Antique Railroad Pocket Watches are another popular collectible item with both train and timepiece enthusiasts. If you’ve considered buying an antique pocket watch like this what are some things that you should be aware of? Who were some of the major players in the railroad watch market? What were some of the specifications for railroad watches? What should you take into consideration when you buy an Antique Railroad Pocket Watch. We’ll take a look at these questions in this article.
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Let’s first take a look at the specifications for an authentic railroad pocket watch. First, these watches were only manufactured in the United States, only unofficial replicas or knockoffs were made elsewhere in the world. Official railroad watches had to have a size 18 or size 16 movement. Another notable difference is that railway standards called for the watch to be open faced and not enclosed in a hinged case and the stem had to be at 12 o’clock. Specifications also called for railroad watches to use Arabic numerals, rather than Roman numerals, and to have precise markings.
The real test of these pocket watches was their accuracy. A railroad pocket watch had to use a minimum of 17 jewels in its movement. The watch had to be able to deal with temperature and positional variations and maintain accuracy with in 30 seconds a week. Setting the watch required using a lever so that the stem could not be inadvertently left out resulting in an inaccurate time. Pinpoint accuracy of these watches was required not only to insure that trains ran on time but to protect the lives and property traveling on them.
Some of the companies that met the strict railway specifications for pocket watches were the Waltham Watch Company, the Illinois Watch Company (famous for their Bunn Special railroad watch), Elgin and Hamilton. While there are other railroad watch companies, these are the major ones that most railroad watch collectors concentrate upon. Many watches by these companies exceeded the railway and government specifications and had special features that make them attractive to pocket watch collectors today.
What should you look for in an antique Railroad Pocket Watch? First, remember that antique means over 100 years old while vintage means more than 20 but less than 100. Railroad pocket watches fall into both categories but you’ll often see a considerable price jump between antique and vintage. Be careful about fakes and replicas. Many replicas are fine pocket watches but don’t have much collectible value. Fakes are sometimes made using old, inferior, watch parts that don’t meet railway specifications. Sometimes people will call an old pocket watch a railroad watch by mistake because they don’t know the specs for one. Before buying always investigate the reputation of the seller to insure a good buying experience.
I hope this overview of How to Buy Antique Railroad Pocket Watches has been helpful to you.