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Waltham model 1899 17j quality differences

artbissell

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Have 2 of the 16 size 99s I think represent well the parts and finish quality differences of that popular p.w. Original movement container seal never broken with the cheap one. Premium parts version is in a display case for a wood box sold by Waltham. artbissell

IMG_3729a.jpg IMG_4380x.jpg
 

topspin

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I prefer the one on the right, simply because the one on the left's plate shape & writing orientation more closely resembles that of the ubiquitous 610/Traveler grades.
But what would you say are the actual quality differences?
 

Jerry Treiman

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There was, indeed, a range of quality in Waltham's 17j 1899 model. As you note, the grade 625 was their cheapest 17j model. According to the contemporary catalogs it was an unadjusted movement, not even claiming temperature adjustment.

The better grade movement you show is listed as a Royal grade movement, although it shows some finish details I associate with the Riverside grade (damaskeen pattern on plates and winding wheels). However, it still has the lower-grade plate pattern, flush-set train jewels (other than the center wheel) and brass escape wheel of the Royal at this date. The comtemporary catalog claims only adjustment to temperature. However, the gilt finish to the screws and regulator suggests it may have been a special order movement.
View attachment 400074

The best regular production 17j model in 1903 would have been the Riverside, which had a double-roller escapement, steel escape wheel and raised gold settings. It was initially adjusted to temperature and three positions.
View attachment 400075

Within a couple of years the Riverside added a jeweled mainwheel, for a total of 19 jewels, and was adjusted to five positions. At that point, the Royal was the best remaining 17j model.
View attachment 400076

Undoubtedly the absolute best 17-jewel 1899 model was one that Waltham finished for the E. Howard Watch Co. in 1902 and 1903, but Waltham never made this model under their own name. This is really an American Watch Co. grade movement.
View attachment 400077
 

rolandantrobus

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Forgive my ignorance but surely that E Howard movement cannot be a Model 1899 the plate layout is totally different?
 

topspin

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The brief answer to that is - don't rely on plate layout alone for identifying / classifying models. Within the 1899/1908 family, a number of different layouts exist - in much the same way that you might see two Ford Escorts or Toyota Camrys that look totally different but are still the same model.
There is also a rather hazy dividing line between some of the other Waltham models, for example an 1873 variant that looks more like an 1889 (if I recall correctly.) The 1884 had several completely different layouts too.

I have here (somewhere) a Waltham 1899 which was made for Ball, and looks different again. There's a picture of one in this thread - https://mb.nawcc.org/showthread.php?128150-1915-Ball-Waltham-model-1899&highlight=waltham+1899+ball
 

rolandantrobus

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Thanks for that topspin.
I looked at that thread you mentioned and I guess I'll just have to forget what I thought I knew about models and grades and plate layouts and rely on the new upgraded Waltham database, LOL!
 

Dave Chaplain

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Models are like the automobile chassis, and grades are like the color, style and options included in the automobile. And so models can sometimes share parts between grades, but many times the grade defines how those like parts are finished. So I guess it's always about model+grade ...
 

Jerry Treiman

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Forgive my ignorance but surely that E Howard movement cannot be a Model 1899 the plate layout is totally different?
The brief answer to that is - don't rely on plate layout alone for identifying / classifying models. Within the 1899/1908 family, a number of different layouts exist - ...
To help with this, here is the movements illustration from Waltham's 1936 material catalog. It shows three different plate profiles used for the 1899 model. In spite of the different appearance, they are all mechanically the same, with the same gearing and center distances. The illustration and text also show how the same plate profiles are used for the subsequent 1908 model, with only minor mechanical differences.
View attachment 400098

I might also add that in my previous response I mentioned only the 1899 models, per Art's subject title. There were a number of other high-grade 17-jewel movements produced in the 1908 model, including the grades 636 (adjusted to 4 positions) and 642 (adjusted to 5 positions). There were also some high-grade 17-jewel 1908 models for the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) and Canadian Railway Time Service (CRTS).
 

topspin

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There is also a fourth (very common) layout for 1908s, which we covered here - https://mb.nawcc.org/showthread.php...-3-4-plate&highlight=waltham+3/4+plate+layout
where the first watch shown is a 17J Waltham-Howard.

I shall make it my mission to turn up another 17J in that layout.

Of interest (to me anyway) is that Grade Traveler can be found in both the split 3/4 plate layout and in the layout of Art's first watch above ; the latter in both gilt and nickel trim. So even the same model&grade has 3 versions, not counting the 3 different jewel counts (7, 11, 15.)

I guess we're not counting grade "No 1617" as a true 1908? Its plate layout is slightly different again.
 

Jerry Treiman

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Thanks, topspin, for bringing up the 4th plate pattern. In the United States it only appears on the Waltham-Howards and the Equity model but, of course, you see them more often than we do with the various export pieces, like the Traveller. The early Waltham-Howard, though, is the only 17-jewel version and it is similar to the Royal grade in quality.


PWfanatik - that is a 12-size Royal you have shown. Here is the 16-size 1899 Royal.
attachment.jpg
 

Attachments

Ticktinker

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Yes Jerry,
And it appears the Star on my regulator is polished Nickle or steel (white metal)
Yours has a Gold star, and is it Perforated?
 

rolandantrobus

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Interesting, following Jerry's post about 16s Model 1908 starting at 16 million odd I had another look at my collection. Turns out I've got a few 1899s I didn't even know about cos I assumed they where Model 1908!
 

Mark UK

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Jerry the one obvious difference that isn't mentioned in that 1936 material catalog is the clicker. The shape of the clicker is what I have been using as the first visual clue to distinguish between the 1899 and 1908.

Maybe my assumption was wrong and the clicker change was a change made to late 1899's and continued into the 1908. I note that Art's first movement has what I would call a 1908 clicker but it's serial is before the 16188001 changeover.
 
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rolandantrobus

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I think your second paragraph is right, Mark. Here's another of my recently "rediscovered" 1899s with a 1908 type clicker and I'm sure its original.
attachment.jpg
 

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Mark UK

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I think your second paragraph is right, Mark. Here's another of my recently "rediscovered" 1899s with a 1908 type clicker and I'm sure its original.
Yes, wrong assumption! I have a Vanguard here 16145867 listed as an 1899 with same 1908 style clicker as yours.
 

topspin

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Thanks, topspin, for bringing up the 4th plate pattern. In the United States it only appears on the Waltham-Howards and the Equity model but, of course, you see them more often than we do with the various export pieces, like the Traveller. The early Waltham-Howard, though, is the only 17-jewel version and it is similar to the Royal grade in quality.
Photos: A fifth plate pattern of model 1908 17J a.k.a. grade "No 1617". This is https://pocketwatchdatabase.com/search/result/waltham/32046519 and marked 5 adjustments so I assume it's a fairly decent spec despite the absence of damaskeening.
This style is also sometimes referred to as a model "16-A" and is most commonly seen in 9J "1609" trim (often but not always wearing a military dial) although others such as 21J 1621/Riverside are not uncommon.
As well as the plate layout being different I would also note that the hands are not necessarily interchangeable between one of these and a "normal" 1908.

attachment.jpg attachment.jpg attachment.jpg
 

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Jerry Treiman

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The "clicker" is called a click in the material catalog and, as others have observed, it not a defining characteristic for the 1908 model. The later click, patented in 1909, is a recoiling click but was actually introduced ahead of its patent. It is perhaps just coincidental that the new recoiling click was introduced around the same time as the 1908 model (actually perhaps as early as 1907). The only reliable visual clue that I know of to distinguish the models without some disassembly is by looking up the serial number. Many 1899 models have serial numbers above the first 1908 models. The switch to Ohlson's 1908 regulator may be a closer indication, but it is not used on all 1908 models and I seem to recall some other discrepancies in its use.


PWfanatik - yes, some of the star regulators were polished steel, and these are often seen on the lower grade models, but also (with a little more finishing detail) on the American Watch Co. grade. Some steel stars are also gilded or damasceened. The gold stars are not perforated but they are finished in high relief.
 

Brad Maisto

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Since there was mention in this thread of the Grade 642 Waltham, I thought I would share a couple of pictures of my #22,097,609 that is marked Adj. 5 Positions. This is probably not the best condition example and I am certain it is not the appropriate dial, but it is at least a representative example. Brad Maisto, member Kentucky Floral Chapter #44.
attachment.jpg attachment.jpg
 

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Mindless

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Thanks Art. Mark. I think it's going to end up in a display case. While a hunter with a display cuvette would be ideal I can't see me getting one of those anytime soon. Even a regular hunter case would probably be closer to what may have been originally but I like to see and show the movement and surely some salesman showed hunter movements to prospective customers in a display case.
 

ben_hutcherson

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Can someone refresh my memory as to whether or not a 17j AM'n grade exists in the 1899 model? I feel like I have seen one.

If it does indeed exist, I suspect it would likely be the highest grade 17j.
 

Jerry Treiman

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The only 1899 Am'n Watch Co. grade movement I have seen is from the one run of 19-jewel movements. In the photo I saved it looks like it is finished like a Riverside, but with gilt screws. I have not heard of a 17-jewel version in the '99 model.
 

AllanB

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Hi All,

My HTG 1899 Riverside (#15,063,743) is currently being repaired and on inspection the meantime screws were found to be brass. There is nothing mentioned in the above thread, nor the litreature I have seen, as to whether this is correct or whether, like the centre wheel, they should be in gold to be correct. Any views?

Allan
 

Dave Chaplain

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Here's a nearby 19J Riverside HC example, which appears to have gold balance screws ... I believe these were changed to be made / marked "5 Positions" in the 15M range, so possibly the unmarked (3 position?) watches were downgraded at the same time? Or the movement has received a new balance wheel at some point?

305841.jpg
 

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AllanB

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Dave,

Thank you for your reply. I think you are right in that the balance wheel has been changed at some point as, I suspect, some other components of the movement, roller and winding wheels.
Having trawled through a lot of photos of 16s Riversides I have not seen another (so far) with brass meantime screws and only one other with non decorated (but highly finished) winding wheels as on this movement.

Allan
 

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