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Discussion Starter #1
Hello, new to the forum and very new to this watch collecting hobby and have some questions. For some crazy reason I have chose to look for vintage pocket watches to collect. I have no idea of what to pay for any of them, and have no idea of who to trust when buying online. I want watches that I can use and hopefully work on myself, when finished with my watch course that is. I want to be able to carry them and be proud to own such a piece of fine vintage workmanship. I see some much information online that its hard to realize what is good and what is bad. I am going to start at local pawn shops, flea markets and hopefully online auctions. Any advice for a new collector with no experience at all would be greatly appreicated. I think the old pocket watch movements are a work of art, and the craftsmanship that when into them just amazes me. I just do not want to get over my head too fast, or get burnt buying something that is not worth the time to fix. Please help.
Thanks in Advance for any help.
Rondo
 

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I collect them but I don't work on them myself. I trust that to someone who's done it for 30 years and is more skilled than I'd ever be. I don't try brain surgery on myself either.
If you really want to work on them yourself I'd advise looking for a cheap 7 jewel Elgin or Waltham on eBay. That way if you end up breaking it you won't be out a lot of money and you'll have a source of parts in the worst case scenario.
Don't start your watchmaking experiments on family heirlooms.
Elgin is probably a good one to start with as they made over 50 million of them and you can still get parts in many cases.
The very best ones are railroad grade and the two companies that made the best of the best are Hamilton and Howard.
Check prices on eBay as a starting guideline or buy a copy of Shugart's Complete Price Guide to Watches as a secondary guide and good identification book.
Watches you buy on eBay will likely require servicing unless you buy from a real dealer who has a watchmaker on staff. My own criterion is if it's not running now it's probably not worth buying.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks Ray, and yes I am only looking at Elgins right now cause I know they are available cheap. That is what I am looking for something that I can practice on and if I break it so what? I have a nice old Elgin from my Grandpa but I am not going to work on it. I just do not know about prices, parts availability and general what is good and what is not yet. *bay can be very crazy sometimes as you know, and I would much rather purchase from someone who knew I was not trying to resell the watch. I am slowly learning by researching, but it is hard when there is so much information to take in at one time. If you know of a good place please let me know.
Thanks
Rondo
 

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OK well I can tell you that the simpler Elgins that used single roller escape mechanisms are easier to get parts for than the high end double roller types. I found that out when I had to get a new pallet for a 15 jewel Elgin single roller form 1909.
I'd say if you start with a sixteen size 7 - 15 jewel Elgin from 1900-1930 you should be able to get parts and it shouldn't cost a lot.
Frankly eBay is as good a place as any to buy a pocket watch. Just watch for seller's feedback and you should be OK.
Pawnshops usually attract a lot of junk. Flea markets I can't say. Some antique shops have nice pieces but they may not be priced realistically.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Sure wish I knew someone in the NC or SC area that could help me get started. I have been online all weekend looking at pocket watch information. If you have any ideas please let me know.
Thanks
Rondo
 

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Hi Rondo,

better by books first - minimum 2 feet in the shelf before buying the first
watch, and 3 feet before disassembling one.

Be sure, every book will pay back when you start buying watches. And it is
almost impossible to buy the wrong watch book, while nothing is easier than
buying the wrong watch.

Regards, Roland Ranfft

BTW: I run a watch business - no book store.
 

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Check out the links for NAWCC members in your area. That's always a good way to start.

http://www.nawcc.org/headquarters/memlinks.htm

Roland brought up a good point too. There are lots of great books on watch collecting and some may be available at your local library. Shugart's "Complete Price Guide to Watches" is particularly good when it comes to pocket watches.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Ok but I already bought an old Elgin and it came in today. Pretty good looking piece and its even working good. I have 4 books ordered also and they should be here soon. Also contacted two local members of the NAWCC by email. I have been busy here |> I have gotten the bug big time.
Thanks
Rondo
 

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Hi -

What Roland has said is absolutely correct: good watchmaking books are very important. I have only two, but one is a compendium work from the 1950s written by a master watchmaker and two highly experienced watchmakers on troubleshooting wristwatch problems that is fascinating, but only available as a reissue in German...

I've also had some luck in acquiring some of the older repair manuals for some watches, such as Gruen or Benrus, either on eBay or elsewhere. They can be fascinating as well, but are very much more difficult to acquire. There is, as well, a US military technical manual that covers almost all of the WW2 watches and clocks (including ship clocks and radio room clocks) with details on how to service them and all parts, and if my memory was functioning I'd tell you which one it is. Will have to check this evening...

JohnF
 

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TM 9-1575 Wrist Watches, Pocket Watches, Stop Watches, And Clocks

Excellent starting point.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thanks for the information, and yes I used the TM manuals for the Collins based R-390A receivers that I have and also enjoy working on. The gear train in the R-390A is an awesome work of art and amazes me everytime I see it work. I guess thats what got me interested in the old pocket watches, the detail that I have saw on some of the older watches in the gears and plates just makes me appreciate the watch so much more. I must have been born in the wrong era, cause I sure like vintage things more than modern. Well I am going to try and find the TM manual that was mentioned and I thank you all again.
Rondo
 

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Hi -

Was too busy last night to dig it up: thanks! You may be able to find this one on-line...

And it is indeed a good starting point...

JohnF
 
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