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Watch models made in only one grade

Jerry Treiman

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We are all familiar with the production of the watch companies that we focus on and are familiar with their basic movement models that are usually produced in a number of grades with a variety of jeweling, finish and adjustments. I got to thinking this weekend about some Waltham models that were only made in one single grade, usually (but not always) their best quality. Here is a list I came up with, and probably missed a few. I also append a few other models to the list that I am familiar with from other companies and which I believe were also made in just one grade. I am sure there are more that I have missed.

Waltham models with only a single grade
18-size 1870 model - Crescent St.
16-size 1911 model - Premier Maximus (model year comes from Waltham mainspring table)
14-size 1904 model - 7j Bond St.
10-size 1900 model - grade 1015
00-size 1891 model - American Watch Co.
9-ligne 1913 model(?) - high-grade movement (model year from non-factory mainspring table)
7-1/2 ligne round - high-grade movement
5-1/4 ligne rectangular - high-grade movement
(The last two were perhaps Waltham's most expensive movements. They shared many parts and had gold gear trains, gold jewel settings and steel escape wheels).

Elgin
12-size 9th model - grade 446 (C.H. Hulburd model)

Illinois
12-size Extra-Thin (XT) 2nd model - grade 528 (Illini)

Hamilton
12-size grade 400 - (derived from the Illinois grade 528)

Howard (Keystone)
16-size - series 11
16-size - Edward Howard
(I am not as familiar with how Howard designated movement models, but most of their other bridge and 3/4-plate movements seemed to use the same basic movements with varied jewel counts).
 

Rick Hufnagel

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The Elgin 17s stemwind was originally listed as "17s Stemwind series 1" throughout the 1800s and then became listed as just "17s model 2" in 1904 material list.

Regardless of what they called it, grade 11 is the only one.


Also the Elgin 16s model 8 only includes the grade 341. (Hunting, bridge model, lever set)
 
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Ethan Lipsig

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Elgin's Frances Rubie model should qualify for this list. It and other Elgin 10-size KWs, such as Lady Elgins, are somewhat similar, but so are Illinois Grades 528 and 538/539.
 

Rick Hufnagel

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The Hampden 16s (17s) State Street is also it's own "model"

While on the surface it looks like the Bond with different top plates, under the dial you can see that it's different construction. Both the keyless works and general movement design.

Hampden has this movement in its own class in 1883 catalog. They did not use models.

The earlier model used for the Bond includes multiple grades, so it does not qualify.
 

Clint Geller

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This thread highlights for me one of the special challenges of collecting early Howard watches: EH&Co collectors must first decide what the manufacturer's distinct models and grades were, before one can determine which were "unique." Depending upon how one chooses to answer these questions, there could be many unique EH&Co model/grade combinations, or none at all.

EH&Co only ever made one or two scattered references to distinct "models" of any kind in their advertising, and these appeared quite late. Few references to models appear in the company's records either. Just to confuse matters further, earlier EH&Co advertising, such of it that exists, refers to any N Size watch the company had in production at the time as their "Series N." I have speculated that the decision not to name specific models may have been driven by the very slow turnaround of EHCo's very expensive watches, and the fear that movements identified as being of an older model would become more difficult to sell. It was left to collectors to sort EH&Co production into distinct models (a.k.a., "series") long after the company that manufactured them had closed its doors. For this purpose there are two schemes that have developed: the older Small-Hackett-Townsend Series nomenclature, and the Model Year nomenclature published in 2005 that I developed with Harold Visser. The Model year system resolves most of the ambiguities in the older system and assigns accurate introduction dates based on the factory records, which were as yet unavailable when the earlier scheme evolved. Both schemes are reviewed and compared here.

Similarly, EH&Co had no formal watch movement grade system until 1884, twenty six years after watch production began. To understand the plethora of distinct quality levels characterizing EH&Co production prior to that date, an extensive cross correlation was necessary between the surviving EH&Co factory records at the Smithsonian and a large number of surviving EH&Co watch movements. This effort resulted in what I named the "EH&Co Universal Grade Code" that I published in my 2005 NAWCC book. This code, together with a table showing how it maps onto the sparser official post-1884 EH&Co grade code, is repeated in the EH&Co Encyclopedia article on this website. The lack of an official grade code prior to 1884 may reflect both the especially chaotic nature of EH&Co's earliest production and also the retirement of Edward Howard from the management of the company (it was actually a succession of repeatedly reorganized companies) in 1881 or 1882.
 
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