Pocket watch suggestions

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  • #49154
    namonllor1953
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 21
    • Total Posts: 152

    Hi Guys,
    I’m looking for suggestions on a pocket watch. I’m looking for something to learn on.
    Being a single, disabled, homeschooling dad of two, funds are rather limited so please keep that in mind.
    I’ve been looking on ebay for about 3 weeks now and it seems that now that I’m ready to purchase (The Eagle pooped today), prices have shot through the roof and I don’t know what to do.
    I was thinking of possibly just purchasing a movement with dial & hands only but, then do I get one in running condition or not. If I go for “in running condition” do I just spend extra, go for broke and just get a running pocket watch. Well, I closed down all the web pages and decided I’d ask the pros, you guys. You’ve been there, done that…..so, now I’ll listen and learn.

    thanks,
    Ren

    #58804
    willofiam
    Moderator
    • Topics Started: 75
    • Total Posts: 1437

    Hey Ren, the nice thing about buying a working pocket watch is most likely everything is in its right spot, you wont be pulling the rest of your hair out trying to figure out what is missing or what you need to do to get it up and running. This is a very good way to learn how things are supposed to work and function if your investment isnt steep, remembering the possibility of damaging it in the learning process. Beware with ebay or any other place when purchasing a timepiece and not having inspected it thoroughly, “In running condition” doesnt always mean what you may think.

    On the other hand the first pocket watch I bought to work on cost me $18, it did not run and it was a swiss movement. my main reason I bought it was to get used to working with the smaller tools and parts, I had already been working on clocks for some time. With this one I wasnt worried about weather I messed something up or not, the idea was to get the practice with using small screwdrivers, tweezers, dealing with the balance, mainspring, case parts, ect….I took it completely apart and put it back together many times over. Once I was feeling comfortable I bought a bit nicer American pocket watch, still rather cheap, I think $20 from someone I knew, and not working. this was a good challenge for me because it needed alot of work….with alot of study and careful experimentation on repair techniques I was successful at getting it running, but I am also a bit balder than I was…..It did pay off though, I learned alot and acquired a new hat ;) .

    One other idea for learning that I also used when first starting…I found a pile of discarded or unwanted parts. for instance there was a small jar full of balances with broken staffs, perfect for practicing staff removal, mocking the procedure for fitting a new one, also learning to re-true a balance, even dealing with hairsprings and straightening them out, repining collets or studs and making the jigs or tools for the job, dealing with jewels, so on and so on……

    My advice…..start cheap and with whatever…..there will still be nice watches out there when you are ready with the knowledge, know-how and cash……Hope that gives some ideas for you, Have fun….. William

    #58805
    david pierce
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 90
    • Total Posts: 1360

    Ren,
    You seem to have a fine sense of craftsmanship as indicated in the pictures of the tools you made. I do not think you will have any terrible problems working on a watch movement. The problem with watches is most people who begin learning to take them apart and put them together start on the larger size pocket watches because they are larger, slimplier, and it is easier to see the components. This means that there is an increased demand on products that are no longer made, are in comparitavely short supply and cost more. Extremely high quality new Chinese mechanical watch movements can be purchased for around $30.00 and are good learning tools if you can deal with the smaller size. If you take one of these apart and trash out the watch, you can always get another one. If you think you can work on the smaller size components then this could be a low cost alternitive.
    david

    #58806
    daryn
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 2
    • Total Posts: 97

    Hi there,
    One of the most common injuries to pocket watches is a broken balance staff, yard sales and flea markets etc.are full of cheap watches with broken staffs, it’s an easy fault to spot that said you could probably learn a lot from these for very little investment, they won’t of course run but even so the chances are that everything is there as it should be and damaging something won’t bother you one bit!
    Kind regards
    Daryn

    #58807
    tmac1956
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 171
    • Total Posts: 1259

    Ren:

    I’m with David on this one. I did the cheaper (not always that cheap either) “not running” pocket watches on eBay when I started and, although I have learned a great deal (mostly about what NOT to do) if I had it to do over again I would have first went with the working watch option. Esslinger has the Chinese movement that David is talking about, It’s a skeletonized movement that will allow you to see the train much better than the plate watches that you normally find. Additionally, it’s only $12.95 not including shipping.! Should you wish to have a look, here’s the link:

    http://www.esslinger.com/2650s-mechanical-movements-watch-movement.aspx

    Good luck – you are in for an exciting journey! ;)

    Tom

    #58808
    chris mabbott
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 119
    • Total Posts: 1525

    Great answer and sound advice by our very own Mr Pierce. So good in fact that I can’t find anything else to add, imagine that 😆

    So this means David is buying the next round ;)

    #58809
    bernie weishapl
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 58
    • Total Posts: 1218

    Ren when I started I found that 16s watches were the easiest to learn on. Full plate 18s can be a challenge until you get working on wathes down. Just my opinion. I went to garage sales, flea markets, auctions and ebay. Ebay and auctions can be your most expensive per se. There are a lot of watches on ebay that are $50 and down. I started with a working watch because I knew everything was ok. So I just had to study the watch which made it easier for me to learn. The ones you buy that aren’t working most of the time it is a broken balance staff or mainspring. I started with Elgin because it seems the parts for them are much more readily available. As far as buying without case or with case is up to you. My thoughts are I try to buy complete because I found if you buy a non-cased movement that is nice and say pay $25 to say $35 for it and then you have to find a case to fit. Those can cost you from $50 to $110 or more. The cases for $50 or less are not worth buying because they are so worn they are terrible. Don’t ask me how I know this. The other thing that is happening is a lot of these guys selling on ebay are selling the cases for the gold hence a load of movements only for sale. I had one guy told me he makes more money selling the case for the gold and silver and then selling the movements on ebay seperately. Sucks!! So IMHO I would rather pay $50 for a complete watch which is cheaper and once fixed I do sell the watches so I make my money back. I generally look at the buy-it-now and put in $5 to $50. If you watch you can get some decent deals and no there are no $10 watches anymore. I just bought over the last two months 4 complete watches off ebay all for less than $50 each. I just sold one last Friday. A Elgin 17 jewel I fixed for $185. Sorry this is so long but this is how I started for what its worth. :mrgreen:

    #58810
    namonllor1953
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 21
    • Total Posts: 152

    Hi Guys,

    Thanks for the replies, I really apprciate it.
    I bit the bullet this morning and purchased an Elgin, in working order.

    Here’s a couple of photos and watch info:

    Case:good condition with some dents & wear
    The Crystal is Very Good Condition.
    The Dial: is in good condition with a couple hairline fractures.

    Movement: This piece is running strong
    16s, 15 jewels, model 6, grade 312
    stem set, working great, keeps time.
    Estimated year of production 1918
    Movement is stamped as follows
    Elgin Natl Watch Co.
    21332003

    #58811
    daryn
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 2
    • Total Posts: 97

    Hi there,
    Looks like you’ve got a really good “starter watch” there!
    Well done,
    I’m only guessing but I reckon you’ll not be able to sell that on again, being you’re first you’ll be too attached!
    Good luck, I hope it’s a wonderful learning experience. . .
    Daryn Southwest uk

    #58812
    arutha
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 85
    • Total Posts: 1536

    Well done Ren, looks like a nice watch :)
    If you watch Bobs videos on watch servicing it will explain a lot and help you understand the basics needed for taking that watch apart safely and also which tools you will need to do the job. If you have any problems we will do our best to help you out.
    Good luck and keep us posted :)
    Paul.

    #58813
    bernie weishapl
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 58
    • Total Posts: 1218

    That is a nice looking watch Ren. Like Daryn said when you get it tore down, cleaned and oiled you will probably keep that one. The first 3 I did I kept for the grandkids. My son will get the 5 others which were both my granddads and my dads watch. After that I have sold every one I have bought to cover my cost of tools, parts, etc. Went on a clock call today and the lady wanted to see 2 of the 15 j Elgins I had done. She bought both for $150 each. She wanted to give them to her grandsons. So off to ebay to see if I can find a few more bargains. I will do these between my clock work, wood work and gardening. 😆 Enjoy and have some fun.

    #58814
    chris mabbott
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 119
    • Total Posts: 1525

    Nice pick up Ren. Getting attached to your first is an understatement, which is why I became a collector 😆
    Although pocket watches are ok, you can store 400 or more in a medium box, clocks on the other hand :?

    #58815
    david pierce
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 90
    • Total Posts: 1360

    Chris,
    Four hundred watches is a lot of watches. I don’t think that I have seen that many watches in my lifetime. How long have you been working on these things? The quality of your work is excellent and you seem to come up with great restoration innovations. I suspect that you have been at this for a long time.
    david

    #58816
    chris mabbott
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 119
    • Total Posts: 1525

    David my brother, thank you for the nice compliment, coming from a man that knows his stuff as you do, I feel privileged.

    You know those guys that have the first dollar they ever earned, I think that’ fits me with watches 😆
    I got into American watches because my granddad gave me his Elgin 7j 18s, guess I’ve been fiddling and collecting since the late 70s. I’m first and foremost a militaria collector, so WW1 trench watches got involved with medals 😆
    Then I kinda got bored and morphed into the first, early transitional pocket/wrist watch conversions , which I traded etc
    Myself and a little group of collectors, who do NOT repair their items & do not have any inclination to do so, we share, swap, trade etc and sometimes they send me a really bad one to restore for them. In return we help each other with hunting and parts :)
    Because I do everything by hand detailing, it can take 20 hrs + to restore a case.
    I’ve just finished one of my own that was literally green and beginning to get eaten away by verdigris.

    I’d like to make a comment about 18 size watches though.. They’re not as simplistic nor as easy as people think, I mean, yes they’re big but like any other size 0-16 there is a learning curve. Some people seem to think that they are a beginners size, maybe they are, but the same skill is required for them as for their tinier cousins. Personally, I learnt on 18s because that is what I collect, when I eventually started acquiring smaller sizes, the only problem I had was getting used to the stronger loupe 😆
    18 size watches are the granddaddy of them all, they are where it began and in a time of strict gender distinction, these were solely a mans watch, a working man, those that made the industrial revolution into a reality through sweat, blood and guts. Besides, you can see the demaskeening better 😆

    David I’ve never seen 400 antique lathes either but hopefully one day you’ll treat us to a preview :D

    Ok I’m rambling over breakie 😆

    #58817
    tmac1956
    Participant
    • Topics Started: 171
    • Total Posts: 1259

    Ren:

    I don’t know if anyone made this suggestion or not – or whether you need it or not, but taking good pictures has kept me out of trouble when it comes time to reassemble a watch, especially when it will be a while before you get back into the job.

    Well, that certainly is a nice first watch to begin learning with,

    Good luck!
    Tom

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namonllor1953Pocket watch suggestions