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Discussion Starter #1
I love the look of the Hamilton Model 23 military pocket watches but have some questions esp in light of some of Ray MacDonald's introductory comments.

1. Do these watches keep good time? I have an Alsta pocket watch that my wife gave me in 1978 that keeps very good time, I think. Plus or minus a minute a week I would consider good.

2. Is it impractical to wear one of these on a daily basis? Is the watch likely to be damaged in my pocket? (I have a desk job.)

3. Any idea how much I should be willing to pay for one in top notch condition?

4. What does a reputable watch repairer charge to clean and lubricate a watch like this?

5. Would you say, relatively speaking, that the Model 23 is a rare watch or in plentiful supply?

Thanks,
Paul Dulaney
 

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I'll try to answer your questions, but up front I'll say that I am not a fan of mechanical chronographs. Simple time only watches are my area of interest.
1. A good pocket watch (and Hamilton made the best) should keep time within 30 sec a week if clean and adjusted well. As they get older they may lose a bit of accuracy but these days you can get atomic time on tap from your PC so who cares?
2. Not impractical to wear daily but you'll need some sort of watch fob to keep from dropping it. These watches don't have shock protection so a fall is fatal to the balance spring and often the gear train gets damaged as well.
3. Looks like $500-$750 is the going price but I don't see many of them. I think eBay or a watch dealer could serve as a guideline better than I can.
4. Look to pay at least 50% more for a complicated mechanism like this one. Parts may be hard to get as well. I know even simple Hamiltons are getting harder to fix. At least $150 for service plus parts.
5. I have never seen one so my initial thought would be scarce. However there are some for sale on the Internet so maybe you'll find one. I would think a military watch would get hard use so be careful.
You can get almost a railroad grade straight time Hamilton for that money that's 50 years older and beautifully made, and will keep just as good time. That's where my money would go on a pocket watch.
 

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Hi -

First of all, welcome to the forum! Not often we get questions from people who actually use pocket watches on a daily basis...

Agree largely with Ray here, but here is my 2 cents' worth...

The Hamilton Model 23 were military issue and were made to military specifications. This means that a lot of what made Hamiltons so very attractive - their superior finishing and careful adjustment - were not implemented on these watches as extensively as it would have been in the commercial market.

That said, a properly adjusted and regulated example of this watch should keep excellent time, depending on a number of conditions. As a pocket watch, it will largely be kept in one position (winding stem up) and should re regulated in that position to achieve its best time keeping abilities. Whether you will achieve that plus/minus 1m/week depends on the watch, its shape, state of repair and state of regulation.

How impractical are pocket watches these days? Fairly. I only occasionally wear vests with suits, which have pockets for such watches, and of the two pocket watches I have, both are in dire need of restoration, so they're not candidates for use...

The questions of how much you should be willing to pay is something that only you can answer and depends on why you want it. :)

The Model 23 is slowly heading to a relative scarce status, especially for really excellent examples. There were simply too many made for it to be considered really rare. The slow movement towards scarcity is that demand seems to be fairly strong, but like all collectible items, it depends on the state of the watch and whether it comes with original packaging, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks, Ray, for your response. After I posted I noticed that the pocket watch that my wife gave me has a feature called Incabloc, which I gather from Wikipedia is a type of shock protection.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
John,

Thanks for the welcome. Your comment about the watch being a military model is well taken -- it does seem as though the materials used to make it were not the best.

Paul
 

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Hi -

Not so much not the best, but rather to MilSpec. That can be sometimes even better than the best available commercially, but sometimes it's "make do" rather than "the damn bestest". :)

JohnF
 

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Yes, Incabloc is the most famous brand name for shock protection. Basically it is a spring type mechanism that encloses the balance wheel jewels and pivots so that if the watch gets bumped, the balance staff remains intact. Most older pocket watches don't have an Incabloc system and the picture of the Hamilton model 23 chrono doesn't seem to show one.
However, if you're careful a pocket watch can be worn on a daily basis. Railroad engineers and conductors took them on train trips every day and that must have been just as hard on them as sitting in your pocket while you work at a desk. Just make sure to have a safety chain or some sort of watch fob.
My uncle used to keep a lovely Hamilton 992B in his pocket tied to his belt loop with a shoelace, and he was a woodworker. That watch still runs great although my son-in-law now keeps it in a case.
 
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