• The online Bulletins and Mart and Highlights are currently unavailable due to a failure of a network piece of equipment. We are working to replace it and have the Online publications available as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience.

Waltham Vanguard Balance

bbodnyk

Registered User
Aug 14, 2009
491
7
16
Harrisburg, PA
Country
Region
I recently bought a Waltham Vanguard 23 jewel watch, which according to the Waltham databse is a model 1908 Vanguard grade.

This is my first high grade Waltham and I was curious about the balance. It is gold colored and has no serial number on it. I am curious about what the balance is made of. Also with no serial # on the balance would it be a replacement?

Attached are some pictures of the balance.

Thanks!
Bruce
 

Attachments

Larry Treiman

Registered User
Jan 18, 2009
3,290
74
48
So. Calif.
This got posted somehow in error when I was getting ready to begin composing a post. I had been away from the computer looking up some references and hadn't even thought out what I was going to say yet, when I found this blank post. I just looked at the monitor and it was there, already posted to the thread. I'll be back later, maybe! Sorry! ?#@&%+?!!:???: :???: computers!

Larry
 
Last edited:

LloydB

Registered User
Feb 24, 2006
1,845
143
63
La Crosse, Wisconsin's West Coast
Country
Region
I recently bought a Waltham Vanguard 23 jewel watch, which according to the Waltham databse is a model 1908 Vanguard grade.

This is my first high grade Waltham and I was curious about the balance. It is gold colored and has no serial number on it. I am curious about what the balance is made of. Also with no serial # on the balance would it be a replacement?

Attached are some pictures of the balance.

Thanks!
Bruce
An uncut balance with evenly spaced screws?
Not what I'd have expected.
 

Larry Treiman

Registered User
Jan 18, 2009
3,290
74
48
So. Calif.
Bruce, your 1908 model Vanguard, ser. no. 31248920, was from the run 31240001-31250000, a very late run dated Jan. 1943 in the "Gray Book."

In their 1936 materials catalog, Waltham mentioned in a note near the bottom of page 19 that "Correlator Balances and Hairsprings are supplied in Railroad Watches on request, at no extra charge. 'CORRELATOR' is a development of many years" experiment and study by our Engineering Department and Laboratory. The balance is monometallic and the hairspring is made of 'CONEL'. The combination is self-compensating, non-magnetic, rust-resisting and guaranteed." I suspect that perhaps because of problems that Hamilton had with the Swiss (blued) Elinvar during the 1930's, Waltham was reluctant to push ahead and put the Correlator combo on all their railroad watches, so that might be why they offered it on request only at first.

I personally consider the late 1908 Vanguards like yours as a sort of transitional watch between the 1908 model and the new Model A Vanguard first offered in 1944. It appears to have characteristics of the 1944 model, especially the unset jewels also found on the late 1908-model, but it still has the 1908 or Ohlson's patent regulator, replaced by a "half-whiplash" design on the Model A. The very austere finish on your watch may be a sign of wartime expediency. Railroad watches were in extremely short supply during WWII and were subject to a form of rationing. The monometallic balances were easier (and likely cheaper) to make than the bimetallic balances, and alloy hairsprings such as Waltham's Conel and Hamilton's new Elinvar Extra offered many advantages, but above all, they didn't require the time consuming, labor-intensive adjustments to temperature. I think that is very likely a good reason that they had switched to the new balances on these late Vanguards, and other wartime production. After all, they were only abou a year away from changing over to the new model with the alloy hairspring. That's why I thing of watches like yours as transitional....some of the 1908 and some of the model A. Although I have not studied very many of these late Vanguards, I do recall that the ones I have seen usually (maybe always) had the monometallic balances and Conel hairsprings. By the way, the word Conel is a combination of CON from CONstant and EL from elasticity, just as Elinvar was from the the French for ELasticite INVARiable.

As to the lack of serial numbers on the balance wheel, I'm not sure if they were even bothering to number them by the time your watch was made. Is the balance cock on your watch numbered?

Larry Treiman

[EDIT] Lloyd, maybe you didn't expect evenly spaced screws in the balance. Nevertheless, I have a few of those balances and have seen others, and also checked parts illustrations, and they all appear to have what look like evenly spaced screws. And why shouldn't they. The screws are there primarily to give weight to the balance wheel. The are not needed for temperature compensation, for timing there are meantime screws, and it would seem that equally-spaced screws would help with poising.

BTW, Bruce, you asked about the alloy used for the balance. I don't know, but I do know that a beryllium-bronze alloy was often used in monometallic balances.

Larry
 
Last edited:

LloydB

Registered User
Feb 24, 2006
1,845
143
63
La Crosse, Wisconsin's West Coast
Country
Region
[snipped]

[EDIT] Lloyd, maybe you didn't expect evenly spaced screws in the balance. Nevertheless, I have a few of those balances and have seen others, and also checked parts illustrations, and they all appear to have what look like evenly spaced screws. And why shouldn't they. The screws are there primarily to give weight to the balance wheel. The are not needed for temperature compensation, for timing there are meantime screws, and it would seem that equally-spaced screws would help with poising.

[snipped]

Larry
With that great explanation, I now 'comprehend', but
still very much "Not what I'd have expected".
 

bbodnyk

Registered User
Aug 14, 2009
491
7
16
Harrisburg, PA
Country
Region
As to the lack of serial numbers on the balance wheel, I'm not sure if they were even bothering to number them by the time your watch was made. Is the balance cock on your watch numbered?

Larry Treiman
Thanks for the explanation. The watch is back together but I don't recall seeing serial numbers on the balance cock or the lower plate for that matter.

Bruce
 

doug sinclair

Registered User
Aug 27, 2000
14,364
67
48
Calgary, Alberta
Country
Region
I have a Vanguard out of what I suspect is that same run (I have difficulty reading your serial number), and it has the same set-up as yours. As to serial numbers on the pillar plate and bridges? It has been so long since I acquired it that I didn't take particular note when I cleaned it. But by the time Hamilton was producing the 992B (I am assuming that would be at about the same time), they weren't using the serial number of the bridges, so it wouldn't surprise me if Waltham wasn't.
 

bbodnyk

Registered User
Aug 14, 2009
491
7
16
Harrisburg, PA
Country
Region
Larry must have a great pair of eyes to have been able to read the serial # from my picture; the serial # is 31248920. Interestingly, the engraving of the grade name/company/adjustments is normal and easily discerned. However the serial number is fairly faint and the first digit "3" is difficult to make out. I wonder whether the serial number was stamped with the rest of the text/digits engraved?

Bruce
 

Attachments

Forum statistics

Threads
168,964
Messages
1,474,399
Members
48,676
Latest member
Mike Mall
Encyclopedia Pages
1,060
Total wiki contributions
2,955
Last update
-