Rockford's early high grade movements

Rockford's early (pre-1888 or so) high grade movements can, generally, be identified by the following markings on the the plates (usually on the barrel bridge):

"19 Ruby Jewels"
"15 Ruby Jewels"
"19 Ruby"
"15 Ruby"
"15 R"
"17 R"

In addition, these movements are always marked "Adjusted" and have the features normally associated with high grade movements such as gold jewel settings, etc.

They were made in models 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6. Various details, likely production runs, and known examples are discussed below.

Rare and early Rockford ephemeral bit:

Cover of early Rockford product line booklet. Since later versions of this booklet are dated and numbered while this one is not, it's very likely to be the first edition of such a booklet, dating to c. 1877. Note that Rockford is offering both key and stem-winders. Note also the line "The Best Full Plate Railway Time-Keeper Made". Even from the start Rockford promoted it's product towards railroad men and the traveling public.

Rare promissory note from 1878 showing a cut of a "19 Ruby Jewels" movement:

Short note from a May 1889 trade magazine on Rockford's first watch, which was presented to Company President Levi Rhoades. This watch, with the serial number 1, is a "19 Ruby Jewels" grade. Pictures of it can be found in Roy Ehrhardt's 1980 Price Indicator. The reader might find it interesting that this watch underwent significant alterations over time.

Levi Rhoades, first President of Rockford:

S/n 90, an example of a model 1 "15 Ruby Jewels" movement. Note the flat hairspring, a characteristic of all known "15 Ruby Jewels" movements.

Model 1 mvts are pure key winders and generally have only one case screw.

S/n 13815, an example of a model 2 "15 Ruby Jewels" movement:

Testimonial letter in c. 1886 Rockford advertising brochure mentioning "15 Ruby Jewels" movement #13842:

Data on known or suspected model 1 and 2 gilt movements. Data collected primarily by Greg Frauenhoff, Roger Weiss and Tom McIntyre.
1"19 Ruby Jewels"
probably began as a model 1 but was altered to stem-winding over time
2"19 Ruby Jewels"2

19 jewels, incomplete movement
5"19 Ruby Jewels"2
15"19 Ruby Jewels"2
19?"19 Ruby Jewels"1
20"19 Ruby Jewels"1
25"19 Ruby Jewels"1
32"19 Ruby Jewels"1
33"19 Ruby Jewels"1
34"19 Ruby Jewels"1
37"19 Ruby Jewels"1

used on CB&Q
45"19 Ruby Jewels"1
52?"19 Ruby Jewels"1
59?"19 Ruby Jewels"1
71"15 Ruby Jewels"1

used on CB&Q

used on CB&Q

used on CB&Q
78"15 Ruby Jewels"1
84"15 Ruby Jewels"1
85?"15 Ruby Jewels"1
89"15 Ruby Jewels"1
90"15 Ruby Jewels"1Abbott's stem-wind added
93"15 Ruby Jewels"
98"15 Ruby Jewels"1
1014"15 Ruby Jewels"1
1017"15 Ruby Jewels"
1018"15 Ruby Jewels"1
1021"19 Ruby Jewels"1
1024"15 Ruby Jewels"2
1028"15 Ruby Jewels"1
1037"15 Ruby Jewels"1
1908"19 Ruby Jewels"1
1958"15 Ruby Jewels"2
1959"15 Ruby Jewels"1Abbott's stem-wind added
8217"19 Ruby Jewels"1
8218"19 Ruby Jewels"1
8220"19 Ruby Jewels"1
8227"19 Ruby Jewels"1
8234"19 Ruby Jewels"2
219 jewels, private label for W. W. Haskell, Streator, Ill.

unconfirmed nickel 19 jewels
8259"19 Ruby"2"19 Ruby" marking has been confirmed
8317"15 Ruby Jewels"2
8357"15 Ruby Jewels"2
13710"19 Ruby Jewels"2
13716"19 Ruby Jewels"2
13731"19 Ruby Jewels"2
13735"19 Ruby Jewels"2
13751"19 Ruby Jewels"2
13753"19 Ruby Jewels"2
13756"19 Ruby Jewels"2
13795"19 Ruby Jewels"2
13797"19 Ruby Jewels"2
13815"15 Ruby Jewels"2
13838"15 Ruby"2"15 Ruby" marking has been confirmed
13842"15 Ruby Jewels"2
13846"15 Ruby Jewels"
13867"15 Ruby Jewels"2
13895"15 Ruby Jewels"2
13899"15 Ruby Jewels"2

Cartoon found as an insert in a Rockford 1880 product line booklet:

S/n 13797, an example of a "19 Ruby Jewels" model 2 movement. Courtesy Tom McIntyre. Note the flat hairspring, which is characteristic of the "19 Ruby Jewel" movements.

Pages from two Rockford catalogs. Top is no. 8 dated 9-15-1880; bottom is no. 9 dated 4-19-1882. The significant changes in the 1882 catalog are (1) the "19 Ruby Jewels" has been discontinued, (2) the "15 Ruby Jewels" is available only in stem-winding, and (3) a nickel version of the "15 Ruby Jewels" is available. My best guess is that no nickel movements were actually marked "15 Ruby Jewels" but instead only "15 Ruby" which was then shortened further to just "15 R".

S/n 58601, an example of a "15 Ruby" model 2. Courtesy of Tom McIntyre. Early nickel example with flat hairspring.

S/n 58702, an example of a "15 R" model 2. Courtesy Keith R. This is a "transitional" variant of the model 2 "15 R"
movements in that it has a Breguet hairspring (early ones have flat hairsprings) as well as the regulator, spring and
index being mounted entirely on the balance bridge, similar to the model 3, 4 and 6 examples.

S/n 58761, an example of a model 3 "15 R" movement. Note the Breguet hairspring.

Model 3 mvts are pure stem winders, having no provision for winding with a key. Note the raised gold jewel settings for both the 3rd and 4th pinions.

Testimonial in c. 1886 Rockford advertising brochure mentioning "15 R. N. S. W." movement #107955. A "15 R" nickel model 2 movement close in number to this is known.

S/n 107913, an example of a late model 2 "15 R" movement. Note the closeness in number to the one mentioned above. Note the flat hairspring.

Undated photo of the Rockford watch factory building:

S/n 199203, an example of a model 6 "15 R" movement with Breguet hairspring:

The model 6 is also known as the "exposed" or "open" escapement model since the action of the fork and escape wheel are visible. This particular example is a rare variant in that it has a large gold bushing for the barrel arbor.

S/ns 199289 and 199301, two model 6 "15 R" movements. These are the more common variety in that they don't not have a gold bushing for the barrel arbor.

Except for the model 1, which is a pure key winder, all Rockford models had provision for stem-winding. A variety of different winding/setting mechanisms are known for the 18 size movements and some are illustrated below.

From left to right top to bottom, under dial view showing winding/setting mechanisms of s/n 14101 (either a model 2 or 3, the mvt isn't handy to check), s/n 11267 (either a model 2 or 3, the mvt isn't handy to check), s/n 227596 (model 4), s/n 199289 (model 6), and s/n 299298 (model 8).

Another winding/setting mechanism variant on s/n 33470 (either a model 2 or 3, the mvt isn't handy to check).

S/n 194617, an example of a model 4 "15 R" movement. The model 4 was Rockford's first open-face (winds at 12) one. All previous stem-wind 18 size models (2, 3, 5 and 6) wound at 3 o'clock and so were hunting ones (although in the early years Rockford did not actually call them such, there were simply referred to as stem-winders). Note the Breguet hairpsring.

S/n 241902, an example of a model 3 "17 R" movement with Breguet hairsrping:

All known "17 R" movements fall into the second half (241901-242000) of the run of grade no. 40 movements (241801-242000) that is listed in Rockford's serial number list. Movements in the first half of this run, from 241801-900, are "15 R" and have damaskeened nickel plates rather than the gilt-on-nickel finish (aka "two-tone") of the "17 R" ones.

In 1888 Rockford introduced their Model of 1888, which later came to be designated as the models 7 (open face) and 8 (hunting). However, so far is known, they did not make any "15 R" or similarly marked movements in these models. But they did make two 17 jewel grades that were at the top of their line for the time, vis, the open face no. 60 and its hunting equivalent no. 80. (As an aside, things like 21 jewel and 24 jewel Rockford movements did not come into being until after the Company was reorganized c. 1899. For their time (early 1890s) the nos. 60 and 80 were indeed Rockford's highest and finest grade movements.) Important note: the 17 jewel grade nos. 60 and 80 are not marked "17 R" but rather "17 J". Since the marking "17 J" was used on other grades as well this alone does not uniquely identify movements as being a no. 60 or 80.

Shipping tin for a Model of 1888 movement:

Adv cut and description of the grade nos. 60 and 80 from the 1896 A. C. Becken catalog:

S/n 404224 a grade no. 60 movement. Note the two-tone damaskeening and the serial number which falls into the one accepted grade no. 60 run from 404001-404300. (An earlier "no. 60" run from 250501-251000 in Rockford's serial number list is believed to be, for several reasons, a typo.)

Grade nos. 60 and 80 were advertised to have elaborate fancy dials. Here is an example of one:
-------------------------------------------- missing image files ----------------------------------------------

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Weekly News 7/7/19 by Tom McIntyre