Sunday, October 18, 2015

Collecting Vintage Pocket Watches 101

Pocket watches are a piece of history. Long before the Apple wristwatch gentleman and ladies had pocket watches. These watches as the name says were kept in ones pocket. Sometimes these watches were attached to a chain and clasp or fob which would keep the watch secure. Ladies watches sometimes could be pinned to their dresses.

Key U.S. pocket watch makers were the Illinois Watch Company, Elgin, Waltham and Hamilton. Some of these companies made watches for the Railroad and these are known as railroad watches. What is different about railroad watches is the detail to accuracy. This included temperature time compensation. Trains were not scheduled by GPS in those days so time was the key factor of when a train was supposed to be at a certain location. Having this wrong could lead to disastrous consequences. Some manufacturers made very high quality nickel models for the engineers and conductors.
Illinois Hunter Sidewinder
Burlington Railroad 21J

Antique Elgin with FOB

Watches came in open face meaning you could see the watch face at all times or what is known as the hunter which has a small case that closes over the face protecting the crystal from scratches. The other difference on some of these watches is that the stem is at the 3 o'clock position instead of 12. These are known as sidewinders. The Next item to look for when collecting is what is my case made of. Gold, gold filled, gold plated, coin silver, silver plated or an exotic metal like platinum which are very rare. These will be marked on the inside of the case.

Pocket watches are a great collectible and can be found in working and none working order. Don't expect most of these watches to be in pristine condition as the are usually over 100 years old and were used daily.  

Don't forget to check out the pocket watches above at VintageMARK