Your Scarce Pocket Watches

Ethan Lipsig

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Because I don't believe there's ever been a thread in these forums for scarce American and non-American pocket watches, I have posted this thread in hopes that many of you will post photos of your scarce pocket watches. This thread is limited to watches of which fewer than 1,000 examples likely were made in all runs and all minor variants.

To start this thread off, here are two possibly one-of-a-kind watches in my collection.

18k & Enamel Oval C.H. Meylan

I am a leading collector of C.H. Meylans. I have seen only one example of an oval-movement C.H. Meylan, which I was fortunate enough to acquire in 2018. I have seen very few oval-movement pocket watch movements from any makers. This C.H. Meylan is in a Cress Arrow case. For more about this watch, see https://mb.nawcc.org/threads/oval-pocket-watches-oval-c-h-meylan.148682/.

DSC03055.JPG DSC03058.JPG DSC03059.JPG DSC03061.JPG

18k Ultra-Thin, Free-Sprung, Helical-Hairspring Spring-Detent Jules Jurgensen Chronometer

Jules Jurgensen detent chronometers are scarce enough, but I am lucky enough to have two 18k hunter examples. These are thick, heavy hunters with pivot-detent movements. Earlier this year, I acquired an extremely unusual ultra-thin open-face Jules Jurgensen spring-detent chronometer that is free-sprung, and has a helical hairspring and a fascinating inscription. See https://mb.nawcc.org/threads/unusua...g-spherical-hairspring-male-key-wound.188326/ for more about this watch.

DSC09857.JPG DSC09862.JPG DSC09863.JPG DSC09864.JPG DSC09867.JPG DSC09868.JPG

Please post photos and descriptions of your scarce American and non-American pocket watches.


pillar plate.jpg spring.jpg
 

Jerry Treiman

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In other threads Ethan and I have each shown examples of the C.H. Hulburd presentation watch from the Elgin National Watch Co. Although Elgin assigned 8,000 serial numbers for these it appears that they only made about 800 of them. I have documented about 70 complete surviving examples. They were unlike any other product of the company.
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Dr. Jon

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This is another. I bought this because I though it was made by Louis Audemars. I was wrong on, that but it is the only intact example I know of with this form of lever escapement. It has a Lepine Breguet lever.

DIAL.jpg
BACK.jpg
movement.jpg

To this point it looks like a very conventional LeCoultre ebauche based high end pendant watch. It's very high grade as evident by its having a high level of finish a high jewel count and a over coiled balance spring.

Here is where it gets rare.

Lever_1.jpg
This is a very archaic form of double roller used by Breguet and Lepine until about 1820. Note teh raised tips on the escape wheel.

The roller is especially interesting.

Balance_impulse.jpg

The roller jewel extends radially.

For the technically inclined this watch has a lift angle under 30 degrees, something Daniels' book states to be impossible! for a reliable watch. It is over 100 years old and runs very nicely.

Chapiro's book calls this a "Breguet Lepine" lever. I believe Lepine invented it because the "fork" has a very similar shape to the escape wheel of the double virgule escapement that he invented.

I wrote a long article on this that was translated in German and appeared in "Chronometrohelia", the Swiss horological magazine.
 

Ethan Lipsig

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Thanks to all who've posted examples of scarce watches. Keep them coming.

In my initial posting, I defined "scarce" for purposes of this thread as "watches of which fewer than 1,000 examples likely were made in all runs and all minor variants." I did not explain what constituted a "minor variant". What I had in mind principally were movements that were identical except for different inscriptions or decorations on the movement, e.g., inscriptions in different colors or locations, or private labelling. For purposes of this thread, I do not consider any of the following to be "minor variants".
  • Watches of different grades or models, even though similar.
  • Watches marketed by different manufacturers or under different brand names, even though similar or even identical, e.g., I do not consider Waltham-Howards as minor variants of very similar or identical Walthams
  • Different sizes of otherwise very similar or identical movements.
 

Ethan Lipsig

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Here are another pair of surely-scarce watches, neither of them signed by the maker.

Circa 1805 Pouzait

This video shows how Pouzait escapements work.



I wouldn't know how Pouzaits work from the Pouzait I bought because it never has worked for me. After an expensive overhaul, this watch's lever (if that's what Pouzaits have) literally disintegrated. For the past half dozen years, I have been trying to get a new one made and installed. The watchmaker now working on it is optimistic that he will successfully complete that project and get the watch back into good running order.

IMG_4835.JPG IMG_4837.JPG IMG_4839.JPG IMG_4840.JPG IMG_4841.JPG

Circa 1890s 18k Grande et Petite Sonnerie Quarter-Trip-Repeater

This lovely watch hasn't given me any problems.

1660924919688.png

It is fully shown in https://mb.nawcc.org/threads/two-special-quarter-repeaters.172274/

For any of you who might be unfamiliar with sonneries (also called clock-watches), they ring out the hour and quarters (that's the grande sonnerie function) or the hour or quarters (that's the petite sonnerie function). At least on more modern sonneries, there usually is a switch that permits the sonnerie to be silenced and to select grande or petite modes. Because of the sonnerie function, more modern examples usually are tandem-wound, with the second main-spring running the repeat train. More modern examples usually also sound out the time on demand, i.e., they are also repeaters. Because of the separate mainspring for the repeat train, they are in fact usually trip repeaters, i.e., the switch that operates the repeat function doesn't wind a spring to power the repeat.
 

gmorse

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Hi Ethan,
The watchmaker now working on it is optimistic that he will successfully complete that project and get the watch back into good running order.
It will be interesting to see it working when he's finished it.

Regards,

Graham
 

Ethan Lipsig

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I hope some more of you will help make this a vibrant thread by posting photos and stories about your scarce pocket watches.

Here are two more surely scarce watches in my collection, both by Louis Audemars, and both watches that have been discussed before in these forums.

The first is an18k time-only hunter. What makes it scarce is its "superior adjustment" quality level, Audemars' highest grade, which features an unusual regulator and uncommon crown wheel ratchet-work, among other things. It originally belonged to Nelson R. Sagers of Des Moines, Iowa, about whom I have been able to find no information other than that he was a railway postal clerk earning $1,400 a year in 1901, the equivalent of about $45,000 now. How did Sagers come to own a top-of-the-line 18k Louis Audemars? If any of you can tell me more about Mr. Sagers, I would be grateful. This watch is discussed in https://mb.nawcc.org/threads/louis-audemars-hunter.137330/

IMG_4734.JPG z audemars dial.jpg IMG_4712.JPG IMG_4714.JPG IMG_4715.JPG IMG_4738.JPG IMG_4739.JPG IMG_4742.JPG

The second scarce Audemars is a 14k seconde morte, with its complicated tandem wind movement and helical hairspring. This watch is discussed in https://mb.nawcc.org/threads/louis-audemars-chronograph.155816/

DSC00463.JPG DSC00467.JPG DSC00469.JPG DSC00468.JPG DSC00470.JPG DSC00471.JPG DSC00471 - Copy.JPG Audemars.jpg IMG_0305.JPG IMG_0306 - Copy.JPG IMG_0309.JPG
 

Jerry Treiman

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Men always wore big watches - 20, 18 & 16-size, and 14-size for the boys. Ladies always wore smaller watches - 10, 8, 6 and progressively smaller. In between were the 12 watches which weren't popular in the U.S. until the 1890s and later.

However, if you look back to the 1860s Waltham tried a 12-size watch for the ladies. It was based on their 1861 model 10-size movement with just slightly larger plates. It apparently was not very popular and only 380 were made, with either 7, 13 or 15 jewels (all marked "P.S. Bartlett"). This is a 15-jewel version.
45881.jpg

Around 1875 both Waltham and Elgin tried again to up-size a 10-size keywind movement for a 12-size watch, primarily for export and many of them cased in England. Elgin made about 7,000 of these but Waltham only made 200, marked "Martyn Square", based on their 1874 model 10-size movement, with either 7 or 11 jewels. This is the 11-jewel version.
848838.jpg 848838_f.jpg

Here is a comparison of the 10 and 12-size versions of these two models. It is easiest to note that there is a little more back-plate outside the plate screws.
10-12_KW_comparison.jpg
 

Dr. Jon

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Thanks to Jerry for reminding me of this path deep into the weeds.

Dial.png

This ticks a few rarity boxes:

1) It is from a single run of 900 being an 1882 Am'n 1 size

2) It is in a Swiss made and hallmarked case

I believe this was a separate run for its damasceen pattern.

This site has another example, which retains it's hunting configuration


here is mine

mvt-sm.jpg

I bought it on ebay from an English seller indicating this was exported and cased either in the Uk or Switzerland.

I have others that have damasceen patter from the otehr larger run but they are provate lable and a clsoe liiks shows their damasceen went over an original frosted finish. I am not sure these meet Ethan's rarity criteria.
 

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One of my watches might meet Ethan's criteria but I cannot be certain. In fact, quite a few of my others may qualify but we cannot know the exact production numbers.

This is a Zenith Extra Prima 21 jewel calibre 68-21 finished in rhodium. Extra Prima being the highest end of Zenith production. What is known is that Zenith made 6,000 calibre 68 17 jewel watches ("Prima") and 68-21 21 jewel watches ("Extra Prima") between 1961 and 1962. It seems likely that the vast majority of the 6,000 were the Prima 17 jewel so my watch probably qualifies but Zenith could not tell me the exact figures even when I paid for an extract from the archives.

According to Joel Duval, the authority on Zenith, many of the 6,000 68 17 jewel and 68-21 were not sold and retained by Zenith and later reworked into another model by Thomas Engel. The 68 17 jewel and 68-21 were a reworking of a 1943 ebauche which itself is based on the Zenith RR56 of 1903.

At least this is what I can understand from google translation of the information in French.

So if Mr Duval says this watch is "plutôt rare" (rather rare) we can take it that it is.......

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Ethan Lipsig

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Bulova, not a brand I associate with high-grade watches, marketed a line of high-grade pocket watches that it called the Phantom (a name the brand is still using on over-the-top wristwatches, e.g., Bulova Phantom Gold Crystals Stainless Steel Watch | Bulova).

Phantom
is an apt name for these high-grade pocket watches because they don't turn up for sale very often. I don't know how many where made, but I doubt it was as many as 800 because I don't recall ever seeing one that had more than a three-digit serial number, although some do not have a visible serial number. My three examples all have substantially the same movement (which is why I am only showing one of them), but I have seen at least one other movement design. I believe that all Phantom movements were made by Louis-Elisee Piguet, one of the best Swiss makers. One of my Phantoms is also quite unusual in having a 19k case.

#330
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#503
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19k, no serial number
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miguel angel cladera

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Well, I don't know for sure if they meet all the criteria, but these might be the scarcest of my small collection....

I will start with a pocket watch by Arnold & Dent circa 1835

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In the 10 years that this union of these two great watchmakers lasted, they produced 1500 pocket watches, of which 500 were Chronometers. The main rarity is that it is a duplex escapement (I don't know completely how many were made, but not many of them appear in forums or auctions). Another feature is that it incorporates a compensated balance wheel. This indicates the appreciation these leading manufacturers had for the duplex escapement, as good timekeepers.

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I wrote an article about this watch here. Hope you like.

 

Bernhard J.

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Hi Miguel,

One question about this watch. Can it be that Dent used a "left over" movement from Arnold (it is known that this was done) for finishing this watch? I ask because the engravings "Arnold" and "Dent" look so different and it might be that Dent added his name to the signature on an "old" Arnold movement. "Dent" also appears to be a bit larger than "Arnold", presumably not without intent ... :D

Cheers, Bernhard
 

miguel angel cladera

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Hi Miguel,

One question about this watch. Can it be that Dent used a "left over" movement from Arnold (it is known that this was done) for finishing this watch? I ask because the engravings "Arnold" and "Dent" look so different and it might be that Dent added his name to the signature on an "old" Arnold movement. "Dent" also appears to be a bit larger than "Arnold", presumably not without intent ... :D

Cheers, Bernhard
AFAIK Arnold & Dent began working together in 1830 and their partnership lasted until 1840. The stamps on the watch are from 1835...

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Ethan Lipsig

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In my earlier posting about Bulova Phantom pocket watches, I said that "I don't know how many were made, but I doubt it was as many as 800 because I don't recall ever seeing one that had more than a three-digit serial number, although some do not have a visible serial number."

After reading this, Jerry Treiman wrote me to say that he had seen Phantoms with serial numbers in the 1000-2000 range, and he sent me a photo of one. I am hoping he will post his full comments to this thread.

Despite there being higher serial number examples, I think that Jerry would agree that that doesn't necessarily show that 800 or more were made. More to the point, perhaps, the higher-serial-number example Jerry showed me has a different looking movement than the one I showed, although that different movement is also a Louis-Elisee Piguet movement. That different appearance may just be cosmetics. I understand that the correct way of determining whether movements are really the same is to compare their pillar plates.
 

miguel angel cladera

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It could nevertheless be that an "old" Arnold movement was used? Making the watch even more interesting, I would believe (if so).

Cheers, Bernhard
His observation is very acute. I should collate all the signatures of as many of the watches made by the company as possible to come to some sort of conclusion. And of course after its dissolution. I didn't know that Dent had done that... Frodsham did. Maybe an expert can help us! :)
 
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Jerry Treiman

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After reading this, Jerry Treiman wrote me to say that he had seen Phantoms with serial numbers in the 1000-2000 range, and he sent me a photo of one. I am hoping he will post his full comments to this thread.
I have seen four Phantoms with serial numbers above 1,000. I own #1306. I have also seen #1251, #1318 and #1406. All four are 21-jewel models in contrast to the earlier 18-jewel movements. This still does not mean they made over 1000 Phantoms as there may be a serial number gap between the 18 jewel and 21 jewel movements.

Mine is, I believe, the same Louis-Elysee Piguet ebauche used by Niton for some of their movements, although not as thin.
Phantom-Niton copy.jpg

I don't think it matters that one has a split winding/barrel bridge and the other is one piece. Here is the under-dial view of both of these. The mainspring barrel is visible (hanging barrel) on the Niton because it is a thinner movement.
ud_comp_Phantom.jpg

There was a much older thread about the Phantom - https://mb.nawcc.org/threads/bulova-phantom-pocket-watch.28046/ My last post there referred to "some correspondence I received from Bulova (New York) in 1987 after sending them a picture of my (later) movement. They told me 'This particular movement was produced for us by a company called Piguet. Their caliber # is 17/22. Records on the model no longer exist due to its age. It was manufactured in the early 1930s.' In 1990 Kathleen Pritchard commented to me on this information that 'The Piguet Bulova mentioned to you would be of the same family as that of Audemars-Piguet, but not of the same firm.' "
We now believe this must have been Louis-Elysee Piguet.
 

Ethan Lipsig

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The second photo in Jerry's posting (#22) shows a movement by Louis-Elysee Piguet that isn't scarce, although examples signed by particular houses may be scarce. I have seen that movement used by many high-end houses, including Ditisheim, Audemars Piguet, Zenith, Frankfeld, Breguet, D. Nicole, Dietrich Gruen, Plojoux, Patek Philippe, Niton, Koehn/Ekegren, and Verger. It also was used many times by C.H. Meylan. About 15 examples are listed in my C.H. Meylan database (see link below) in which I classify this "Meylan" movement as a Type F. To the best of my recollection, all of the "Type F" examples I had seen from various houses seemed alike except for the labeling, and all were ultra-thin men's movements, until I came across a tiny ladies C.H. Meylan that had exactly the same movement. I believe that ladies-size versions of this LEP movement are scarce. I've never seen another. One photo below shows my ladies-size movement next to a men-size example.

Platinum & Diamond C.H. Meylan, 27mm in Diameter, Cased

DSC08056.JPG DSC05301.JPG DSC05303.JPG DSC05307.JPG DSC06802.JPG DSC05309.JPG
 

Ethan Lipsig

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Here's another scarce watch -- a 1980s 18k Audemars Piguet purse watch. It's scarce because very few high-grade pocket watches were being made by the 1980s, it's oval, which few pocket watches have been since the early 19th century, and it has a very unusual basket-weave case. The only thing that may not be scarce about this watch is the movement, which likely is a Caliber 2003 wristwatch movement. Because I do not collect wristwatches, I do not know how common those movements are. This watch is the most modern watch in my collection, the only one made after the 1940s.

Z AP hunter.jpg IMG_3701.JPG IMG_3751_edited.JPG IMG_3749_edited.JPG IMG_3747_edited.JPG IMG_3744_edited.JPG IMG_3746_edited.JPG
 

Ethan Lipsig

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The LeCoultre movement catalog shows this movement in sizes 9,10,11,12,13, and 19 in three thinnesses
Jon, your message surprised me. It surely means that these type of movements came from LeCoultre, not Louis-Elysee Piguet, as I had always believed. I would be extremely grateful if you posted images of the catalog pages showing this movement or ebauche..
 

miguel angel cladera

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It is the turn of the Illinois grade 409, 12s made for Cowell & Hubbard.

20200502_140925 123.jpg

Always according to the work carried out by Mr. Jim Carroll

"Manufactured from 1913 to 1916, a total of 1,520 movements in 12 runs make up this grade. Model 3 open faced and model 4 hunter; bridge movements of very high quality, with double roller and patent micrometric regulator. Open faced 1,170 in 9 runs and Hunter 350 in 3 runs."

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Ethan Lipsig

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Nice Grade 409, Miguel!

Among the major U.S. manufacturers, Illinois made quite a few models in small numbers. Here are the scarce Illinois in my collection.

19j Illinois Grade 175 Getty Hunter in 14k Dubois Case -- one of 60
IMG_3270.JPG IMG_4568.JPG IMG_4570.JPG

23j Illinois Grade 299 OF Phelps & Perry PL in 14k Solidarity Case -- one of 230
IMG_4340.JPG IMG_8287_edited.JPG

21j Illinois Grade 299 Hunter in 14k Elgin Giant Case, J. Herbert Hall PL -- one of 900 but only a few had with this striping
IMG_5491_edited.JPG DSC02930.JPG DSC02940.JPG

23j Illinois Grade 410 OF "Lifetime" in 14k Solidarity Case -- one of 200
IMG_3216.JPG IMG_3217.JPG IMG_3223.JPG

Another 23j Illinois Grade 410 OF "Lifetime" in 14k Solidarity Case -- one of 200
IMG_4014.JPG IMG_4013.JPG

17j Illinois Grade 435 OF in 14k Case Likely by Knapp -- one of 310
IMG_2311.JPG 011_edited.JPG


To be continued in subsequent post . . . .
 

Ethan Lipsig

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Scarce Illinois, Part II

21j Illinois Grade 439 "Extra" OF in 14k & Enamel Case Likely by Knapp -- one of 330 (according to Snyder) or 270 (according to Jerry Treiman)
IMG_9314_edited.JPG IMG_9313_edited.JPG IMG_9304_edited.JPG

Another 21j Illinois Grade 439 "Extra" OF in 14k & Enamel Knapp Case -- one of 330 (according to Snyder) or 270 (according to Jerry Treiman)
IMG_1847.JPG IMG_0427_edited.JPG

Another 21j Illinois Grade 439 "Extra" OF in Unsigned Platinum Case -- one of 330 (according to Snyder) or 270 (according to Jerry Treiman) and one of a handful of platinum-cased Illinois PWs
DSC07081.JPG IMG_2027.JPG

Another 21j Illinois Grade 439 "Extra" OF in 18k Case Likely by Knapp -- one of 330 (according to Snyder) or 270 (according to Jerry Treiman)
DSC07182.JPG

23j Illinois Grade 510 OF Hallmark PL in 14k Hallmark Case -- one of 423 but scarcer in its Hallmark version
IMG_2232.JPG IMG_2238.JPG

23j Illinois Grade 510 OF in Original Illinois-signed YGF C.W.C.Co. Case -- one of 423 but scarcer in its Illinois version
IMG_4553.JPG IMG_2277.JPG IMG_2274.JPG

17j Illinois Grade 525 OF with Aluminum Movement in original Wadsworth Aluminum and Gold or GF Case -- one of 50, but I only know of three examples still in existence
DSC07203.JPG IMG_2737.JPG IMG_2729.JPG IMG_2733.JPG


To be continued in subsequent post . . . .
 

Ethan Lipsig

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Scarce Illinois, Part III (Last Part)

23j Illinois Illini OF in 14k Knapp Case -- one of 200, but I only know of 21 examples still in existence
1ll233.jpg IMG_3664.JPG IMG_3670.JPG

Another 23j Illinois Illini OF in 14k Wadsworth Case -- one of 200, but I only know of 21 examples still in existence
Ill231.jpg IMG_4329.JPG

21j Illinois Illini Grade 528 OF in 14k Keystone Case -- one of up to 400 or possibly 600 made
IMG_0452_edited.JPG IMG_0448_edited.JPG IMG_0441_edited.JPG

Another 21j Illinois Illini Grade 528 OF in 14k Keystone Case -- one of up to 400 or possibly 600 made
IMG_9088_edited.JPG IMG_9089_edited.JPG

21j Illinois Illini "Extra" Grade 539 OF in 14k Case -- one of 330
IMG_2004.JPG IMG_2002.JPG IMG_2436_edited.JPG

Another 21j Illinois Illini "Extra" Grade 539 OF in 18k Solidarity Case -- one of 330
IMG_4979.JPG IMG_4922.JPG
 

miguel angel cladera

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Scarce Illinois, Part III (Last Part)

23j Illinois Illini OF in 14k Knapp Case -- one of 200, but I only know of 21 examples still in existence
View attachment 723551 View attachment 723552 View attachment 723553

Another 23j Illinois Illini OF in 14k Wadsworth Case -- one of 200, but I only know of 21 examples still in existence
View attachment 723554 View attachment 723555

21j Illinois Illini Grade 528 OF in 14k Keystone Case -- one of up to 400 or possibly 600 made
View attachment 723558 View attachment 723557 View attachment 723556

Another 21j Illinois Illini Grade 528 OF in 14k Keystone Case -- one of up to 400 or possibly 600 made
View attachment 723559 View attachment 723560

21j Illinois Illini "Extra" Grade 539 OF in 14k Case -- one of 330
View attachment 723562 View attachment 723561 View attachment 723563

Another 21j Illinois Illini "Extra" Grade 539 OF in 18k Solidarity Case -- one of 330
View attachment 723565 View attachment 723564
Ethan Lipsig I would like to ask you. What was the appreciation of these magnificent watches by the American customer compared to European watches in the luxury market?
 

Ethan Lipsig

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Miguel, I don't recall ever seeing any studies of the relative prestige of high-grade watches. I only have my gut feelings to go on. Here's my thinking.

When The PWs Were Initially Being Retailed

I don't think Illinois high-grade gentlemen's PWs were more prestigious to U.S. consumers than similar watches made by other major U.S. makers. Illinois likely made more models of these watches than those firms, but most of those models were made in relatively small numbers; Illinois' total production of high-grade gentlemen's PWs probably wasn't disproportionately large compared to that of other major U.S. makers.

Based on a price list I've seen from 1910, U.S.-made high-grade gentlemen's watches were more expensive in the U.S. market than all but a few Swiss brands. Based on that limited evidence, I believe U.S.-made high-grade gentlemen's PWs were more prestigious in the U.S. when initially retailed in the U.S. than all but a few Swiss brands.

I have seen little evidence of U.S. high-grade gentlemen's watches being retailed outside the U.S. Therefore, I doubt that Illinois' products had any special cachet outside the U.S. when initially retailed.

Among Collectors Now

Collector interest in high-grade gentlemen's watches has been relatively weak for the 20 years I've been collecting PWs. I see little evidence of interest in U.S. production except from U.S. collectors. Among them, I don't think Illinois' products are more highly esteemed than corresponding Elgins, Hamiltons, or Walthams, but the many grades Illinois made in low numbers perhaps make them more collectible because they are harder to find. No Illinois seems to have been aimed at the very pinnacle of the high-grade gentlemen's watch market, in contrast to Elgin's C.H. Hulburds (which featured unique styling and a unique movement), Waltham's Premier Maximus (which featured a W.I. and was 16-size), Hamilton's 922MP (heavily promoted), or Howard's Edward Howard (unique movement). I would add Gruen's 50th Anniversary model to this list, but it has a Swiss movement.
 

miguel angel cladera

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Miguel, I don't recall ever seeing any studies of the relative prestige of high-grade watches. I only have my gut feelings to go on. Here's my thinking.

When The PWs Were Initially Being Retailed

I don't think Illinois high-grade gentlemen's PWs were more prestigious to U.S. consumers than similar watches made by other major U.S. makers. Illinois likely made more models of these watches than those firms, but most of those models were made in relatively small numbers; Illinois' total production of high-grade gentlemen's PWs probably wasn't disproportionately large compared to that of other major U.S. makers.

Based on a price list I've seen from 1910, U.S.-made high-grade gentlemen's watches were more expensive in the U.S. market than all but a few Swiss brands. Based on that limited evidence, I believe U.S.-made high-grade gentlemen's PWs were more prestigious in the U.S. when initially retailed in the U.S. than all but a few Swiss brands.

I have seen little evidence of U.S. high-grade gentlemen's watches being retailed outside the U.S. Therefore, I doubt that Illinois' products had any special cachet outside the U.S. when initially retailed.

Among Collectors Now

Collector interest in high-grade gentlemen's watches has been relatively weak for the 20 years I've been collecting PWs. I see little evidence of interest in U.S. production except from U.S. collectors. Among them, I don't think Illinois' products are more highly esteemed than corresponding Elgins, Hamiltons, or Walthams, but the many grades Illinois made in low numbers perhaps make them more collectible because they are harder to find. No Illinois seems to have been aimed at the very pinnacle of the high-grade gentlemen's watch market, in contrast to Elgin's C.H. Hulburds (which featured unique styling and a unique movement), Waltham's Premier Maximus (which featured a W.I. and was 16-size), Hamilton's 922MP (heavily promoted), or Howard's Edward Howard (unique movement). I would add Gruen's 50th Anniversary model to this list, but it has a Swiss movement.
Thank you very much Ethan, that's approximately what I thought.
 

Ethan Lipsig

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In post #30, I mentioned that Illinois only made up to 400 or 600 Grade 528 Illinis (sources disagree). One of the reasons Hamilton bought Illinois reportedly was to be able to re-issue Grade 528s as Hamilton 400s -- its Tycoon model. Hamilton sold about 2,300 Tycoons. Of these, the first 800 used movement parts that Illinois had made (Serial ## H1000-H1800) . Hamilton then made another 1,500 slightly different examples (Serial ## H2000-H3500). Thus, Hamilton 400s wouldn't be scarce enough for this thread, except for one thing: These watches were initially factory-cased in solid-gold cases, all 18k, all made by Schwab & Wuischpard, of four designs in two different colors each. There were so few of each, that each is scarce. Most Hamilton 400s ended up being cased in YGF cases and sold as presentation watches to Fridigaire and perhaps other companies.

I believe Jerry Treiman gave me these numbers of solid-gold Hamilton 400 production (there also reportedly was one platinum-cased example):
  • Bok Case -- 209YG/146WG............Total 355
  • Carnegie Case -- 57YG/131WG......Total 188
  • Nobel Case -- 85YG/53GG..............Total 138
  • Pulitzer Case -- 98YG/90WG..........Total 188
Total 869

1.jpg

If I could have found them, I likely would have collected all four solid-gold variants in each color of gold, at total of eight, but examples of each are so scarce that I've only been able to collect these three:

Yellow Gold Pulitzer Case, Serial #H1534, One of 85 Made
DSC01052.JPG DSC01049.JPG DSC01040.JPG DSC01042.JPG

Yellow Gold Bok Case, Serial #H2125, One of 209 Made
DSC01037.JPG IMG_8180_edited.JPG IMG_2623.JPG IMG_2625_edited.JPG

Yellow Gold Carnegie Case, Serial #H2720, One of 57 Made
DSC02755.JPG DSC02751.JPG DSC02744.JPG DSC02745.JPG
 

Jerry Treiman

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In post #30, I mentioned that Illinois only made up to 400 or 600 Grade 528 Illinis (sources disagree).
Prior to being purchased by Hamilton, the Illinois Watch Co. set aside 1200 serial numbers in two serial number blocks for their new 12-size Extra-thin 2nd model - a model produced only as the 21-jewel grade 528 "Illini". Reportedly when Hamilton acquired this thin 12-size model they converted 800 of these to their grade 400. That leaves only 400 movements previously finished and cased as Illinois gr.528. These movements were taken randomly from the two runs and the remaining random movements were re-finished by Hamilton.

Among the Hamilton grade 400 casing variants I will round out Ethan's display with a green gold Nobel.
1710.jpg
 

Ethan Lipsig

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Shawn, I am jealous. I've long wanted a cased AWCO OM grade. I think that's what you are showing. They are very hard to find. I once owned this nice movement,

IMG_2725.JPG

but I never could find a case for it.
 

Ethan Lipsig

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Even though Waltham's production was large, some models were made in very limited numbers, such as the AWCO OM grade Shawn showed in post #37. I was surprised to see just now that I have quite a few scarce Walthams, most of which I have shown in other postings, including these: :
 

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