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Allison vV
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« on: August 02, 2014, 09:05:31 AM »

I may be surprising my brother with a pocket watch in the near future, and have a couple questions.  Almost all I know is that period watches were key-wound and key-set, and had roman numerals on the face.  I probably can't afford a perfectly period correct pocket watch (also wouldn't want him to loose or damage it), so what would be a good option?  So far I found two key-wound watches on Ebay.  How do these look?

SUPERB Large 55mm Heavy 7J key-wound solid Chester silver pocket watch -1900+key -- says 1900 marking, but is key-wound

Antique 1878 coin silver Hampden 18S - 7J - pocket watch - Key wound - working

Or, would it be better to find a "close" mechanical (is it called stem-wound?), or even Quartz movement pocket watch?  What would you suggest?
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Allison van Vegten


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Jim_Ruley
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« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2014, 10:43:27 AM »

The thing that I immediately notice about both of these is the second hand, which I understand was not common in the 1860's.  I'm hoping someone with more knowledge can give more definite advice.

To be fair, my "good" period pocket watch (ca. 1884) also has a second hand.  But it keeps good time Smiley...

My "knock-around" pocket watch is one of the Soviet WWII commemoratives that were cheap and available in the early nineties.  Not sure if these are still available but they are well built and keep good time.  I had several of the real cheap quartz ones, most of which quit working permanently after the first battery replacement.

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Jessamyn
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« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2014, 04:32:23 PM »

Second hands are not really a problem. American watches suddenly became well-made and (relatively) inexpensive at mid-century and often included a second-hand dial. The more delicate numerals in your second link are more appropriate than the chunkier ones in the first. Gold was the standard rather than silver for these typical plain American watches (well, many were gold filled rather than gold!) but there were many Continental watches in silver. The simplicity of the etchings on both of these are good, although the symmetrical central shield of the first is much more typical than the naturalistic botanical of the second. Still, either one would be more accurate than at least 95% of what is being carried at reenactments.

All of that said, do be aware that antique pocket watches can be very fussy. They don't tend to run well unless kept upright, and depending on how and when they've been serviced and handled before you get one, it may just up and quit on you - and it can be very difficult to find someone to work on it, and expensive. Watch repairers are getting fewer and farther between, and many won't take on really old watches at all. You might want to look into that before you commit to one.

And yet - and yet - old watches are really awesome little pieces of machinery, fascinating and beautiful. It is astonishing what delicacy and relative accuracy could be achieved given the technology of the time.
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Allison vV
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« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2014, 11:53:40 AM »

Thank you, both for your thoughts.  It would be really nice if I could find an authentic antique watch for him.  It's amazing that such a tiny piece of machinery could still be running over one hundred years later!  But if they can be fussy, maybe I should look at purchasing a new, less authentic, stem-wound watch?  In other words, is it better to get a fairly expensive antique watch that looks correct for the period, but may eventually, need expensive repairs/maintenance; or get a less expensive reproduction watch that looks "passable" but is stem-wound (maybe battery operated) for durability and easy care?
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Allison van Vegten


"Procrastination is the thief of time. Collar him!" Charles Dickens

"It's the job that's never started as takes longest to finish." J. R. R. Tolkien
Chip
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« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2014, 05:56:40 PM »

I have an original 1850's Swiss silver key wind watch.
It runs extremely well and provides a very interesting demonstration when I open up all of the covers and show people how it works.

However, I am extremely selective about where I will use it.
To be honest, if I am going to be at a field/outdoor event, it is not worth the risk of exposing it to potentially hard duty.
And, I will never take it to an event just to keep time.




Now in the case of a stem wind watch, they were extremely rare during the 1860's. So much so that the average person would not have ever even seen one.
I would not try to do a period demo with a watch that technically doesn't fit well into the period.

My suggestion would be to get a modern watch with a silver case that resembles a period case. (Gold watches were rare in the 1860's. Gold plated watches were not common until the mid-1870's)

Save up your money and eventually get the real deal.
Sometimes you can get lucky and find one that works great and is not extremely expensive.
A friend of mine found a good running Swiss made silver key wind (LOCLE) for $125.00 on ebay.
(Many immigrants brought sturdy Swiss made watches to the US in the 1850's and 1860's)

This is an example of the type of watch you might want to look for.:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Fine-1880s-H-Mathey-Swiss-Keywind-Silver-Hunter-Pocket-Watch-Runs-nds-tlc-/191274104503?pt=Pocket_Watches&hash=item2c88d336b7




« Last Edit: August 09, 2014, 08:37:07 PM by Chip » Logged
mmescher
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« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2014, 11:56:25 AM »

You didn't state whether your brother does soldier with sometimes adverse conditions or whether he does a civilian and, if so, whether he is exposed to weather on a regular basis.  If he is a soldier, I would hesitate to get an antique watch because the first event might include a downpour which kills the watch.

My own watch is a quartz movement, being careful to make sure you don't get one with a calendar feature.  If I lose it, too bad, but not a big chunk of change down the drain.

If you want to personalize your gift, you could get some hair made into a watch fob.  There are vendors who can do this task for you.  But again, such a fob might not be something your brother would want to take to the field.

Michael Mescher
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Allison vV
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« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2014, 12:47:20 PM »

I'm so sorry I didn't reply sooner, Mr. Uhlir.  Thank you for your advice.  I think I will wait and save for a "real" period-correct watch.  He doesn't need one yet so I have some time to make a decision.

Mr. Mescher, my brother will be dressed as a civilian.  We are not "reenactors" in the proper sense of the word.  I have enjoyed the study and construction of a period-correct wardrobe, and now my brother is interested, too.  Our family visits events a couple times a year where I can go dresses for the period, and my brother and I have been "decorations" at the 1850's estate Ward Hall during Christmas time.

So . . . he will not be exposed to weather as one on campaign might be.  I would just ask him to be very careful when we are out of doors if I get him an antique watch Smiley.
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Allison van Vegten


"Procrastination is the thief of time. Collar him!" Charles Dickens

"It's the job that's never started as takes longest to finish." J. R. R. Tolkien
Mike S.
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« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2016, 01:50:50 AM »

I realize that this thread is ancient, however mention was made of "gold plating". Most 19th century watches that sported a gold finish, and were not in fact movements in a solid gold case. were manufactured using a "rolled gold" method. This is where a thin sheet of gold is formed in the manner of a ply with an interior, structural one (usually brass) in the actual  forming of the case. 
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Mike S.
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« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2016, 01:58:08 AM »

I forgot to add;

An even heavier ply of gold was also available, and that process was known as "Gold Filled", which consisted of a a higher micron percentage of gold.
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