The case for cases

yahganlang

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Mar 13, 2011
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I've noticed that silver cases, the usual containers, aside from gold, for 19th century Swiss pocket watches, seem to be going thru the roof pricewise, far more than the current silver values warrent, here in the US.

As more and more of these get melted down for scrap, there is going to be a fast growing population of orphan movements out there, many perfectly good and working.

Any possibility that this will lead to a cottage industry making replacements with more base metal content, like silveroid, etc. but in Swiss sizes? What about the Chinese, who rattle off stem-wind versions in a million different varieties? Though I'd be a bit worried there about getting more than my minimum daily requirement of cadmium and other toxic metals.

Jess Tauber (Yahganlang)
 

jfl

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May 1, 2006
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I believe that cylinder movements from watches will be scrapped and only the best lever movements from the best firms will survive as intact watches. This is due to the irregularity or (in other words) larger number of Swiss sizes and the difficulties in fitting especially older movements. Another possibility is that some may collect just movements in plastic movement cases. A sadder possibility is that the current group of collectors will diminish greatly as they die off and the younger generations do not pick up the collecting bug for watches. The smaller number of watches will fulfill the needs of this much smaller group of collectors. This reduction in collectors has happened to a large degree with stamps in the last five years. JFL
 

yahganlang

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Mar 13, 2011
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Yeah, this has happened with amateur telescope making too, which was rather popular many decades ago, as affordable mass-produced scopes became generally available, and the population became less experienced with tools and making things. And today, with all the electronic gizmos out there to keep one busy, and bad experiences from dept. store scopes of terrible optical quality, hands-on astronomy itself is in steep decline.

Similarly I'm guessing the number of folks competent to fix up these old watches will fall thru the floor. Sad, but not completely unexpected.

Some futurists predict that within a few decades, humanity will get all its laughs from virtual reality. In such a situation I suppose we can all have vast collections of digitalized classic timepieces. We can trade stories of our 3D Jurgensen jpegs with associated sound, feel, and heft data, and argue about the pixel compression on our Audemars. The question is, then, which colored pill will you choose to swallow.

Jess Tauber (Yahganlang).
 

Dr. Jon

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Outstanding movement have been recased for a long time. The superb video of Martin Matthews making a case was an example of recasing a fine old movement.
Steffan Pahlow has a book in ENglish and German in making cases and has a several videos posted in recasing movements. He works with metal, base and precious as well as clear plastic.

Paul Chamberlain has special movement holding cases made which have become fairly eagerly sought.

There are several Ebay sellers who are doing a nice business recasing old movements into wrist watch cases, often 18K gold.

It is hideously expensive unless you do it yourself, in which situation (I wanted to write "Case:p) it is only ridiculously expensive.

For me a fine old movement re-cased by Pahlow or Matthews is as valuable as one with its original case (well almost).

WOSTEP, NAWCC and a few others are turning out several hundred watchmakers a year but few will have the skills to recase non standard sized movement or make parts.

Original precious metals cased watches are getting rarer but most of the loss is lesser movements in gold cases. To me, it just does not make sense to put all that money into a run of the mill watch in heavy but not particulalry artistic case.


Amateur made telescopes are a bit different. Today you can buy a "perfect" telescope with a computer drive for about $100. You take it home set it up in a few minutes and yoru are good to go. It weights a small fraction of what an amatuer telescope weighs works as well and it simple to use. However there are a few very high end makers specializing in amateur telecopes and accessories of very high quality, so I guess these really are not so different from watches.
 

yahganlang

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Mar 13, 2011
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I dare anyone to find a good telescope for $100 today, unless it is a vintage unit gotten from auctions at odd times or owners who don't know their real value. I've been lucky in this regard, just as I've been so far with old pocket watch movements. Fancy electronics don't make up for poor materials, construction, or optics. Garbage in-garbage out. Similarly, pretty cases or dials can't make up for underlying dollar watch movements old or new (though it might be interesting to mate these together- many of the higher end dials are very Spartan).

Jess Tauber (Yahganlang)
 

Dr. Jon

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I really want to stay on horology but I am wrong and a good telescope with computer drive cost more than $100. If anyone wants to pursue this further ,they can do the search. I still stand by my point that technology has obsoleted a lot of fine craftsmanship and for someone who actually want to use a telescope a new one is cheaper and a lot more user friendly in every way.

I was a bit confused because I recently was involved in a special purpose telescope purchase for a simple 2" reflective tesecope that did cost under $100 ,but wrong I was, so lets get back to horology.

Watches are sort of like this. The entry level ETA mechanical movements are very, very good and often at least as good as our prized relics.

To head back to the thread topic, at entry level the price structure reflects the case quality rather than moement quality.

To tie in to modern casing I wonder if anyone is using computer controlled machinery to make cases.
 
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