The Purist; switchers IGNORE

Discussion in 'American Pocket Watches' started by Jon Hanson, Jun 25, 2009.

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  1. Jon Hanson

    Jon Hanson Registered User
    NAWCC Member Golden Circle

    Aug 24, 2000
    Boston, Ma.
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    During the 1950's, 1960's and 1970's Otay Watch Company watches held sort of a fascination with west coast collectors--being made in California, south of San Diego; a rather rare company; almost impossible to locate; with a multitude of names, grades, finishes and minor dial variations; a multitude of MIS INFORMATION ( on various message boards), in horological books, price guides, watch gossip and newspapers; plus, the ever presence of a well known and "near" complete collection of the things in a wonderful old, old Southern California watch collection.

    Well, the rush was on for these watches by the early American watch collectors in the Southern California area, a hot bed of interest and action during those decades mentioned above. Of course, I just had to have one and it took years to finally get my first one--BUT, THAT IS ANOTHER STORY.

    For those unfamiliar with this company and its products having one example simply is not good enough, especially since there are so many different grade names, types of finishes and dial variations. The lure of the "sexy" name and scarcity leads one on and on, sort of like a race--FIND ANOTHER and ANOTHER (almost like an Easter egg hunt!); plus, what could be more fun than securing a new, unrecorded example and proudly showing it to the resident "king" (at the time) of Otay watches?

    Well, I became friends with a fellow up in Castro Valley, Calif. who had two of them, Red Laquaglia. Red was a convention regular in California and well known for carrying and showing off his stuff (another story, funny as hell, which I'll tell at another time) and he was real proud of his two Otay examples, both of the commonest variety, re cased and in rather average condition. In short, I traded him an "off condition" Seth Thomas 25 Jewel Maiden Lane for his two Otays. At the time of the trade he told me that the barrel bridge of the two toned "Native Son" didn't match the plate number; still, it was a great trade for me--two for one, trade bait, better value, etc., etc. When I got home I checked the number and they were just one number different.

    Fast forward--another time I acquired a nice watch and tool collection, also up in Northern California, basically to capture several watches, one being an Otay "Native Son." Yep, you guessed it, the two "Native Sons" (Red's and this new one) were consecutive numbers and, you guessed it again, THE BARREL BRIDGES WERE SWITCHED. However, this could NOT be remedied, as Red's was worn out, over cleaned, and missing most of the gold two tone portion while the other was near new or near new! I looked and thought and looked and pondered the temptation to correct the supposed factory error, BUT HOW COULD I as they looked ridiculous with the worn BB on the near new watch and the near new BB on the worn example. Easy decision-I LEFT THEM ALONE, this factory assembly error.

    What would have been your "secret" decision back in 1974 had they both been in similar condition?:eek:

    By JH, from 2007
  2. Tom Huber

    Tom Huber Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Dec 9, 2000
    Track & cross Country Coach
    Indiana PA
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    Jon, I would have done what you did. It evidently was a factory error as you stated. That is part of the watch's history.

  3. Erik_H

    Erik_H Registered User

    Nov 9, 2008
    Obviously keep them as they were, and keep both as a pair.

  4. Robert Smothers

    Robert Smothers Registered User

    Jul 11, 2003
    If the watches were in two separate collections the story would not have a very happy ending. By most standards each watch would be considered a parts watch if evaluated separately. Even if condition were the same , I would leave the watches as is, and think that factory mistakes ie..bench switching was more common than we know. I guess anyone with consecutive serials could make another mismatched pair if they choose to......Robert
  5. mikeh

    mikeh Registered User

    Mar 5, 2001
    In my view, it is fairly safe to say that any watch with a serial number difference of only one or two is likely a result of factory error, so I would never consider using it for parts. It is what it is.

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