Waltham Crescent St case ID

Ivan42

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Dec 16, 2020
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Hello forum,

This is my first post, but I've been lurking this great forum and learning a great deal about pocket watches, which is a new interest of mine. My mother very kindly bought me a slightly battered 21j 16s Waltham Crescent St grade, which I have dated to around 1904. I had it cleaned and serviced and I'm very much enjoying it.

My question is about the case. The back cover appears to be a Keystone Ball Model, and my understanding is that those were only typical of the Waltham ORRS model watches. Of course, I understand these cases were mainly supplied by jewelers (not the factory) so the case might vary. My questions are 1. Is this a common case for the Crescent Street model, 2. was there a particular store or line that supplied 16s Crescent Street watches in the Ball Model case, or 3. alternately, is this just a period correct replacement case?

For what it's worth, the horologist who sold it was only about 20 years younger than the watch itself and knew his way around. He insisted that the case was likely to be the original, based on what he saw.

thank you for your help. A few ID photos are attached. Apologies if this is a ridiculous question, I'm new here.

watch2.jpg watch1.jpg watch3.jpg
 
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thesnark17

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Jul 11, 2020
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It's not a ridiculous question at all.

This case is highly unlikely to be original to this watch, but stranger things have happened. Basically, three things are true:

1. Only Ball watches were sold in Ball cases. (99+% rule)
2. Some Ball watches were made by Waltham. These watches have the case screws in the same places as Waltham watches, because in every way that matters they are Waltham watches.
3. If you put a Waltham 16s movement in a Ball case that originally held a Waltham-Ball movement, it will appear "original" in the sense that the case screws will be in the same place (which is the only way to absolutely say that a case has been used on multiple movements - look for extra screw marks).

The most likely thing to have happened is that the original Ball movement that was sold in this case was totaled (or any other reason you can think of to part a movement from its case), and, since the case was still good, replaced by a similar-quality Waltham movement. But there's the thinnest of outside shots that this is an original combination.

However, no collector will ever, ever, believe that, without original paperwork to prove it. And probably not even then! Regardless, it's a beautiful watch, and there's no reason to alter it. Unless of course you want to find a Ball-Waltham in a case not marked Ball, and swap the movements between them. Some would say that is unethical though, since even though that would produce two 100% original-looking watches, they would not actually be original... Possibly an issue for a different thread though.
 

Ivan42

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Dec 16, 2020
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Thanks, very helpful indeed. I will then assume that probably some creative jeweler had a destroyed Waltham-Ball movement, salvaged the case, and put this Crescent St. model in it. Fortunately collectibility isn't important to me, it's my daily watch and mostly I just enjoy watching the movement work and appreciating the damascening... It still amazes me that something as common as this could be so beautiful.
 

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Rockford's early high grade movements by Greg Frauenhoff