Waltham ship watch/chronometer dial marking question

Discussion in 'Chronometers' started by Antarctic Jamie, Apr 1, 2011.

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  1. Antarctic Jamie

    Antarctic Jamie Registered User

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    I recently came across this Waltham ship's watch which has "(N W III" on the dial underneath the standard Waltham Watch Co. signature (se photo). Any ideas what this could stand for? Only suggestion I've had links it to the US War Office. The same thing is also stamped on the movement case along with a single arrow and military serial number. It seems to have only an opening bracket (parenthesis) and not a closing one at the end - any info welcome.

    From what I've read these are different to a Waltham deck watch which has a spot wind indicator. From other posts it seems the Waltham archives list these as 'chronometers' but many don't consider them so. Are they worthy of the title?

    I didn't get as far as unscrewing the case to get the serial number, but am I right in thinking this is a WW1 watch?

    All info gratefully received. Jamie
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Kent

    Kent Registered User
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    Maybe its a chronometer and maybe WWII - check out this ad. Roth Bros., and probably other houses, refit Waltham auto clocks with appropriate escapements and thus rebuilt and refinished them into chronometers.
     
  3. Larry Treiman

    Larry Treiman Registered User

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    #3 Larry Treiman, Apr 4, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2011

    Jamie, it is possible that the "N W" on the dial might be a reference to the Northwest Instrument Company of Seattle, Washington. Northwest sold and serviced marine chronometers and other instruments. They are known to have done some of the conversions of Waltham 8-day clocks to navigation timepieces during WWII, like Roth Bros., who were mentioned in the advertisement to which Kent provided the link. Maybe N W III could be N W 111, a serial number?

    All this is just speculation. It could be a Box Chronometer that Northwest sold for ciivilian use, perhaps on a yacht or fishing vessel. Seattle was a major West Coast seaport. Many were sold for non-maritime use. Jewelers used them as regulators or displayed them in a show-window where passers-by could check their own watches against them.

    I am not familiar with Waltham auto clock conversions with the spot indicator being referred to as deck watches.

    Your "chronometer" (from what I can see in your photo) looks exactly like the Waltham "Box Chronometer" (sic) illustrated in a 1922 catalog of the Waltham Watch Co., Clock Department. It sold for $120 in 1922. A radium dial was available for $10 extra, and an "upholstered carrying case" was $15 extra. The dimensions given in the catalog are 4-7/8 inches high, 4-7/8 inches wide and 4-7/8 inches deep, a compact little cube. I assume that is the size of the gimballed box. The fact that everything looks the same (including the dial, except for the N W III marking) as the catalog illustration leads me to believe that the one in your photo might have been originally built as a "Box Chronometer" rather than being a wartime conversion. However, the serial number should be checked against Waltham records to see if it shows up as a chronometer, and a photo of the movement would also be helpful. At least by knowing the approximate date of manufacture, you could determine if it was possible that it was used in WWI.

    Yes, the "purists" usually insist that a "true" marine chronometer must have all the "bells and whistles" such as a detent escapement, helical hairspring, and fusee. However, with its eight-day run powered by two mainsprings (wound simultaneously with the crown) and temperature-compensated balance, etc., these Waltham Box Chronometers, with their conventional lever escapement, probably did a more-than-adequate job, especially if they were wound every day.

    I hope this is of some help.

    Larry Treiman
     
  4. Antarctic Jamie

    Antarctic Jamie Registered User

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    Thanks Larry, all very interesting. As you mentioned, I think the "(NW) 111" is definitely a serial number reference as I managed to find images of another similar watch with "(NW) 146" hand-written on the dial below the Waltham Watch Co. signature. After a bit more digging, I think the single arrow military stamp on the movement case is a British one, meaning perhaps that the NW reference could be British military serial numbers as I belive Waltham exported some to the UK for use in the military. The NW111 is also stamped on the movement case next to the single arrow.

    Thanks for your help, now all I have to do is save up enough cash to be able to afford one!

    Jamie
     
  5. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    #5 Tom McIntyre, Apr 4, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2011
    I put together a presentation on the Waltham 37 size a couple of years ago. Here are a few of the images relating to the chronometer usage of this timepiece.

    This is a little flyer ad that Waltham produced for the range of pieces they sold.
    ChronAdFront.jpg ChronAd2.jpg ChronAd3.jpg

    Here is one of my slides on the box version of the chronometers. The spot indicators are earlier and the dial indicators a bit later.
    View attachment 88702

    Here is a slide showing the Roth type conversion to flat deck watch. Roth conversions to gimbals are less common. I have one that started out as a Jurgenson pocket chronometer.
    View attachment 88703 View attachment 88704
     
  6. Antarctic Jamie

    Antarctic Jamie Registered User

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    Thanks Tom, much appreciated.
     
  7. Andy Dervan

    Andy Dervan Registered User
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    Hello,

    These "deck watches" were introduced by Waltham in early 1910's probably just prior to World War I; they were often referred to a "Torpedo Boat clocks" from their advertisements.

    They do not have the accuracy for "chronometer rating". Neither Elgin nor Waltham could never get any of the watches to achieve "chronometer rating" by US Navy only Hamilton.

    They are 15 jewel car clock movement - very rugged movement!

    Andy Dervan
     
  8. Inatime

    Inatime Registered User
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    I see this thread is somewhat old, but in the hopes someone is reading. New to the forum and NAWCC. It isn't apparent to me how the Waltham chronometer mounted in the box and on rubber was uses. Were they used in the forces? I recently picked one up at an auction and am trying to find out about it. I have not taken the back cover off the case as it isn't apparent whether it is a screw down like the bezel or friction fitted. The label inside the box suggested it belonged to a serviceman (the address is a retirement home).

    IMG_4183.jpg IMG_4184.jpg IMG_4185.jpg

    Any thoughts?
     
  9. Paul Regan

    Paul Regan Registered User

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    Thanks for posting this version of the Waltham "Chronometer" Inatime. First time I have seen an actual one. Any chance you could post the actual dimensions of the box? Length, width and height.>
    Paul
     
  10. Inatime

    Inatime Registered User
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    Hi Paul

    Some dimensions. Any idea of its use? Friction fit or screw back?

    thanks
    Patrick
    Chronometer height.JPG Chronometer width.JPG
     
  11. Paul Regan

    Paul Regan Registered User

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    Thank you very much Patrick. I like to make and restore chronometer boxes and would like to make a couple of these.
    Paul
     
  12. Paul Regan

    Paul Regan Registered User

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    Oh, BTW, I am 600 miles from mine so I cannot answer your question regarding the "back". Watches in these boxes were usually used in aviation.
    Paul
     
  13. Whereisitat

    Whereisitat Registered User

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    I can help a little....

    The back comes off with a blade inserted into a small opening at the seam-it snaps off.

    The front glass screws off. Be careful with the glass it is very HTF & expensive. It is also holding the travel clock style insert.

    Yours has a travel clock insert piece adapted to a box mount-I'm not certain this is standard but others know much more.

    Should be 15 jewels with a marking adjusted & a whip regulator for a true chronometer version. They come in many flavors. I just noted the chronometer dial so I'd wager its Ok. But post a movement photo if you could.
     
  14. Paul Regan

    Paul Regan Registered User

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    I suspect that this is an original piece based upon the Waltham ad that Tom Mc put up. It looks exactly as the ad.
    Paul
     
  15. Inatime

    Inatime Registered User
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    With the ads from Tom, the fact it belonged to a serviceman and with the following pictures I think can safely say that this chronograph was purpose built and not adapted. You can see that the case has a specific groove to align and receive the plate that then sits in the rubber shocked case. Bang on to the add. 15 jewel with whip regulator. There is even a watch makers mark on inside case back so its been serviced at least once in its life.

    Tom - what year did the ads come out?

    Thanks all for the input, mystery solved for me.

    Waltham Chronograph 1.jpg Waltham Chronograph 2.jpg
     
  16. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    I think the small brochures are from the 1918 to 1922 time frame.

    One of the oddities of your piece is the very plain finish on the plates and the lack of the "adjusted" marking.

    Note that all the other Waltham 8 day chronometers (what they called it) have an upright dial with the winding at the 12 the seconds at 6 and the logo and indicators at 4 and 8. My piece of a similar look has a much larger diameter similar the the counter top chronometers made for jewelers but made with a porcelain dial.

    I suspect yours was an idea that did not really take off since they could take an ordinary travel clock from a folder and put it in a cushioned box with an outer box. That had to be much less expensive than the special box designs and it was the same thing that Hamilton was doing with their 36 size competitor.
     
  17. Paul Regan

    Paul Regan Registered User

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    So why didn't they simply use this box for this version with the WI?

    DSCN3477.JPG DSCN3478.JPG
     
  18. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    They certainly could have done so but I have not seen one. (It would not be hard to make one.) As I said, there is no difference between it and the 36 size flat box.

    Here is a picture of one I just made. The wind indicator I had available is a little bit thicker than the stand one that Waltham used with the boxes, but it works if you squeeze the lid a bit. The main difference between this and the subject of the thread is that the subject piece has an upside down dial.

    This one has a Matalene patent case with the well in the crown to hold the folding case latch when open.

    IMG_2670.jpg IMG_2674.JPG IMG_2675.JPG IMG_2677.jpg
     
  19. nonosore

    nonosore Registered User

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    Funny, this case looks like the one for the Hamilton Model 22!
     
  20. 179

    179 Registered User
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    I have yet to see a Waltham factory box made like the box in post number 8. The simple butt joint corners with a gusset block and made from what in the photo looks like oak.
     
  21. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    I agree, that apart from the ad, I have never seen that box on another watch.

    You would have to have incredible eyes to tell the difference between the flat deck watch boxes for the Hamilton 36S, Hamilton 22 and the Waltham 37 size. They differ very slightly in the hardware and they are not really the same size with fraction of an inch differences.
     
  22. Inatime

    Inatime Registered User
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    My photos are deceiving as they do not show the box sides. it is actually put together with dovetail joinery with reinforcing gusset blocks. The hardward is brass and is definately vintage. I'll post another couple of photos of the joinery. And yes, it is oak. The inside label seen in my #8 post reveals from what I can piece together so far is that this person was in the RAF.
     
  23. nonosore

    nonosore Registered User

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    Thanks for the information!
     
  24. Paul Regan

    Paul Regan Registered User

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    Here are side by side pics showing the internal differences. The Waltham has its dust spline morticed into the side styles whereas the Hamilton 22 splines are attached to the interior of the styles. The Hamilton 36 has a movement holder insert.
    Paul

    DSCN2599.JPG DSCN3477.JPG DSCN4939.JPG
     
  25. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    Paul, your 36 size box looks like the ones I have seen on British/NATO examples. Here are comparison pictures of my Hamilton 36 size and 35 size (Model 22). You can see the latch and plaque differences also in these shots. I am not much of a cabinet maker, so I tend to miss the construction details unless someone kindly points them out to me.

    IMG_2680.jpg IMG_2681.jpg IMG_2682.jpg
     
  26. Paul Regan

    Paul Regan Registered User

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    Thanks for posting that comparison Tom. Notice your 36 box has no dust splines also and neither does mine. Quite a bit of variations in a short period of time. BTW, my 36 is USN marked. Box tag same as yours. Did Hamilton supply the boxes?
    Paul

    DSCN4943.JPG DSCN4937.JPG
     
  27. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    The number on the 36S is very nice.

    I don't know if Hamilton was making boxes or contracting them. I am sure they would have generated specs for them because that was the way they did business. Of course in 1915 they were still pretty young.

    I also think they had a good trade with the British Navy by the time World War I was over.
     
  28. Paul Regan

    Paul Regan Registered User

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    I am anxious to see additional photos of INATIME's box housing his 8 day Waltham showing the joinery.
    Paul
     
  29. Inatime

    Inatime Registered User
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    Here are some shots of the box.

    Waltham chronometer box 1.jpg Waltham chronometer box 3.jpg Waltham chronometer box 2.jpg
     
  30. 179

    179 Registered User
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    Thanks for showing the corner joinery. Those are not dovetails, but rather finger joints. Dovetails give a mechanical joint and allow for glue. Finger joints give a lot more glue area over a butt joint. These can be found even closer together than on your box.
     
  31. Inatime

    Inatime Registered User
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    Yes, I see that I originally posted "dovetail" rather than finger joint, my bad (the finger joint is also known as a box joint); thank you for the lesson on joinery. Suffice to say the box was assembled with a bit more care than a simple butt joint.
     
  32. Paul Regan

    Paul Regan Registered User

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    Thank you Patrick for providing the photos. These finger joints can be done easily on a dovetail jig.
    And thanks to Antarctic Jamie for starting this wandering thread.
    Paul
     
  33. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    I have thought that the box for this piece is likely a "project" piece, but it has some features that I would not expect an amateur to come up with. There is a hole in the box that would work as a winding port with the right fixture. As it is, the piece needs to be removed from the case by turning to release the latch grooves and lifting it out.

    The major feature for me is the monster enamel dial which is very much the same as a flat watch dial except for size.

    IMG_2684.JPG IMG_2685.JPG IMG_2686.JPG IMG_2688.JPG IMG_2697.JPG
     
  34. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    Here are all the pictures I could think of of the box.
    IMG_2689.JPG IMG_2690.JPG IMG_2691.JPG IMG_2692.JPG IMG_2693.JPG IMG_2694.JPG IMG_2695.JPG IMG_2696.JPG
     
  35. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    Getting back to the original chronometer in this thread, I bought an example of the English associated piece with the Broad Arrow at the J&H sale in May. I will post their pictures (with permission) in this post and then more pictures of the piece itself in the next post.
    32586_j.jpg 32586_i.jpg 32586_h.jpg 32586_g.jpg 32586_e.jpg 32586_d.jpg 32586_f.jpg 32586_c.jpg 32586_a.jpg
     
  36. Tom McIntyre

    Tom McIntyre Technical Admin
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    #36 Tom McIntyre, Jun 30, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2018
    Here are pictures of the chronometer itself showing the British markings. I am guessing that the plaque missing from the front of the box (with residue left behind) may have been the name of the vessel or project it was assigned to. The chrome or nickel plated tub and gimbals are unusual and are similar to the ones found on the Hamilton 36 size in gimbals.

    IMG_2782.JPG IMG_2783.JPG IMG_2784.JPG IMG_2785.jpg IMG_2786.jpg IMG_2787.jpg IMG_2788.JPG IMG_2789.JPG IMG_2790.JPG
     
  37. Inatime

    Inatime Registered User
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    Thanks Tom. Awesome shots.
     
  38. Paul Regan

    Paul Regan Registered User

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    Tom, that is really nice! I like the nickel finish.
    Paul
     

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