US import codes - from when?

trim

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Feb 19, 2010
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Does anyone know when these codes were first brought in? I am sure I have read this somewhere, but after much searching have failed to find it again.

Thanks
 

mike184

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Feb 11, 2010
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Hi!

AFAIK the import codes have been used from the 1940s to the 1960s, but I don´t know the exact dates. Maybe s.o. else?
 

Cary Hurt

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I'm pretty sure they were a requirement of the Reciprocal Trade Agreements act of 1934. Don't know when the requirement was dropped.
 

trim

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Thanks!

Is is at all possible that a watch without an import code, but marked unadjusted would be from before this date? I have a few like this. I very much think of 'unadjusted' as being a US phenomenon along with the import codes. But I don't know if the two markings were separate requirements or came in together.
 

mike184

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AFAIK, it came at the same time. I´ve seen many movements with "unadjusted" and without an import code, but I´ve never seen a movement with import code without "unadjusted".
Of course, most of the movements had been adjusted though, they just had been marked in that way to lower the import tax. The best I´ve seen was a Rado 56-H with certified chronometer-movement and "unadjusted" on it. :D
 

Mirius

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I've got watches which are marked unadjusted and which I have no reason to think have ever been near the US. Whilst I agree the intention of 'unadjusted' is for the US, the question is who marked them with the import codes? The one on your site trim has clearly been done by hand and so I'd be surprised if that was at the factory. Unadjusted however is clearly a factory marking, so more likely that it was done to batches of watches some of which might end up in the US?
 

trim

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Yes I agree, I was just flying a kite. It crashed.

I'm taking 1934 as a lower bound for watches with the code.

Also, that 264 you are talking about, the unadjusted is engraved the same way as the FXU code and FIFTEEN JEWELS are done. Obviously all required together and added afterwards. I do recall the need to spell out the number of jewels on US watches.
 
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Roland Ranfft

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Hi trim,
I do recall the need to spell out the number of jewels on US watches.
Indeed, what else than bureaucratic idiotism makes people scratching the jewel number manually into a small scale produced movement:

84.jpg

But this was obviously prior to the invention of import codes. There was none, but in turn the responsible manufacturer scratched into the plate (like the jewel number).

Regards, Roland Ranfft
 

Cary Hurt

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I believe the handwritten codes and jewel notations generally date from the 1945-1950 period, when the US market was seeing unprecedented demand coupled with a slow response from the traditional domestic producers. As more importers looked for sources of movements to sell in the US, many movements that had been unmarked (as they were intended for European use) were diverted to the more lucrative American market. The codes were then quickly "hand done" to meet the US import requirements.

The handwritten names are almost always the names of those third party importers that were so prevalent during this period.
 

trim

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It must have also occurred when the regulations came in, or on small orders. The reason I say this is that the watch that we've discussed, the MST 264 calibre was obsolete for around 10 years by the 1945-50 period.

I have another example, that must certainly be from the post WWII period you mention, the engraving is of much lesser quality on this one.

136.jpg
 
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Watch Carefully

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AFAIK, it came at the same time. I´ve seen many movements with "unadjusted" and without an import code, but I´ve never seen a movement with import code without "unadjusted".
Of course, most of the movements had been adjusted though, they just had been marked in that way to lower the import tax. The best I´ve seen was a Rado 56-H with certified chronometer-movement and "unadjusted" on it. :D
This is the watch Mike mentioned (my watch, photo courtesy RGM despite my pesky watermark):

standard.jpg

More info is available via the link below and in my article forthcoming in the NAWCC Bulletin Sept/Oct 2020 issue.
Rado 56-H B (ca. 1965, steel case) - Watch Carefully!!
 

Adam Harris

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1930 to 1969
 

Tomxhar

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According to recent research, May 1st 1936 until roughly 1965.
 

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