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Discussion Starter #1
I've been getting interested in mechanical pocket watches as of late, and would perhaps like to make this into a hobby of mine, but I'm a bit lost when it comes to types of watches and how they work.

I would like my first pocket watch to be a keeper, something I can bring with me wherever I go (perhaps for the rest of my life) and maintain myself, but I'm not going to spend insane amounts of money. $200-$300 tops. (I'm 20 and poor.) Perhaps I can throw in a few hundred more for something special.

I'm deciding between an antique and a fresh-made watch. I would like to own a watch with a history behind it, but I also like many of the Charles-Hubert watches I see. Charles-Hubert is only a 20 year old company though. It seems the old-time watch makers aren't making a good selection of pocket watches anymore, and nowhere near my price range. Anyways, all pocket watches were new at some point, so buying a new one is alright with me.

I like German things, a German-made watch would be great, perhaps there's pocket watch makers in Germany I could visit when I get around to traveling there. Or I could eBay an old German watch, but there don't seem to be many around.

What are good books or resources I can get to help me get started? Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated. Questions are welcome as well. :)
 

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I personally wouldn't buy a new pocket watch, for a number of reasons. #1 Most are cheap quartz crap #2 most new mechanical watches will cost a fortune #3 there are TONNES of antique watches within your price range #4 anything old will maintain value.

You can find lots of watches that were a little lower end that go for cheap, or just ebay postings that are sort of vague let you get a chance at nicer deals. At 200 to $300 you can still get a pretty nice vintage watch depending on what brand, or how collectible that specific watch is.

Maintaining your own watch is great... if you have the tools and knowledge. I would love to maintain my own watches as well, but I lack the time and money to aquire such a skill and toolset at the moment.

Someone else will have to chime in about the german watches because i'm not help there.
 

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Mechanical watches are a bit like cars; it <sounds> like a good idea to "maintain" them yourself (especially after seeing a repair bill), but the reality is a bit more complicated then that. You certainly wouldn't want to "learn" on a watch that you also want to be a "keeper", 'cause there's a fair to middling chance you'll destroy it the first time out.

If you want to learn, troll the 'bay for common 15 jewel size 12 or higher pocket watch movements without cases (you can get them for less then $20 on average), a loupe, decent tweezers and screwdrivers and some watch oil. Probably cost you $100 or so all. Then practice until you can take them apart and put them back together and still have them work. Get some books on watch repair from the library to help with the basics (and there's a lot of material on the net as well) You might have to buy a few more movements. Once you've got that down, you can start looking for a decent cased watch to maintain. But remember that tinkering with watches takes a lot of practice to be any good.

Otherwise, you'll probably want to find yourself a decent local watchmaker or enthusiast who can help you select and buy a good vintage watch, and who can do the regular service required.
 

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Like mentioned great idea to repair yourself, but I have found 2 guys in the uk that can service them cheap for me, so ask your local watch repair guy how much it would cost to service a PW. When searching for a Pocket watch avoid keywind PW as parts can be harder to find. And also stay away from pin lever movements as these tend to wear down, nothing wrong with them I own one but most were never serviced and hard to take a part. Dont get me wrong my ingersoll was super cheap and runs great even though its a pin lever movemen.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Hmm, I've found that Charles-Hubert Paris is actually a Hong Kong based company, and most (affordable) modern pocket watches are Chinese or Japanese imitations of Swiss movements. (No wonder it was so hard to find anything about the company history or location, even on their website.)

What I want is a European-made mechanical pocket watch. I would prefer a skeletonized watch but it seems these were uncommon in earlier times. It's just the vintage watches seem a little plain to me, but I don't want something from Hong Kong either. Perhaps I'll go with vintage after all. :think:

I'm looking at Soviet pocket watches on eBay and many are suspiciously affordable. I am paranoid about buying something that isn't authentic and feeling like a fool 10 years later. I am also wary of buying something that doesn't keep good time.

So unless someone can suggest an (affordable) European watch maker that still makes pocket watches, I'm most likely going vintage watch hunting. b-)
 

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If you're worried about how well it keeps time then look to get at least 17 jewels. 17 is considered "fully jeweled"

Are you located in Europe? Is that why youre looking in that direction? Because there were some really good american watch manufacturers that made some good stuff at the start of the century.

And also good luck finding a skeleton watch :p
 

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Discussion Starter #7
If you're worried about how well it keeps time then look to get at least 17 jewels. 17 is considered "fully jeweled"

Are you located in Europe? Is that why youre looking in that direction? Because there were some really good american watch manufacturers that made some good stuff at the start of the century.

And also good luck finding a skeleton watch :p
Plenty of skeleton watches to be found from Charles Hubert, Rapport of London, Desperado, etc.

But these are modern manufacturers. (Except for Rapport of London, they go back to the turn of the century I think.)

I'm not in or from Europe, I just like Europe in general, I figure that it's not so much about the watch itself as the history and flavor of it, which is why I hesitate to buy a watch made in Hong Kong. :-s

At this point though I'm beginning to feel that a good European watch (antique or not) is going to break the bank no matter what, so I don't know about this future hobby of mine. Just not comfortable paying 300 dollars plus for a plain-as-paper, open-faced watch, even if it is old or quality-made. Still sizing up the Soviet stuff, but if I know the Soviets, they didn't build things to last, or even function at anything but a rudimentary level.
 

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Why does it have to be European?

100 years ago, American made watches were the best in the world. Good American railroad grade pocket watches are well within your budget, plus will be much higher quality and many times more repairable than just about anything coming out of China now. Look for a Hamilton 992, an Illinois Bunn Special, or a Waltham Vanguard to get quality as good as you could want within your budget.
 

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Why does it have to be European?

100 years ago, American made watches were the best in the world. Good American railroad grade pocket watches are well within your budget, plus will be much higher quality and many times more repairable than just about anything coming out of China now. Look for a Hamilton 992, an Illinois Bunn Special, or a Waltham Vanguard to get quality as good as you could want within your budget.
I'm much more interested in the looks and design of a watch than its time-keeping.

If a watch has an engraved design or visible movement, I'm interested. Heck, if it's from the Art Deco period I'm interested, or even a hunter case model, but the railroad watches are just too plain for me. I want something that's easy on the eyes.
 

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Well, you can always get an American railroad grade movement in a glassback case. Most American movements are more decorated than ANYTHING ever made in Europe.

 
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I was going to say the same thing Ben. I really love Illinois watches. And while they are all plain open front you can display that gorgeous movement. You can get other watches by American makers that do have a nice art deco look as well.

Also I should have rephrased. Good luck finding a vintage skeleton watch within budget.
 

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Also I should have rephrased. Good luck finding a vintage skeleton watch within budget.
Actually, good luck finding ANY vintage skeletons. They are few and far between because, by and large, good taste prevailed in watchmaking back then.

Skeleton watches, or at least ones which were skeletonized from the front, are a relatively modern fad. Most original skeleton watches, like Dudleys, are only so from the back plate and have normal full dials. The antique watches I've seen that were so modified with skeleton dials have largely been modern creations. A friend of mine keeps records of the 1883 model Walthams that come up for sale on Ebay, and he has seen many of these that have "reappeared" as skeletonized watches after having been sold once as a normal, whole, unmutilated watch.

I'm an Illinois fan also, although Walthams are my first love.

Incidentally, most popular American watches were also made in hunting cased versions.
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
I was going to say the same thing Ben. I really love Illinois watches. And while they are all plain open front you can display that gorgeous movement. You can get other watches by American makers that do have a nice art deco look as well.

Also I should have rephrased. Good luck finding a vintage skeleton watch within budget.
I'm not under any illusions about finding a vintage skeleton, I'm talking about modern ones.




And another...



I guess these might seem a bit gaudy if your eyes are accustomed to old-school vintage watches. What they lack in "personality" (being manufactured in Hong Kong with copied Swiss movements) they make up for in (French-styled) design. But they are in the $90-$300 range and come with a lifetime guarantee. Charles-Hubert are generally well-reviewed as a watch making company, though they are pretty shy about revealing their locale. There are older watch makers making skeletons, most notably Rapport of London, seen below:

rpw56c_s.jpg

I'm just not so interested in railroad watches really. The hundreds of $ are justified if I'm buying either something with a history in Europe and an engraving of some sort or if I'm buying a watch that's eye-candy.
 

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You seem to have made up your mind on the Hubert, which if that's what you want that's alright.

I'm just trying to point out legitimate alternatives to what I consider to be the overpriced modern Chinese stuff.

I'm also trying to figure out just what you mean by a "history." While most of them are long gone, the American makers have every bit as rich of a history-and in many cases more so-than their European counterparts. Most of the industry as it exists today exists because of the work of the American makers. Factory records still exist for many of these, and for some brands, it's possible to find finishing dates and original buyers by the serial number. That's a lot more than most European watches can do, and most of the ones that can do it will charge anywhere from $100 on up to do it.

Although many American collectors do focus on railroad watches, the American industry made well over 100 million watches and in as many styles as you could possibly want. If you want hunting cases, they are certainly abundant. You can find plain polished, engine turned, box hinge, multicolor, scalloped rim, or with pretty much anything you could imagine engraved on them. You can find open faced cases with the same engravings, or with inlays of animals or other things in the backs. You can find art deco cases with patterned backs and bezels, and even square, cushion, pentagon, or octogon cases. If you want interesting dials, you can find fancy dials, runic dials, or even dials with pictures fired into the enamel. That's not to mention that you can take movements that are better decorated than anything else and put them in display cases so that you can carry the watch and show off the movement at the same time.

Many of the above can be had for as much as what one will pay for a new Chinese piece. Plus, unlike the Chinese watches and most European brands, factory parts are still available for most of the more common American watches.
 

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I'm not under any illusions about finding a vintage skeleton, I'm talking about modern ones. The hundreds of $ are justified if I'm buying either something with a history in Europe and an engraving of some sort or if I'm buying a watch that's eye-candy.

Just as a reference, a Swiss skeleton movement (like the 6497-1: ETA Mechanical Watch Movements) retails for nearly $300...that's just the movement, no case. But it gets you a decent quality movement that will probably last longer then you.

Chinese movements aren't necessarily a bad direction to go, but you're paying for names and styling. If you go that route, buy from a store where you can walk in and see before you buy, and make sure there's a warrantee. The biggest problem I've seen with the chinese stuff is quality control, so you want to monitor the watch very carefully for the first while to ensure that it keeps accurate time and has a reserve time appropriate to the specs. If it seems off, take it back and ask for another one. Eventually you'll find a good one, and once you do you'll be reasonably set.
 

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I would like my first pocket watch to be a keeper, something I can bring with me wherever I go (perhaps for the rest of my life) and maintain myself, but I'm not going to spend insane amounts of money. $200-$300 tops. (I'm 20 and poor.) Perhaps I can throw in a few hundred more for something special.
2 places: Flea Market, Garage Sale

There are wonderous pocket watches that can be found for your price range (even lower) 200-300 in the garage sale world could buy you a nice piece if the people selling it have no idea wth it is :D Again 200-300 in the garage sale world could disapear in a sec if you don't know what your doing. I'd suggest choosing 1 thing you like: ie you want the watch to be German and going off of that, researching the movements most German companies of the time used etc, but dabling a bit in other companies, so if you see something that you like even if she isn't German you can guesstimate and make a purchase if it appeals to you.

I'm 22 and I'm in a similar situation but I'm not as precise about what maker I'd want. I'd suggest going to a couple local Flea Markets and Garage Sales if there are any in your area and seeing if anything is to your liking, every time I head out to one of them I'm able to see at least 1-2 watches I'd nab for the 20-40 doller range that are either real work horses or look fantastic. I recently got into the addiction of pocket watches and picked up this Elco at a local flea market for way less than $100 :):





Shes a workhorse, has a history and is rolled gold with a nice design on the side sections of the watch. The movement is pretty in its own way :) (Some might call it basic, but I like the whole outline of the movement and how clean cut she is:D) Shes Swiss and she was retailed to the Canadian market :)

I wish you luck on finding a pocket watch, sometimes its pure luck that you stumble upon something you like and sometimes your prepared and you run into something your looking for.

Regards,

Igor
 

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I'm 24. My best-quality pocketwatch is my ca. 1950 Ball-record railroad watch. My daily timekeeper:

 

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you mentioned you like german made items. I'm not sure about watch makers but i do know that you can find german watch cases.



mine has a swiss movement


needs new glass and hands but still works

 

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The following is a list of German watch brands: List of German Watch Brands
But not all of them make pocket watches. You can click on any names to see more info on the brands.

There are many pocket watches books out there but there is very little on Germany pocket watches specifically. The most famous German watch brand is probably A. Lange & Sohne, but their pocket watches are priced in the thousands and sometimes even in the hundreds of thousands range (very expensive)
 
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