The best 12 size watch

Discussion in 'American Pocket Watches' started by Tom McIntyre, Feb 15, 2007.

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  1. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    The recent discussion on the interesting Illinois Extra Thin models encouraged me to start taking pictures of some of my smaller watches. I was originally interested in the Illini (and still am) but also got fascinated with the other 12 size Illinois high grades.

    Here are a few I have been taking pictures of the last few days.

     

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  2. Beetlebug

    Beetlebug Registered User

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    I'm crazy about high grade 12s watches! Thanks for the wonderful pictures. I'm not very familliar with the Illinois 12s having mostly Elgin and Waltham so this was very interesting.

    Thanks again,
    Tom O.
     
  3. Fred Hansen

    Fred Hansen Registered User
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    The most impressive 12 size watch I've ever seen is the one with your name on it Tom ... the 19 jewel McIntyre Watch Co. that was sold at Sotheby's a few years ago.

    I really like the grade 510 you've posted there with the banner type signature!

    The favorite 12 sizes I've owned are the 23 jewel Rockford models ...




     

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  4. Larry S

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    Just to add a Hamilton to this thread. Not the highest grade, but nice.

    http://www.soochx.org/images/thin2.jpg

    Larry
     
  5. Larry S

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    An Illini marked Extra.

    http://www.soochx.org/images/thin1.jpg

    Larry
     
  6. Greg Frauenhoff

    Greg Frauenhoff Registered User
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    I'm with young Fred, my favorite (the "best" can be rather nebulous) 12 size watch (and the only 12s in my collection) is the 23j Rockford.

    P. S. Kudos to Fred on his taking on the moderator role. It's no doubt a generally a thankless job, but a big thanks anyway.
     
  7. Dr. Jon

    Dr. Jon Registered User
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    I love 12 size watches too. Is this thread open to Swiss ones? The American 12's have the prettiest plates but the Swiss have to finest levers and escape wheels.
     
  8. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    I have a couple of small disagreements with two of the posts above.
    Larry - I think the Hamilton 400 is on par with the highest grade Hamiltons. And this relates to Dr.Jon's comment, too. The Hamilton 400 is one of a very few American watches with a beautifully finished escapement that includes a recessed hub escape wheel. Another one with this feature, more common to high-grade Swiss watches, is my own favorite -- Waltham's "American Watch Co." grade bridge model.
     

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  9. Tom McIntyre

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    Larry,

    Your pictures are a bit too big. You might try reducing them the 600 x 800.

    I would have to agree with Fred that the 12 size McIntyre is the best, but as a prototype, I am not sure it counts. I hope Jon won't be angry if I post a picture of it here.

    Of course I agree with Jerry that the 12 size American Grade is the best production watch. However the Illinois 510 is pretty close and the Rockford 300/305 might actually be better.

    166.jpg
    Illinois 510, note the diamond end stone (of course the bridge model has a bunch).

    167.jpg
    McIntyre 12 size prototype by C. E. DeLong (courtesy of Jon Hanson)
     
  10. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    My mind must be wandering. I see I posted the 510 earlier. There are a pair of Elgins in this class also.
     

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  11. Jeff Hess

    Jeff Hess Registered User
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    you guys about have it covered.

    Lots of other great ones though. Way under studied and under appreciated.

    Mr. Treiman has certainly been ahead of the curve on this.

    I like some of the Marquis Autocrats for more resonably priced hi-grade 12 sizes. (I once had one in a case marked "Superior 18k White Gold" which I was told meant it was 3/4 gold and 1/4 platinum. (I do not know if this is true or not).

    Also let us not forget the old mainstay the Masterpiece.

    Jeff Hess
     

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  12. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    I think there are actually two Hamilton Masterpieces, but the 10 size does not get much credit because they did not mark the movements. Maybe Don has some information on the subject.

    Sorry about the duplicate. Jeff's picture was not showing when I started editing the post originally.

     

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  13. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    I must agree that the Rockford 23-jewel movement has some nice details (even though the cap jewels on the 3rd wheel seem a bit superfluous). For instance, how many (besides the watchmaker) ever see the finish details under the dial
     

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  14. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    I like to think that the cap jewels on the 300/305 represent a joke that Rockford is telling the industry. They are perfectly functional although superfluous. By not capping the top of the 4th wheel, they are making it clear that they aren't trying to fool anyone. The settings under the dial are wonderful. Thanks for showing them Jerry.
     
  15. rschussel

    rschussel Registered User
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    this is a test
     

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  16. rschussel

    rschussel Registered User
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    First I would like to thank Tom McIntyre for starting this thread on 12 size.

    Two of my favorite high grade 12 size are an Ariston 23j Grade 510 adj 6 positions ( Illinois)and a 12 size open face 23j Lord Elgin ( I also own the hunter version) .

    The 510 came with its original papers (including the above rate card and and box) and has an 18kt case marked Ariston.The rate card illustrates that it was possible to build a smaller watch (12size vs 16size) that was as accurate as any railroad watch being built at that time.The miniaturization did not come cheap--the 23j Ariston was at least twice as expensive as an equilvalent railroad watch.

    The Lord Elgin was in the last production run of the Elgin grade 194. The 23j grade 194 was the first 23j 12 size made in the US and was of very high quality.My understanding is that less than 250 12size open face 23j Lord Elgins were made.


    As one of the few pure 12 size collectors I would hope that in addition to interest in high grade 12 size that people start to pay attention to the aesthetics of 12 size watches. Some of the most beautiful dials and cases were made for 12 size watches. Jerry Treiman has shown some wonderful examples and possibly some of the creme de creme could be posted again.

    Bob Schussel
     
  17. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    My pure 12 size Illinois are not particularly pretty overall. I do have a couple of really attractive Illini though. The Illini ad below gave some prices from the period.
     

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  18. Dr. Jon

    Dr. Jon Registered User
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    Great and informative posts, but the topic is the best 12 size watches, and much as I love these Americans, the top Swiss 12's were better. Perhaps this is because I am a lever lover. Exhibit V, a Vacheron and Constantin

    http://members.ispwest.com/jlweber/classy12/vcmvt.jpg

    It has wolf's teeth winding wheels which is one of the ways the Swiss showed off their better stuff.

    Here is a close view of the escapement.

    http://members.ispwest.com/jlweber/classy12/vcesc.jpg

    This has a better finished escape wheel than seen in most of the American models This is what Jerry calls a recessed hub escaper wheel (RHEW), but very stylishly finished tooth tips. Look at the lever. The safety dart is gold and very carefully shaped to the tips. The beveling on the lever is called anglage and I have never seen it in an American watch (not that its not there, I just have not seen it) The safety dart is a pin driven through a hole in a post, same as American usage. The Illinois Sangamo Specials also used gold but lacked this degree of shaping. No banking pins here, solid banking against cuts in the dial plate.

    Here is a Patek example of their third class work.

    http://members.ispwest.com/jlweber/classy12/patek_mvt.jpg

    Here is a closer view of its lever and escape wheel. This one lacks the RHEW but still has nice shaping to the teeth. It is their third grade, the next would state that it has 8 adjustments and have a RHEW. The top would be marked extra and probably have an Observatory Certificate. Even at the third level note the anglage on the lever and it is cock screwed into the base of the lever. (The round part is the polished end of the screw holding the finger cock on the lever) It also has the wolf's teeth winding wheels. As noted in Freid's Book on watch adjusting this is the definition of top grade. I especially love the way the tip of the safety dart is beveled in addition to being pointed. This is a "mustache" lever same as Howard used but this makes the Howard's look a bit crude. Liek Howard, no banking pins here either. If you love levers these have got to move you.


    http://members.ispwest.com/jlweber/classy12/ppesc.jpg

    Moving in to the unsung but gorgeous class (IMHO) here is a C. H Meylan extra. This is top of their line.


    http://members.ispwest.com/jlweber/classy12/chmey_mvt.jpg

    and its escapement


    http://members.ispwest.com/jlweber/classy12/chm_esc.jpg

    Here is all of it, RHEW, cocked safety dart pointed and beveled in two three dimensions, and solid banking.

    The Patek and Meylan are 1900 to about 1919, well before the Illini's but contemporaneous with Hamilton 900 and 920.





     
  19. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    Indeed, Jon, it does look like the Swiss went the extra mile. On the American Watch Co. grade bridge model I find a very nice RHEW and fine anglage on the pallet fork, but the safety dart is an ugly little brass pin. The Riverside Maximus has only the anglage. The Hamilton grade 400 has a RHEW and fine anglage, but also a brass safety dart. Elgin's C.H. Huburd has a flat escape wheel, some edges beveled on the pallet fork but does have a more finely shaped safety dart of a white metal.
     
  20. Joe Collins

    Joe Collins Registered User

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    I would like to nominate the South Bend Grade 431 as a candidate for this thread. There is an excellent article on the South Bend Horology site that covers this model.
    You can find it HEREhttp://www.southbendhorology.com/movements/431/index.html

    Joe
    [comment][EDIT=1142=1171816530][/EDIT][/comment]
     
  21. Tom McIntyre

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    I am trying to understand how the gallery works and also post a picture of a nice and fairly scarce 12 size Waltham. I am hoping Jerry can tell me what the relative production was on the two variants of this model and grade.

    click here


     
  22. rrwatch

    rrwatch Registered User
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    Tom,
    What are what appear to be punch marks between the rachet wheel and the case edge?
     
  23. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    Tom - I am guessing that you are referring to the split 3/4-plate version that you show and the later semi-bridge pattern (my name for it). Waltham never differentiated these in the serial number list and all replacement parts (other than the plates) appear to be the same. However, through several years of observation I believe I have discerned the transition from one model to the other.

    When Waltham first introduced their 12-size movement (1894 model) in 1896 they had two plate patterns - the bridge model was used on the American Watch Co. grade and all other grades used the split 3/4-plate design. Around 1901 (mid-10-millions serial number) they introduced a new semi-bridge design for their Riverside and Riverside Maximus grades. (I believe the Royal grade may have followed suit shortly after, but I have not studied this grade). Lower grades continued with the split 3/4-plate layout, as did some of the Colonial Series hunters (14-size front plate with 12-size back plates). To confuse things, at least one 23j semi-bridge Riverside Maximus has been seen in the 8-millions, in a run that should be American Watch Co. grade bridge models (that's Waltham for you).

    To get to your production question, I believe the following is fairly accurate for the Riverside Maximus:
    3/4-plate open-face --- 1,700
    3/4-plate hunting ---- 1,200

    The count on the semi-bridge style is less accurate as some have turned up that are not indicated in the list, but there were probably somewhere close to 6000 in open-face and around 2500 in hunting. This includes a number of private-label movements and also lumps together the early 21-jewel version and the 23-jewel version (add a jeweled main wheel). For those who care, I estimate that between 1100 to 1600 of these were 21j OF and 350 or fewer were 21j hunters. Then again, compared to the markings on a Bunn Special these differences are pretty significant.

    [as for Ed's question - I believe those "punch marks" are prominent spotting in the damasceen pattern]
     
  24. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    Thanks Jerry,

    That was what I was looking for. Just for a reference, here is the more common configuration of the 1894 Riverside Maximus.

    Yes Ed, the dots are part of the damaskeening pattern they continue all the way around the plates but, due to the lighting, are not as visible in the other areas.
     
  25. rrwatch

    rrwatch Registered User
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    Tom,
    I'm glad to hear that. I cannot imagine why anyone would punch "dots" into the movement plates, but with some of the "embellishments" that I have seen, anything is possible.
     
  26. crsides

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    Tom

    A few days ago I was looking thru some pics of a friend's watches and came across a box for masterpiece 923. When I saw your mvt, my heart started racing. It is however, 10 digits off .... R 3158 . almost

    Charlie
     
  27. rrpktwatcher

    rrpktwatcher Registered User
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    Please delete w/attachment


     
  28. rrpktwatcher

    rrpktwatcher Registered User
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    Posted by mistake . . .delete, please !
     
  29. rrpktwatcher

    rrpktwatcher Registered User
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    Worthy of at least an honorable mention? :?|

    Hopefully, the third attempt is the charm?
     

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  30. Beetlebug

    Beetlebug Registered User

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    This has turned into a really gread thread. However, I do have a few more questions for my own edification:

    The swiss watches seem to have great escapements for sure. However, how is the quality of the rest of the watch? For example, gold trains, plate finish etc? I'm not anywhere close to an expert (so far away I can't even see one) but all this is interesting.

    Also, my 12s Elgins do have mustache levers. I thought these weren't really all that wonderful as they add mass and don't have much benefit in reality. Is this true?

    Thanks,
    Tom O.
     
  31. strd34ford

    strd34ford Registered User

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    Hello Everyone,
    There are probably as many " bests " as there are watch brands. Before I settled on Railroad watches years ago I added as few of these 10/12/14 size Howards and Illinois to my collection. This one is a series 7 Howard, 17 jewel, bridge movement, # 1276141, in a 14k Howard case. Note the statement in red ink on the serial number box label.
    Fred
     

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  32. BMW

    BMW Guest

    Hi folks,

    Jerry T. has already posted the Waltham-marked cousin to this fine watch. This is sort of a braggin' rights watch for its type...but farbeit for me to brag : )

    Believe it or not, it was found at a Regional in a cigar box, housed in a very brassy case, with a damaged dial. Although damaged, the dial is the original marked "E. Howard & Co.", of which very few exist. I'll post the dial, if anyone's interested. click here Cheers.
     
  33. Dr. Jon

    Dr. Jon Registered User
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    Nice to see the Keystone Howards. I like the 23 jewel , Series 8 especially. My appreciation is not so much for the high jewel count as its RHEW escape wheel. Also you have to admire ruby banking pins.

    To answer Beetlebug on other quality aspects besides the escapements

    1) Most of these Swiss 12's are in 18 gold cases often with matching serial numbers

    2) Enamel Dials tend to single sunk but Meylan did some double sunk dials. For metal dials its pretty much a dead heat, most Hamilton metal dials of the era were Swiss, at least the ones I have looked at. On some very high end watches, the Swiss engine turned the dials. They did it so as to leave a reaied shield fo teh maker's name. It makes a fabulous dial. The Swiss thought that this kind of thing belonged on the dial not on the plates.

    3) For winding and setting I think the Swiss high end 12's are better. Wolf's teeth wheels are considered a high point. I have seen they with straight and curved teeth, With straight teeth the tooth counts are very high. This assured smooth winding and shows off what they can do.

    4) Almost all high grade Swiss 12's had Geneva stop work. A few Howard 12's also did and its definitely a benefit in a going barrel watch.

    5) Some of the hands on the high end Swiss are works of art. Meylan used to polish the inner edge of the circle cut out on the hour and minute hands. The hour hands have special "bosses" rather than being flat thin metal.

    6) For plates the American ones are the prettiest.

    7) Both Swiss and American high grade 12's used gold or gilt gear wheels with rounded or beveled spokes.

    A mustache lever per se is no a big deal. Elgin made some for some very low grade watches. What distinguishes the ones on high end Swiss is that they are both counterpoised and light. If you could see the back of these they are thinned down and polished. If you look the the Meylan you can see that the counterpoise was not only "anglaged' but it was screwed on to the lever. I think by that time they knew it was better not to have it but the rich public wanted it. They set it so the jeweler could back out one screw and take it off.

    For running accuracy there is not a lot of data but the ones marked "extra" were pretty good.

    The comparison is tricky because the Swiss started making high end 12's in the 1890's about 20 years before the they were taken as seriously in the US.

    The fine detail on things like lever parts indicates a very high level of control over process. I think this was a major step toward the high end wrist watch and a significant reason why they ultimately ran US makers out of business. They too had old machinery after World War II, the Swiss were not bombed out either. It was better as the 12's show.
     
  34. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    I think the Hamilton grade 900 is also the favorite of many. Although only a 19-jewel movement, the plate layout and finish are particularly appealing.
     
  35. rrpktwatcher

    rrpktwatcher Registered User
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    Ooops - Sorry ! . . . See Below, Please !


     
  36. rrpktwatcher

    rrpktwatcher Registered User
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    10/12s Hamilton Baldwin 945- just a wee step-down from the Masterpiece
     

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  37. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    Notice your 945 has The American watch had finally achieve full interchageability and serial numbers were no longer needed. It took nearly 100 years to realize the original goal of a fully machine made watch.

    If Hamilton had had some assembly robots there would have been no humans on the line with the 945's. :eek:

    Here is a hc movement for the 12 size Keystone Howard. I suspect this is the most scarce of the bunch. I don't have any pictures of it in the case yet since it took me 5 years to find the case. The movement was courtesy of Jon Hanson who encouraged my interest in the 12 size watches.
    188.jpg
     
  38. Dr. Jon

    Dr. Jon Registered User
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    Lovely watch. Its also a good example of why I think the Swiss made better 12's. Tom's wach has a nice Geneva Stop. This so unusual that it had to be put out in plain sight. Teh Swiss put them under the dial adn often in the recess in the winding wheel so yuo have to take out the barrel to see it. Everyone just assumed that a high end Swiss has or had a Geneva stop.
     
  39. rschussel

    rschussel Registered User
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    Tom

    I must be missing something. While your Howard hunter is an early one I have not only seen other examples but I own a 17j and a 23 jewel Howard hunter that were factory cased.

    Bob schussel
     
  40. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    Bob,

    The reason I said the 21J jewel was scarce is that it is not listed in any of the Howard sales booklets I have seen. The 17J and 23J are listed as is the 19J. I don't know why the 21J is the oddball.

    They should all be factory cased, of course. I don't think E. Howard Watch ever sold the 12 size as a movement.

    Does your 23J hunter have the floating Geneva? A picture would be great. :)
     
  41. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    The 21-jewel Howard 12-size was part of Keystone's earlier production (1908 model) and is listed in their 1909, 1912 and 1915 catalogs. It was superceded by the 23-jewel model in their 1918 catalog. This roughly coincided with the transition from the 1908 model to the 1912 model. Geneva stopworks were common on all grades of the early '08 model production.
     
  42. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    Thanks Jerry,

    I guess this just shows you are never too old to learn something. I really have been looking for more examples of the 21J 12 size with no success. I guess I need to look harder.
     
  43. Fred Hansen

    Fred Hansen Registered User
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    Another Illinois grade 299 movement, the 23 jewel hunting case version ...
     

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  44. tomrsey

    tomrsey Registered User

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    The C. H. Hulburd is one of my favorites.
     

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  45. Submarine Chief

    Submarine Chief Registered User

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    Tom,

    I reply only to get my lowly Bulova 17AH in to the fray. Though the
    movement is Swiss, it is cased by Bulova NY and I assume still considered
    American. It is my favorite because it is almost mint, has really great
    hands face combo and keeps the best time of any of my "smaller watches".

    Don Evans
     

    Attached Files:

  46. rojinks

    rojinks Registered User
    Donor

    Dec 5, 2007
    5
    0
    0
    i have a 12 size howard 21 jewel , i have never seen another
     
  47. Kent

    Kent Registered User
    Gibbs Literary Award NAWCC Fellow NAWCC Member

    Aug 26, 2000
    17,799
    733
    113
    Country Flag:
    These occur in a few serial number ranges, estimated below from only a few examples. The reason that we have so few in our data base is that Ed and I haven't paid much attention to these - our main interest is in railroad standard pocket watches and there is only time to record so much data.

    1,025,001 - 1,025,100 - OF - Waltham-Howard
    1,066,401 - 1,067,000 - HC
    1,067,501 - 1,067,800 - OF
    1,105,701 - 1,105,800 - OF
    1,106,901 - 1,107,000 - OF
    1,120,001 - 1,120,500 - OF
    1,306,501 - 1,306,600 - HC

    Please tell us the serial number, hunting or open-face and adjustments of your watch?

    Thanks,
     
  48. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
    Staff Member NAWCC Star Fellow NAWCC Ruby Member Sponsor

    Aug 24, 2000
    80,193
    685
    176
    Male
    retired SW dev
    Boston
    Country Flag:
    Region Flag:
    I am happy to have Bulova join us if I can show my Phantom. :D
     

    Attached Files:

  49. Bryan Eyring

    Bryan Eyring Registered User
    NAWCC Member Donor

    Dec 11, 2007
    1,567
    28
    48
    Male
    Director of Manufacturing, Aerospace
    Country Flag:
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    Some nice watches here folks but if we could try to stay within the scope of the forum it would really help keep this thread defined. Perhaps someone could initiate the same thread over on the European & Other Pocket Watches Forum.

    Regards,
    Bryan
     
  50. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
    NAWCC Member Donor

    Aug 25, 2000
    5,572
    191
    63
    Geologist - California Geological Survey
    Los Angeles, CA
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    Here is another of the top American 12-size watches. It is Illinois' grade 439 - the best of the 12-size extra-thin (XT) first model movements (grades 435, 437, 438 & 439). These first model extra-thins are somewhat of a mystery. Made around 1918 to 1921 there does not appear to be any advertising for this model. After only a few years the 1st model was superceded by the 21j Illini grade (13-size) and the 3rd model extra-thin A.Lincoln and Marquis Autocrat (12-size). The XT-1st model are commonly seen with no name on the dial or custom marked dials (such as for Tiffany). All of the lower grades have brushed-finish plates; the gr.439 (marked "EXTRA") is the only one with damasceening. The case, by an as-yet unidentified casemaker has nice enamel detailing and the silver dial is Swiss.
     

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