Antique Railroad 18s 21J Rockford King Edward Pocket Watch - Rarest 10/10 on a 10 pt. Scale; 350 Total Production
Up for sale is a rare beautiful 18s antique railroad 21 Jewels model with 6 Adjustments, the highest grade Rockford King Edward Pocket Watch made in near mint beautiful condition. Plymouth Watch Company is a private label by the way, that was commissioned to a few American manufacturers, including Illinois and Rockford. Commissioned by Sears Roebuck & Company, who for a very short period of time private labeled other watch companies pocket watches as their own Plymouth Watch Co. Back when Sears & Roebuck was organized, they aimed to be known for supplying the utmost quality and the only way to do that with pocket watches, just like private label high-end jewelers, was to call upon the best American watch companies at the time. Shortly later, they abandoned American watches for Swiss imports touting better quality. But we all know that wasn't really true across the board and many of their Swiss imports after they dropped the Plymouth line were average at best. This is one of only a handful of the rarest American Railroad Grade Pocket Watches ever produced by Rockford as Plymouth Watch Co. In fact, in the beginning of the Rockford Watch Co.; their entire business model was built around private label high end pocket watches. Oddly, the railroad companies must have really took to the railroad grade watches as three major rails picked Rockford as their official pocket watch instead of some of the more common manufacturers. Heavily Engraved Gold Filled Case. The movement marked "King Edward", "RG" (Railroad Grade) and has a serial number 540171 which dates it to be manufactured in 1899 not long after the organization of Rockford in 1874 and Sears in 1886. The double sunk glass crystal, enamel dial, hands and movement are in immaculate mint condition – please see the pictures. The case overall is in excellent crisp near mint condition with very little to no signs of wear. There are some small scratches around the crown where the exposed old screw in design to keep the crown in place which is slightly loose. A new screw can be put in to completely tighten it; however, I prefer to keep everything original. This was Rockford's first design moving away from a key wind pocket watch, which are the first watches they started to produce in 1875. Ironically, it's just like a key wind watch with the crown stem design acting and looking must like a key and the stem held in place by a tiny screw. The watch size is 18 with 21 screwed in ruby jewels in raised gold settings, gold balance screws. It's stem wind (first design from the old key wind) and lever set, adjusted to 6 positions. The watch was recently serviced and keeping an excellent time. If you collect railroad watches or fascinated with rare pocket watches, you must have this one. You will likely never see it again with so little made and in this condition. This is definitely a railroad pocket watch collectors piece I wouldn't wear.
A Brief History of the Rockford Watch Co.
Grade: King Edward
Manufacturer Location: Rockford, Illinois
Movement Serial Number: 540171
Grade: King Edward
Estimated Production Year: 1899
Run Quantity: 50
Total Production 350
Jewel Setting: Raised Gold Screw Settings
Movement Configuration: Open face
Movement Finish: Nickel
Movement Style: Block Letter
Movement Inlay Color: Gilt
Movement Setting: Lever
Plate: Full Plate
Adjusted # of Positions: 6
Railroad Grade: Yes
Movement Markings: King Edward
Plymouth Watch Co.
Adjusted R.G. (6)
The Rockford Watch Company, located 93 miles from Chicago on the Rock River, began operation in 1873 using equipment purchased from the Cornell Watch Company. Two of Cornell's former employees, P. H. Wheeler (Wheeler's Patent, etc) and C. W. Parker became key employees of Rockford. Their factory building was built in 1875-76, and was located on the 300 block of South Madison in Rockford (parts of the original factory building were later used by Rockford High School).Their first watch, a key-wind, 18-size, full plate with expansion balance was placed on the market on May 1, 1876. By 1877, the company was producing its own 3/4 plate nickel movements that fit standard size cases. The highest grades of early Rockford watches were signed "Ruby" or "Ruby Jewels" which later became a stylized letter "R" engraved next to the jewel-count. Rockford watches were quite popular with railroad men, as 3 railroads went through Rockford, and the company advertised heavily to them. Many of the later Rockford watches are signed "RG" for "Railroad Grade" The company had financial difficulties in 1896, and after reorganization the name was changed to Rockford Watch Co. Ltd. They finally closed their doors in 1915.
Rockford is one of the companies that produced a relatively small number of good-quality watches, and as such they are quite collectible.
Full Rockford Watch Co. History