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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
12S hunter case p.w. are relatively scarce. I have one each of the best 1900+ Elgin 190, Waltham Maximus, Gruen Aeby. The Gruen has an 80 gram Gruen made very fine, heaviest of the 3, hand carved case with 17 ligne smaller than 12s movement. Less than 100 made. Maximus was 200. Elgin made many 190. Best available from the 3 makers at the time. My choice for best is obvious. Once again, as a comparison, they are all good, and personal preferences prevail, but Gruen and Aeby soon after 1900 seriously attemtpted to make the best with German Moritz Grossmann mechanical designs and their superb case work.
 

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Obviously I too am biased as a Waltham collector, but I think of all of the 12 sizes, the best is probably none of the above. Rather, I'd lean toward the 12-size American Watch Company as being the best of them.

Thanks for posting all of these, Art.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
I defer to your better experienced opinion. I was unaware of 12s A.W.Co. and need to learn more about their various sizes. The other early Gruen Aeby near 12s that is highest quality I have seen is the first best Verithin. An example here is 1916 marked gift in similar gruen made gold. A more modern design maybe a better challenger to the best Waltham.
 

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What does the 'madretsch' on the movement mean? It seems strange.

As to 'best', well, that's always subject to argument. I for one claim the Series 11 from Howard is the best Railroad Chronometer. But others have other ideas.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Madretsch marking was only for the best available made by contracted mvnt. supplier Aeby & Landry design, assembly, finishing totally at their location in Madretsch location close to Gruen Swiss plant at Biel. Open face version shown in their semi-hunter with no latch glassed hnged dial cover.

The best 12s p.w.from all the good producers at the 1900-15 time were not equalled subsequently in skilled labor finish efforts in my opinion. True in the Gruen models at least.
 

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Beautiful watches.
I can't believe even the best Waltham could match the quality of finish on
those Gruens.
 

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As to 'best', well, that's always subject to argument. I for one claim the Series 11 from Howard is the best Railroad Chronometer. But others have other ideas.
I suppose that if you like dressed up New York Standard movements, then perhaps so. :) As you say, however, to each his own

Personally, I'd take a Sangamo Special or 950/950B over any Keystone Howard product. For the best railroad approved 16 size, however, I would give a very strong nod toward the Premier Maximus(in lever set, of course).

I can't believe even the best Waltham could match the quality of finish on
those Gruens.
Finishing is, of course, subjective. With that said, however, I've spent some time "staring and comparing" a 12 size Maximus next to one of the Madretsch Gruens similar to what Art has shown here. Both were in for repair at the same time, and I took both apart.

I found both equal terms of things like wheel depthing, escapement finish, pinion finish, steelwork polishing, and the appearance of unseen parts.

I've also, on a separate occasion, "stared and compared" a 12 size bridge model American with a 12 size Riverside Maximus-although without taking them apart. My opinion was that the American represented a significant step up from the Maximus in the above mentioned categories, although admittedly it's difficult to compare wheel depthing and unseen parts without taking the watch apart.

So, based on this, I'm going to stick by my original opinion of the Waltham American Watch Company as being the best of the 12 sizes.
 

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The best 12s p.w.from all the good producers at the 1900-15 time were not equalled subsequently in skilled labor finish efforts in my opinion. True in the Gruen models at least.
Interesting observation. I know the manufacture of pianos, which are also based on skilled artisans, had a similar peak in quality.... well, actually 2 peaks - one prior to WWI and one in the depression (when the best skilled were the only remaining workers).
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
BBen: I appreciate your detailed observation. Confirming my superficial opinion and your justifiable preference for the best Waltham I know nothing about.The original intent was a rough quality comparison of fine 12s hunters 1900+. I have the 12s and 10s open face Maximus Colonials 1920+ that even I know were tough competition for the best Gruens at their time. Similar Gruen Verithin size 10s is 22280023.
 

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