Waltham private label, serviced by original jewelry store, 131 years after purchase

yellow_sub

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So this specific watch is a Waltham Model 1883, No. 15 grade, 15j and was made sometime between March and July of 1889. I originally bought this watch mid 2019 and there was nothing particularly special about it other than being a private label. Several of the watches I have are Waltham 83's and it being a private label always adds a bit of uniqueness to it. I love reading about the past and over the last several years I've done a ton of digging around using ancestry.com. So I took to there to see if I could find info on a Chas. D Martin
from Walla Walla WA. This one having a city, along with the name having a middle initial, made it quite simple to find the person. I was able to find a few census' from Walla Walla, WA listing a Charles D. Martin who had the profession of "Jeweler" and having his "Own Store".
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It might be hard to see but he is the 3rd name from the top.

At first I was a little bummed that it wasn't a one off private label and this wasn't the name of the person who owned and wore the watch, but at least I knew what store it was originally purchased from. My next goal now was to try to find where this jewelry store was exactly located and possibly an old picture or two of the store front. So you can probably imagine how excited I was when, not only did I find several pictures of the store, but they were in color...... and on Yelp because they are still in business to this day! And this isn't one of those situations of how Hamilton is "still" in business today. "Martin's Jewelers" is still located on main street in Walla Walla, WA (all be it, a bit further down than the original location) and is owned by Charles
Martin's great-grand daughter, Erin Mason.
Martin's Jewelers on Main Street.JPG
This picture is of the inside of the store in 1889 when they first opened. Since my watch was made in 1889, I'd like to think it's somewhere in this picture haha.

After a couple phone calls, I had the watch sent to them for servicing. Great service, kept in contact with me and quick shipping back to me.I also believe the case is original or at the very least it hasn't had any other movement in it. Enough rambling, here's the watch itself.
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musicguy

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Great story and I'm sure it was fun researching this watch.

At first I was a little bummed that it wasn't a one off private label and this wasn't the name of the person who owned and wore the watch
One of the things I notice about "some" private labels is that when I research it I can only find
one example(the one I own or one I'm looking at) When I look in the private label research here and other sites, or
in watch books, or on an internet search it's the only one I find. I think some of these small town jewelers only ordered
5 or 10 of them(maybe less) and there is only one left now(that has been found). It didn't cost too much
to have one personalized to their store, thus my conjecture is maybe some
of the local jewelers would order one just to have it in the store to show off. Other PL's you find
many of them. Just a theory. So if your private label is the only one that can be found currently
with research maybe it was carried by the owner(or their family or friends). It's a stretch but a good story.


Rob
 
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James J Nicholson

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Wow, way cool! Great detective work and I'll bet Martin's great grand daughter was thrilled to go back in time and touch a piece of their family history. Nice photos of the store , outstanding.
 
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Paul Sullivan

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Great story! I always look out for P/L 18s and (to a lesser extent) 16s Hamis with serial numbers up to 824700 as these pages of the handwritten ledgers still survive showing when and who the movement was sold, whether it had special markings or names, gilt trimmed, or special damaskeen patterns etc. and sometime odd cryptic notes written over entries indicating some kind of change that isn't always clear. Most all of Hamilton's early production were sold to private jewelers until they established their reputation as watch makers then selling through jobbers. So you have the jewelers name and when it was sold. With that I been able to find at least some information on most the jewelers these watches were sold to quite a bit of background on a few of them.
 

Downing

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Ridiculously great story.:clap:
 

yellow_sub

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Thanks for all the kind words everyone! And the information on private labels too, for sure some information I hadn't come across yet about them. I did search around online for pictures of any other private labels with this marking and so far I haven't found another one, so maybe there was a low quantity of them to start with.
 

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