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What are quality pocket watch brands?

A

Aug06

Which Pocket Watches are the better brands, I picked up 3 Elgin PW the past week or so, I see other brand names like Waltham, Hampden, Hamilton..etc, so which are the good brands?..I am guessing that Westclox are not that great from the sales I have seen

LMK

Mike
 
A

Aug06

Which Pocket Watches are the better brands, I picked up 3 Elgin PW the past week or so, I see other brand names like Waltham, Hampden, Hamilton..etc, so which are the good brands?..I am guessing that Westclox are not that great from the sales I have seen

LMK

Mike
 

mikeh

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Mar 5, 2001
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Good question! Answering it is fraught with peril, but I'll wade in anyway. ;)

First of all, I don't think there's a definitive answer because it's a little bit like the Ford/Chevy argument. That being said, there are few differences, at least in terms of raw quality. By that I mean there is little difference in the materials used in the construction of the watch. That is not to say that there are not inferior watches, because there definitely were. For example, the vast majority of NY Standard watches were low grade, and they were meant to be.

But, very generally speaking, the more common manufacturers really produced very similar watches, so you really have to look at the grade of the individual watch because they all made watches of various grades. Quite honestly, a plain old 7j model 83 Waltham doesn't compare with a model 92 Waltham Vanguard any better than a 7j Elgin does. In other words, it really comes down to how well a watch was finished, at least in my mind anyway. And there is something to like about them all!

On the other hand, to me it doesn't get any better than the Waltham American grades.

So, with all of that out of the way, I think a good (VERY GENERAL) list might look something like this:

Waltham, Hamilton, Elgin, Illinois, Rockford, Ball, Aurora, Howard, Hampden, South Bend, Fredonia, Peoria, New York Watch Co (not NY Standard), Lancaster.

I'm sure I left out plenty, and my apology to anyone if I missed your favorite! ;)

The important thing is to look at as many watches as possible, and learn to grade them on finish, condition, originality, and rarity. And by all means, seek out a mentor.
 
A

Aug06

Mike

Thanks for the great answer, very in depth and now I have a idea of some brands to keep my eye out for..now I am very new to PW collecting and I have a question that is probably elementary to most, but what is the difference between 7 jewels and 17 jewels....sorry I am new..I almost am ashamed I dont know this answer :redface:
 

Tom McIntyre

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After the first 7 jewels in a jeweled lever watch the jewels are bearing that hold the pivots of the gears (or pallet arbor). There are a total of 5 sets of pivots that allow a total of 10 jewels to be used. That gives you the 17 jewels.

To go beyond 17 jewels, you can jewel the arbor of the mainspring barrel or you can add "cap" jewels to the pivots. The cap jewels act as thrust bearings and may provide some improvement in friction reduction.

In later American watches cap jewels are applied to the escape wheel pivots first and then to the pallet arbor pivots in most cases.

If you have a 17 jewel watch with those additional cap jewels, the total jewel count becomes 21 jewels.

There are lots of variations, especially in 19 jewel watches, but this gives the general idea.
 

Don Dahlberg

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Aug 31, 2000
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The 10 additional jewels are doenut shaped jewels that in place in the plates of the brides. The pivots (axles) of the wheels turn in these jewels. These jewels are very hard and do not wear easily. They are very highly polished and with the help of oil have very little friction. Without jewels the pivots turn in just brass holes. The brass wears relatively quickly, distorting the shape of the hole and allowing the wheel to tilt. As the quality of a watch goes up, jewels are added, first to the fastest moving wheels and then to the slower ones. In a 17 jeweled watch, all the wheels except the mainspring barrel have jewels. So jewel count is one measure of the quality of a watch. There are other factors, but this is one of most important.

Don
 

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