Waltham pocket watch


Scott Tipton

The model, grade and approxamate date of manufacture of your Waltham can be determined if you include it in your posting. Many of us have books that list watches that contain the information you desire.
The case is an entirely different matter. Without more information such as the name on the case, whether it is gold, gold filled, silver or some sort of nickel or base metal, the case cannot be identified.



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Aug 26, 2000

The American Waltham Watch Co. had its origins in the 1850's. It was the first successful company in America to manufacture watches in mass production using machinery to make identical (or at least, near identical) parts. Over the next hundred years or so of its existence, its output of jeweled watches (over 34 million) was only exceeded by one other company, the National Watch Co. at Elgin, IL. Commonly referred to as "Waltham," the company made a full line of watches ranging from modest, affordable watches to some of the finest watches made in this country.

You can find out some basic facts about your watch by entering the serial number on the movement (the "works") in the field on the NAWCC Information Storage - Waltham Serial Number Data Base.

Only a small percentage of American watches (or Swiss watches for the North American market) were cased at the factories prior to the mid-1920's. Most watch companies just made movements (the "works") in industry standard sizes. The case companies made cases in those same sizes. The practice at that time was to go to a jeweler, select the quality of the movement and then pick out the desired style and quality of case. The jeweler would then fit the movement to the case in a matter of moments.

Or, watches were sold by mail-order. Large outfits such as Sears, Roebuck & Co., Montgomery Ward, or T. Eaton (in Canada), would offer the movements in a variety of cases of different design and quality in their catalogs. Smaller mail-order retailers would case the watches, typically in a 20-year gold filled case and offer it only that way, with the buyer not having a choice of cases.

Regarding the Keystone case, according to "History of the American Watch Case," Warren H. Niebling, Whitmore Publishing, Philadelphia, PA, 1971 (available on loan by mail to members from the NAWCC Library):

1853 - Randolf & Reese Peters were making cases in Philadelphia, employing James Boss.

1859 - J. Boss received a patent for "spinning up" cases made of "gold-filled" type material. That is, material made of a sheet of composition metal (usually brass) sandwiched between two thin sheets of gold.

1871 - J. Boss sold patent rights to John Stuckert of Philadelphia.

1875 - T.B. Hagstoz & Charles N. Thorpe formed Hagstoz & Thorpe, purchasing the manufacturing facilities and "J. Boss" patent from the estate of John Stuckert.

1883 - 1885 - T.B Hagstoz withdrew from the company which became C.N. Thorpe Co. and shortly thereafter it was reorganized as the Keystone Watch Case Co.

Keystone then went on to absorb other case companies (and several watch companies), becoming one of the largest case manufacturers in the country. Keystone stayed in business another 80+ years.

A few ads for Keystone cases can be found at:
(you should copy this link and paste it in your browser address bar since directly linking to this website from the NAWCC Message Board is not possible)

Please let us know if you have further questions,


That guy down in Georgia :)

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