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Discussion in 'American Pocket Watches' started by Jon Hanson, Jun 18, 2009.
KWs, RRs Hunters, gold, etc.?
What do you collect?
This is a good question. Instead of stating exactly the type of watches I collect I am going to go a different way.
My collection consists of a lot of little collections or themes. The collection has Keywinds, RRs etc, but, for the most part, they are not collected in isolation. For instance, I have a collection of Elgin Keywind private labels with the heart cutout balance cock. I have collected of 18s 17 jewel Bunns. I have collected 18s Illinois grade 65-E private lables. I have collected Illinois/Sears Interstate Chronometers. I have collected Hamilton 936 private lables. I have collected the Illinois Getty model, especially the higher grades....etc, etc.
I like collections that have a theme. I certainly have some watches that don't really fit easily into one of these sub-collections, but when I look for watches I am always looking for additions to the sub-collections.
My collection is principally focused on the less common early American brands. Sure, I have a lot of the Elgins, Hampdens, Rockfords and Walthams too... but my focus is on Lancasters, New York Watch Co (not NY Standard), Tremonts, Marions, and so on.
I prefer keywinds, lower serial numbers and original condition.
I also like old fusees, but I only have a few.
I suppose the central theme for my collection is "the older the better". While in Paris I even looked at some really old clocks/watches (16th and 17th century stuff), but didn't have the money to acquire one at that time.
I guess I am Mr. Plain Jane, no KW, no bunns except on my backside, mostly lower production Elgins, some South Bends and some Walthams, I have tried to pick up one for each of the five runs of the Elgin grade 342 so far I am missing one from run 3 and 4. I have an affinity toward Elgins because the watch that my father gave to me was a 12s 15j Elgin in a gold snap front/back Victory case that he purchase/wore when he worked in the coal mines of Tenn when he was a young man, still have it and setimental value none of my other watches compare to it, although most of my watches are well more more to most collectors. As a result of that I have gyrated toward Elgins.
Rare? No. RR? Nope. I collect the finest examples I can find of anything. No matter what. Condition is what really gets me excited.
I love it!
Ok, I'll bite since I'm new here. In 1997 I bought a book about watches for half price when the new edition came out. I went to my car flipped through the book and said "lets see how many of these I can still find", and that was that. I collect wrist or pocket watches mens or ladies. At first I was less concerned, but as time went on I've focused more on condition, unusual and higher quality.
Certain brands seem to be more common to areas probably depending on what local jewelry stores sold, so I've been somewhat limited to what turns up in my local travels. Around here Gruen wrist watches seem rather common (to the point where I saw a NOS one from the 1940s yesterday), and Elgin and Waltham for pocket watches. On the private branded side of things I see more than a few branded as T.C. Tanke which was a local upscale jeweler (and I believe long out of business). Generally if I find it interesting I try and buy it.
I suppose that you can say that Elgin and Waltham pocket watches are common in your area because the local jewelers sold them, but it might have more to do with the fact that together, Waltham and Elgin made about 75% of all jeweled pocket watches made in the U.S.
New member (this might be my first post, though I've been perusing for a while) and new to collecting.
Right now, I collect Elgin and Illinois pocket watches. Because those are the only two I have. So far.
Having recently developed an interest in pocket watches (no interest in wrist watches or clocks) and doing a little research for the past couple of months, there hasn't been a lot of honing of the "what to collect" instinct.
Though, if my collecting preferences in other areas translate to pocket watches, I tend to prefer good quality, something unusual/unique about the piece (including known history, if any), and something that I will use. Collecting just to put things in a showcase isn't my style. And if it can be had at a good price, all the better.
Which is true and this is potentially a bad example as a result. Perhaps if you go down the line it becomes a little more clear as to what I am getting at, the next four most common are Illinois, Hamilton, Southbend and Trenton. Now (ruling out dollar watches such as Ingersoll and Westclox) if you buy 10 random pocket watches if you go out today to say a flea market or antiques malls you'll likely get maybe 3 Elgins, 2 Walthams, 2 Illinois, and one of each of the others. Technically speaking I'd think something like NY Standard or should easily be present as should Seth Thomas and Hampden if the total production is anywhere close to assigned serial numbers if they had a local sales presence. This also makes the number of South Bend watches seem disproportionately high. I've found more Omega pocket watches locally than both Seth Thomas and NY Standard combined. Just some observations, while I'd expect to find Elgin to be more common, Illinois seems highly over represented for its likely total production, that and I don't think I've ever seen an Illinois below 15j locally regardless of the size of the watch.
This is probably a phase of a new collector, but right now I' m really into 100+ year-old neglected or forgotten watches. I really enjoy taking apart some horribly dirty, gunked-up movement, cleaning it, doing minor repairs, and getting it to look and run like new again.
It's amazing how many 15-17 jewel 18s Elgins there are out there that can be picked up for $30 or so, not running, but with nothing majorly wrong with them. I originally started doing this as a way to practice and improve my new skills, but I've found that I really like these, and am amazed at how much abuse they have and can take and still run well.
Also, this has proven to be a good way to finance my need for more and better tools. I can sell a watch for like this for twice what I paid. Now, if you figure the hourly rate, well, it isn't too good, but it's enough to fuel the hobby.
I have always liked some companies maybe more than others.For instance i really like Elgin watches and have some in 12, 16 and 18 sz.
For Walthams similar too and a few sz 37 watch, clocks too.
I really like the 12 and 14 sz watches from Illinois, Hamilton and Elgin.And i like American made key winds, i think i have 4 of them so far.
I have only a few railway watches but i like them any ways.My Raymond and Waltham Crescent are both nice watches i like to carry.
For me i like watches that look nice and i am not caught up in original parts, but i would prefer if it were originl.I just don,t have the knowledge and the time required to check every watch and see how original it is or not .
FOR many serious about this hobby, tastes change over time and as collectors become more sophisticated!
I like your response and action to this Jon.
i am probably one of the minority in what i like to collect.
My collecting interest is 16 size Illinois Bunn Specials from about 1913 until the forties, and 16&17 size Sangamo Specials from about 1913 until the late twenties. I find the pattern changes, variations, and machnical progress of these railroad watches fascinating. The hunt is never over as new variations are still being found. Part of the lure to these watches are the many dial and case combinations that were used thru out this entire time period, particularly the Hamilton-Illinois era. In addition to these watches I also collect dials of this same time period. Something I never dreamed of collecting until a few years back is serial numbers, and at the urging of other serious collectors I find this information a valuable tool to help identify rarity. My parents were growing up during the "Great Depression" when many of these watches were made, and I have always liked the History of this time. So I like the quality, collectiblity, & history, of these watches that were made by Illinois Watch Company, and later by Hamilton Watch Company and the salesmanship used to promote them to the railroad industry.....Robert
My first post! I have been on the sidelines for a spell , but I have been collecting Rail Road Grades. My goal is to have one of each manufacturer (Elgin, Illinois, Ball, etc...) and to get as many different options (time-zone hands, Montgomery dial, wind indicator, etc...) that were available. I am a type collector I guess, alongside my coin collecting. I have done some browsing and this forum has resparked my interest in my pocket watches (I can't wait till I get home from the desert!). I sure appreciate all of the know-how that this forum brings also!
Welcome to the NAWCC American Pocket Watch Message Board!
Are you looking to get one of each of the two (or three) sizes from each manufacturer, or just one? What watches have you recently added to your collection?
I only have about five RR Grade at the house (I am deployed in the Middle East ). I have a 18sz Father Time, 941 & 992 BOC WGF case, 18sz P.S. Bartlett two-tone mvmt with box hinged two-tone (coin silver with gold overlay) HC, and 18sz Bunn Special w/dual time zone hands. One of each manufacturer is good with me (I know I have a couple of Hamiltons, don't know which one to "give up"). Looking forward to taking a look at them again later this year!
As Jon said, taste change over time. I started out collecting cheap watches to tinker with and then moved on. I collect both wrist and pocket watches. For wrist watches I like to get a few from each era starting with trench watches in the early 1900s through military watches from ww2. For pocket watches I have a variety of both American and European watches spanning from about 1880 though 1920. I have tried to get at least one "nice" example from most of the manufactures with style and condition taking precedent over number of jewels or rarity. I do have a soft spot for watches from Lancaster prior to Hamilton since I grew up in Lancaster and I am trying to get one of each grade these companies manufactured. I still need a few grades like the 20j that was just on ebay.
I've kind of stopped buying ones to tinker with because my backlog of watches needing tinkering should hold me for a long time. I bet a lot of us have a backlog of projects we will get to some day.
The more the merrier!