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Author Topic: SUCCESS! Searching for my first pocket watch...What I've learned.  (Read 7913 times)
Jacobi
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United States United States


« on: November 16, 2009, 12:11:50 am »

So it started with reading this forum and finding all the info here on pocket watches. I posted this in the master pocket watch thread:
Quote
I'm torn....I found a nice Illinois at a local antique clock shop but they want $200 for it. The owner of the shop said it is circa 1900 I'll post some pics later today. I've no idea what the going price for an antique watch is.
Sorry folks I'm a forum noob...still trying to get this figured out how to load photos.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/44489165@N05/4091333806/#in/set-72157622647244471/
My second option is a Charles Hubert: http://www.charleshubertpocketwatches.com/engrave-engraved-personalized/ch_3564MASTER_Winding_Charles_Hubert_Pocket_Watch_charleshubertpocketw_.htm

I like the "Skeleton" look and the Illinois doesn't have that but I like that the Illinois is antique. That said, I'd like to stay under $200 and get a solid mechanical pocket watch. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

thanks for any advice.

Jac



Then I decided that maybe I should start a new thread for those interested in my mistakes and also what I've learned along the way. For the rest of you old hats at this topic, you can just chuckle at me as I learn how much has gone into making these intricate little guys.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2009, 03:59:12 am by Jacobi » Logged
Jacobi
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United States United States


« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2009, 12:26:30 am »

The Charles Hubert is just plain out of the running. After reading a bit more it seems that they are probably inferior movements and I will most likely have a hard time getting it fixed if it breaks. Even with a lifetime warranty, if they have to replace the whole watch, its not MY watch anymore. One of the driving factors for me getting a pocket watch is that I will be able to hand it off to my kids or even grand kids some day.

The Illinois above comes with a one year warranty and has been completely gone through cleaning, oiling etc.. by a clock maker. He's an old retired guy that does work for the antique clock store. They charge $85 to service a pocket watch so if I buy another antique watch I can basically add that to the price of the watch. With the warranty and the work that has been done to the watch it is a bit more appealing even at the higher price point.

I spent a long time talking with the guy at the antique clock shop. He mentioned that the jewels in the illinois are held in by screws and that makes it easier to service than one where they jewels are held in by another means. For this reason I am looking for watches with the tell tale screws around the jewels. Any thoughts on this?

I've pretty much given up on finding a watch with the movement visible. As much as I would like one, I haven't found any antique watches that were made this way.

Jac
« Last Edit: November 16, 2009, 12:29:31 am by Jacobi » Logged
HAC
Steam Theologian
Zeppelin Overlord
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HAC_N800
« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2009, 01:03:05 am »

What you need to look for if you want a movement to be somewhat visible in an antique, is what used to be called a salesman's case. The rear lid of the case used a bezel and crystal, so that it was rather like the front. The movement was then visible from the back, but protected. (besides, the movement from the dial side is pretty uun-interesting, mostly all you get to see are the plates, and perhaps the keyless works.
 Illinois made pretty darn good watches, with very well done movements. Lots of variety, for collectors, too, and parts are not that hard to find.. Charles Hubert, and most of the current crop from non-major watch manufacturers use Chinese movements. The real problem isn't necessarily the movement, but the applaing lack of quality control during assembly that is often apparent.

Here are some Illinois movement shots for you.







Cheers
Harold
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Jacobi
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United States United States


« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2009, 02:14:29 am »

HAC, I don't suppose that I would be lucky enough that a front crystal off one watch would fit on the back of a similar one am I?

I spent yesterday with the wife going to antique stores in our area. I found one that had a number of pocket watches some I liked but it is very frustrating when they don't display a price next to the watches. Also the poor lady behind the counter had absolutely no clue about watches and many were very pricey. They were having a 40% off sale which made me even more leary of dealing with them. I don't like merchants that overprice their items just so they can offer a deep discount. Why not just charge a fair price to begin with?

I've decided on a silver pocket watch and since most of the antique watches don't have chains with them tonights task is to lookup pocket watch chains.

Jac


 
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HAC
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HAC_N800
« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2009, 02:48:30 am »

HAC, I don't suppose that I would be lucky enough that a front crystal off one watch would fit on the back of a similar one am I?

I've decided on a silver pocket watch and since most of the antique watches don't have chains with them tonights task is to lookup pocket watch chains.

Jac

What really matters there (besides luck) is having the case  sides come from the same manufacturer (and prefreably the same model). I've matched up a few bezel/crystaos to case backs, it can be done, juts takes a bit fo trial and error.  On chains, stay away from chains that use that slide on belt clip, no security there, get one with a proper spring ring or T-Bar (for use on vests). Anitehr trick is this one, whcih was common with working railroaders (I;ve used it myself when I was needed to while working at CPR).. I suppose a varaition would be to use a braided leather strap, or some such.. Juts make sure your knots are solid.



Cheers
Harold
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Jacobi
Gunner
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United States United States


« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2009, 05:29:35 am »

I was thinking of making a leather one but then did some searching and found a similar thing:

http://www.amazon.com/Black-Leather-Pocket-Holder-Railroad/dp/B000OVPAX2
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Steamhappi
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Captain, Innsmouth High School swim team, '82


« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2009, 06:01:18 am »

I came across this website while engaged in my own pocketwatch research. It has a good deal of very interesting information which you might find useful.

http://www.antique-pocket-watch.com/index.html
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HAC
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HAC_N800
« Reply #7 on: November 16, 2009, 06:07:33 pm »

I came across this website while engaged in my own pocketwatch research. It has a good deal of very interesting information which you might find useful.

http://www.antique-pocket-watch.com/index.html



That's a good, if generic, starting point. I;d recommend that anyone serious about getting into pocketwatches pick up the a copy of Engle, Gilber and Shugarts 'Complete Price guide to Watches" Lots of good information, including movement identification diagrams, dating info,etc. and lots of good "how-it-works" stuff as well.. Even a used copy a few years out of date is really helpful..

Cheers
Harold
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Steamhappi
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« Reply #8 on: November 16, 2009, 07:08:08 pm »

Mr. HAC, Thank you for the info, I will pick up a copy.
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Jacobi
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United States United States


« Reply #9 on: November 16, 2009, 10:59:04 pm »

I found another clock repair shop in my town and stopped by at lunch for a look. There were half a dozen very nice railroad grade pocket watches that of course were out of my budget but there were 2 that were close to my budget. One Illinois 19 Jewel art deco silver case around 1940 and one Elgin 15 jewel from 1907.

The Illinois though a nice looking watch just didn't scream at me, so its out. The Elgin on the other hand I really liked. The case is decorated on the edge, similar to the Illinois I looked at above, and the back is plain. The down side is that it is only 15 Jewels. The up side is that the owner wanted $150 for it. This would bring it in under my budget and allow me to pickup maybe a watch stand as well as the leather watch straps suggested earlier. I think I'll sleep on it and decide tomorrow.

Jac
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rogue_designer
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clockwork gypsy


« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2009, 12:11:53 am »

FWIW two of my favorite and best running watches are 11 and 7 jewel models - the number of jewels is not the only indication of the quality of the movement. Especially with one of that vintage.

I also heartily support purchasing locally and supporting local watch repair shops. So, if you can swing the slight premium - go for it. Smiley Enjoy.
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(Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes. But deserve a nice glass of absinthe. I have some Montemarte in the cabinet, if you wish.)
HAC
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HAC_N800
« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2009, 12:47:58 am »

FWIW two of my favorite and best running watches are 11 and 7 jewel models - the number of jewels is not the only indication of the quality of the movement. Especially with one of that vintage.

I also heartily support purchasing locally and supporting local watch repair shops. So, if you can swing the slight premium - go for it. Smiley Enjoy.


Too true, one of my most accurate vintages is a 9J Elgin 594.. Runs better than railroad spec. Generally speaking, higher jewel count is an indication of a higher quality movement, but don't discount the lower jewel watches (under 15) as being necessarily poor runners. There are lots of other factors, too, I have seen some 21J watches that were dogs, mostly due to wear and tear, and lack of servicing.
Supporting your local watchmaker is, as stated, a good thing..




Its also a bit of a rare-ish beast, with only 79,000 produced (out of a total of over 55,000,000 pocketwatches from Elgin runs..)

Cheers
Harold
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Jacobi
Gunner
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United States United States


« Reply #12 on: November 17, 2009, 03:21:34 am »

Since this will be my daily watch, I am settled on getting a watch from a watch maker. I don't want to fight with a watch that isn't operating properly. So for me the question really comes down to choosing between 3 watches.
1. The Silver 17 Jewel Illinois from 1930s  $200
2. A gold 19 Jewel Illinois GF case dial looks great from 1925(ish) $190
3. A 15 Jewel Elgin gold color (GF) case some minor ornamentation on the edge of the case from 1907 $150

All are from local watch makers and come with a 1 year warranty. I look at it this way, if you get one from ebay for $60 then pay $85 to have it serviced and by pure luck there isn't anything wrong with it you are still into the watch $145. Right now the Elgin is in the lead with me because of how old it is, its simple yet elegant style, and the, imho, very reasonable price point for it.

I ordered in the leather straps from amazon linked above and a book on watch repair: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1602393575/ref=ox_ya_oh_product
I like pictures so I figured I can't go wrong with this book. I'll order the new watch price guide at the start of the new year.

Thank you all for the help.

Jac
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HAC
Steam Theologian
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HAC_N800
« Reply #13 on: November 17, 2009, 03:50:39 am »

All very good watches.. Personally, I like Illinois, but that is biased by the fact that as a collector, Illinois is slightly more interesting.
However, the Elgin would be a good choice, as a sold daily wearer, and parts (in the  event they are ever needed) are pretty easy to come by.
Either way, those are all pretty good to have to chose from.

My current carry watch is a 1923 Illinois 12s.. but awaiting the outcome of a redialing,(hopefully, the new dial will be "in the kiln" this week) is a Hamilton 992 in the RR #15 stainless steel case, that should be a very nice wearer.







Cheers
Harold
 
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Jacobi
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United States United States


« Reply #14 on: November 17, 2009, 10:01:16 pm »

I picked up the Elgin because of the age, condition, and the availability of parts since this will be a daily wearer. I'll get some picks up later tonight. Serial Number: 13781754 should be around 1907 or 1908. Thanks for all the help guys. I've learned a bunch and am having a blast.

Jac
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HAC
Steam Theologian
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HAC_N800
« Reply #15 on: November 17, 2009, 10:08:58 pm »

13781754  is a 15J, grade 315 movement, one of a production run of 2000, made in 1908. Its a 12s, which is a good size for daily wear. There were 1,033,900 grade 315 movements made, in 329 production runs, from 1903,through to 1939. 

I'd say you;ve got a good one there,  post pics once you get it..
Cheers
Harold
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Jacobi
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United States United States


« Reply #16 on: November 18, 2009, 03:30:10 am »

Some Pics as promised:
Movement Picture taken upside down to show serial number:
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

Dial:
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

You can see the ornamentation around the sides in the picture on the front. The back cover is not very interesting. There are the initials FRM engraved in it and clearly long long ago there was a bit of ornamentation there as well but it has been worn nearly smooth.

Sorry for the slight blue glow in the picture, my monitor was casting a bit of light on it. Thanks again to all you guys for your advice.

Jac
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HAC
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HAC_N800
« Reply #17 on: November 18, 2009, 03:38:22 am »

Thanks for the pics..
 That's in great shape, and the movement looks like it's in good nick, as well, and its a classic Elgin design - screw adjust regulator, too, even better..
Congrats on acquiring a great little piece of history..
Cheers
Harold
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Zwack
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And introducing the wonderful Irish (Mrs Z).


« Reply #18 on: November 18, 2009, 03:57:43 pm »

Congratulations.

I have four watches, three Elgin Pocket watches, and a (non-Elgin) quartz wristwatch...

My wristwatch battery needs replaced so I'm using the Elgins as Daily watches at the moment.  Two of them are 7 Jewel and one is 15 Jewel.  They are all about as accurate.  The oldest 7 Jewel is 19th century and according to my local watch maker has been repaired several times.  Due to that it has been retired from daily use and is kept for special occasions.  Smiley

Enjoy your watch.

Z.
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"At least those oddballs are interesting" - My Wife.
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Steamhappi
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« Reply #19 on: November 18, 2009, 08:23:39 pm »

Congrats Jacobi, very nice Elgin you have there. I'm sure it will serve you well.

My brother-in-law is a horologist, I need to ask him to keep an eye open for something interesting. Maybe I'll get lucky!  Grin
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Capt_Zaphod
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Captain_Zaphod
« Reply #20 on: November 18, 2009, 11:41:13 pm »

Thanks for the amazon link on the strap.  I just ordered one.

My local watchmaker closed up shop before I could get a pair of pocket-watches fixed.  Does anyone here do repairs? 

Thank you;
-Z
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Zwack
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And introducing the wonderful Irish (Mrs Z).


« Reply #21 on: November 19, 2009, 03:37:49 pm »

I've used a local (to me) watchmaker for repairs for my three Elgins, plus one I purchased for my wife, and a swiss Cylinder watch of hers.  http://www.elgintime.com/  He does do more than just Elgins.

Z.
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Inktank
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« Reply #22 on: December 04, 2009, 01:51:45 am »

I was up until now considering getting a Charles Hubert, for their price and look, but having heard their movements to be 'inferior', I'd appreciate it if you could answer a few questions for me:

1. What makes them inferior?
2. Does this mean that they are of poor quality?
3. What would you consider to be a good pocket watch that I could purchase for under $100?

Thanks.  Smiley
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you just bring me down.
HAC
Steam Theologian
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Canada Canada


HAC_N800
« Reply #23 on: December 04, 2009, 02:29:05 am »

I was up until now considering getting a Charles Hubert, for their price and look, but having heard their movements to be 'inferior', I'd appreciate it if you could answer a few questions for me:

1. What makes them inferior?
2. Does this mean that they are of poor quality?
3. What would you consider to be a good pocket watch that I could purchase for under $100?

Thanks.  Smiley

Charles Hubert uses Chinese movements. The real problem isn't the movement per se, but rather the quality control. That means that while you might get a good one, you also might get a lemon.
  Biggest problems I have seen with Chinese movements are  lack of, or inconsistent lubrication, which means that they will work for a while, then have problems (typically sticking, or poor timekeeping).
   Its not that they are inferior in design or construction, simply that you want to hope their warranty is godd, IF you end up with a problem watch. The name of the game in the Chinese mass market watch movement is  price and speed, the lower price point watches get assembled very quickly, and have little quality control. The more one pays the manufacturer per piece, the better your final product will be.
  Case in point, the Chinese copy of the Unitas 6497/98 movement that gets stuck in a lot of Panerai "clones". You can get the movement in several price points, anywhere from about $12.00 per movement (which guarantees a pretty poor job) to around $50 per movement (which gets you a decent one, nicely finished, and almost as good as the Swiss equivalent which runs to about $135-150 each, depending on your source. I've seen both types of Chinese 6497, and the cheap one was actually OK, AFTER a full dissasembly, cleaning and lubrication (the one I saw have fingerprints on the plates, no lube, and an eyelash in the mainspring..

As far as pocketwatches under $100, unless vintage, you will probably be looking at all being of Chiense manufacture,  If you go that route make sure thay the watch can be replaced under warranty if issues occur.

Cheers
Harold

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Inktank
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« Reply #24 on: December 04, 2009, 01:38:09 pm »

I was up until now considering getting a Charles Hubert, for their price and look, but having heard their movements to be 'inferior', I'd appreciate it if you could answer a few questions for me:

1. What makes them inferior?
2. Does this mean that they are of poor quality?
3. What would you consider to be a good pocket watch that I could purchase for under $100?

Thanks.  Smiley

Charles Hubert uses Chinese movements. The real problem isn't the movement per se, but rather the quality control. That means that while you might get a good one, you also might get a lemon.
  Biggest problems I have seen with Chinese movements are  lack of, or inconsistent lubrication, which means that they will work for a while, then have problems (typically sticking, or poor timekeeping).
   Its not that they are inferior in design or construction, simply that you want to hope their warranty is godd, IF you end up with a problem watch. The name of the game in the Chinese mass market watch movement is  price and speed, the lower price point watches get assembled very quickly, and have little quality control. The more one pays the manufacturer per piece, the better your final product will be.
  Case in point, the Chinese copy of the Unitas 6497/98 movement that gets stuck in a lot of Panerai "clones". You can get the movement in several price points, anywhere from about $12.00 per movement (which guarantees a pretty poor job) to around $50 per movement (which gets you a decent one, nicely finished, and almost as good as the Swiss equivalent which runs to about $135-150 each, depending on your source. I've seen both types of Chinese 6497, and the cheap one was actually OK, AFTER a full dissasembly, cleaning and lubrication (the one I saw have fingerprints on the plates, no lube, and an eyelash in the mainspring..

As far as pocketwatches under $100, unless vintage, you will probably be looking at all being of Chiense manufacture,  If you go that route make sure thay the watch can be replaced under warranty if issues occur.

Cheers
Harold



Ah, thank you much for your help.
I'm not in need of a terribly high-end watch, so Chinese movements wouldn't bother me if I can find one with durability and a good lifespan for a price cheaper than a genuine counterpart.
Though I may look into a larger budget if I can get a significantly higher quality non-Chinese for around $200 or so, but it's looking like it would cost me $300-500 for one of those.
My current one isn't very nice, being a cheap $25 quartz, so I suppose I'll do some digging of my own to see what I really want.
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