WatchUSeek Watch Forums banner

1 - 16 of 16 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
836 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was looking through my pocket watch collection yesterday, picking out the less desirable specimens that might be eBay listing candidates, when I noticed a pocket watch I had purchased a while ago...a Columbus railroad pocket watch with a painted locomotive on the dial.

Even though I have a small antique pocket watch collection and enjoy looking at the movements every now and then, their inner working are still pretty much a mystery to me.

Anyway, I would very much appreciate finding out more about the watch.

1) Does the dial look original or restored?

I'm not exactly a weakling, but the only way I can pull up the crown to set and wind the watch is by carefully prying it up with the assistance of some type of dull edged prying tool. Even so, it still requires quite a bit of force. But once the crown is up, the watch sets and winds very well.

2) Is the crown issue serious?

3) The watch has two (or is it three?) back covers. One of the inner case backs has 14k engraved. This is the only place on the watch that 14k appears. Does that mean the entire watch is solid 14k gold?

4) It runs very well, is quite accurate, and is in nice condition. Should I get it serviced?

I would like to offer my advance thanks to everyone offering answers to my questions, and of course for any suggestions or advice. It will be very much appreciated.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
18,169 Posts
I have never seen a 4-4-0 engine like that on a Columbus. The engine design predates the watch by multiple decades so is probably a non-original dial, added to spice up the watch.

The watch case is two sheets of 14kt gold sandwiching a sheet of brass. The casemaker claimed it would take 10 years of daily use and would still not wear through the gold. (Rolled Gold Plate is the usual name for this... it is thicker than electroplating and more durable but it is not solid gold so is not worth melting down for the gold - fortunately!! :))

Old watches should always be serviced! Or they should be locked away until they get an owner who will service them :-d

I hope that helps.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
243 Posts
1 To me the dial does look restored.
2 Not sure about the crown
3 the watch is gold plated not solid gold, the 10 years above the 14k tells you how long they'd guarantee the plating.
4 every watch needs service now and then, if it's been awhile get it serviced
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
48 Posts
3 the watch is gold plated not solid gold, the 10 years above the 14k tells you how long they'd guarantee the plating.
Actually it's gold filled. There's a big difference between "gold plated" and gold filled. Gold plated uses a electroplating process that's leaves a very thin layer of gold on the base metal while gold filled is 2 thin sheets of gold with a layer of base metal pressed between the 2 sheets of gold which is a lot thicker than gold plate. The case companies guaranteed them to not to wear though to the base metal for a certain number of years and 10 years being the lowest they were usually guaranteed for. The companies got themselves in trouble early on by guaranteeing these cases to wear up to 25 years which is longer than they would actually last and after a few years people started bringing their cases back to the jewelers where they purchased them to be replaced or repaired and some of these case companies drug their feet about honoring their warranty which put jewelers in a real bind with their customers. The government finally stepped in and put a stop to the bogus guaranteeing sometime around 1913 I believe it was. Not exactly sure about the date.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
836 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you very much for the informative replies.

I suspected it was gold plated or more likely gold filled, but the designation "14k" along with "10 YEARS" confused me. I've had solid gold watches with "14k" or "18k" and no 10 or 20 or 25 year designation. I always assumed (correctly I believe) that a simple "14k" or "18k" with nothing else meant solid gold. But this is the first watch I've had with both "14k" and "XX YEARS. The gold filled watches I've owned were identified as "GF" or "filled" or "gold filled."

Regarding the dial, I myself am of the opinion that either the entire dial has been restored, or someone just added the locomotive. The dial just looks too good to be original. However, the seller assured me that the dial was original. I had my doubts but bought the watch anyway.

Don't some watch dials routinely depict older scenes or objects, perhaps in an attempt to make the watch "retro" or look older than it really is? Does the fact that the locomotive predates the watch itself necessarily mean the image doesn't belong on the dial? Of course I understand that experience is what counts here, and if an experienced person says he's never seen that image on a Columbus pocket watch before, then I will not dispute the fact.

Once again, I appreciate and thank those who have helped me by providing information.

I was going to keep the watch if the dial was original and/or if the case was solid gold, but I guess I'll sell it. Frankly, even though I've owned several, I avoid gold filled and especially gold plated watches...much prefer solid stainless steel or better yet solid sterling or coin silver. I have a few sterling and coin silver pocket watches which as far as I'm concerned are the best timepieces I own.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
836 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Well, I have some bad news to report. While carefully winding the watch a few minutes ago, halfway through I heard something snap and lost all resistance. I definitely did not overwind it. Now the crown just keeps turning and turning without any resistance. Does that mean the mainspring is most likely broken? Perhaps the fact that the crown was (still is) so hard to pull up contributed to this new problem.

I'm wondering how much a watchmaker will charge to repair and service the watch, and if it's worth doing. I'm guessing it will run about $150. I'm also wondering if a replacement mainspring is even available. According to the serial number on the movement, the manufacture date is 1897-1898.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18,169 Posts
After Jan 1, 1924 the US Federal Trade Commission prohibited wear-thru dating.
 

·
Zenith Forum Co-moderator
Joined
·
19,058 Posts
I'd say you are right about the mainspring. Once a replacement has been obtained, it can easily be repaired as part of a routine service. The trouble is usually getting a new one of the right length, thickness and strength. Only a professional watchmaker will be able to help here, I'm afraid.

Hartmut Richter
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
836 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
After Jan 1, 1924 the US Federal Trade Commission prohibited wear-thru dating.
Does that mean that all gold filled and gold plated watches produced after 1/1/24 that have "14k" or "18k" engraved on the case somewhere must also include "gold filled" or "GF" or something similar nearby to differentiate them from solid gold cases? And no more 10, 20, or 25 year warranteed etc.?

Can one assume, then, that a watch with just "14k" or "18k" without any other words nearby...are solid gold?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18,169 Posts
Does that mean that all gold filled and gold plated watches produced after 1/1/24 that have "14k" or "18k" engraved on the case somewhere must also include "gold filled" or "GF" or something similar nearby to differentiate them from solid gold cases? And no more 10, 20, or 25 year warranteed etc.?

Can one assume, then, that a watch with just "14k" or "18k" without any other words nearby...are solid gold?
If it were from the UK, yes. Their laws are consistent, clear, and enforced. From the US, sometimes...
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,429 Posts
Can one assume, then, that a watch with just "14k" or "18k" without any other words nearby...are solid gold?
The only wording I trust on US made cases is "Warranted 14K US Assay" or "Warranted 18K US Assay." I have never encountered a case marked as such that was NOT solid gold.

For any other case marked as being solid gold, I'd want to see the full mark. There are handful of well-know "14k" marks that are never 14K(Napoleon is one that comes to mind). Certain case makers, like Roy and J&S, only made gold cases so their marks are trustworthy regardless of what they say. Some makers have their own peculiarities-Dueber cases marked 14K with a stamped anchor are gold filled, whereas Dueber cases marked 14K and a raised anchor are solid gold.

Handle enough solid gold cases, and you'll be able to recognize them with very good accuracy only by feel. This is the most reliable method with American cases.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
836 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
The only wording I trust on US made cases is "Warranted 14K US Assay" or "Warranted 18K US Assay." I have never encountered a case marked as such that was NOT solid gold.

For any other case marked as being solid gold, I'd want to see the full mark. There are handful of well-know "14k" marks that are never 14K(Napoleon is one that comes to mind). Certain case makers, like Roy and J&S, only made gold cases so their marks are trustworthy regardless of what they say. Some makers have their own peculiarities-Dueber cases marked 14K with a stamped anchor are gold filled, whereas Dueber cases marked 14K and a raised anchor are solid gold.

Handle enough solid gold cases, and you'll be able to recognize them with very good accuracy only by feel. This is the most reliable method with American cases.
Thank you for the information.

Yes, I understand that solid gold cases have quite a specific feel, which I am usually able to easily recognize. There's nothing like solid gold, even though for some reason not related to value, I prefer sterling or coin silver. Prefer meaning I just like the way silver looks. Obviously given a choice between gold and silver value I'll take the gold.

I've never had a solid gold watch that was marked anything other than a simple "14k" or "18k." And have never owned or even seen a solid gold watch marked "Warranted 14K US Assay" or "Warranted 18K US Assay." Now that you've enlightened me, however, I'm going to have to be more careful determing what's solid gold and what's filled/plated. Thus far I've been going by the "feel" of solid gold, and the markings "14k" and "18k" gold alone.

I had an antique solid 18k gold Omega wristwatch (38mm case) that was simply marked "18k" on the back. I sold it for a tidy sum, and the buyer was very happy with it. We were both positive it was solid gold, which I still have no reason to doubt. I certainly hope I did not mislead him...

I think there's less confusion with sterling and coin silver pocket watches. I think I'll stick to silver watches from now on.

I'm still left with the decision as to what to do with the Columbus. To repair or not to repair and to hold or to sell.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,429 Posts
Swiss cases(as on your Omega) are a different story. I'd expect it was likely marked "18K .750" in a cartouche, and that's a marking I'd tend to trust.

My comments above on case markings should ONLY be taken to apply to American-made cases.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18,169 Posts
Swiss cases(as on your Omega) are a different story. I'd expect it was likely marked "18K .750" in a cartouche, and that's a marking I'd tend to trust.

My comments above on case markings should ONLY be taken to apply to American-made cases.
This problem commonly exists only on American made pocket watches. Europe has always had adhered to regulations with hallmarking. And by the era of wrist watches, even American markings are clearer and reliable.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
836 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
I have an update and some new information regarding my Columbus pocket watch.

I sent it to Mark Sirianni, who is quite well known. He agreed the mainspring needed replacement, but after keeping the watch two months he gave up trying to find a replacement mainspring, and did not troubleshoot the crown problem. I mentioned that I was under the impression that a a useable, although not perfect, mainspring could be fabricated from a similar one, but he disagreed.

In the meantime I was lucky to find a very local and apparently a very good watchmaker. Found him on Craigslist.

Along with seven other watches that are in various states of disrepair, I gave him the Columbus and asked him to try and fix it first. A couple of days ago he called to say that he had repaired it. He explained that the mainspring was not damaged, but in the process of winding the watch that last time the mainspring somehow slipped off whatever it's supposed to be atttached to, and in the process stripped something. He was able to replace the stipped part and also reattach the spring. I don't have the watcch in hand yet, but he assured me it's working very well, and is keeping excellent time. And oh yes, he also repaired the hard to pull out crown and stem issue. All for $50, which in my neck of the woods is a bargain.

He said he's sure the dial is original, but that the case has been replated. I'm not going to comment on the first watchmaker...at least not at this point.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18,169 Posts
Good news! Thanks for the update. It is good to see another Columbus back in service. |>
 
1 - 16 of 16 Posts
Top