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Waltham 12-size--that's a fraction too big

Alan G

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Jul 5, 2013
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Not long ago I purchased an empty Philadelphia gold-filled 12-size case on that well-known auction site. I bought it because it was in almost-new condition. I decided it deserved a fairly high-grade movement, so I turned to the same auction site and found a 12-size Waltham Riverside movement #24382723 (19j, 5-position , estimated production date 1924). I tried to put the movement in the case but was unsuccessful. Assuming it was just clumsiness on my part, I sent both items to my repairman. He found that the movement was just a fraction too large (in diameter) for the case. It also wouldn't fit in a NOS Keystone case that I sent him. He concluded that this watch was originally cased at the factory, apparently in a case slightly larger that normal.

Since then, another friend of mine who used to repair watches also tried to put it this movement in two other different 12-size cases that he had on hand. The movement was a hair too big for both of them as well. He was very surprised, saying he always assumed that a 12-size Waltham from this era would be the standard size. This one seems to be just a hair larger--by less than a millimeter, by my guess.

A 1908 Waltham Royal 17-jmovement (s/n 17115478) now resides in the Philadelphia case--it fit with no problem, so I'm convinced the problem is with the Riverside movement.

Has anyone else experienced this problem? And is there any way of knowing what to look for in the way of a case for this movement?

Alan Goebes
 

DTSPatrick

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Hey Alan. The problem is that model is a Colonial B model. Waltham tried to fudge the numbers in their later years of production and put 12 size movements in larger cases with larger dials to make them appear flatter. Most of your movement is actually 12 size except for some added components that are a little wider. Any movement that is marked “colonial” on the pocket watch database will not fit a standard 12 size case.
 

Tom McIntyre

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It took me a while to find my cell phone and take these pictures, so I was beaten to the punch... :)

A picture of the movement and the presence of Jerry Treiman in the discussion might help, but you could have a Colonial movement or Riverside A. These were made to fit a special Colonial case.

F49D40DF-26CF-4E8A-9DFA-29A661BACE7F.jpeg F9D64171-1149-4DA2-BCD4-25497BCD3A48.jpeg E303CA4D-9928-469C-B8C7-CBDB58235C0A.jpeg 7DE5AD55-FD01-4ABC-A486-59A8B5EE5E5D.jpeg D383C510-C7F4-4815-8D73-12CDDA56F9EE.jpeg F149560D-9845-4469-9D7B-07C0C6E063C1.jpeg 8FF92874-42A0-4DB9-BC5D-2ECEB6E0729F.jpeg
 

Jerry Treiman

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The problem is that model is a Colonial B model.
Yes, the 1924 model (Colonial B) that you have is just a hair larger than 12-size, but more significantly it is also much thinner than a standard 12-size movement (but not as thin as the Colonial-A). Even if it would drop into a slightly loose 12-size case the stem would still not line up correctly.

You should be able to find an orphaned 12-size Riverside for your empty case. Look at the crown wheel to determine whether you are looking at a standard 12-size movement or a Colonial-B. You can see a much narrower wheel on the Colonial-B.
1894_ColB_comparison.jpg

Also be sure you don't end up getting the larger "Colonial Series" movement which has a 14-size pillar plate and 12-size bridges - for this 14x12 movement you should see an extra rim around the outside (unless it is in a case already in which instance it looks just like a standard 12-size movement. Here is an old illustration I made to show the differences between some otherwise very similar movements which, in fact, share most of their internal parts.
94_97_ColSeries.jpg
 

Alan G

NAWCC Member
Jul 5, 2013
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Thanks for the responses. I never knew about the odd-sized Waltham Colonial models.

My quandary now--what do I do with the uncased, recently-serviced "Colonial B" Riverside movement that I now have? Would I have to find a case marked "Waltham Colonial"? (That doesn't sound very likely.) And were there two different "Colonial" cases, since it sounds like "Colonial A" and "Colonial B" movements were not the same?

Alan Goebes
 

Jerry Treiman

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Although not as functional as a cased watch, a movement collection can also be satisfying, especially these days with so many orphaned movements and so few cases. This is especially so for these special sized factory-cased models. Many of us have fairly extensive movement collections. The other alternative is to just be patient until a case becomes available. Look for a watch with a lesser 17-jewel movement and a nice case. Not all of the Colonial-B cases are marked Colonial (although some are). They were made in solid gold and gold-filled. It will be easier to tell if it is the right size case if it already has a Colonial-B movement. It can also help your search if you know what to look for. A 1926 Waltham catalog, viewable here - [ELGIN] Documents and Pictures - will show you several of the cases used at that time; look at pages 8-16.

Here are some earlier case styles from a circa 1923 brochure -
ColBstyles1923.jpg

And were there two different "Colonial" cases, since it sounds like "Colonial A" and "Colonial B" movements were not the same?
There were several different and unique Colonial cases. The first, for the "Colonial Series" (ca.1907 and later), are standard 12-size thickness but 14-size in diameter. Next is the thinner 14-size Colonial-A (ca.1912 and later). Around 1918 Waltham introduced a smaller, thin 10-size Colonial-A. The Colonial-B appeared around 1923 with its own case size, and then there was a later Colonial-R. I have not collected or studied the Colonial-R and it may be the same size as the Colonial-B.
 
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