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and very rarely ever needs repairs, once you fix them." - Dan/Panther

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Wrist & Pocket Watches

Started by finlover, September 23, 2009, 03:33:13 PM

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Split from the topic "Turquoise '64 500

Thanks for the compliments, gentlemen!  It means a lot coming from you guys.  I'm wearing my What Would Dennis Do? bracelet right now!  ;D

The phone does look bluer in the photos than it actually is.  Maybe because I took them in the morning in the shade.

Now, about that watch.  I suspect like most people on this forum, I'm drawn to unusual, retro or well-made things, including mechanical watches!  I'll take a few shots of that one tomorrow morning and post them here.  It's a reproduction of a watch used by the Italian navy in the '40s.  A guy in Ohio built it for me.  It uses a handwound Swiss pocket watch movement so it's really large.  The strap comes from another guy in California who makes them by hand.

In the meantime, here are a few photos of my main watch--the Breitling Super Avenger!  I like 'em big and this one is--48.4 millimeters across.  

And another of my favorites, a Panerai power reserve:

Any other watch nuts out there?


46.4mm-that's a pretty darn big watch.

My daily wear watch is an 18-size, 17 jewel Elgin. An 18-size American watch is 44.86mm, so with the case added it's about 54mm across. I can't imagine wearing something that big on my wrist.

Although I'm definitely a pocket watch guy, I have an immense amount of appreciation for a well-done wrist watch. The two which you show definitely fall into that category.

Anyway, here are a few of my favorites. All are, of course, American made movements. They're basic, but functional. The Elgin is superbly accurate, especially for an unadjusted 17 jewel movement. It loses about 15 seconds a week, which is within railroad time standards, and as well as most mechanical watches will do today.

Here are a few of my favorites:
The above-mentioned Elgin from 1916 in a Star-brand nickel case. I really like the demaskeen on this movement, and the upper balance cap jewel is in a gold setting

Another daily-wear one, that doesn't get used quite as much as the Elgin- a 12-size Waltham 17 jewel model 1896 from about 1915 in a Dueber 20-year GF case

The oldest I own- a "National Watch Company"(would become Elgin) "JT Ryerson" 7 jewel keywind movement from 1874. This one's in a massive Dueber "silverine" case with an extra-thick crystal. The case seems to be to be a fairly popular open-faced case for keywinds, as I see a lot of watches in them, as well as loose cases up for sale.

I'm normally not a fan of gilt-finish movement, but something about this one makes it quite striking in person.

Finally, an Elgin grade 103 15-jewel movement from 1886. At the time, this would have been a highly jeweled movement. It even uses a diamond cap on the balance. It's also one of the earliest I've seen with a demaskeen finish. It's in a Fayh's "Oresilver" case, which probably dates to the Great Depression. Given the quality of the movement, it probably would have originally been housed in a solid gold or gold-filled hunting case. It's currently awaiting a mainspring(which you can see is missing in the photo) but is otherwise an excellent time keeper.

You'll notice that most of these are running. The first two I showed-the Elgin and Waltham-get wound every day. The others get wound at least once every week or two.


WOW! :o  What a bevy of beautiful watches!!  I love the look of the movement on that Waltham.  My Italian navy watch has a display back showing an ETA/Unitas 6497 with Geneva stripes and blued screws.  Can't wait to throw some photos up tomorrow!


By and large, I think that American companies made some of the prettiest movements around, even on their low-grade watches.

Here's a little 6s Lady's Waltham model 1890 "Seaside" 7 jewel movement in a Brooklyn "Eagle" 8K gold case

And, another cheapie from my collection-an Illinois 16S 11J

And, here's one final example-a 12S 17J Elgin from the '20s. The balance and cock are missing in the photo, as it needs a needed a new staff and some hairspring work. I installed the new staff, but still need to poise and true it, as well as untangle the hairspring. Anyway, without the balance installed, you can see how much attention there was to detail even on the parts that aren't normally visible


Nice watches gents.  My watch these days is a Seiko Kinetic that I bought back in 97'.  I have puny little wrists so a big watch would look awkward on me, the Seiko is one and a half inches across.  (Don't have any metric tapes)  

I think I'm on my 7th or 8th wristband on this watch, lost track over the years.  They are leather as I find the metal ones pinch me.  

Dennis Markham

Wow!  Ben those are beautiful time pieces!  I really like the pocket watches with the chains.  You don't see a lot of them these days.  Very, very nice.

Greg, your wrist watches are very nice as well.  Being an aviator myself, I love the Breitling watches.  They are very expensive.  I would love to have one some day but never really thought of spending the money it takes to own one.  The next time you are in an airport environment, you'll notice most of the airline pilots wearing one of those.  I have the cheap version, a Citizen Eco Drive "Sky Hawk" which is an aviator type watch only a fraction of the expense.  It uses solar energy for power.  It has all the dials and scales on it.  I actually knew how to use all that stuff at one time----for navigation but I think it's there for show more than practical use.


Dennis, you're right about the bells and whistles being mostly for show.  My Breitling is a chronograph, but do you think I've ever timed anything with it--NOPE...


Hey fin:

I like the Mediterranean Blue color of your watch (WE color code -57) and the fact your watch does not have a single scratch. Did you polish it with Novus 2 by any chance?




I am curious to know where do you get the springs missing from your pocket watch collection? Old stock? Is there someone in the US that makes them?



Quote from: JorgeAmely on September 24, 2009, 12:37:49 AM
Hey fin:

I like the Mediterranean Blue color of your watch (WE color code -57) and the fact your watch does not have a single scratch. Did you polish it with Novus 2 by any chance?

Gracias, Amigo,
My secret to avoiding scratches is that before I leave the house, I slip a Mahogany Brown paper bag over my hand and secure it with a Rose Beige rubber band.  It's very stylish!



There are companies in Switzerland who make mainsprings for all the old American pocketwatches.

Originally, the springs were made of blue steel. Steel isn't that great of a choice, as it will rust easily and then break. It also easily "sets", meaning that it looses some of its spring power.

Here's a photo of the spring removed from the above watch.

You can see that, fully expanded, it's only about twice the size of the barrel, which is also in the photo. For the watch to work properly-meaning keep good time and run for a full 30 hours-the spring should be at least 3 times the size of the barrel. A new spring will actually stretch out almost into a straight line.

Back in the old days(even up through the '80s) it was considered proper to replace the mainspring every time the watch was serviced. As recently as 2 years ago, a new steel spring was no more than $5 for most watches.

Now, you can get alloy springs, which are supposed to be unbreakable and never set, for most American watches. A few years ago, they were about $10 each. Now they're $15-25,.

Most of the time, I just leave a watch be with the spring it has, but when they need one, I use an alloy spring since they give better performance and are much safer for the watch.

I have a spring on hand for the one pictured above-I just haven't take the time to install it yet.



Are these watches made in this day and age or have they gone into obsolescence (just like the rotary phone)?



Quote from: foots on September 23, 2009, 12:20:50 PM
I too noticed that watch band. I like watch bands like that. Not to get off subject but do you by any chance have a picture of your watch?
Well here is the watch that's attached to that band.  Marina Militare means Navy in Italian apparently.  Hope you like it!


Wow!  Shocking neat watch.  And huge!


I'm not normally a fan of big watches, but I'd wear that one just because of the killer luminous markings.  There's enough radium there to light up a small town!