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Hello everyone! About a week ago I purchased my first vintage watch on Ebay, a vintage Waltham that the movement dates back to 1899!

I love that the dial has "American" above Waltham, and the fact that the movement is from 1899 is really impressive. It was fully serviced when I got it so it is running nicely.

15375218

15375219

15375220


The serial number of the movement is 9131134, it is a Hunting configuration of a 1891 movement. Manufactured in 1899.

I admit though, this was my first time stepping into the vintage market space, and I was misinformed when I purchased it. I realize now that this is a pocket watch movement in a wrist watch case. After I purchased it I did some more research and found that wrist watches weren't really sold until 1912ish.

That being said, it is still a beautiful watch that is more than a century old. I enjoy this watch and am glad to have it in my collection, but I did have a bit of a fumble thinking I was buying something different than what I got. Moral of the story, do you research first! Luckily I still love this watch and there is a happy ending to this story.

Does anyone have any information on this model? I don't see "American" above many Waltham logos when I look around.

Thanks!
 

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OntheWrist...Hello.

What a good-looking watch: you choose wisely.

This is called an "0-Size" movement, and it's a "American Waltham Watch Co " Grade, 7 Jewel. Waltham made many 0-Size watches, ranging from 7J to 19J. As my Reference books indicate, the 'top of the line' was called a "Riverside Maximus", and was a 19J. Should you ever wish to do a swap, I assume that the Riverside would be a drop-in fit in this case, and use the same dial...it is quite a Looker of a Movement, and is quite a bit like a scaled-down Railroad Watch: very nicely finished & snazzy.

Your 7 jewel is darn nice, too. Assuming that all's well, I would expect your Waltham to run to within, say, 15 seconds a day...maybe, a little more, but not much! ( With luck, it could be 10 seconds or less...really! ).These 7 jewel watches were very popular, and tend to age very well. And--when it comes to quality--it's nice to realize that Waltham apparently ( since I was not there to over-hear the conversations...) made a marketing decision to differentiate their Grades largely as a function of finish: within a given Model, higher-grade watches were mechanically about the same as lower Grades, it was just that the higher grades were fancier...more damaskeening on the plates / gold train wheels instead of brass / highly-polished steel work / etc. Indeed, there was not even a clear relationship between jewel count and quality: it's generally recognized that some of their nicest, most mechanically advanced Grades, were not their highest jewel-count Models.

I think that your watch represents a really good balance between the case and dial and hands: it really does look to my eye like something that Waltham, themselves, would have made. Very nice.

Oh: feel free to PM me if you ever have any issues with your Waltham: I have a few parts movements, as well as parts in general. I've worked on a few of these, and reckon that I understand them pretty well. They are fun to work on, and go together nicely.

Once again: a Really Nice Looking Watch!

Michael.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you for the info Michael! I really appreciate the detailed response. I'll be sure to PM you if I have an issues!

That is really interesting that their grading was almost solely based on finishing. It makes sense in some regard, but depending on the price difference back in the day I would have expected some performance difference between the high and low grades.

What books do you use as reference? Are there they compilations of old catalogs or something like that?
 

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OntheWrist...Hello.

You cannot go wrong with a copy of the "Complete Price Guide to Watches." I have an older version, Number 33 from 2013, and it still works just fine: much of the information is timeless ( parts of a watch / different escapements / Hallmarks for gold & gold-filled / Swiss Maker's Marks / English Hallmarks / etc ), and even though the Market values of the many watches ( PW & WW ) are out-dated, something like this Book is always good to have around.

Of course, you may buy a new copy, too!

Take a look over at Dave's Watch Parts...he always has a good selection of used price guides and Manufacturer's Catalogues and Service Manuals and Collector's Guides, etc. I daresay that you'll discover a few you like.

As relates to USA PW quality vs performance, well: it's not at all easy to put into a few words, yet it seems fair to suggest that the higher grades were designed about as much to increase income, as to represent superior timekeeping performance. A bit unexpected, perhaps, to those new to this topic, yet still a fair assessment.

In a nutshell: if the higher jewel count / higher Grade watch was specifically sold as a Railroad Watch, that's one thing; if we're talking about other, higher-Grade pieces, that's something else! RR watches were designed to be about the best that the Manufacturer could make, and the real 'claim to fame' of these Marvels was not so much that they were manifestly superior to their non-RR Grade stablemates, as much as that they were designed to function at a very high level for about as long as that era's technology would allow; RR watches were expected--demanded by RR Regulations ( as I've heard...there may have been exceptions )--to run to +/- 30 seconds / week, in real-world service...period.

Having said this, it's also important to realize that a watch not sold as a RR Grade, certainly could function at that level, it's just that ( much being said & done ), more maintenance would be required, and it probably would not last as long.

Consider: many a Moon ago, a late Watchmaker pal of mine--when we first met over the phone & mails--went through an entry-level Elgin of mine, a 16 size, 7 Jewel , open-face, pendant set creation. Owen sent it back with the actual strip of paper from his timing machine: he had Adjusted it to 5 Positions ( just like many 21 or 23 RR Grade watches ), and it was running to within a few seconds a day...just like a RR watch would.

It was a fine example of what could be done with a watch: sure, the RR Grades are just fine 'n dandy, but it's a silly person who counts the little fellows out; give them a chance, and they'll surprise you.

Michael.
 

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That is absolutely gorgeous and while I know the practice of fitting pocket watches into wristwatch cases is frowned upon by some, just like Michael said I think that definitely looks like something that Waltham might have made themselves. Beautiful piece!
 
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