What Are the Rarest Watches in Your American Collections?

Ethan Lipsig

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Since you've been showing uncommon Illinois, below are photos of my 19j Illinois Grade 175 hunter. Only 60 Grade 175 19j hunters were made. 40 Grade 175 19j OF movements were made. About 1000 Burlington-signed 19j Grade 175 OFs were made, but they had three-finger bridges. Hence, my Grade 175 hunter is a scarce Getty. I purchased it as uncased movement because I needed a watch for a beautiful 14k Dubois case that I purchased to save it from being scrapped.

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luvsthetick

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The Seth Thomas 382 came in two variants: the early single-roller design with a cross-hatched square in the center, and the later one with a double-roller pallet and a round cross-hatched center. Both types are scarce, with production totals at roughly 325 early movements, and 300 in the fifth and final serial number block. This example is the earliest known Grade 382; SN 220736 came from a block of likely twenty or thirty.
For Seth Thomas enthusiasts, since Joe showed his beautiful single-roller 382 I thought it would be interesting to show my double-roller 382 for comparison. Notice the double-roller 382 has a recessed area under the balance wheel. I am especially fond of this scarce Seth Thomas dial.

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rschussel

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Ariston17j Grade 506 Hunter N=30. By far the Ariston is the rarest production watch I own N=30.
I had posted pictures before but feel some bragging rates are due.

The 12 size 17jewel adjusted to 3 positions Grade 506 hunter is the first intact one found. I did have a movement but the case etc was missing .
Ariston Grade 506 Hunter 17j Movement.jpg Ariston 506 hunter dial.jpg
Background
The five hundred (500s) grades of Illinois pocket watches had a size 12 bridge, size 14 pillar plate and
stretched enamel dials that are not recessed into the pillar plate, they require special cases. The larger dial made the watch look thinner. From Jim Carroll’s Illiioswatchguide.com database it is estimated that in total 32,270 series five hundred watches were produced ranging from 15 jewels to 23 jewels. Only the one run of 17 jewel Aristons are Hunters (30 out of 32,270)

Approximately 2,210 five hundred series watches (about 7%) were produced for Marshall Field & Co. Ariston brand. “Each Ariston Rated Watch is enclosed in a genuine Circassian walnut case, which serves as an attractive display case feature for the merchants”. A 1915 ad shows an open face 17j Ariston listed for $52.50.

Controversy
The Illinois production factory list showed the 6th run (N=30) of grade 506 to be hunters –2,406,121 to 150. No other grade five hundred series (N=32,270) is listed as being hunters. For many years it was believed that the notation was in error. From the estate of Roy Ehrhardt (author Illinois Watch co.) I purchased a partially complete Ariston 506 Hunter movement (2,406,143). But until present day I have never heard anyone to claim they have a cased 506 hunter.
 

rrwatch

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Another private label, sort of. Its a 16 size Elgin Gr 388, 21 jewel, O/F, Father Time grade. From what I can tell there was a single run of 10, 16,803,001 - 16803,010, that were made for Paillard with his non magnetic balance and spring. I understand 002 and at least one other in this run, in addition to 006 shown below, have been found. I cannot find any other Paillard 21 jewel Elgin runs, although there are several 17 jewel examples in our database.

EBU 16305 Elgin Paillard Non Mag W Co. 388 21J OF Bal detail.jpg EBU 16305 Elgin Paillard Non Mag W Co. 388 21J OF Case Back.jpg EBU 16305 Elgin Paillard Non Mag W Co. 388 21J OF Dial.jpg EBU 16305 Elgin Paillard Non Mag W Co. 388 21J OF Mvt.jpg
 

vintageguy

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Going back to relatively scarce Gettys for a moment, here's 189 #1627637 recently acquired through J&H. This the new crown jewel of my Getty collection :cool:

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rschussel

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Hampden Grade 94 16 size lever set 23j Hunter .
This is the second lowest production of 23j Hampdens N=100


The Grade 94 was the first 23j 16 size Model 5 lever set Hampden Railroad watch to appear. But what is strange is that Hampden released it in 1915, a time when the popularity of Hunters was waning and many railroads were requiring Open Face watches.
To date only 5 serial numbers for the Grade 94 have been reported.


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Ethan Lipsig

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Illinois seems to have made more low production models than the other major U.S. watch companies. Another scarce Illinois model is the 23-jewel Illini, a very high grade 12-size watch. 200 reportedly were made, but I only know of 21 examples, of which I have two. Sadly, neither is pristine. I bought one as a loose movement and the other in an unoriginal gold-filled case. I had to replace the dial on one of them. I am not sure the dial on the other one is original. All 23-jewel Illinis appear to have been factory cased in solid gold Solidarity cases. Some or all of them originally came with double-sunk glass enamel dials, but only a handful of the remaining examples have enamel dials.

Here is how Illinois described the 23-jewel Illini:

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#2,933,918, re-cased in a 14k Knapp case, dial replaced

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#2,935,041, re-cased in a 14k Wadsworth case

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vintageguy

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This Hampden 16s 21J 3 Pos. PS Grade 260, # 2770906, is not as scarce as rschussel's Grade 94 shown above, but according to Henry Burgell's Hampden Lookup Table its is from a single run of 300 between 2770701 - 2771000. It's in a fancy 20 Year Crescent replacement case which befits the gold movement lettering and hands.

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Ethan Lipsig

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Here are two more very scarce items in my collection -- watches cased in 19k or higher solid gold cases.

The first is my 19k Bulova Phantom. I am cheating a bit treatinh it as an American watch because, although Bulova was a U.S. company that focused on the U.S. market, many or perhaps all of its movements were imported. Its "Phantom" model was Bulova's prestige model, of which I believe less than 1000 were produced. The movements, at least most of them, appear to have been made by Louis Elysée Piguet, a top Swiss firm, but the watches appear to have been cased in the U.S. This example has an "American Standard" case. I am not familiar with that watch case company, and I don't think the case was made by the plumbing fixture company of the same name. Perhaps one of you can shed light on the case manufacturer. In any event, the case is 19k white gold. The only other 19k case I recall seeing was on a similar Bulova Phantom.

Bulova (1).JPG Bulova (2).JPG Bulova (3).JPG Bulova (4).JPG
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The second watch is my Model 1899 Riverside in a 19.5k W.W. C. Mfg. Co. enameled case. I normally limit my collecting to the top grades, but I loved the case on this watch too much not to snap it up.

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rschussel

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Illinois seems to have made more low production models than the other major U.S. watch companies. Another scarce Illinois model is the 23-jewel Illini, a very high grade 12-size watch. 200 reportedly were made, but I only know of 21 examples, of which I have two. Sadly, neither is pristine. I bought one as a loose movement and the other in an unoriginal gold-filled case. I had to replace the dial on one of them. I am not sure the dial on the other one is original. All 23-jewel Illinois appear to have been factory cased in solid gold Solidarity cases. Some or all of them originally came with double-sunk glass enamel dials, but only a handful of the remaining examples have enamel dials.
Ethan
Here is an Illini in a 14kt solidarity case

Illini Dial.jpg Illini movement.jpg Illini dust cover.jpg Illini  solidarity case.jpg
 

luvsthetick

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Aurora made a very small number of New Model mvts for the Minneapolis Watch Co. From the factory records (which are nearly complete for the New Model grades) here are the following MWCo. grade nos. with their production totals: No. 61 (ETP =10), No. 65 (ETP = 20), No. 67 (ETP = 10), No. 73 (ETP = 20) and No. 75 (ETP = 10). Thus, ETP of all Minneapolis (New Model) mvts = 70.
Known MWCo. New Model mvts (I need to add a couple more #s when I find them):
Grade no. 73 (marked Arcade): 38103, 38107
Grade no. 65 (marked Laurel): 120814, 120816
Grade no. 67 (marked Laurel): 120614
Seeing Greg's wonderful Aurora in post #58 reminded me of my rare Aurora watch. It is a new model Aurora for the Minneapolis Watch Co. and is a grade no. 73. The above quotes from Greg's post #33 in the Aurora private label thread shows the ETP for a grade 73 is only 20 watches and when he made post #33 to the Aurora private label thread in early 2018 there were two known, his and mine. Little did I know this would be my rarest watch when I acquired it.

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Paul Sullivan

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Waltham model 1892s make up the largest model group in my entire watch collection, particularly because of the many variants available with some being under 2000 and other even rarer oddities sprinkled into mixed runs and making difficult to sort out even a decent guess.

Below are serial nos. 7819049 a HC and 7759522 an OF. both noted as being converted into Crescent streets (by milling out ROYAL and replacing it with Crescent St.) from 17 Jewel Royals, though both have the checked damaskeen pattern of the regular two-tone 18s Crescent St. not of the 18s Royal.

7819049 was originally bought in an OF coin re-case that was in such bad condition you couldn't close the case back over the dust cover. I re-cased it in a nice 18s Keystone J. Boss 14k GF 20 year HC. The dial is a DS with a Roman numeral outer chapter and a 24 hr. inner chapter.
I still haven't replaced the Fleur-de-lis style hands.
Royal-Cres. St. 7819049 SN Pos 3.jpg 01 Dial (9) a.jpg collage 2.jpg

7759522 came re-cased in a basic Keystone OF SB&B silverode model with the same dial as above.

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Ethan Lipsig

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Another scarce watch in my collection is a circa 1865 16-size Waltham Appleton Tracy Model 1860 "vibrator". I understand that Waltham fitted vibrators to less than 700 watches:
  • American Watch Co. Grade
    • 20-size: up to 90
    • 16-size: up to 100
  • Appleton Tracy Grade
    • 20-size: up to 250
    • 16-size: up to 250
See https://mb.nawcc.org/threads/waltham-vibrating-hair-spring.14024/ and https://mb.nawcc.org/threads/fogg-vibrator-regulator-jpg.49814/ for Tom McIntyre's descriptions of the vibrator mechanism and explanations of its intended purpose.

Waltham "vibrators" are hard to find. I would have preferred to have acquired an AWCO vibrator, but the AT&Co example I acquired had the twin advantages of being available and having a great 18k Browne & Spaulding case.

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Greg Frauenhoff

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Seeing Greg's wonderful Aurora in post #58 reminded me of my rare Aurora watch. It is a new model Aurora for the Minneapolis Watch Co. and is a grade no. 73. The above quotes from Greg's post #33 in the Aurora private label thread shows the ETP for a grade 73 is only 20 watches and when he made post #33 to the Aurora private label thread in early 2018 there were two known, his and mine. Little did I know this would be my rarest watch when I acquired it.

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Here are the runs for the Aurora New Model mvts made for the Minneapolis Watch Co. as found in the surviving factory records: No. 73 (marked "Arcade") 38101-110 and 38131-140 (examples known are #s 38103, 38107 and 38140); No. 75 (presumably marked "Arcade") 38211-220 (no examples seen); No. 65 (marked "Laurel") 120801-820 (examples known are #s 120801, 120814 and 120816); No. 67 (marked "Laurel") 120611-620 (example known is the superb #120614); No. 61 (marking unknown) 18611-620 (no examples seen).

There is also one "Old Model" Minneapolis Watch Co. mvt known (#32714, marked "Arcade", KW). This one is a very unusual piece as it has 13 jewels and a hairspring pin feature not seen on any other Aurora but for which Geo. F. Johnson, first Superintendent of Aurora, held a patent.
 

Dbailey

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Scarce and rare American RR watches in the best possible condition is what I look for. Unfortunately, I can't spend multiples of thousands of $ for each one that I would like (says the wife). But, there are rare variants out there of high grade RR pocket watches that when patient and lucky, one can collect a number of them. Below are three of my rarest. The other day I put the rarity of these watches in another perspective. One knows that having only 100 produced of a watch like this Hamilton 2B prefix 950B is a small number, but it's THIS small: I live in a small rural PA town with only 1700 people and I thought how this watch when made could not have even gone to everyone my town, ONLY those in my immediate neighborhood and no one else in the world. Now that's rarity.
And, one wonders how many of those 100 are still owned by someone. Not many, I presume. The following model 9 19J false bridge Sangamo Special had only 200 produced and the early bright-spotted 21J Bunn Special with the double roller marking only 120 made.

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Paul Sullivan

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A rare watch doesn't always mean an expensive watch.

Here is one example I found three years ago; an 18s Hamilton model 1 924 ser. no. 518015 marked "Roosevelt" on the dial and barrel bridge. The listing showed " Movement is currently running, but has not been cleaned or serviced for timekeeping ". And also that the crystal needed replacement, the dial had a chip at 5:29 and the threads on the non-original base metal case needed attention.
For a Hamilton nerd like me this was a rare find as I'd never seen any Hamilton bearing the names Washington, Lincoln, or Roosevelt and missed it's mention in Halligan's notes.
I was surprised to see that even though the watch was far from mint, it still ran, the balance was free, and the dial chip area not bad, the auction drew little attention from anyone and I ended up paying $78.77 for the watch and can't remember for certain if there were even any other bidders. I was actually very surprised I won and a bit giddy about getting it!

The watch was pretty much as described except for the fact that about a pound of saw dust (OK, maybe less) penetrated the hole in the crystal, through the lever set cut out on the case ring, and in under the dial. I was lucky that watch still had it's dust ring on and that had kept all but a few stray bits from entering between the plates.
After clearing away the sawdust, I cleaned and oiled the movement, cleaned the dial, and put it into a Hamilton 18s salesman display case. It had great motion and amplitude but poor timing keeping, as it ran quite fast. Even when the regulator was backed way down it still ran fast.
I made sure the HS guide pins on the regulator were in the proper position with the spring and many other other checks, but no results. Admitting defeat and realizing my ambition to become another George Daniels had taken a setback, I took the Roosevelt to my watchmaker who sorted it out. The last time I ran the watch was 2019 testing in all 5 positions and wearing also occasionally for 46 days. Overall the watch gained an average of 7.5 sec. per day, but with rates varying as much as +17 and -8 and sometimes more in between. This isn't bad considering the 924 was a step up from the 16j 930 it replaced and was never designed, finished, or adjusted to be a "the watch of railroad accuracy" like a 938 or 936, but a solid decent timekeeper, which it is, and the 2nd most produced 18s Hamilton after the 940.

Here's the watch showing from sale to cleaning and assembly, dial, and final casing after all work was done along with Halligan's notes on the two various presidential special orders (Roosevelt and Washington only) through Hirsch & Co. of Chicago. With the additional $80.00 repairs the final cost was $178.77 . The display case leftover from a previous Hami. 18s re-case. All in all a low price for a marked watch I've yet to see again.

collagenew .jpg 924 Roosevelt dial.jpg collage.jpg

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Ethan Lipsig

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As Paul Sullivan correctly noted, a "rare watch doesn't always mean an expensive watch," but he left out a significant qualifier: Rarity has little or no impact on value absent demand. If collectors are not interested in what makes a watch rare or unique, rarity doesn't add to value. I doubt, for example, that there is significant collector interest in slightly different variant versions of 7-jewel ladies watches, nor do I think that most collectors of Swiss watches would pay more for watches with unusual movement inscription variants. In contrast, a Hamilton 992B with unusual movement inscriptions almost certainly would be more valuable than a commoner version.

Here is another very scarce watch from my collection, a 16-size, circa 1901 Waltham Model 1899 bridge model hunter with a correct double-sunk Hull dial, re-cased in a 14k AWCO case. These bridge models are not common, but what makes this one special is that it is one of perhaps only six known examples to have fish-scale damascening. It is believed that no more than 20 of these fish-scale bridge models were made, apparently finished in Waltham's New York shop. At least several of these examples, including my watch, are marked "21 jewels," but have 23 jewels.

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Greg Frauenhoff

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A rare watch doesn't always mean an expensive watch.

Here is one example I found three years ago; an 18s Hamilton model 1 924 ser. no. 518015 marked "Roosevelt" on the dial and barrel bridge. The listing showed " Movement is currently running, but has not been cleaned or serviced for timekeeping ". And also that the crystal needed replacement, the dial had a chip at 5:29 and the threads on the non-original base metal case needed attention.
For a Hamilton nerd like me this was a rare find as I'd never seen any Hamilton bearing the names Washington, Lincoln, or Roosevelt and missed it's mention in Halligan's notes.
I was surprised to see that even though the watch was far from mint, it still ran, the balance was free, and the dial chip area not bad, the auction drew little attention from anyone and I ended up paying $78.77 for the watch and can't remember for certain if there were even any other bidders. I was actually very surprised I won and a bit giddy about getting it!

The watch was pretty much as described except for the fact that about a pound of saw dust (OK, maybe less) penetrated the hole in the crystal, through the lever set cut out on the case ring, and in under the dial. I was lucky that watch still had it's dust ring on and that had kept all but a few stray bits from entering between the plates.
After clearing away the sawdust, I cleaned and oiled the movement, cleaned the dial, and put it into a Hamilton 18s salesman display case. It had great motion and amplitude but poor timing keeping, as it ran quite fast. Even when the regulator was backed way down it still ran fast.
I made sure the HS guide pins on the regulator were in the proper position with the spring and many other other checks, but no results. Admitting defeat and realizing my ambition to become another George Daniels had taken a setback, I took the Roosevelt to my watchmaker who sorted it out. The last time I ran the watch was 2019 testing in all 5 positions and wearing also occasionally for 46 days. Overall the watch gained an average of 7.5 sec. per day, but with rates varying as much as +17 and -8 and sometimes more in between. This isn't bad considering the 924 was a step up from the 16j 930 it replaced and was never designed, finished, or adjusted to be a "the watch of railroad accuracy" like a 938 or 936, but a solid decent timekeeper, which it is, and the 2nd most produced 18s Hamilton after the 940.

Here's the watch showing from sale to cleaning and assembly, dial, and final casing after all work was done along with Halligan's notes on the two various presidential special orders (Roosevelt and Washington only) through Hirsch & Co. of Chicago. With the additional $80.00 repairs the final cost was $178.77 . The display case leftover from a previous Hami. 18s re-case. All in all a low price for a marked watch I've yet to see again.

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Neat watch. In looking at the Halligan note I see that mention is made of specials for J. C. Anderson of Telluride, Colo.. Here's my 924:

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Ethan Lipsig

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I like black dials, but they aren't common. I only have one watch with a black dial in my collection of about 410 pocket watches. It is the very pretty 14k IWC shown below. It's Swiss, of course, and not normally something I'd show in the U.S. PW forum, but it does underscore several points.

One is how uncommon black dials are. About 25 percent of the PWs in my collection have "fancy" dials, i.e., dials that are not white or cream in color with ordinary Roman or Arabic numerals. Only about .25 percent of my collection have black dials. I am sure that these percentages aren't typical of the entire universe of PWs, but they do illustrate the relative scarcity of black dials.

The other point my IWC underscores is what I believe is a significant difference between collecting U.S. PWs and non-U.S. PWs -- that scarcity is a much more important factor for U.S. PW collectors than it is for non-U.S. PW collectors. The great majority of U.S. PWs (ignoring "dollar" watches) were made by a handful of large or relatively large producers, e.g., Elgin, for whom relatively good records survive. We generally know what models were made and about how many were made. Many, if not most, were made in large numbers. Hence, scarcity is unusual and can be a criterion on which a collection is structured. In contrast, non-U.S. PWs (ignoring "dollar" watches) were made by a vast number of makers usually in small numbers, often unsigned, and often were the work product of more than one firm. Records rarely exist. The models a given maker made, finished, or signed rarely are classified. Hence, (a) it normally is hard or impossible to determine whether a given non-U.S. watch is rare, apart from the highly complicated or very fancy watches, which generally are uncommon, or watches made by a few low-production watchmakers, e.g., Potter's Swiss watches, and (b) scarcity abounds. 2/3ds of my PW collection is non-U.S. I am sure I have some rare items, but scarcity is so common among non-U.S. watches that it doesn't seem to be valued as much or discussed as much by collectors of non-U.S. watches. That's why I haven't established a similar thread on the non-US PW forum. I'd appreciate your views on this.

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Greg Frauenhoff

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I like black dials, but they aren't common. I only have one watch with a black dial in my collection of about 410 pocket watches. It is the very pretty 14k IWC shown below. It's Swiss, of course, and not normally something I'd show in the U.S. PW forum, but it does underscore several points.

One is how uncommon black dials are. About 25 percent of the PWs in my collection have "fancy" dials, i.e., dials that are not white or cream in color with ordinary Roman or Arabic numerals. Only about .25 percent of my collection have black dials. I am sure that these percentages aren't typical of the entire universe of PWs, but they do illustrate the relative scarcity of black dials.

The other point my IWC underscores is what I believe is a significant difference between collecting U.S. PWs and non-U.S. PWs -- that scarcity is a much more important factor for U.S. PW collectors than it is for non-U.S. PW collectors. The great majority of U.S. PWs (ignoring "dollar" watches) were made by a handful of large or relatively large producers, e.g., Elgin, for whom relatively good records survive. We generally know what models were made and about how many were made. Many, if not most, were made in large numbers. Hence, scarcity is unusual and can be a criterion on which a collection is structured. In contrast, non-U.S. PWs (ignoring "dollar" watches) were made by a vast number of makers usually in small numbers, often unsigned, and often were the work product of more than one firm. Records rarely exist. The models a given maker made, finished, or signed rarely are classified. Hence, (a) it normally is hard or impossible to determine whether a given non-U.S. watch is rare, apart from the highly complicated or very fancy watches, which generally are uncommon, or watches made by a few low-production watchmakers, e.g., Potter's Swiss watches, and (b) scarcity abounds. 2/3ds of my PW collection is non-U.S. I am sure I have some rare items, but scarcity is so common among non-U.S. watches that it doesn't seem to be valued as much or discussed as much by collectors of non-U.S. watches. That's why I haven't established a similar thread on the non-US PW forum. I'd appreciate your views on this.

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As you note in your post many "non-U.S. PWs (ignoring "dollar" watches) were made by a vast number of makers usually in small numbers, often unsigned, and often were the work product of more than one firm". Another way to put this is that many non-US "makers" were really finishers of ebauches whereas the American firms manufactured complete movements. So a direct comparison between the two approaches of what makes a watch rare is difficult.
 
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dennismonahan

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Not as rare or as high end as some of the watches others have shown, but still scarce are my Waltham 1883 21 jewel watches. Only three runs of the 21 jewel special were made. Two runs of 250 of which all examples I have seen are two tone and a single run of 200 of which I have only seen 2 examples and both were nickle finish. I really like all the two tone examples shown so far.

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Maximus Man

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Although almost every pocket watch is unique in some way, some were produced in very limited numbers. Please post photos and a description of rare or scarce watches in your American collections, such as models of which 300 or fewer were produced, or watches that are highly unusual for some other meaningful reason.

To get things started, I will post two scarce watches in my collection:

Illinois Grade 525 "Aluminum" Watch: Illinois made 50 of these watches, with aluminum bridges. Some or all were cased in Wadsworth white gold-filled cases with aluminum backs and bezels, as my watch is cased. My watch was presented to its original owner, U.S. Senator Roscoe C. McCulloch, by the Illinois Watch Company in around 1921, in recognition of McCulloch's legal representation of the American National Retail Jewelers Association. I purchased the watch from McCulloch's grandson. Of the 50 that were made, I only know of two others still in existence.

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Waltham American Watch Co. Grade Model 1868: Waltham made about 152 of these watch between 1868 and 1872. It was one of Waltham's first keyless watches, perhaps its first. It apparently was too expensive to make and quickly was replaced by the Model 1872. My example is in an 18k AWCO case. An interesting, if battered, watch paper was in the case when I bought the watch; it is one of the earliest of its type.

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Ethan
It doesn't look like the case number on the paper matches the actual case.
 

Ethan Lipsig

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Maximus Man, you are right: The watch paper in my Model 1868's case does not match the case, but it is still an interesting watch paper.

Another scarce watch in my collection is this 18k E.H. & Co.-cased Howard Series 3 hunter, with Cole's Resilient Escapement. Howard made 500 of these N-size watches, but many were converted back to regular lever escapements. One estimate of the actual number of Cole's is around 300. Only a small portion of these were fully adjusted (heat, cold, isochronism, and 6 positions), as my watch was. A reasonable estimate of the number of fully adjusted Cole's Series 3 is about 30.

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Paul Sullivan

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I think it would be remiss of me if I didn't offer some rebuttal to Ethan Lipsig's opinions on poor TR, and what he believes to be a rare watch in the mind of collectors, which seems to be his opinion projected on to the rest of us.

First value (i.e. cost) was not in any of the extensive criteria when Mr. Lipsig started the thread. Yet it seems to be somewhat important to him when he posted his comment.
"Rarity has little or no impact on value absent demand. If collectors are not interested in what makes a watch rare or unique, rarity doesn't add to value. I doubt, for example, that there is significant collector interest in slightly different variant versions of 7-jewel ladies watches, nor do I think that most collectors of Swiss watches would pay more for watches with unusual movement inscription variants. In contrast, a Hamilton 992B with unusual movement inscriptions almost certainly would be more valuable than a commoner version."

Seems a bit like a corporate approach to collecting to me. I don't collect watches as an asset, investment, or their value. It's just a hobby. :)

Still, I've yet to see another president except one I found on a thread at this forum back in 2017. So I stand by it's rarity and value (to me anyway). As for labeled dials and movements there's a huge interest in it, particularly for Hamilton and Illinois collectors, with prices between modest to ridiculous and everything in between.

My main point was that collectors with a more modest budget for collecting (and some luck) can find something unusual or rare and within their budget and price range. One finds a niche when collecting. Nor do I presume, as Ethan Lisip does, to know the mores of the of the 7j ladies collectors when it comes to jewel variations as I don't collect them (though no doubt some one does). As for Swiss collectors I don't collect them so have little deep knowledge of them.

Finally, if value (i.e.cost) was one of the thread's theme why not just say so in the beginning of the thread?

Here's a 941 Banner Special no.161215 with a special order damaskeen pattern. Only some 71 "Banner Specials" with special damaskeen were made in the 941 production runs of a total of 26704 units made. Ser. nos. 161201-161250 (50), 205401-205420 (20) , and 205436 (1).

161215 was finished 5/14/1902 and sold to wholesale Jewelers Stein and Ellbogen, Chicago on 5/14/1902. and thence to Sargeant Brothers Jewelers and Optometrists of Crooksville OH, whose name appears on the dial.

941 Banner Special 161212.jpg 941 Banner Special dial.jpg collage.jpg
 

musicguy

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Great looking Hamilton PL Paul!

I do agree with Paul's quote that, "A rare watch doesn't always mean an expensive watch."
We all collect differently(it's all good). I do not own anything(well not much) that's rare, so I look at and enjoy all of these great watches.


Rob
 
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Ethan Lipsig

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Paul, I think you misunderstood me, at least I hope that's the case. Essentially all pocket watches are unique, since no two are identical, if only as to condition, unless one happens across a pair of identical NOS watches. Collectors don't value that ubiquitous type of rarity, at least not in my opinion. I wasn't trying to "project [my] opinion" on anyone. I was just saying that collector-demand is what distinguishes desirable scarcity from quotidian scarcity.
 

Clint Geller

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Different company but still a rare dial:

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Here are two of my "alumni." They both belong to a close friend now. They are the only two signed Moorhouse black dials I have seen. The first dial is on an N Size nickel keywind Model 1871 (Series IV). This dial has threaded legs. The second dial is on a nickel N Size Model 1884 (Series VIII). If you study the calligraphy of the second dial, it is strikingly similar to the script signatures on American Watch Company grade Waltham dials that appeared after Moorhouse moved to that company.

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Clint Geller

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Some very nice watches... my contribution Howard series 3, Nickel, Cole's Banking , serial 23,464. Photos are not the best I'm afraid , will have to dig the watch out and take some more.

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Nice movement. That's only the fifth movement with Cole's escapement from among the approximately 140 nickel Model 1862-N (Series III) movements that were made. The Howard firm may have made twenty nickel Cole's escapement movements from among the total of approximately 500 N Size Cole's escapement movements the company made, most of which were gilt. I would try to restore the stopwork on your movement, though. A working stopwork would protect this important movement.
 
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60MinuteMan

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Tempted to say the1855 DHD (#1478) would be the scarcest in my collection, but I kind of like this one for this thread.
Its a Watham model 1857 "Watson" , dated April 1861.
The interesting bit to this one is that the Waltham ledger shows the Watsons as "J W Watson" but of all of the examples to be found this is the only one I've seen so far to actually be stamped "J W Watson", others are just "J Watson" (and there are 8 or more examples I beleive out there to reference). The discussion might sound familiar, but there you go. And as always, new perspectives info info is always welcome.

The gilding took some damage over the years, but it still ticks like a champ.

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musicguy

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Keith H

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Nice movement. That's only the fifth movement with Cole's escapement from among the approximately 140 nickel Model 1862-N (Series III) movements that were made. The Howard firm may have made twenty nickel Cole's escapement movements from among the total of approximately 500 N Size Cole's escapement movements the company made, most of which were gilt. I would try to restore the stopwork on your movement, though. A working stopwork would protect this important movement.
I agree, but I rarely wind and run this particular watch and when I do I only put a couple of turns on the key. The stopwork is a work in progress... first attempt not quite right.
Keith
 
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miguel angel cladera

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I dont sure if its rare or not..but as far I know only 1,170 units in 9 runs was built and 70 (estimate units for this retailer) An Illinois grade 409 for The Cowell & Hubbard Co.

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Here I wrote about. Hope you like

 
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Ralph

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Here's a self winder by Herman Von der Heydt. It might be the first made or last one of his series of self winding watches. It does not have an apparent serial number. I haven't had it apart to see if one is hidden under the dial or ...

Franz Lorenz and Von der heydt both came for Wiesbaden , Germany in 1884. I went through a number of census records and found that they both lived at the same location, for a time, on Oakley street in Chicago. They must of had a relationship in the old country, that continued in America. It can explain why Franz Lorenz was able to retail Von der Heydt's watches.

Franz Lorenz's grandson Frank lived in the next town over from me. Franz had a son August, who also shows up as a watchmaker in the census. Frank jr, was August's son. I met him a few times, not being aware of his association or his grandfather's and father's association with Von der Heydt. He may have mentioned this watch to me, but me being a new collector at the time, did not know of it's significance. Frank and his wife(2nd) lived across the street from an antique shop, that I would frequent and had become friendly with the owners. I met the Lorenz's through the owners of the shop. Eventually Frank passed away, and his wife some time later offered me the watches.

His wife told me that family lore was that Franz Lorenz invented the self winding watch and that someone stole the patent from him. They were unaware of Von der Heydt and attributed this watch to Franz as the maker. I did not inform her, that the story was in error.

Frank the son was an optician. I think Franz eventually went into that business.

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Ralph

I included a couple of text files of census information I collected years ago. It had more meaning to me at that time.... it's becoming a blur, these days.
 

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musicguy

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I don't use the word rare for any of my watches except for maybe one of them. But
this thread is, " What Are the Rarest Watches in Your American Collections?"

Here is one where 1000 or less were made(you could always get the grade 190 if you wanted to spend a
little more, 4000 of those made).

Elgin Grade 237 circa 1900 12s 21j with raised gold settings and
gold train.

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Rob
 
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Ethan Lipsig

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Miguel, your Illinois Grade 409 is very nice. Your article about it was very well done. If you ever revise it you should correct a very minor mistake: Cowell & Hubbard was located in Cleveland, Ohio, not New York.

Grade 409 Illinois were excellent movements that one doesn't see very often. I've got one in my collection. When I bought it, it was in a ygf case and had a so-so dial. I recased it a 14k Knapp case that formerly housed an Illinois 405 and replace the so-so dial with the 405's dial. The watch is now one of my prettiest Illinois.

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miguel angel cladera

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So nice watch Ethan! true, was a confusion with Cleveland on the NE of the state of NY. I will edit. Thank you again.
 

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