Trolley pocket watches

Discussion in 'American Pocket Watches' started by CentreKeystone, Sep 16, 2015.

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  1. CentreKeystone

    CentreKeystone Registered User
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    The union magazine Motorman and Conductor has a mix of high and low grade watch advertisements. Obviously there must have been a market for both amongst Oct 1922 M & C WV watch rules for interurban and city trainmen.jpg April 1923 Motorman and Conductor--Burlington Watch.jpg Jan 1918 M & C Ball Watch.jpg Sept 1924 M & C --Ingersoll Watch--Improved Yankee.jpg electric railway operators and conductors. The explanation for the variety appears to be in this labor contract for a West Virginia company having both interurban and city operations. Notice that interurban trainmen were required to have standard watches inspected every thirty days similar to railroad employees. City trainmen, however, were only required to have "a reliable watch." I suspect that this was a distinction throughout the industry.
     
  2. PatH

    PatH National Program Chair
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    #52 PatH, Mar 28, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2016
    Train, trolley, or some other profession? Wish I could see his watch. Will try to pull out the picture and get a better scan when I resolve the current scan issues.
    Conductor 9-23-11.jpg

    Conductor 9-23-11.jpg
     
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  3. CentreKeystone

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    Nice picture of what appears to be a trolley conductor. The name of company will be on the hat badge. conductor motorman and man in front of car.jpg Fred M Batchelder uniform ad Motorman and Conductor 1920.JPG
     
  4. CentreKeystone

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    A trolley watch sure to confuse most collectors is the Hamilton Electric Special. I have attached pictures of an example. This one is a pendant set grade 974, serial number 1637136. It was sent to the Hamilton Finishing Department October 21, 1921. According to the excellent article on Hamilton trolley watches in the July/Aug 2014 NAWCC Watch & Clock Bulletin, the Hamilton, Electric Special was introduced on April 21, 1922 and replaced by the Hamilton, Electric Railway Special shortly afterward on June 20, 1922 because the wording was not specific enough for the targeted market. Both were regular grade 974 movements with special dials. I imagine that Hamilton used existing grade 974 movements in stock to place the Electric Special dials so a slightly earlier movement is not surprising. Hamilton 974 Electric Special - face.jpg Hamilton 974 Electric Special - inside case.jpg Hamilton 974 Electric Special - movement.jpg
     
  5. CentreKeystone

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    In 1913 the Youngstown WV street railway instituted watch inspection for employees.
    The union magazine Motorman and Conductor jokingly M and C Nov 1913 Youngstown Watch inspection.jpg commented on the effect it will have on Ingersoll stock:
     
  6. PatH

    PatH National Program Chair
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    #56 PatH, Apr 17, 2016
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    Thanks for sharing. Interesting that there would be that many Ingersolls used by trolley employees.

    Are the Motorman and Conductor magazines found online? Trying to track down when the trolley was installed in Westfield, Mass. to help date this Waterbury trade card.
    Snow and Hays Waterbury 2 reverse.jpg

    - - - Updated - - -

    Update: Unfortunately, there is a glare on the hat on the previously posted picture so I can't see the detail.
     
  7. Kent

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    Yes.

    Try using the Google Books - Advanced Book Search with the keyword "motorman" and click on the choice "Full view only".
     
  8. CentreKeystone

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    #58 CentreKeystone, Apr 18, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2016
  9. PatH

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    Thank you!

    - - - Updated - - -

    Thanks, Kent! Another great source to help build the story.
     
  10. CentreKeystone

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    Two Hamilton Watch ads from the 1917 Motorman and Conductor aimed at Interurban Electric crews and anticipating the introduction of time standards. Ball also had several one page ads not aimed specifically at electric railways. 1917 Oct Motorman and Conductor.jpg 1917 July Motorman and Conductor.jpg
     
  11. CentreKeystone

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    Attached is a picture of my Illinois Electric Railway Special pocket watch. According to Meggers and Ehrhardt's Ill Watch book it is grade 706 dated 1923. Oddly, though Electric Railroad Specials and Standards are listed dial.jpg face in case.jpg movement.jpg they do not mention the Electric Railway Special. This was the same period as the Hamilton Electric Railway Special and I wonder if it was a very short run because of the similar name.
     
  12. Larry Treiman

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    In my opinion, the short run of the Illinois version of the "Electric Railway Special" dial might more likely have been because they didn't wish to incur the wrath of John C. Dueber or his minions, as Hamilton reportedly had when they came out with their "Electric Railway Special".

    I was told that much earlier the use of the word "Railway", perhaps in just about any combination, had been registered by Hampden (perhaps in the name of John C. Dueber) for use on watches, hence the early 18-size "Railway" grade and later examples, such as the Special Railway", etc., and John C. Dueber was not hesitant to fight to protect his trademarks.

    Regarding the chronology of Hamilton's use of the word "Railway" on those "Electric Railway Special" dials, it was always my understanding that Hamilton's "Electric Railway Special" was their first use of "Railway" on the dials and the one that brought the ire of John Dueber down upon them.

    It seemed entirely logical that their first move was to simply drop the use of the word "railway". That probably mollified Dueber, but "Electric Special" was quite ambiguous, and not too satisfactory. To eliminate the ambiguity, the stuck the word "Interurban" between "Electric" and "Special", creating the "Electric Interurban Special".

    In my mind, that created a serious problem. Back in 1910 they created the new 18-size grade 948, and in 1912 they added the 16-size grade 978. Both were intended to meet the tougher standards being adopted by the high-speed electric interurban railways, and probably to a lesser extent by urban street railways. In addition to lever-setting, which was particularly important on the interurbans, they required a double-roller escapement for greater reliability, a minimum of 17-jewels, a steel escape wheel, and adjustment to temperature (the only adjustment on earlier "trolley watches" such as the 18-size grade 926 and 16-size 974) and also to a minimum of three positions (usually dial-up, dial-down, and pendant-up). Have I forgotten any?

    The problem for Hamilton was that they had discontinued the 948 c.1920, after producing all of 1500 examples. More surprising was the fact that they discontinued the 16-size grade 978 in 1924, with a more respectable total production of 24,500. That left Hamilton with only the by then obsolete grade 974 to hang their hats....er, Electric Railw....oops, I mean Electric Interurban Special dials on! And they would not have been accepted by most major electric interurban railways, such as Southern California's Pacific Electric Railway, a subsidiary of the vast Southern Pacific system! And even on the extensive Los Angeles Railway, the primarily local (with some longer "suburban-type" lines) and narrow gauge, (3-foot, 6-inch gauge) trackage, as of 1916 had a time service/watch inspection system under the auspices of the Ball Railroad Time Service, as did the Pacific Electric and Southern Pacific.
    Even the Los Angeles Railway required the tougher minimum standards of the 948 and 978. I believe it was during the 1920s that the Southern Pacific (and hence the Pacific Electric and perhaps the Los Angeles Railway) fired the Ball RR Time Svc., formed (internalized) the time service/watch inspection functions, and hired Stanley A. Pope, Ball's man in San Fran (NEVER say "Frisco"!) to run the new department! But I have digressed....somewhat!

    Back to Hamilton around the mid-1920s and without a true electric railway grade watch, they in effect, for a while at least, seemed to give up a still important segment of the market to other watch makers, perhaps hoping that the "juice guys" would willingly part with the extra bucks for a "standard watch" like the 992, that would also be accepted on the mainline railroads if their interurban railway employer ever threw in the towel....and sooner or later they almost all did just that.

    Finally, in 1928 they upgraded the 974 to the tougher grade 978 standards, and offered it in both lever-set and pendant-set versions. It is eaasily differentiated from the old 974. It is marked 974 SPECIAL, DOUBLE ROLLER, and on the balance cock it is marked ADJUSTED 3 POSITIONS. Most of the 974 Specials that I have seen have regular Hamilton single-sunk railroad dial, though I haven't seen very many! Hamilton made 14,000 of the lever-set model and 9,499 of the pendant-set version between 1928 and 1940.

    Hamilton planned to offer a 17-jewel, lever-set, 3-pos. adj. version of the 974 based on the new "B" line of watches (e.g. 992B), to be designated 974B, and some production had even begun. However, Hamilton received a Government order for 17-jewel, pendant-set, second-setting (hack) watches to be used by the Navy as "comparing" watches that certainly took precedence over the new "trolley watches", so further work was cancelled on the 974B. The watches already in production were changed to pendant-setting hack watches and redesignated as grade 2974B. After WWII, Hamilton decided not to resume production on the 974B, and instead offered new Traffic Special I and II models with Swiss Cortebert 19-ligne, 17-jewel, pendant-set movements designated Hamilton grade 669. These were later replaced by Hamilton Traffic Special III and IV, using a similar, slightly smaller Cortebert 18-1/2 ligne movement designated Hamilton grade 670. They were decent watches, but in my opinion they were no substitute for a 974B!

    By the mid-1960s the last surviving "interurban" line was the Chicago South Shore and South Bend Railroad, aka "South Shore Line" which was taken over by the Chesapeake and Ohio during the 1960s, and still operates passenger service today with modern equipment, thanks to the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District.


    Larry Treiman
     
  13. Rhett Lucke

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    I may have posted this before, but following up on Larry's post above, I believe Hamilton only finished 3 production 974B's before redirecting the rest of the material towards the 2974B. None of the 3 974B's were actually shipped for retail sale.

    Ham974Bmvt.jpg
     
  14. Larry Treiman

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    Since you bring it up, it is also worth mentioning that the 974B was given its own sequence of serial numbers with the prefix "K", starting with K001. The 2974B watches that were converted from 974Bs retained the K prefix and had a "2" stamped in front of 974B on the train bridge. If one looks closely at the 2 in 2974B, the 2 stands out as appearing to be stamped from a font that is very slightly different from the other numerals. Thus the 2974B watches that were converted from 974B watches are easy to identify by the K serial number prefix, and (for me at least) by the different 2 in 2974B. I had to wait quite a long while to find one of the converted watches, but that was before the Internet and eBay!

    Also worthy of comment is the appearance of the word "Elinvar" on the surviving 974Bs. That is the only example I have seen on any (presumably) "regular production" B-model watch. Otherwise, the only instance I can recall of "Elinvar" appearing on any B-model variant was on pre-production examples.

    Frankly, I am surprised that Hamilton even considered using the name "Elinvar" (as in "Elinvar Extra") after replacing it with a completely new alloy that they found at International Nickel. I have always believed that there was enough of a stigma attached to te original Swiss "Blued" Elinvar of the 1930s as used by Hamilton under licence, that they would have been better off choosing an all-new name not using the word Elinvar at all-new name. However, they probably figured that the vast expenditure of time and money spent during the 1930s promoting Elinvar overshadowed whatever stigma was attached to the Swiss Elinvar. But maybe they didn't talk to the same railroad watch inspectors that I sometimes did! <];>)


    Larry Treiman
     
  15. Rhett Lucke

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    Larry,

    A number of the converted 2974B's also retained the "ELINVAR" marking.
     
  16. Rhett Lucke

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    Sorry about the picture quality, but here is an example of one of the 2974B's with "ELINVAR" markings. I have recorded numerous examples, scattered throughout the entire "K" range of serial numbers.

    Ham2974B_Elinvar.jpg
     
  17. Larry Treiman

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    Thanks for the additional information of the use of the "ELINVAR" marking. I had thought that maybe they couldn't squeeze in both that "U.S. Navy Bu. Ships" marking and the "ELINVAR" marking, but I see now that they managed to do it!

    On thinking it over, I now realize that after finding one example of the "K" series 2974B and one of the "2K" series, I probably stopped looking at them. My main interest in the military watches was the fact that they were derived from railroad watches!

    Larry
     
  18. CentreKeystone

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    #68 CentreKeystone, Oct 21, 2016
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 21, 2016
    After a long wait I have managed to acquire a Hampden Electric Railway Standard. It appears from the previous discussion that this model prevented Illinois and Hamilton from selling their Electric Railway watches. It seems odd that a company could trademark a common word such as "railway."
    The watch is dated 1905, 17j, model 4 grade 107, lever set in a swing face.jpg movement.jpg out case (my first).
     
  19. CentreKeystone

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    These are two Hamilton Watch advertisements promoting time service for electric railways. In both cases an Illinois Traction System car was shown. This was one of the last surviving passenger carrying interurbans ending complete service in 1958. As the Illinois Feb 19 1916 Ele Rlwy J.jpg Jan 1 1916 Ele Rlwy J.jpg Terminal Railroad freight service continued until being merged into the Norfolk Southern.
     
  20. darrahg

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    Here is my Illinois 17j TT Getty double signed Electric Railroad Standard (1918076). I don't know much about the history and got it mainly because I favor Getty movements and two tone finishes. Very interesting reading here.
    Ill Electric Railroad Standard Getty front.JPG Ill Electric Railroad Standard Getty.jpg Ill Getty Electric Railroad Standard 17j.JPG
     
  21. CentreKeystone

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    That is a beautiful watch and one of the few double signed. What is a "Getty movement?"
     
  22. 179

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    The Getty is a model 4 or 5 16s Illinois movement, designed by Fred Getty in the 1890s. All Getty's I have observed in this series of ERRS watches have been double marked. This is not true in the later models of this series, having only marked dials. The Getty is easily identified by only one winding wheel, no exposed crown wheel.
     
  23. CentreKeystone

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    Yesterday I found at the York, PA NAWCC an "Illinois Electric Railroad Standard" to go with my "Electric Railway
    Standard". It is 17 jewel, pendant set Grade 305 model 7 dated approx 1922. It fits the description in Erhardt & Meggers Railroad Watch book of an "Interurban Special" made for Kay Co. Is this the same as the contemporary Ill Electric Standard- face.jpg Ill Electric Standard- movement.jpg Ill Electric Standard-inside case back.jpg Kay Jewelers in the malls?
     
  24. CentreKeystone

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    I did some background research on this watch and found on another watch website a picture of a movement marked Interurban Special made for Kay Co. The face was not marked. I also found a John Kay who was a jeweler in Detroit. He even filed lawsuits preventing others from using Kay as part of a name for a jewelry company.

    https://books.google.com/books?id=2TTiAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA747&lpg=PA747&dq=john+kay+jewelers&source=bl&ots=mTwBHrw0dI&sig=K2e9skGsG1N_rE6pPxQcxGHjiSo&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiTivX3-5vQAhVLOyYKHSIUDFkQ6AEIUDAH#v:^nepage&q&f=false
     
  25. CentreKeystone

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  26. Howdydave

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    #76 Howdydave, Dec 18, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2017
    I just purchased a Hamilton 974 (1915 or 1917 depending on which database you look at.)

    It defaults to Adjusted to 3 positions in the Pocket Watch Database.
    Preliminary testing indicates that this is so.


    Hamilton 974-1a.jpg Hamilton 974-3a.jpg Hamilton 974-4.jpg Hamilton 974-5.jpg
     
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  27. musicguy

    musicguy Moderator
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    I know it's been posted before, but it was a good read and I decided
    to link to it here again because anyone owning one of these should read this.

    Larry Treiman's "Timing the Trolleys" Feb. 1978 Bulletin of the Nat'l Assoc. of Watch and Clock Collectors, Inc

    "Timing the Trolleys"
    http://docs.nawcc.org/Bulletins/1970/articles/1978/192/192_3a.pdf


    Rob
     
  28. CentreKeystone

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    I have a second Hamilton 978 with an Electric Railway Special Dial. It is serial #1660685 dated May 14,1922. The hands are rusted in place so the dial has been attached a long time. According to the article in the July/Aug 2014 NAWCC Bulletin the Electric Railway Special Dial was introduced on June 20, 1922. I suspect that Electric Railway Special dials were placed on 978's remaining in stock. It certainly would have been appropriate.

    IMG_6853.jpg IMG_6855.jpg
     
  29. Les harland

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    Was it made to celebrate the opening of an electric railway somewhere?
    The name sounds a bit strange on its own
     
  30. Howdydave

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    #80 Howdydave, Dec 22, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2017
    Just got my Hamilton 974 today and I have to say that the photos that I have and that I am able to take just don't do it justice!

    One thing I notice with this watch that I have never seen before is that when I wind the stem backwards, the clicker doesn't make any noise.
    Curious, eh?
     
  31. CentreKeystone

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    Les:
    These watches were intended for motormen and conductors of trolleys (trams to you) and interurban electric railways. I don't believe that there was a British equivalent to the short lived interurban boom in the US. English electric railways are electrified steam railroads. Hamilton liked to label its watches as specials (I.e. electric special, electric railway special, electric interurban special, railroad special, etc.).
     
  32. Les harland

    Les harland Registered User

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    Just confuse matters even more
    In the UK we had Trolley Busses , sometimes called Trackless Trams
    They were electically powered busses using two overhead wires instead of one

    I should have read the whole thread not just the first posts
     
  33. Les harland

    Les harland Registered User

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    Going slightly off topic I forgot to mention the oldest electric railway in the world is here in the UK
    Volks Electric Railway Brighton

    http://volkselectricrailway.co.uk/
     
  34. CentreKeystone

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    #84 CentreKeystone, Dec 29, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2017
    Attached are pictures of a recently obtained Illinois pendent set grade 604 dated approx. 1912. Only the movement is marked Electric Railroad Special. Ill appears to have had trolley watches marked on the dial only, the movement only, and on both. The watch is in rather poor shape and most of the black in the lettering is missing. It does have an attractive gold tinted movement. Unfortunately the back cover is ruined by someone prying it off and I will have to find another case. Most of my trolley watches are pretty worn but this is to be expected from "working watches" and to me add authenticity.

    IMG_6857.jpg IMG_6865.jpg
     
  35. CentreKeystone

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    #85 CentreKeystone, Jan 2, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2018
    An obscure trolley watch is the "Interurban Special" Illinois made for the Kay Co. It is a pendant set, grade 7, model 306 dated 1920. Meggers and Ehrhardt's book on the Ill Watch Co. shows a picture of the movement on p. 268 and on p. 405 includes mine as part of a run of 200 from 3,731,801 to 3,732,000. My CD copy has "Interurban Spl" handwritten beside the serial numbers. There are several different jewelry companies with Kay as part of their name. My previous post in Nov. refers to one in Detroit. Curiously, the only other picture I have found of an Interurban Special movement appears to have the serial #3,309,686. On p. 399 this is also listed as the same model in the series 3,309,601-3,309,800. Does anyone else have one to compare serial numbers?

    face.jpg movement.jpg
     
  36. CentreKeystone

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    I recently bought a copy of a book on a Grand Rapids, MI interurban ("The Lake Line..." Bulletin 144 of the Central Electric Railfans' Association). This line had a deadly accident attributed to a pocket watch five minutes slow. They had time inspection standards and a Watch Maker's Certificate is attached.

    accident caused by late watch.jpg Watchmakers certificate.jpg
     
  37. CentreKeystone

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    The certificate has interestng details. Watches must have a variation of not to exceed 45 seconds (not the standard railroad 30 seconds). According to the Pocket watch database 16551360 is actually a grade 353 lever set Overland Elgin. The crossed out 182965569 is a grade 336 pendant set.
     
  38. CentreKeystone

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    I have finally managed to obtain a Hamilton 948 pocket watch at an affordable price. This 18 size watch was especially nice because it came with the Montgomery Dial required by the Conestoga Traction Co of Lancaster, PA. The 948 is uncommon as only 1500 were made. Mine went to the Finishing Dept on Feb 1, 1913.

    It came in a very nice gold filled case with no other screw marking suggesting a change of case. This presented a problem as in the case it looked no different than a common Hamilton 940 railroad watch and I wanted to use it to compare with the 978 produced at the same time for electric railway use. I therefore moved the movement to a salesman case for display.

    Hamilton 948 face.jpg Hamilton 948 movement.jpg Hamilton 978 948 1919 catalogue-2.jpg
     
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  39. Dutto11

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    Here is my Hamilton 974 I picked up a couple of years ago.

    IMG_3783.JPG IMG_3780.JPG IMG_3782.JPG
     
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  40. CentreKeystone

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    Interesting British Columbia Railway Employee's Watch Rating Card attached.
    This appears to be #1337655 a Hamilton 996 dated Aug 14, 1920. The 996 is a 19j lever set watch unfamiliar to me.
    I do not know what Grade 14J refers to.

    British Columbia Elec Rlwy empoyees watch rating card.jpg
     
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  41. Jim Haney

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    It looks like the writer didn't bear down enough for the ink to flow and missed the top half of the 9.Meaning it is a 19J Grade
     
  42. CentreKeystone

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    I think you got it...that would be consistent with the gaps in the serial numbers.
     
  43. Rhett Lucke

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    Here are a couple of the less common double sunk Hamilton dials.

    Both on 16 size Grade 974's.

    Ham_DS_EIS.jpg Ham_DS_ERS.jpg
     
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  44. CentreKeystone

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  45. Rhett Lucke

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    No, just standard 974’s. Just like the single sunk versions.
     
  46. viclip

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    I thought that a 4-pocket vest was the cat's meow, but this chap appears to have a 5th pocket specially fabricated to house his pocket watch.

    I'll have to start looking for vests with 5 pockets now!
     
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