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Author Topic: Broken Antique pocketwatch - advice needed  (Read 3474 times)
ladyjabberwock
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« on: September 24, 2011, 12:51:22 am »

I hope this is the right place for this.  I have a beautiful but broken antique pocketwatch that belonged to my great great grandfather.  It is made of gold and is marked Mermod Jaccard & co. St Louis, Mo, and it's engraved with his initials.  It has the smaller face for seconds, and that hand is off but inside the watch face, and it just doesn't work in general.    This is a family heirloom and not anything that I want to take apart or experiment on myself.  I know of a place that fixes antique pocket watches, but it makes me a little nervous since the restoration shops all seem to have disclaimers - I guess my question is, how safe is it to get something like that fixed?  I assume it can't end up more broken.  Is there some sort of insurance or something I should get first?  I doubt that its worth that much in terms of money, but its worth a lot to me in terms of it being a family heirloom, and I think it would be really nifty for it to be working for future generations.  But if something bad were to happen to it, I'd feel horrid. 
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Abslomrob
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« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2011, 05:22:28 pm »

That sounds like what's known as a "Jobber" watch; many jewelery stores would sell "house" brand watches with their store name on the dial and movement.  These movements were usually purchased from regular watch manufacturers (often Swiss, since they were a bit cheaper).  Many of the ones I've seen were made by Longines or Omega, but the American companies like Waltham and South Bend would do it a lot as well.

The good news is that usually, Jobber watches are just relabeled examples of movements that were made in massive quantities, so getting parts to repair the watch is usually fairly easy.  The bad news is that even basic service and repair is going to cost anywhere from $100 and up, depending on what exactly needs to be fixed.

If you can post some pictures of the inside of the case back, we could probably give you a pretty good idea of who made the watch and how "scarce" replacement parts will be.  Most casebacks are simple screw-on.

If you aren't comfortable doing this, you're best bet is to find a watchmaker and ask for an estimate (and request pictures).  If you go this route, make sure you're dealing with an actual watchmaker, not some guy who replaces batteries in a mini-mall.  The mini-mall guy is probably just to going to ship your watch to someone else.  Also, make sure you specify that they don't do ANYTHING without asking you first.  "Modern" watchmakers sometimes have a fairly cavalier attitude towards things like parts originality and patina, and some things can't be undone once done.

If you're friendly with a regular jeweler, you might ask them to open it up so that you can take pictures; there's not a lot of harm in that if they're careful.
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All my vintages are at http://www.abslomrob.com
ladyjabberwock
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« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2011, 11:37:26 pm »

Ok, sorry this took so long, and thank you for sharing your knowledge.  Here's pictures of the watch. Please understand that photography does not even toy with the idea of numbering among my skills, so my apologies for the quality of the pictures. 







So, there's a watch and a watch case, with markings on both.  On the inside of cover of the watch case, it says mermod and jaccard jewelry co, and 14k.  Under the 14k mark are the number 45112.

On the inside of the back cover of the watch itself is a funny little symbol that I assume would mean something to me if I knew anything about this sort of thing.  I can't get a photo because of the reflectiveness, but it looks a bit like this: 1$4 - only the line through the dollar sign has lots of swirley things on the ends.  under that is a row of the same numbers - 45112 - and then on the next row a single number 8.  So it looks sort of like this:

                          1$4
                         45112
                            8

Inside the watch itself, the lettering reads " No. 35719 DC Jaccard St. Louis."  It also has the words fast/slow on either side of a little mark that looks a bit like a compass rose, and the word "adjusted" curving around the centerpoint of the watch.  Last but not least, on the second layer of clockworky stuff, there's a stamp in the metal that looks like a small shield - the same shape as the USDA shield.


There was no screw or anything for the back, it just opened like a lever.

This is the place that was recommended to me in our area, but someone who has taken jewelry there: http://www.timekeepersstl.com/index.php/services


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Abslomrob
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« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2011, 04:37:20 am »

Wow, just enough detail to intrigue me without enough to identify it.  Gotta love a mystery!  Cheesy

The general style of the watch points to a swiss import from around the turn of the century.  The snail regulator is interesting; that was used by Gruen and Assman (from germany), although I've seen it on some Longines watches as well.  You mention a "sheild"; is that underneath the balance wheel?  And is there anything inside it (letters or anything)?

It looks like a very good quality watch; well worth restoring, but it probably won't end up being worth much more then the cost of the restoration (if that).
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ladyjabberwock
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« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2011, 03:41:00 pm »

I want to get it fixed because I think that would be a neat thing for other family members down the line.  That's the value for me, so investment of repair vs. cash value of the watch isn't so much a factor.  What is more of a factor is whether its likely to get messed up during restoration or whatever.  There's no lettering on the shield that I can see, and I've looked at it with a magnifier at this point. It's not really below the balance wheel, more like beside it.  Turn of the century would be about right based on who owned it.

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ladyjabberwock
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« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2011, 04:18:24 pm »

Was I supposed to have unscrewed those case screws and taken off that back plate?
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Abslomrob
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« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2011, 04:13:58 pm »

Was I supposed to have unscrewed those case screws and taken off that back plate?

NO!  That holds all the gears in place; remove the plate, and they'll fall out (and beside, you'll never get it back on without damaging something).

The more I research this, the more I'm inclined to finger "Agassiz" as the maker.  This is company that eventually became Longines, and I know Longines did a lot of jobber watches.  The snail regulator was commonly used by Agassiz (and actually shows up on some later Longines as well).  That said, I've never seen a 3/4 plate Agassiz.  I did find a somewhat similar Longines in my "Complete Price List:
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

This is a much later watch (with center second) and is reversed, but there are enough similarities to convince me about yours being a longines.  You might want to email Longines directly with the serial number to confirm; they're usually pretty good about responding with finishing records.

Question, does the shield on the pillar plate look like this?
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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ladyjabberwock
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United States United States


« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2011, 01:25:16 am »

no, thats more elongated. The one in the watch is more squared off at the bottom. I did find the symbol on the case and a thread about it. Apparently it's a j through the s.

http://mb.nawcc.org/showthread.php?t=33462

It mentions that c
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ladyjabberwock
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United States United States


« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2011, 01:31:43 am »

Sorry, I'm On a phone. It mentions that company, Agassiz, in relation to j&s.
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ladyjabberwock
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United States United States


« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2011, 01:54:55 am »

I'm not positive, but I'm wondering if this may be the shield:

http://www.watchpaper.com/2009/01/19/vacheron-constantin-and-the-hallmark-of-geneva/

Except I can't see anything inside of it. But I haven't looked at it with anything of quality, just a little platic magnifier. I'll take it tomorrow and try to see if there's more to that mark.
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