Waltham-Howard research

Discussion in 'American Pocket Watches' started by Jerry Treiman, Sep 1, 2015.

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  1. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    Now that I am retired from my day job I want to wrap up and publish the article on Waltham-Howard watches that I began many years ago with co-authors Carl Goetz, Art Leibold and the late Gene Fuller. We previously published research requests in the "Research Activity and News" column of the Bulletin in August 1992 (whole no.279, p.440-441) and June 1998 (whole no.314, p.330-332). The delay in publication is entirely due to my obsession with detail and also the delightful appearance of new information at regular intervals (to help me self-justify the delays). As consolation for the delay the article will be more complete, with more questions answered, and accompanied by many illustrations.


    Some relevant threads posted to this message board in recent years include the following:
    https://mb.nawcc.org/showthread.php?86544-Waltham-Howard-16-size-bridge-models
    https://mb.nawcc.org/showthread.php?92153-12-Size-Waltham-Howard
    https://mb.nawcc.org/showthread.php?27880-Waltham-16-size-split-3-4-plate


    If you have any examples that I may not have seen I would be grateful if you can share any information or pictures with me as I try to wrap up the telling of this interesting episode in American watchmaking history. The triangular hairspring stud is the tell-tale indication that your Howard was made by Waltham. I particularly would like to see more 12-size examples, including dial and casing information -- I probably still have the most unresolved issues regarding this size.

    Thank you.
     
  2. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    I am pleased to report that Part 1 of our article has been published in the current Watch & Clock Bulletin (issue No.435 - September/October 2018). It is already available to members in digital format and I expect the print edition will arrive soon. Part 1 covers how these watches came to be made. Part 2, to appear in the November/December issue, will go into greater detail on the movements and production quantities and how they evolved over the the three year period of production.

    I invite further discussion or questions in this thread regarding these interesting, high-quality Waltham/Howard watches.
     
  3. Steven Thornberry

    Steven Thornberry User Administrator
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    I cannot add to the discussion, but I enjoyed Part 1 and look forward to the next installment. Well done!:clap:
     
  4. Jerry Freedman

    Jerry Freedman Registered User
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    Jerry: Some Waltham/Howard bridge models have curved small bridges and some straight small bridges. Also I see a slight difference
    in the shape of the long center bridge. Why the differences?

    Jerry Freedman
     
  5. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    Jerry - I get more into this in the upcoming Part 2 of the article, but briefly, the first bridge models that Waltham made for Howard were basically their own bridge models but with some custom finishing details. The bridges of either have the same curved finger bridges. For this basic Waltham design, the center bridge had slightly different contours for hunting or open-face models to accommodate the different location of the large ratchet wheel. For the final movement orders for Keystone the bridges were modified to the straight finger bridge pattern and the center bridge was apparently designed so the same bridge could be used for hunting or open-face configuration. The similarity to the first Keystone bridge model may be coincidence, or the modified Waltham bridge may have been designed in anticipation of the upcoming Keystone center bridge, ... or it may have been the inspiration for the Keystone design. These are details about which we can only have fun speculating.
     
  6. JHamway

    JHamway Registered User
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    Hello.
    I've read with interest the last two Bulletins regarding the Waltham-Howards. Complex as it is, I believe I may have a Waltham-Howard that is not completely documented. SN976747
    See photos attached..I welcome information and discussion on this watch I've had for about 35 years..I cannot find a direct identity from the articles...perhaps valuable information for research?
    Best regards,
    Joe Hamway NAWCC 0081753

    IMG_4046.jpg IMG_4047.jpg IMG_4045.jpg IMG_4044.jpg IMG_4043.jpg IMG_4048.jpg
     
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  7. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    your watch is not a Waltham Howard. It is from the first 23J watches produced by the new company. I think Jerry points out in the articles that the shape of the center bridge is a key differentiator. The knob on the tip of the center bridge is not found on any of the Waltham production.

    The case is rather later than the movement. It is appropriate for a No. 11 Railroad Chronometer and possibly a late No. 10.

    The movement and the box seem to be an original combination. Likely the gold case that the watch originally had was lost during the depression.
     
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  8. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    Joe - thank you for sharing your watch. As Tom has said, this is not one of the Waltham products. There are two quick identifiers. First, your watch has Keystone’s square hairspring stud rather than Waltham’s triangular stud (see Figure 7 in Part 1). Secondly, if you look at Figure 7 (also attached here) in Part 2 of our article you will see that yours has the third bridge pattern, identified as a Keystone model. There are many other differences that require a little more familiarity to identify.
    2-7_bridge_styles.jpg
     
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  9. Kent

    Kent Registered User
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    Joe:

    In addition to the fine information posted by Tom and Jerry, you can find out more about this in the "E. Howard Watch Co." Encyclopedia article.

    Many of the links in our Encyclopedia articles were disrupted when we changed to the current version of our Message Board and its been a long process getting them all reinstated. So, if you come across a broken link and want to see what it led to, just let us know and we'll try and post it.

    Please feel free to ask about anything that isn't clear to you.

    Good luck,
     
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  10. JHamway

    JHamway Registered User
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    Thank-you, sir
     
  11. JHamway

    JHamway Registered User
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    Thank-you so much!
     
  12. JHamway

    JHamway Registered User
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    Thank-you, I will continue to read the article, and post addl questions as they arise.
     
  13. JHamway

    JHamway Registered User
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    Thank you..I will continue to read the article, and post any questions as they arise.
     
  14. Greg Burton

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    One question I have, and I have enjoyed both articles, Is what possible/probable influence do the authors think that Waltham had on the three-quarter plate 17 July 1905 Series movement that Keystone/Howard patented? My apologies for the run-on sentence. It seems to me that Keystone Howard tends to be under appreciated. I inherited a day circa 1918 12s Howard that sat in a drawer unused and Unserviced for well over half century. When I wound it and set the time, it not only ran but it kept perfect time. Since I was suffering from an addiction to English Verge and Fusee watches, I put it back in a drawer. That addiction seems to been satisfied so I recently pulled out for Howard, and sent it off to we serviced. I also acquired through a third-party Hay circa 19 1012 ass that had belonged to a collector. It also kept smallest time, but to be safe and is also on its way to be serviced. So again, I am alone and thinking that Keystone Howard gets unfairly overlooked?
     
  15. Tom McIntyre

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    I think the E.Howard Watch Co. watches are first class both for performance and technical innovation.The Edward Howard was either the first or second best watch made in the country as a production watch.

    The 10 size watches are technically exceptional with a novel design and manufacturing plan.

    The 12 size thin models were easily the equivalent of the same watches from Elgin, Illinois, Hamilton and Waltham.

    The only detraction for them is that they arrived a little late, but not much later than Hamilton and that they use a name that was made famous by another company. I think those who may denigrate them likely do not understand them.

    I hope that Jerry's articles will help to correct the impression of these watches.

    If you have not already, you should read the Watch & Clock Bulletin articles by Selmon Berger and those by Arthur Borg which provide a lot of good information about the standard and later products of E. Howard Watch Co.
     
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  16. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    I think Tom has answered the quality issue. Through my 50 plus years of collecting I have seen interest and appreciation of the Keystone-Howards fluctuate considerably. It is a shame that the current lower interest has led to a vast number of these being scrapped for the gold in their cases. Just look at all of the movements for sale now on eBay. The surviving complete and original watches should appreciate in value, especially as it sinks in with people that these were all factory cased and an orphaned movement can never be re-cased correctly except from another Howard. Even then, certain case styles are only appropriate for certain time periods and a knowledgeable collector will recognize a re-case.

    As for the question of design influence on the 1905 model, I do not see any meaningful influence. Although the shape of the pallet bridge on some does look a little like the Waltham pallet bridge I think this is just coincidence. It should be noted that the first 1905 model production actually had many similarities to Hamilton movements (circular pallet bridge, hairspring stud, crown wheel). These similarities have led some to suggest they were made by Hamilton but no evidence exists for this and there are actually additional reasons for disputing the association.
     
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  17. Greg Burton

    Greg Burton Registered User
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    Jerry and Tom, you both have been helpful. And I did hunt down the articles Tom suggested. The nice thing about Howards is their original retail price is well documented. If you adjust the value of the dollar in 1905 or 1918 let’s say, to today’s value, it’s immediately apparent that these were expensive time pieces.
     
  18. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    Part 2 of our Waltham-Howard article came out in the past few days. I just got my copy on the west coast and some of you easterners got the November/December Bulletin a little earlier. This is a much more descriptive article, in contrast to the more historical account in Part 1. I hope this will serve as a useful reference for collectors who come across these interesting watches in the future (or re-discover them in their Howard collections). In the Appendix I have noted how many examples are known from each run (as of earlier this year) so that the reader can appreciate the sample size that I relied upon for the descriptions. It also provides a ballpark concept of how many of these have survived the past 115 years.
    I welcome any questions, discussion or corrections. (One typo has already been caught by a careful reader).
     
  19. Jerry Freedman

    Jerry Freedman Registered User
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    Jerry: # 1005041 straight bridges

    #1005260 straight bridges

    #1005423 curved bridges

    The sequence seems odd. it seems #423 should have straight bridges?
     
  20. Tom McIntyre

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    Can you post pictures of the movements, Jerry F.?
     
  21. Jerry Freedman

    Jerry Freedman Registered User
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    Numbers 041and 423 page 483 of current Journal. Number 260 is mine and identical to 041.

    these all start with 1005.
     
  22. Lee Passarella

    Lee Passarella Registered User
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    I've concentrated on collecting Howard watches since I got serious about the hobby and have a goodly number now of both pre- and post-Keystone watches. I doubt I have one of the Waltham-Howard watches noted in your excellent and exhaustive articles, Jerry.

    You note that Keystone-Howards have been devalued over the years, which is part way understandable, perhaps, but still a shame. As an expert on this brand, do you think Keystone-Howards are just less intrinsically valuable? Are there any models of pre- or post-Keystone Howards that you especially prize and watch out for?
     
  23. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    Jerry - I am glad you raised this point. It is among a few curious observations about the last bridge model production runs that took us some time to work out. (Our theory, at least).

    Let’s start with the information from “the gray book”, Waltham’s serial number list describing movement production. The 23-jewel Waltham-Howard bridge movements with serial numbers in the 1-millions fall in two “runs”: 12,600,001 to 12,600,600 (six hundred hunting-case movements) and 12,605,001 to 12,605,400 (four hundred open-face movements). These correspond with the Howard numbers 1,000,xxx and 1,005,xxx that you are asking about. Right away we see a problem in that Howard movements such as 1,005,423 are outside of the expected range, having a Waltham number (12)605423 under the dial. According to the gray book this should be a 7-jewel full-plate 18-size movement, which it obviously isn’t. This tells us that there were apparently more than 400 open-face movements produced here, and also suggests something out of the ordinary may have occurred.

    The next quandary is that some of the movements, open-face and hunting, have curved finger bridges like the original production while most of them have straight finger bridges. Our database of over 150 examples from these runs indicates that the first 70 or so hunting movements (1,000,001-070) and the last 70 open-face movements (1,005,401-470) are the ones with curved finger bridges. So why were 140 of these 23-jewel bridge movements made with the older style bridges? One can propose several theories but one theory is suggested by another unanswered question. Which 16-size bridge movements were used to supply the orders discussed in September 1903 and April 1904? (Refer to Appendix A in Part 1).

    The 1904 letter specifically mentions at least fifty 21-jewel movements “in process” (for the second movement order) but we do not know how many in total were ordered and we have not been able to identify enough known movements to match this reported production. Only two hunters and three open-face movements from earlier production are known that are not in the ledger, and only one of those has 21 jewels. However, if we suppose that prior to delivery it was decided to upgrade the order to 23-jewels (with the addition of the jeweled main wheel) we can look to these odd 140 movements (open-face and hunting) as a reasonable candidate to fill that second order. This is speculation, but we felt it was a reasonable hypothesis for the anomalies.
     
  24. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    I don't think I can qualify as an expert on the brand, just one little piece of the story. However, I would suggest that value is a personal judgement. If an item is of interest to someone and one they would like to own, it has value. If they are hard to find, or hard to find in suitable condition then that may add value. If interest wanes in something the "market value" may decrease, but its value to you may remain high. The "Howard" name has always connoted quality and perhaps should be valued more highly, or as highly as it once was. Factors that may have led to declining interest include the advent of eBay and a consequently more accessible supply of Howard watches for anyone seeking one. Collectors have also become more cognizant of the difference between the "original" Howard products and the Keystone products. Limited information on production quantities, and hence rarity, may also have dampened interest. Because 16-size Howards are a standard size, case swapping has been rampant which leads to a significant supply of less desirable non-original combinations. I would think that watches with original boxes and licenses should still hold value. The smaller, special-cased 12x14 and 10-size models unfortunately are not as popular and so have been more subject to the scrappers.

    Which might I prize? That again is a very personal thing. I am not a Howard collector. The Howards I own and prize are linked to the Waltham-Howard research or to my interest in the history of men's dress watches -- the E.Howard J-size was one of the first commercial 12-size watches in 1891 ( 60 years of 12-size watches ).
     
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  25. 4thdimension

    4thdimension Registered User

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    My Bulletin finally got here today. I wish I had this info a long time ago! So the fleamarket found watch I had was one of two known from a short run from 02/03 and the only 23j. Alas! But, now I know. Fantastic, comprehensive article, thank you. -Cort
     
  26. Tom McIntyre

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    I am sure Jerry waited until I had sold all of mine to publish it also. :)
     
  27. musicguy

    musicguy Moderator
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    Just opened my bulletin excellent article Jerry.


    Rob
     
  28. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    Thanks, Rob, and others for your kind comments.

    I know that collectors like to have an idea of the scarcity of the watches they collect. Although Part 2 of the Bulletin article includes interpreted production numbers and a much more detailed breakdown of numbers (in Table 1 and Appendix B) I thought it might be helpful to summarize movement production in a more concise fashion.
    W-H_production.jpg

    The contracts are differentiated because there were jeweling and finish differences from one order to the next. (For instance, bridge models only had curved finger bridges in the first two orders). However, for the totals of each model just go to “the bottom line”. (Quantities in parentheses are entire runs that either had the Howard name removed or never carried the Howard name; some movements from other runs also had the Howard name removed).
     
  29. musicguy

    musicguy Moderator
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    Jerry:

    I've finally read the entire article and I must say that it's
    well written(and now a great resource of information in one place).
    Your descriptions and photographs will
    make it very easy to identify these Waltham-Howard watches(and understand how they fit into the history).
    I'm sure this took a tremendous amount of work(and research over the years)
    and I will absolutely keep this issue of the W & C Bulletin!

    Thank you
    Rob
     
  30. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    My friend and co-author, Carl Goetz, passed away earlier this year. He had an extensive collection of Waltham-Howard watches, many of which were in their factory-original cases. However, most of these interesting watches, including many of Carl’s watches, were in solid gold cases which are vulnerable to scrapping, regardless of their importance. At least a few of the watches from Carl’s collection have already lost their original cases this year and can never be whole again. In fact, a majority of the known surviving movements have lost their original cases, so it is important to try to preserve those that remain.

    In the interest of preserving some of this history I am presenting here a list of those Waltham-Howard watches, from our database of known watches, that we believed to still be in their original cases when we recorded them. (Don’t be alarmed if your watch is not in this list -- it may not have been in our database).
     

    Attached Files:

  31. KipW

    KipW Registered User
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    I don't know what to make of this! Purchased as a movement only in September of 2018. It is marked as a Howard, clearly a Waltham made watch, nothing on the dial, and with a serial number that make no sense at all ( #1010166). I tried to "translate" the serial number into a workable Waltham number and came up with 12610166 - which is listed as a "special" dating to about 1911!
    After reading what I could find (especially Parts 1 and 2 of the NAWCC article you published) I can only wonder is this movement is a total "bootleg" watch with intentionally misleading markings, or an actual Waltham-Howard of some sort...or :???:
    I'm really hoping you kind experts (Jerry / Tom etc.) can shed some light on this...thanks! (Sorry the photos aren't better. If you need more or better pictures and/or details, I'll post them in the near future.)

    IMG_0497.JPG IMG_0498.JPG IMG_0499.JPG IMG_0500.JPG s-l1600 (1).jpg s-l1600.jpg
     
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  32. MrRoundel

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    The watch looks legitimate to me. All but the earliest of runs of the Waltham-Howards had the "E. Howard & Co." removed from the plates. In your case it looks like it was milled off on the train bridge. Then, as was the case with yours, someone re-engraved the "E. Howard & Co." on the bridge. The dial looks like it could be original to me. It may have also had the name removed from it. Surely it was with less difficulty than milling the bridge, etc. ;)So no, not bootleg.

    I have one one of these 3/4 plate Waltham-Howards, however mine has the bridge milled but never re-engraved. It's in the 10,102*** range of serial numbers, FWIW. It is awaiting the finding of a few parts before it can be running again. Cheers.
     
  33. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    #33 Jerry Treiman, Feb 20, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2020
    Kip - You may have skimmed over it, but I talked about these on p.486-487 in Part 2 of my article. You have correctly surmised the Waltham serial number (under the dial you will find 610166). These were made for Howard around 1905. It is our speculation, but a reasonable one, that Keystone removed their name from these at some point to dispose of them after getting their own production under way. You may note that name, re-engraved by hand, is “E. Howard Co.”, lacking the “&”, which Keystone would never have done themselves. As Brian says, this is a correct original dial and you may be able to see a ghost of the Howard name in script if you hold the dial at just the right angle.

    I am not sure if you mis-spoke here. Did you mean to say that name-removal was done to movements from all but the earliest runs? However, it certainly was not done to all, or even most, of the movements in any of those runs.

    Here are the images from Figure 10 in Part 2.
    2-10_anonymous.jpg
     
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  34. MrRoundel

    MrRoundel Registered User
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    Thanks for the corrections. Cheers.
     
  35. KipW

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    Thanks much guys! This clarity helps. One more thing...if I understand correctly, there are only about 1300 total 3/4 plate Waltham-Howard movements. Making these scarce?
    I also wonder if all were regular going barrels or perhaps the Waltham patent type?
     
  36. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    There were 1300 16-size 3/4-plate Waltham-Howards made. 300 of those were 17-jewel models with fancier damaskeening done at Waltham and 1000 were 19-jewel models, finished by Keystone. Scarcity is a subjective label (also affected by how many survive) that I will not attempt to apply.

    12-size 3/4-plate models are a little more complicated. There were 300 17-jewel models made in 1903; many had the name removed later. In 1905 there were about 100 more made for Howard but perhaps never sold and which had the Howard name removed. There were an additional 250 19-jewel models that were never delivered to Keystone and were finished by Waltham as Riverside grade movements.

    All Waltham movements made for the Howard companies used Waltham's patented safety barrel.
     
  37. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    To illustrate this, of the 1300 16-size movements made, we observed/recorded only about 64 survivors (6-1/2%) during more than three decades of studying these watches. The 12-size movements have been even less common with fewer than 4% recorded. I doubt our inventory is anywhere near complete, but it still is an indication that only a small percentage of these old watches survive.

    [These numbers emphasize all the more the tragedy of losing original cases to scrappers, mentioned in post #30, above].
     
  38. KipW

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    Jerry, were the referenced orders actually bought and paid for by Keystone? Did Waltham get stiffed? Might Waltham have been responsible for removing the Howard markings and then selling them, rather than Howard? If not, does it stand to reason that Howard thought the Waltham movements were somehow inferior to their own, or was it that they felt it was simply bad business to use Waltham movements
     
  39. KipW

    KipW Registered User
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    No matter what, it seems an expensive waste.
     
  40. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
    NAWCC Member

    Aug 25, 2000
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    We really have a minimal amount of hard data on the watch orders, other than the correspondence that we quoted in Appendix A, the watches themselves and a few trade announcements. We did not find any financial records that could specifically be tied to any order, although they might still be buried in the archives at the Baker Library at Harvard, so I have no idea how Waltham was paid (or not paid). Wholesale prices of the unfinished movements were included in some of the correspondence. Some ledgers indicated moneys received from Howard but did not specify what the payments were for. (Waltham also sold tooling and other machined products to Howard and other companies).

    I suspect that Keystone put the Howard name on most of the movements they received from Waltham (see Appendix C), so it is unlikely that Waltham would have had the opportunity (or inclination) to modify those movements later. I also think that Waltham, with their factory resources, could have done a much better job of removing the name. Keystone used similar tactics in 1915 when they had an oversupply of their own hunting movements, which had waned in popularity, and they removed the Howard name and sold them off through jobbers under the “Abbott Watch Co.” name.
    Abbott.jpg

    There is evidence that Keystone continued to sell the Waltham-Howard movements for several years, but eventually they may have decided it might be confusing to the dealers and watchmakers to have their movements requiring Waltham parts, or perhaps they did not want to have to stock two different parts systems. We did not turn up any documentation of these issues and can only make inferences based on the facts of the movements.

    The 12-size movements are more puzzling. The correspondence documented the request for and progress on 12-size movements but for some reason Keystone never advertised any of these; that was left to Hayden W. Wheeler who appear to have had an agency contract that allowed them to carry these watches through the end of 1904. All of the later movements (serial numbers in the 1-millions) that have survived have the Howard name removed, so I believe they were received by Keystone in 1905 but never put on the market as Howard watches.

    The last 12-size movements for Howard had the distinctive 3/4-plate layout and Howard-contract regulator and grid, but carry a Waltham serial number instead of the numbers assigned to Howard watches and have a typical Waltham-factory “Riverside” finish. (see photo below with Howard-pattern Riverside on the left and standard Waltham-pattern Riverside on the right). I believe this part of the order must have been canceled by one of the parties before they were completed and Waltham finished them for their own distribution as Waltham watches.

    2-9.jpg
     

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