Vintage Watch Blog.
For anyone that’s been paying attention to the market, auctions, dealer’s inventory, and such; you’ll notice something peculiar. Pocket watches that were once shunned by vintage watch collectors are some, now, becoming the crown jewel of a gentlemen's collection. For me, it’ no surprise really; my first fascination with watches started with pocket watches from the early 20th century. Many of these watches seduce with their beautiful and plentiful variety of cases and more importantly what lies inside. Pocket watches from the 20th century; both Swiss and American were in heavy competition for market share during times of peace. Therefore, no expense was spared to create some of the highest quality calibers with no shortage of ruby jewels, adjustments, Cotes de Genève, stippling, engraving, fire blued screws and hands, porcelain dials, gold set screwed in jewels, innovative hairsprings and high grade plating. I guess I could go on, but I think you get my point. At the core of these watches, was the apogee of the highest grade watches using antiquated, mostly by hand, watchmaking techniques that took much time and the highest level of craftsmanship. Please pardon my bias; however, it’s my opinion that American manufacturers such as Hamilton, Illinois and Howard did this best – not the Swiss. In fact, many of these watches, especially those made for utility such as railroad and military use, were of better finish and chronometer grade when compared to some of today’s most expensive wrist watches. Nearly every railroad watch I own is between 120-70 years old and still keeps chronometer spec time and probably always will. Sadly, many pocket watches where disassembled and scrapped for their gold value when wristwatches became the norm and at various times in history when gold was of high value.
Vintage Illinois Bunn Railroad Size 16S 21 Jewel Rare 3-Hinge Highly Decorated Pocket Watch
Here comes the problem for most. Yes, these rare birds are beautiful; nonetheless, many collectors like to wear their collection from time to time. Wear you say? No problem. I laugh with anyone that says wearing / using a pocket watch is uncool. In fact, the trend is just the opposite. Vests and the three piece suits are also back in favor…problem solved. And if you’re not into dressing up, a pocket watch can be securely held in the pocket of any jeans and t-shirt ensemble. Furthermore, men are looking for ways to be perceived as more interesting and unique; pulling out a stunning pocket watch to check the reservation time on a first date can make a real impression that will be noted – and dare I say a great conversation starter. Just make sure you do it right. Pocket watches aren’t fanny packs or pagers, so keep them off your belt. You’ll need a nice chain or soft leather pouch to keep it in a vest or pant pocket; otherwise I recommend keeping them home on a first date.
Now that we’ve had a little fun, here are some fun historical facts about pocket watches. The History of pocket watches started in early late 1400s and early 1500s when mechanical engineering reached the state when simple spring devices could be made. By using the invention of mainspring, German inventor Peter Henlein was finally able to create watches that did not require falling weights as the source of their power. This invention gave birth to the first wave of small portable watches, which were in the beginning worn as a pendant on a chain around the neck. Marie Antoinette commissioned a gold Breguet pocket watch, ca. 1827. It took 44 years to complete after it was first commissioned in 1793. Marie Antoinette never saw the watch through to its completion, as she was sent to the guillotine 10 years before its completion. It is referred to as the Queen/Mona Lisa of watches. Inside Lincoln's watch, the Smithsonian Institute discovered inscriptions made by Dillon; the maker of the watch. The inscription reads: “Jonathan Dillon April 13-1861 Fort Sumpter [sic] was attacked by the rebels on the
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