Solid gold case — heaviest cases?

DTSPatrick

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I just ran across a recent auction with a 12 size Waltham in a 14k Brooklyn Watch Case Co hunter case. The posting listed the weight as 85.8 GRAMS. The case was in decent shape… but, the photographs looked horrible due to color saturation, etc. Hard to make out the detail or the quality of the case. The buy price was $1250 — quite a bargain if the case is really 86g. (edit — just saw the email in my inbox that he sent a discount for $1000 late in the night which another buyer took advantage of) I almost pushed the button but I just don’t believe the case is really that heavy. That’s heavier than any of my 12 size cases by at least 10g.

This got me thinking — what are your heaviest precious metal cases? Any size case with movement included. Pictures welcome.

i’d like to have a reference for high quality precious metal cases — good versus bad quality secondary to weight.
 
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Ethan Lipsig

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Those of you with watchmaking skills can better determine case weights than I can, by at least weighing cases separately. Because I have no watchmaking skills, I only can weigh cased watches. It would be nice if there were a table showing the weight of the movements, dial, hands, crystals, and springs for many of the watches we collect, but I've never seen one. I usually have to guess at what those components weigh in estimating the net weight of a case. Even case-only weights can be misleading because some case makers, I understand, put heavy springs or weights in their cases to make them feel heavier.

While I am not sure which of my watches has the heaviest precious metal cases, I am sure that the lightest 10 size or larger watch that I have is an aluminum V&C with a gross weight of 21.9 grams.

Here are some of my heaviest watches.

Smaller than 16-Size Watches

14k 14-Size Waltham 5-Minute Repeater/Chronograph Hunter, Gross Weight 162 Grams. This is the heaviest watch by gross weight that I found this morning in skimming my collection.
14k Walth 5 rept chron 162g.JPG

14k 8-Size Agassiz in J&S Hunter Case, Gross Weight 80 Grams
14k js 80g agassiz.jpg

18k 12-Size AWCO Bridge Model 1894, Gross Weight 83.7 Grams. DTSPatrick, this shows that a 12-size solid gold watch can have a gross weight of more than 80 grams. Based on my collection, few watches smaller than size 16 would have solid gold cases weighing 80 grams or more.
18k Awco 1894 A& B case 83.7g.JPG

16 Size or Larger Watches

18k Albert Potter Hunter, Gross Weight 150 Grams
18k 150g.JPG

14k Howard Series VII N-size Hunter, Gross Weight 141.9 Grams
14k howard  vii N 141.9g.JPG

14k Rockford Hunter, Gross Weight 152 Grams
14k Rockford.jpg

18k Ami LeCoultre Rattrapante with Diablotine Hunter, Gross Weight 144 Grams
18k Ami lecoultre ratt. diabol.JPG

18k Unsigned Pivot Detent Chronometer Hunter, Gross Weight 140 Grams, Case-only Weight 56 Grams
18k anon chron 140, case 56.JPG

18k Hunter L. Huguenin 2-Train Rattrapante with Diablotine, Case-only Weight 99.1 Grams
18k L Hug caseonly 9.5.JPG

18k Louis Audemars OF Two-Train Seconde Morte, Gross Weight 133 Grams
18k LA s.M.  133.JPG

18k AWCO Model 1872 OF, Case-only weight 56 DWT/87 Grams
AWCO 1872 56 dwt 87g.JPG
 

richiec

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The old Price Guid I have from 2017 had a section of approximate prices for cases, the last one I had showed gold at $1350 per ounce and a heavy, fancy 12 size case at $490.
 

musicguy

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I'm glad I don't collect gold because I personally
don't care who has the heaviest watch. That being said
they are nice looking :) .

Let's keep it to American cases in this forum




Rob
 
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Ethan Lipsig

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Rob, I do not go out of my way to buy heavy gold cases. The high grade watches I buy are usually cased in solid gold or platinum. Some have heavy cases. Most do not. If I were to invest in gold, it wouldn't be in gold watches.
 

John Cote

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I once had an old Howard "N" size with an 18k Hunting case that weighed 6 troy ounces, 120dwt, 186 grams without the springs, crystal, stem and crown. The watch is now in the collection of someone who likes gold more than I do. There are heaver gold cases out there.
 

musicguy

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Rob, I do not go out of my way to buy heavy gold cases. The high grade watches I buy are usually cased in solid gold or platinum. Some have heavy cases. Most do not. If I were to invest in gold, it wouldn't be in gold watches.
I know I was having some fun. You have fantastic cases.


Rob
 

musicguy

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DTSPatrick

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I personally don't care who has the heaviest watch.
Beautiful cases everyone. My intention for this post was not just bragging rights for biggest case but a measuring stick to compare case weights for future purchases. I have several orphan movements or movements that just need an upgrade from there GF origins. Hoping to get some baseline data.
 

grtnev

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Attached in this and following 3 posts are the general references that I use (in addition to the "Price Guide") - on that rare occasion when I am purchasing or trying to purchase a watch in a gold case.

The first two references state actual case weights.

The third reference states case weight and retail price. With a little manipulation you can back into the case weights, at least approximately.

The 4th reference analyzes two Keystone gold cases that have been taken apart as to actual % of the case weight is karat gold.

Nothing absolute - just guides and additional info.

1st reference

Richard

1.jpg 2.jpg 102.jpg 103.jpg
 
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Ethan Lipsig

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John, you said "I once had an old Howard "N" size with an 18k Hunting case that weighed 6 troy ounces, 120dwt, 186 grams without the springs, crystal, stem and crown." If, as I assume, the 186 grams was the weight of the case minus those items and the movement, that was a very heavy case. My 18k and 14k Howard N-size watches tip the scales at 134 grams and 141.9 grams, respectively, but those are gross weights. I don't carry my watches, but those Howards are too heavy for me to carry comfortably. I can't understand why anyone would want to carry a watch as heavy as your old Howard must have been.
 
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grtnev

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4th reference - note the 1st attachment is an article from magazine American Federeationist; Vol. VIII, No. 4, April 1901, page 126. On page 126, the magazine takes the Keystone Watch Case Company to task for “how the Keystone Company defrauds the public by making so-called ‘solid gold’ cases plugged with lead; proven by actual assay of Keystone watch cases bought indiscriminately”. According to the American Federationist only 63-64% of a labeled “14 karat” gold Keystone case is actually gold. The remaining 35-36% is the weight of springs, crown & stem, lead or other base metals that may be present. Not sure if it is accurate, but interesting just the same.

Richard

PerCent Actual Gold in Solid Gold Hunting Case.jpg typical pw case weights.jpg
 

Clint Geller

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I once had an old Howard "N" size with an 18k Hunting case that weighed 6 troy ounces, 120dwt, 186 grams without the springs, crystal, stem and crown. The watch is now in the collection of someone who likes gold more than I do. There are heaver gold cases out there.
Was it marked for Joslin & Park of Denver, John? They sold some massive N Size Howard cases in the 1870s to 1890s. My April, 1995 Bulletin article on Howard watchcases shows a 7 ounce 18K clamshell style J&P case for a Howard N Size Series IV (Model 1871) movement in Figure 26 on page 164. I owned a 5 ounce 18K L Size Howard Model 1869 (Series V) keywind case once. It had five lids and three glass crystals! Two lids held pictures, presumably of the owner and his wife, respectively.

I saw a 5 ounce 18K gold case for a Waltham 20 Size years ago that had all the engine turning intact. I drooled over it, but couldn't talk the buyer out of it.
 
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Clint Geller

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John, you said "I once had an old Howard "N" size with an 18k Hunting case that weighed 6 troy ounces, 120dwt, 186 grams without the springs, crystal, stem and crown." If, as I assume, the 186 grams was the weight of the case minus those items and the movement, that was a very heavy case. My 18k and 14k Howard N-size watches tip the scales at 134 grams and 141.9 grams, respectively, but those are gross weights. I don't carry my watches, but those Howards are too heavy for me to carry comfortably. I can't understand why anyone would want to carry a watch as heavy as your old Howard must have been.
I have read that in the old west, some successful miners liked massive gold watchcases as a convenient way of carrying some of their wealth around with them. That may explain some of the Joslin & Park Howard casezillas. Also, then as now, people enjoy the bling. I think few of us who regularly post on this website are entirely immune to the pride of ownership. Pocket watch aficionados may be more interested in fine and/or rare movements and dials, but an impressive case appeals to most of us as well. I know many of your cases drop my jaw, Ethan. And heft seldom detracts from a case's appeal.
 

Kenny S.

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I have read that in the old west, some successful miners liked massive gold watchcases as a convenient way of carrying some of their wealth around with them. That may explain some of the Joslin & Park Howard casezillas. Also, then as now, people enjoy the bling. I think few of us who regularly post on this website are entirely immune to the pride of ownership. Pocket watch aficionados may be more interested in fine and/or rare movements and dials, but an impressive case appeals to most of us as well. I know many of your cases drop my jaw, Ethan. And heft seldom detracts from a case's appeal.
Very well said Clint.
 

John Cote

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I think there were and probably are gold cases much heavier than 6 or 7 ounces. I have owned a silver case of 20+ ounces. The miners holding some of their gold in massive cases is a true fact. I am sure a lot these huge gold cases have been melted but 6 or 7 ounce cases are surely not the big ones.
 

Clint Geller

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I think there were and probably are gold cases much heavier than 6 or 7 ounces. I have owned a silver case of 20+ ounces. The miners holding some of their gold in massive cases is a true fact. I am sure a lot these huge gold cases have been melted but 6 or 7 ounce cases are surely not the big ones.
True facts are the best kind, John. :) There ought to be an old picture of one of those gargantuans somewhere. A 20 oz. gold case would be more horrifying than appealing. Did your 20 oz. silver case ever cry, "Feed me, Feed me!" ?
 
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John Cote

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True facts are the best kind, John. :) There ought to be an old picture of one of those gargantuans somewhere. A 20 oz. gold case would be more horrifying than appealing. Did your 20 oz. silver case ever cry, "Feed me, Feed me!" ?
It made my hip hurt when I found a pocket it would fit in. It needed two lift springs and stout ones at that. I don't regret much in the watch biz but I regret selling that one. And, BTW, in this day and age there are true facts and well...let's not get into it. :cool:
 

Greg Frauenhoff

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Clint's comment about old west miners reminded me of this watch in my collection. It is in a 14K Keller & Untermeyer open-face box-hinge case. It's not especially heavy (and I don't have it handy to weigh...it's at the bank) but it belonged to D. A. Mills, who was a mine owner and speculator in Colorado. The movement is a private label Rockford for Hooper Bros. of Aspen, Colorado, and dates to 1888/89. D. A. was living in Aspen at the time but he later went to Red Cliff, Colo.. Hooper Bros. eventually became just F. J. Hooper who later moved to Cripple Creek (some Hamilton private label mvts for him are know).

img479.jpg
 

Clint Geller

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Clint's comment about old west miners reminded me of this watch in my collection. It is in a 14K Keller & Untermeyer open-face box-hinge case. It's not especially heavy (and I don't have it handy to weigh...it's at the bank) but it belonged to D. A. Mills, who was a mine owner and speculator in Colorado. The movement is a private label Rockford for Hooper Bros. of Aspen, Colorado, and dates to 1888/89. D. A. was living in Aspen at the time but he later went to Red Cliff, Colo.. Hooper Bros. eventually became just F. J. Hooper who later moved to Cripple Creek (some Hamilton private label mvts for him are know).

View attachment 653036

Goin' up Cripple Creek, goin' on a run
Goin' up Cripple Creek t' have a little fun
Goin' up Cripple Creek, goin' in a whirl
Goin' up Cripple Creek t' see my girl

That's the chorus to the Old Tyme tune "Cripple Creek." Some of the other lyrics may be over the edge for here. I play Cripple Creek on my banjo.

That's a lovely watch, Greg.
 
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musicguy

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Sorry that BOTH Clint and I went of topic for one minute
I was thinking about a Cripple Creek song too but a different one
Hey, hey Cripple Creek ferry Butting through the overhanging trees
Make way for the Cripple Creek ferry The waters going down it's a
mighty tight squeeze. All alone the captain stands Hasn't heard from his
deck hands. The gambler tips his hat and walks towards the door. It's the
second half of the cruise. And you know he hates to lose. Hey, hey
Cripple Creek ferry Butting through the overhanging trees Make
way for the Cripple Creek ferry The waters going down it's a mighty tight squeeze.

and another song
… Up on Cripple Creek, she sends me
If I spring a leak, she mends me
I don't have to speak, she defends me
A drunkard's dream if I ever did see one…



Now back to your regular programing ;) :)
 
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