The jewels race: When do extra jewels make a difference in value for collectors?

Clint Geller

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Shouldn't they always be faceted?
Not necessarily. Sapphire can be ground and polished, but I am no expert on exactly how American watch companies finished watch jewels.
 
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thesnark17

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I meant diamonds, in case unclear.

There's a reason diamonds are generally finished with facets for all jewelry applications - it's fairly easy to do, compared to any other finish. Diamonds don't work easily - you can only polish a diamond with another diamond.

I've never heard of diamonds finished in any way other than faceted on American watches, so I was curious. It seems to me that finishing them flat, for no functional gain, and a cosmetic loss, is pointless. Literally.
 
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Old rookie

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I ask because I have a Hamilton 940 PL for J.W. Neasham that I purchased from a very experienced member of this forum that purports to have diamond endstones on its balance, lever and escape wheel.
 

Jerry Treiman

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Here are some photos I took of diamond endstones -
diamond.jpg

And here is a comparison photo, diamond on the right -
sapph_diam.jpg
The sapphire on the left does appear to have a flat polish on top, but none of the irregular facets one sees on a diamond.
 

ben_hutcherson

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The DES watches I've had tend to be noticeably faceted on the visible side. In addition, the bearing surface is perfectly flat but I'm not sure if I've ever seen one that's round like a ruby/sapphire jewel. Diamonds of course are generally fairly "brilliant" compared to sapphire.

Occasionally you'll see watches-primarily English and even early Waltham 1857 models-that have a clear glass jewel set in a blue steel setting. I've seen diamonds in English watches also, but I've seen one mistaken for the other.

Of note too-I mentioned Illinois, among others, marking high grade movements "Ruby Jewels." One fairly uncommon "dark horse" Illinois movement is sometimes called the "Diamond, Ruby, and Sapphire." It looks very much like a 16s Sangamo Special, but is marked "23 Diamond, Ruby & Sapphire Jewels." I'm too lazy to go and grab my copy of Meggers now to look up production figures on it. A quick Google search turns up one that sold at Bonham's in 2014 for $5250. I'm not actually sure where the sapphires are in it, as it has diamond balance caps and the rest of the train shows bright red rubies and ruby pallets. The other balance cap is presumably diamond(assuming it's like the DES Sangamo Special), so I'm guessing MAYBE the sapphires are the roller jewel and possibly the barrel jewels.
 

Clint Geller

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I meant diamonds, in case unclear.

There's a reason diamonds are generally finished with facets for all jewelry applications - it's fairly easy to do, compared to any other finish. Diamonds don't work easily - you can only polish a diamond with another diamond.

I've never heard of diamonds finished in any way other than faceted on American watches, so I was curious. It seems to me that finishing them flat, for no functional gain, and a cosmetic loss, is pointless. Literally.
I agree.
 
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gmorse

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Hi,

Diamonds have several natural cleavage planes due to their crystal structure, and these are used by the diamond cutters to assist them in shaping jewels. Most diamond endstones, at least in many English watches, were not of a sufficient quality to be used for jewellery, due to internal flaws, poor colour etc, and are usually fairly irregular in shape as well as in the planes of their facets. This suggests not only that they were poor quality stones, but also that they were possibly produced by workers at the lower end of the trade. However, they were generally very accurately fitted in their steel mounts.

Regards,

Graham
 

ben_hutcherson

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I ask because I have a Hamilton 940 PL for J.W. Neasham that I purchased from a very experienced member of this forum that purports to have diamond endstones on its balance, lever and escape wheel.
Can you post photos of the watch?

There's certainly a lot in the watch world I haven't seen, and a Hamilton with diamond endstones is on that list.
 

musicguy

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ben_hutcherson

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Old rookie

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I'm still wondering how unusual the diamond end stones are on this watch.:???:
 

ben_hutcherson

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Fred would be one of the guys I'd ask about that. Jim Haney and Rhett Lucke could also likely give you a good answer.
 

DeweyC

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Not necessarily. Sapphire can be ground and polished, but I am no expert on exactly how American watch companies finished watch jewels.
While not a pocket watch and much later than being discussed' Hamilton used flat ground diamond endstones on the upper pivot of the balance. These are identified by the adjustable setting (the only adjustable endstone in the piece). I think I have an early one (no. 4) with a cut diamond but it is at my daughter's.
 

musicguy

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musicguy

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Occasionally you'll see watches-primarily English and even early Waltham 1857 models-that have a clear glass jewel set in a blue steel setting. I've seen diamonds in English watches also, but I've seen one mistaken for the other.
Real diamond jewels used on watches(and clear quartz too) combined with quality
design and workmanship give a watch movement a very nice finished
look(in my opinion). They might not be quality diamonds but they really make
a balance stand out.

fusee UKw.jpg








Rob
 

Clint Geller

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While not a pocket watch and much later than being discussed' Hamilton used flat ground diamond endstones on the upper pivot of the balance. These are identified by the adjustable setting (the only adjustable endstone in the piece). I think I have an early one (no. 4) with a cut diamond but it is at my daughter's.
Interesting. The only way to grind diamonds would be with other diamonds. Not easy.
 

Greg Frauenhoff

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My absolute favorite watch mvts are Aurora's "15 Ruby Jewels" grade no. 10. They came in hunting and open face. The open face version has a fifth pinion that was jeweled at the factory so the correct jewel count is 17 rather than 15. However, pricewise, Aurora made no distinction between the htg and open face versions. However, collectors today do.
 
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Greg Frauenhoff

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Another couple highly jeweled watches that come to mind are the 16s Illinois 23j Sangamo and 21j grade 189. Illinois wanted more money for the 189. Today? I think the 23j Sangamo probably brings more. Go figure.
 
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ben_hutcherson

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Another couple highly jeweled watches that come to mind are the 16s Illinois 23j Sangamo and 21j grade 189. Illinois wanted more money for the 189. Today? I think the 23j Sangamo probably brings more. Go figure.
I love the 179 and 189.

189s are not particularly common and it's hard to set a price. They are a very "under the radar" watch, but they seem to sell well to people who know what they are. The 3-finger bridge layout does attract attention, though.

The almost irrationally expensive one of the series is the 181, which I'm not convinced is actually a different watch than the 189(although I'm certainly open to being corrected). The only way I know to differentiate a 181 from a 189 is by SN.
 

Greg Frauenhoff

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I love the 179 and 189.

189s are not particularly common and it's hard to set a price. They are a very "under the radar" watch, but they seem to sell well to people who know what they are. The 3-finger bridge layout does attract attention, though.

The almost irrationally expensive one of the series is the 181, which I'm not convinced is actually a different watch than the 189(although I'm certainly open to being corrected). The only way I know to differentiate a 181 from a 189 is by SN.
Like you, I'm inclined to believe that the 181 and 189 are the same. A similar situation is the Rockford 501/510 mvt. The most likely explanation is an error in the serial number list for both. But far be it from me to try and correct the irrational fixation some collectors have with the infallibility of factory serial number lists.
 

179

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I have studied these for 30 years, and I have failed to find them different. That said I have found the majority of 181s are P/Ls, that cannot be said for 189s, not saying all 181s are P/Ls. I know of watches that have sold as 189s, but were in fact P/L 181s. This is one we may never find the correct answer.
 

ben_hutcherson

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Greg, PLEASE let me know if you ever want to part with that one. A 189 KY PL checks far too many boxes for me to not get excited over it.

Aside from that, I'd guess original also, particularly if it's a glass enamel dial.
 
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Greg Frauenhoff

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Greg, PLEASE let me know if you ever want to part with that one. A 189 KY PL checks far too many boxes for me to not get excited over it.

Aside from that, I'd guess original also, particularly if it's a glass enamel dial.
Ben,

I have no plans to part with it, but will certainly keep you in mind if things should change.

Greg
 

Old rookie

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Ben, I pm'd Fred and Jim but never got a response. The PM is out there wandering around cyberspace.:confused:
 

179

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Old rookie, until that PM lands somewhere, I will add very, very, very to the very that Rob posted in post 116.
 
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Fred Hansen

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Ben, I pm'd Fred and Jim but never got a response. The PM is out there wandering around cyberspace.:confused:
Sorry for missing the message! I just spotted one I'd missed from you in April but not sure if this is the same one. If not please feel free to re-send via PM here, or better yet please send to my email which I also sent you tonight in a PM.

As for the J.W. Neasham with three diamond endstones you had bought from me, I think it is extremely unusual and I can't think of any other Hamilton watch (private label or otherwise) that I've seen with that feature. I suspect it may have been a feature particular to that specific private label but until we see another its hard to be sure. I know I've seen photos of another J.W. Neasham with "No. 599" marked movement which passed through an online auction 10(+) years ago but I don't recall if the photos were of sufficient quality to identify the endstones or if the seller would have been sufficiently knowledgable to notice and comment on them.

I also still don't know the significance of the "No. 599" marking, but for what it's worth I did find that Neasham was an official watch inspector for the CB&Q Ry and the CM & St.P Ry and also that Neasham's business was at 120 E. Main St in Ottumwa, Iowa.
 
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Old rookie

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No problem, Fred. Thanks for the response.
 

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