Up-Jewelling Confusion

Discussion in 'American Pocket Watches' started by viclip, Oct 6, 2019.

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  1. viclip

    viclip Registered User
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    Earlier tonight I won the auction for the movement as per the following link:

    Waltham 18 Size Model 1883 Grade 15 Hunting “FROSTED” PW Movement. 195R | eBay

    The movement was advertised as a Waltham Model 1883 of Grade 15 having 17 jewels. Indeed one can see from the photos that it has 17j, in as much as the top center wheel jewel setting & one of its screws, can be seen "peeking" out from under the cock near the hairspring attachment in some of the listing photos.

    As per the PWDB site this movement is a Grade 15 of 17j:

    Waltham Pocket Watch Information: Serial Number 5371186 (Grade No. 15)

    Here's where I get confused. When I input the serial number 5371186 into the NAWCC search engine, I'm advised that the movement is a Grade 15 having 15j rather than 17j. But in the Comment field there is an entry based on the factory ledger namely "Breg LS Unadj Htg a few PSB + #25 17 jewel".

    So I understand that my movement was up-jewelled from 15 to 17 for some reason. That's clearly evident from the listing photos.

    But is it now an unsigned PS Bartlett grade, or is it a Grade 25, as per the note in the Comment field?

    Or is it just an up-jewelled Grade 15?
     
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  2. Rob P.

    Rob P. Registered User

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    It's an upjeweled Grade 15 unless it's signed PSB.

    From your linky to the auction, it's gorgeous.
     
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  3. viclip

    viclip Registered User
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    Thanks Rob P.

    After the movement arrives I'll consider housing it in an exhibition case. I'll wind up with a "sidewinder" but no big deal, I sort of like those.
     
  4. John Cote

    John Cote Director
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    A wise man once said that "the watches tell the story....not the database."
     
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  5. viclip

    viclip Registered User
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    Well it's certainly 17j.

    Whether just having an extra pair might qualify it as a higher grade designation is unknown to me.

    The barrel bridge is also engraved "17 Jewels". After the watch arrives, I'll pull that bridge to see if there's a serial number notation on its belly.
     
  6. Rob P.

    Rob P. Registered User

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    What I don't understand is why the factory would upjewel a grade watch. Maybe for a special order without a private label; but then why not the label too?
     
  7. viclip

    viclip Registered User
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    I suppose that the movement which I bagged could have been ordered as a private label with only a signed private label dial included. The dial currently on the watch isn't signed as such however it may not be the original dial. The thing's been kicking around for > century ...
     
  8. Jim Haney

    Jim Haney Registered User
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    This was a common practice to sell outdated inventory.
     
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  9. John Cote

    John Cote Director
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    What Jim says is exactly correct. There are other reasons why they might have don this to a batch of watches.

    I suppose the answer to all of your question is that the American factories were not thinking about collectors in the future when they designed their system of factory records. They were thinking about how to best run their businesses. They may or may not have thought that thinks like designating an "up-jeweling" was important and if they did, it is very possible that the notes about this were kept in a different set of records than the serial number lists. We collectors have been left to collect and compile our nerdy notes about this after the fact. It matters to us but it didn't matter to them at the time that anybody knew that your new watch was 15 or 17 jewels.

    Again, the watch tells the story. If we want to put together a comprehensive story we keep notes in a common place about these exceptions. At some point we see patterns and can draw conclusions.
     
  10. Kent

    Kent Registered User
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    As Jim posted above, "This was a common practice to sell outdated inventory."

    A lot of the upjeweling was done in the 1890s. I feel that it was caused by the Hampden Watch Co.'s heavy promotion, and consequential success, of their new line of 17-jewel railroad watches in the early 1890s. The railroad industry workhorse of 30 years (the 18-size, 15-jewel, adjusted-to-position movement) fell out of favor in the space of a short few years, leaving the watch companies with thousands (if not tens of thousands) of very expensive movements sitting in inventory. There was a lot of money tied up in those movements sitting in the vaults for years.

    Waltham started in 1894 with its most expensive model 83s (see ad and catalog sheet, below) and, as the OP's watch demonstrates, worked their way downward.

    I don't have any hard documentation, but surviving examples of some Elgin B.W. Raymond grades were upjeweled to 17 jewels around the same time. This may be shown in the Elgin Master Production Records.

    By the end of the century, Railroad Time Service Watch Rules were requiring a minimum of 17 jewels, probably because otherwise suitable 15-jewel watches were no longer being made.

    1894_Oct_Mod_83_Upjewel.jpg 1887_S_F_Meyers_18s.jpg
     
  11. viclip

    viclip Registered User
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    Thank you Kent for yet another highly informative post.

    I see from one of the adverts that in addition to the extra pair of jewels, the "17 Jewels" notation was apparently routinely included on these up-jewelled movements.

    Would you happen to know whether, such as in the case of an up-jewelled Waltham '83, the original barrel bridge would be so engraved & re-used, or whether the original bridge would be swapped out for a pre-engraved replacement bridge (presumably sans serial number)?
     
  12. Jim Haney

    Jim Haney Registered User
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    viclip.
    All of these that I have had or seen have the distinctive "17 Jewels" re-engraved on the original Barrel bridge.. It would have been a sin to use a non-serialize BB .:D
     
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  13. viclip

    viclip Registered User
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    Good to know Jim. When my movement arrives I'll check it as well.
     
  14. Kent

    Kent Registered User
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    #14 Kent, Oct 8, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2019
    Unlike Jim, I haven't checked any of the few that I handled and recognized as being upjeweled (including one that's in my collection - picture below - "17 Jewels" is on the top plate near the balance); but based upon the damaskeening of the barrel bridge matching up to that of the top plate shown in the many pictures I've seen (mostly on eBay), I believe that the original barrel bridges were marked and reused.

    P.S. Edited to note location of the "17 Jewels" marking.

    18S_17J_CS_6025952.jpg


    And yet the earlier production of Waltham's Canadian Railway Movements (model 83s from other grades that were upjeweled from 15 to 17 jewels) had their barrel bridges replaced with non-serialized barrel bridges bearing the Canadian Pacific Railway and Canadian Railway Time Service grade names.
     
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  15. viclip

    viclip Registered User
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    Thanks for your observations Kent.

    Good point about the matching damaskeening of the barrel bridge with the remainder of the visible movement. At a time when these movements were being sold uncased, I suspect that many customers would have turned their noses up had there been a mismatch.
     
  16. viclip

    viclip Registered User
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    The subject movement arrived yesterday.

    Anyways earlier this morning I popped the barrel bridge in order to ascertain whether it was original to this upjewelled movement. Indeed the bottom of the bridge displayed the last 5 digits of the movement's serial number, thereby verifying its originality.

    This hunting movement nicely fit into an open face exhibition or "salesman's" case that I had kicking around. So now I've got me a sidewinder. The watch sets & winds quite nicely & has been keeping time for the past hour or so.

    In casing this hunting movement I was glad to see that the setting lever lined up perfectly with the lever cut in the open face case. I thank Waltham for that. Did the older watch companies - at least early on - all make it a practice to arrange their setting lever positions such that either an open face or hunting configured movement would be accomodated by an open face case without further ado? I suppose that would have made eminent good sense from a customer service perspective during the transition in popularity from hunting to open face i.e. the old hunting movements could be easily swapped into an open face case whether through preference or because the open face cases may have been easier to locate once the original [hunting] cases needed to be replaced..
     

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