Beginning Watch Collecting

Good advice for people who get interested in collecting pocket watches is to not buy anything for the first six months or a year. During that learning period, they can gain an understanding about pocket watch collecting by the following the steps listed below. Some people can learn enough to get started in less time - but be careful if you do this.

Watch Terms

Novices may find the following Encyclopedia articles useful in understanding pocket watches and the terms that are used in discussing them:

Watch What Is Selling On The Internet

- Start to form an opinion of what actually appeals to you.
- Try to figure out why the prices vary wildly for different examples of the same watch.
- Are the major parts (Dial, Case, Movement) self-consistent - from the same era (see below)?
- What are the subtle differences?

Read What Is Being Discussed On The Message Boards

- What are people being told about examples of watches that are being discussed?
- What are they being told to look for in determining condition or orginal correctness?
- Are there specific references backing up what people are saying?

Research The Specific Watches

Once you think you know what you want (and you may end up with something different than that with which you started), research the specific watches, or type of watches.
- See what your chosen watches are supposed to look like (dials and case styles - especially if factory-cased).
- Look for examples in the best condition you can possibly afford.
- Are there websites showing watch company literature, for watches of your interest, which can be accessed? Go to them. Most of this is in the form of catalogs and ads which show which products were available at what times. A number of issues of The Jewelers' Circular and Horological Review (a jewelry trade magazine) are available online through Google Books, although many ads at the beginning and end of each issue have been removed. Google Books also has a host of other periodicals containing watch ads.

Search Engines for newspaper articles:
Google News Archive
Library of Congress Chronicling America
California Digital Newspaper Collection

Also, here are a few lists of NAWCC Message Board Encyclopedia articles wherein to find information:
Jobbers Catalogs
American Watch Makers
Swiss Watch Makers
Watch Case Makers
- Are books available on your chosen watches? Get and read the books.

Join The National Association of Watch And Clock Collectors (NAWCC)

and make use of its resources.

You can use this link to Join The National Association of Watch And Clock Collectors (NAWCC)

- Check the Online Bulletin Index for articles. Back issues of the NAWCC Bulletin are available online to NAWCC members who are currently logged in at (back issues, along with a huge number of watch books, are also available on loan by mail to members from the NAWCC Library).
- There is a wealth of information about watches and watch cases in a trade publication entitled The Jewelers' Circular and Horological Review. Microfilm copies of The Jewelers' Circular and Horological Review (with all of the ads) are also available on loan by mail to members from the NAWCC Lending Library. These cover the years 1881 - 1910 (or later). A microfilm reel contains a year's worth of monthly issues, up to 1891 when the magazine changed to The Jewelers' Circular - Weekly and Horological Review. Thereafter, there are 26 weekly issues on a reel. Microfilm readers and reader-printers are usually available in most public libraries. College libraries tend to have better facilities and equipment.
- Talk to more experienced people at the local chapter meetings.


if you're going to be spending hundreds (or thousands) of dollars, you should take the time to understand what the money is being spent on. You work hard for your money, spend it wisely!


Some of these books are no longer in print, but used copies may be available on the internet. Many should be available on loan by mail to members from the NAWCC Library

American Pocket Watches Beginning to End...1830-1980, Identification and Price Guide, Roy Ehrhardt & William Meggers, Jr., Heart of America Press, Kansas City, MO, 1987 (commonly referred to as “The Gold Book”).

American Watchmaking - A Technical History of the American Watch Industry 1850-1930, Michael C. Harrold, Bulletin Supplement No. 14, Spring 1984.

Collector's Encyclopedia of Pendant and Pocket Watches, 1500-1950, C. Jeanenne Bell, Collector Books, Paducah, KY, 2004 (a newer edition is available).

Complete Price Guide to Watches, No 27, C. Shugart, T. Engle and R. Gilbert, Tinderbox Press, Mount Pleasant, SC, 2007 (a new edition comes out each year in January. This book is available at libraries, most major bookstores and online at the NAWCC Gift Shop - ask for the latest edition).

The New Collector's Guide to Pocket Watches, Barry S. Goldberg, Somerville, MA, 2000. (

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