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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've always loved pocket watches, I don't know why, I just do.

I had a cheap, open face, stem-wind that I dropped and broke o|. Now, after getting a bit of the finances in order.

What's a semi-good, hunter-style pocket watch to start with?

Not looking for real collector value, just something that's going to keep time and look interesting at the same tim.
 

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Anything above 15 jewels and made by a good American watch company ought to be good.
 

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Rather broad and open ended question. You can buy new Swiss watches using ETA 6498's in the $1000 range; good, solid design; full warrantee with shock protection, etc. For significantly less, you can find 10-20 year old Molijna's in often gaudy cases for $40 or less; probably as good and solid as the ETA's, but less "flashy". The Chinese have been flooding the market lately, but that's a crap shoot. Quality ranges from "nearly as good as the Swiss", to "you're lucky if it works when you buy it". Price and brand are the key; pay the extra money to buy from a higher-profile brand, and you'll probably be alright.

Continuing back through time, there are a broad range of smaller Swiss pocketwatches stretching back to the 50's and 60's. Many were what I call "Nostalgia" watches, designed for those who missed the pocketwatch heyday. They would use a regular wristwatch movement (with really big spacer ring!). Cheap, durable, but not all that accurate. Usually not hard to get parts for. Not very authentic since they usually have center-seconds. True swiss pocketwatches could be had too, in a range of sizes. Again, fairly cheap and durable, and parts supplies are okay, but these pocketwatch sized movements weren't as popular, and thus not as many parts. Older swiss pocketwatches can be had from such illustrious names as Omega, Rolex etc, and for suprisingly good prices (modern Omega collectors don't seem to appreciate old Omega pocketwatches, unless some Ukraine hack has turned it into a wristwatch...) Again, good quality, but parts can be a problem. Anything swiss that is older or less well known is apt to be a problem for parts; as in they just don't exist, and would need to be fabricated.

American pocket watches, on the other hand, can be had from as early as 1870 up to '50s/60s. But the big American makers sorta struggled coming out of the depression, so the true gems tend to either be from before that or limited to Elgin/Hamilton (the only two that really survived). Post 30's Walthams are a bit of a gamble, but generally, any that survived to today were probably okay. Parts are usually very accessible, but you have to be careful; its not hard for a hack to repair a watch with the wrong part just 'cause it fits, and while the result will work, it won't work well. Getting a good repair person is key if you're dropping any significant amount of money.

I've also tended to find that Hunter cases on old american watches are increasingly scarce, which is partly why you see so many "sidewinder" watches sold (that's an open face case with a hunter-grade movement, so that the crown is at 3:00).

Old English and Swiss (mid 1800's and earlier) can be found for not too much, and represent a level of meticulous, individual craftmenship that modern watches can't touch. But they require equally meticulous, individual service and maintainence, and so ...

All opinions expressed are, of course, my own, and I'm sure will be subject to disagreement... ;)
 

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Since Rob invites it, I shall disagree with him.

American watchmakers really started going downhill in the years after WWII, although it is true that 1930s Walthams were not what they were in the 1900s. However, a nice 1920s-1930s Art-Deco American watch should be a good purchase.
 

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...unless some Ukraine hack has turned it into a wristwatch

This trend is really beginning to p*ss me off :-( Most surprising is the large money people are willing to pay for a decorative piece that now has zero collector's value...it only encourages the molestors. Let's hope the price of gold settles down soon :roll:
 

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Since Rob invites it, I shall disagree with him.

American watchmakers really started going downhill in the years after WWII, although it is true that 1930s Walthams were not what they were in the 1900s. However, a nice 1920s-1930s Art-Deco American watch should be a good purchase.
Well, just consider how many watch companies existed at the turn of the century, and then consider how many existed in 1930. Waltham had gotten rid of their R&D dept, and worker morale was abysmal. Elgin was still being innovative, but they were still work with machines and designs from the turn of the century. Hamilton was the new kid on the block, and was in the best position (one of the reasons they were the only one making chronographs in WWII).
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
I don't mind learning how to maintain a nice, older watch; if I can take care of an antique firearms, I can take care of an antique watch.

What names should I look at if I were to look for a English or Swiss watch and how much should I look at paying?
 

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Possible Swiss brands include Cyma, Lanco, Roamer, Tissot, and Moeris. They all made their own movements. The 'best value' can often be found in private label brands or generic brands. In the UK, for example, companies that imported Swiss movements or watches include Limit, Thomas Russell, H.Samuel and Kays of Worcester. Or unbranded watches with decent movements. Avoid anything that says 'Superior Timekeeper' or Roskopf. Depending on your budget, even Longines and Omega PWs tend to fetch less than their wristwatch equivalents.

Here's a Limit:

EXCEPTIONAL CONDITION OLD FULL HUNTER POCKET WATCH | eBay UK

A nameless Swiss watch

POCKET WATCH | eBay UK

A Record

Vintage Record (Longines) Hunter Pocket Watch. R/Gold. | eBay UK

A Russell

Russell Silver Pocket Hunter Watch 0.935 | eBay UK

A couple of price examples from completed listings. Ebay is a good place to look at what things sell for. Obviously, if you go to a dealer and get a serviced watch with a guarantee expect to pay a fair bit more.

REVUE POCKET WATCH SWISS MADE CLEAN | eBay UK Revue sold for $40, working

Fine Hunting Scene POCKET WATCH. 17 Jewels Swiss | eBay UK Bernex, needing service, sold for £14.50
 

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Tissot is a respectable Swiss watchmaker. I've also heard good things about CYMA and Moeris. I don't think you could go wrong purchasing one of those.

From my readings though, the English weren't the best of watchmakers in the 19th and 20th centuries. The Americans and the Europeans were.
 

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Gruen was a bit of a hybrid: they were (effectively) a Swiss (or at times, German) watch importer; they designed their own watch movments, which were made in germany and switzerland. The movements were imported, "finished" and cased in the U.S. Purist American collectors consider them a European company, but I think Gruen himself was an American. But anyway you look at it, they weren't really an american manufacturer.
 

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If you want to maintain your own, go with american. Earlier (pre 1920) Walthams, or pretty much any Elgin or Hamilton pocketwatch will be fairly easy to maintain on your own. Smaller-scale american watches (like south bend, illinois, hampden, et al) will be similar in design and their use of replacable parts, but availability of those parts will be more limited. Avoid the high-end models, especially to start; they would often use slightly different (and much rarer) parts, and can be a lot more finicky. Also avoid anything less then 15 jewels; on a 100 year old watch, the chances of unjeweled pivots being worn oval is fairly high, and it tends to be easier to seat the pinions on a jeweled watch. Your best value tends to be in the 10-14 size range; the larger ones are more sought after, which pushes the price up.
 

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Gruen was a bit of a hybrid: they were (effectively) a Swiss (or at times, German) watch importer; they designed their own watch movments, which were made in germany and switzerland. The movements were imported, "finished" and cased in the U.S. Purist American collectors consider them a European company, but I think Gruen himself was an American. But anyway you look at it, they weren't really an american manufacturer.
Hm, well despite that, a lot of people still refer to Gruen as an American company. :think: Gruen did, in fact, have a very small number of movements that were made in the USA. There was a thread about it not too long ago on WatchTalk.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I've been looking around ebay for the past couple of hours when not studying for finals and I have a question.

It seems as though there are a lot of 'naked' movements, how hard would it be to build one of these bare movements up into a serviceable watch?

I just graduated college and I'm looking at this as something of a congratulatory gift to myself.
 

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Well.

To make a movement a working watch, you need the watch-case to protect it.

There are very few people who make pocketwatch cases anymore. There are people. But there are very few of them. In fact I've only ever seen one such casemaker. I'm sure there are others, but none that I know of. Others might be able to help you. But regardless, it would be expensive to have a watch-case made. Even a simple one out of steel. You can forget having a gold watch unless you're a billionaire.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Well.

To make a movement a working watch, you need the watch-case to protect it.

There are very few people who make pocketwatch cases anymore. There are people. But there are very few of them. In fact I've only ever seen one such casemaker. I'm sure there are others, but none that I know of. Others might be able to help you. But regardless, it would be expensive to have a watch-case made. Even a simple one out of steel. You can forget having a gold watch unless you're a billionaire.
I could have sworn that I had seen watch cases on eBay...

I was thinking that if I were to get a case, assuming that they are available, that I could just drop the proper sized movement into the properly sized case, like building an AR15.

But if that's not how things work, then I'll just end up saving for an older American or European pocket watch.
 

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Shangas is right - its never that easy. There's no such thing as a 'standard' case, alas.
 

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There was a time when it really was that simple...back before around 1920, most American pocket watches movements were designed to common sizes (that's what people talk about when they mention that a watch is 18size or 16size). Back then, watch movements were typically sold separately from watch cases, so you could pick any case you wanted for you watch. And since America was the big dog in watchmaking, some swiss watches from that era also conformed. Of course, even back then there were some companies and models that were "special" (so if you do decide to go this route, make sure you research the case and movement to ensure this isn't the case).
 
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