? Through my research, I have come across a few similar watches including one in a gold case, but I take it these examples are not especially common.

Unfortunately, I am unable to photograph the movement at present as I do not have a sufficiently thin blade to hand in order to open the case.

Any thoughts greatly appreciated.

Best to all,

JJ

05C60C80-61B2-4DC2-84CD-5B0648BF7EFC.jpeg 5CA9E688-014F-4D66-A4D9-11FD5391E3C7.jpeg 7D7ED03A-AB97-47B3-84EB-115149830934.jpeg F9BC656F-8DB6-4F22-943C-78186DF8165C.jpeg D6783C40-13FF-4961-BA7A-C3097B0C5482.jpeg BD72767B-0570-4FAD-8DCC-5BBF4BE63E3F.jpeg
 

Rick Hufnagel

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Hi JJ,

Beautiful dial!

Your case looks like a swing ring. The bezel should unscrew. No blade required.

Once the bezel is off pull out the stem, and the movement ring should lift up. You will see a notch around 6 o'clock on the rim to lift the ring.

Make sure to pull out the stem into winding position before lifting the ring!

Also... Hold your hand over the movement when you lift... Just in case the last person did not secure the movement screws.
 
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rrwatch

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Hi all,

I’m mostly a clock enthusiast, but I also collect watches. I was very pleased to add this fine silver cased Waltham, with a flawless enamel dial depicting the Masonic symbols, to the horological family. Could anyone enlighten me regarding the history of this model, year of manufacture, movement, rarity, and possibly value? Through my research, I have come across a few similar watches including one in a gold case, but I take it these examples are not especially common.

Unfortunately, I am unable to photograph the movement at present as I do not have a sufficiently thin blade to hand in order to open the case.

Any thoughts greatly appreciated.

Best to all,

JJ

View attachment 664876 View attachment 664877 View attachment 664878 View attachment 664879 View attachment 664880 View attachment 664881
From the 5th photo, it appears that you have what is called a "swing ring" case, that opens from the front only. Do NOT attempt to pry the case open.. The bezel (the metal ring that holds the crystal) is rotated counter-clockwise, like unscrewing the lid on a jar. When the bezel is removed, pull out the winding stem to the "hand setting" position and gently lift the inner ring from the bottom (6 o'clock) position to swing the movement open. Then either photograph the movement and the inside of the case back or tell us everything that is engraved on the back of the movement and also on the inside of the case back and we can probably give you additional information about your watch.

I see Rick has beat me too it again !!
 
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John Cote

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I am going to bet that your watch is an 18s model '83 Waltham. The "83 came in many grades. The beautiful Masonic dial has nothing to do with the grade or model. These dials were listed in a catalog of fancy Waltham dials and were available for order in jewelry stores and watchmakers where Waltham watches were sold. The dials could be ordered to fit different models.

Not many people ordered these dials so they are pretty scarce these days, especially in nice condition.

One more thing. I seriously doubt that the case your watch is in would have been the original case, although I suppose it is possible. A customer who ordered a dial like this probably would have wanted to show it off in a nice gold case. The original case probably got melted at some point and somebody put the movement in this case.
 
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Ticktocktime100

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Hi JJ,

Beautiful dial!

Your case looks like a swing ring. The bezel should unscrew. No blade required.

Once the bezel is off pull out the stem, and the movement ring should lift up. You will see a notch around 6 o'clock on the rim to lift the ring.

Make sure to pull out the stem into winding position before lifting the ring!

Also... Hold your hand over the movement when you lift... Just in case the last person did not secure the movement screws.
From the 5th photo, it appears that you have what is called a "swing ring" case, that opens from the front only. Do NOT attempt to pry the case open.. The bezel (the metal ring that holds the crystal) is rotated counter-clockwise, like unscrewing the lid on a jar. When the bezel is removed, pull out the winding stem to the "hand setting" position and gently lift the inner ring from the bottom (6 o'clock) position to swing the movement open. Then either photograph the movement and the inside of the case back or tell us everything that is engraved on the back of the movement and also on the inside of the case back and we can probably give you additional information about your watch.

I see Rick has beat me too it again !!
I am going to bet that your watch is an 18s model '83 Waltham. The "83 came in many grades. The beautiful Masonic dial has nothing to do with the grade or model. These dials were listed in a catalog of fancy Waltham dials and were available for order in jewelry stores and watchmakers where Waltham watches were sold. The dials could be ordered to fit different models.

Not many people ordered these dials so they are pretty scarce these days, especially in nice condition.

One more thing. I seriously doubt that the case your watch is in would have been the original case, although I suppose it is possible. A customer who ordered a dial like this probably would have wanted to show it off in a nice gold case. The original case probably got melted at some point and somebody put the movement in this case.
Thank you all for your kind and erudite opinions, I certainly wasn’t going to use any type of blade. The screw-off bezel makes sense, I’ll keep you posted. An interesting comment about the case also, that would explain why the other model I saw was in gold.

All the best,

JJ
 

John Cote

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Thank you all for your kind and erudite opinions, I certainly wasn’t going to use any type of blade. The screw-off bezel makes sense, I’ll keep you posted. An interesting comment about the case also, that would explain why the other model I saw was in gold.

All the best,
JJ,

It turns out that my comment was not all that erudite. I did not bother to look closely at your pictures. It has been pointed out to me by a much more erudite friend and scholar, who did take the time to look more carefully that the minute marker on your dial at 45 minutes is a little blue triangle. Had I bothered to enlarge your photos and look carefully, even I, with only 50 or so years of experience would have spotted this tell-tale sign that the dial was one of the aftermarket dials made by Roy Ehrhardt. Roy, who wrote the book(s) on American pocket watches and a lot of other collectibles bought lots of real/legit loose American porcelain dials and applied decals to make them into fancy dials. He duplicated Waltham and Elgin designs but also did some of his own. He didn't want people to buy these as the real/factory deal so he always included the blue marker at 45 minutes.

So, my original post was right but just not right for your dial. Thanks to my much more conscious friend and fellow NAWCC Board member Mr Rhett Lucke for TXTing me this morning and pointing out my Tom Foolery.
 

musicguy

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t has been pointed out to me by a much more erudite friend and scholar, who did take the time to look more carefully that the minute marker on your dial at 45 minutes is a little blue triangle.
Hopefully this information doesn't get lost with time.


Rob
 

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I talked to Roy a little about these dials back in the day. I think Roy was a pretty honest guy. He lived and worked in the biz of watches and some other collectables. That was his job/business/passion. He needed to make money like all of us. He didn't want to deceive anyone. He knew there was a big market for replacement dials and he knew he had and could get a lot of good to fair condition original factory dials from the hoards of parts he bought. He figured that he would spruce some of them up with decals, but tell eveyone he sold them to that they had been spruced up and weren't original.

Roy was a very interesting character. Your NAWCC library has a lot of his original manuscripts and records. I think it about time for a Bulletin article on this giant of American watch collectors. It is getting higher and higher on my long list of things to do.
 

musicguy

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I personally have a problem with it no matter what his motivation was.
He had to know that someday in the not to distant future these would be
purchased as original. Just like the OP above probably just recently did themselvs.

and I'm not too sure about what the demand for these reproduction dials "is or ever was"
amung serious collectors.


Rob
 

John Cote

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I personally have a problem with it no matter what his motivation was.
He had to know that someday in the not to distant future these would be
purchased as original. Just like the OP above probably just recently did themselvs.

and I'm not too sure about what the demand for these reproduction dials "is or ever was"
amung serious collectors.

I get it Rob. Every human being and every business man has her/his morality line in the sand drawn in a personalized place. Sometimes your line line might go to far for me or vice-versa. As I said, Roy had to make a living and feed his family just like the rest of us. His line bothered some people. Maybe it bothered a lot of people.

I liked Roy. I came to think that his contribution to watch collecting was overwhelmingly positive. Seen in hand these decalled dials are very easy to spot...even without the little blue marker. I know they fool people from time to time...mostly your "not serious" or casual collectors. Roy's Ferguson dials are better looking than the decal dials but they still have the blue mark. They do fool some people too.

I guess that, ultimately I don't like that he made these dials either but all I can do these days is make sure to point out the differences to collectors and make sure dealers don't misrepresent. Very rarely do I see one of these after marked Ehrhardt dials make a watch sell for big money.
 
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musicguy

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Sorry if I was too harsh

i know they fool people from time to time...mostly your "not serious" or casual collectors
I wasn't worried about the serious collectors
It's the average ones that get deceived

Rob
 
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Ticktocktime100

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JJ,

It turns out that my comment was not all that erudite. I did not bother to look closely at your pictures. It has been pointed out to me by a much more erudite friend and scholar, who did take the time to look more carefully that the minute marker on your dial at 45 minutes is a little blue triangle. Had I bothered to enlarge your photos and look carefully, even I, with only 50 or so years of experience would have spotted this tell-tale sign that the dial was one of the aftermarket dials made by Roy Ehrhardt. Roy, who wrote the book(s) on American pocket watches and a lot of other collectibles bought lots of real/legit loose American porcelain dials and applied decals to make them into fancy dials. He duplicated Waltham and Elgin designs but also did some of his own. He didn't want people to buy these as the real/factory deal so he always included the blue marker at 45 minutes.

So, my original post was right but just not right for your dial. Thanks to my much more conscious friend and fellow NAWCC Board member Mr Rhett Lucke for TXTing me this morning and pointing out my Tom Foolery.
John,

Thank you ever so much for getting back to me once again. I greatly appreciate it, and please express my gratitude to Mr Lucke also for giving my watch his careful consideration.

What an excellent education this has been - in hindsight the auction picture was not good enough to reveal the key detail, and furthermore the low hammer price should probably have alerted me that something was wrong, but was too tempting to walk away from.

While the collector side of me would naturally have preferred it to be all original, the connection to Roy Ehrhardt and his story makes it a far more interesting and valuable watch in my eyes. Although his work may be easily recognisable to those with the experience, the quality of this dial clearly reflects the skillful and knowledgeable craftsman and character he obviously was.

One further question: how should the watch be regarded? The word « fake » would be inadequate as I take it that at least the movement and hands are original. Could it simply be described as altered? I have no plans to sell it, but is there any market whatsoever for these curious creations?

It’s certainly my most interesting « mishap » thus far, I suppose this is why I usually stick to clocks.:.

Once again, sincerest thanks. Delighted to know more.

JJ
 
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I met Roy in the late eighties, and I will say this, Roy tirelessly promoted the NAWCC. At all the flea markets and shows he attended, and there were many, he talked up the NAWCC, and had on hand application forms. I know of NO ONE who has got more people to join NAWCC than Roy.
 
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John Cote

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John,

One further question: how should the watch be regarded? The word « fake » would be inadequate as I take it that at least the movement and hands are original. Could it simply be described as altered? I have no plans to sell it, but is there any market whatsoever for these curious creations?
JJ,

I think the word fake is overused and can be interpreted too many ways and can have too many different meanings. Your watch is obviously not totally original. It has an aftermarket dial and probably a replacement case. It's not a museum piece. That said, it is an interesting piece of the American watch collecting story.

Something to think about when thinking about American watches is that the basic American manufacturing philosophy was to have interchangeable parts. The industry even agreed, across most competitors to have standard sized movements to fit in standard sized cases. Determining whether any American watch is "original" or not is almost always difficult. I have a few American pocket watches in my collection which come with their box and papers and give the serial numbers of the movement and case and describe the dial. I have a few watches which seem to be original because we know the factory standards of he time and these watches seem to conform as far as case dial and movement. Other than that originality is just a feeling. So many watches have been "upgraded" or "restored" over the years. People put their favorite watches in better/fancier & plausibly stylistically correct cases. They change out slightly damaged or plain Jane dials for plausibly correct, "better" dials. Most collectors, including me, are guilty of this to some extent.

Most of the time you just really can't know if an American pocket watch, especially a RR watch is really original or not. Most of them are at best "plausibly" original.
 
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Ticktocktime100

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Hi all,

As promised, here is the movement. The serial number is 8882246, and is surprisingly legible. It would appear that the case is not original as suggested, as the bezel shows a different serial number.

Best to all,

JJ

B0E4CFA4-59FF-4D71-9B60-431A9BD51CB8.jpeg F802FFF8-F52C-4C84-893D-3582F18E54B6.jpeg 69A368DA-EAA2-431C-93FA-4E1448789FDE.jpeg 3DCD5209-9B48-4E8F-B63E-D361FAA1CB37.jpeg
 
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John Cote

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Well, I was right about one thing. It is indeed a Waltham Model '83 as I suspected. Specifically, it is a model 83 Grade 18. These are pretty nice movements...sort of a mid grade. It was a very popular movement with in the neighborhood of 650,000 produced in total. Yours was produced around 1898.
 
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