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I picked up this little Waltham trench watch on ebay a number of days ago on impulse. The condition caught my eye, but I am not terribly familiar with vintage watches such as these. However, from what I understand, it dates back to the early 1900s and has been disassembled and oiled. It's running very well and fairly accurately at +/-60 seconds a day. I am not sure if the crown is original, but the dial and case appear to be original. I'm very curious on the history of pieces like these so any other information you guys may have on this watch would be greatly appreciated!

15638649
15638651

15638652
 

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bconde219...Hello!

From what I can see here, you look to have a nice watch that may well have been assembled from a few different sources...which is actually something becoming rather popular.

The movement is an "0 Size", Model 1900, 16 Jewel, "Lady Waltham". My reference puts the Serial Number, 12,587,673 at 1903-04. These movements were among the better-Grade Walthams, and it's unusual to see a 16 Jewel. It's also signed "Adjusted", which only appears on the higher-grade USA made watches. You also see "Raised Gold Jewel Settings", which--once again--only appear on high-grade USA movements. This is a very-good quality Waltham.

My guess is that this "Hunting" movement was originally in a "Hunting Case", the ones with a cover over the front, that spring-open when you push on the crown. There were also "Open Face" movements, and these are the ones where you can just look at the watch, and see what time it is. The case was probably either solid gold or "Gold filled", although it's possible that it was Sterling Silver.

The dial sure looks to be from a different Model. Waltham tended to match dials with movements--Style-wise--and I rather doubt but that a strong, 'Railroad style' dial would have been thought to stylistically compliment something as delicate as a Lady Waltham. Same thought @ the hands: they look way too aggressive for the Lady!

The case has had another Movement in it ( note the semi-circular indentation over by the balance ), and I'll assume that it was one of the Open Face Movements that Waltham made in this size, although it's entirely possible that another Company's movement was there...a number of USA watches were made in 0-size, and they, too, would have fit in this case.

So: to my mind, the person who put this watch together did a good job! The hands 'match' the dial, and go well with the case. I like the crown, too. It's large enough to be practical, and goes with the rest of the watch. The movement is really nice & unusual, and should be a fine timekeeper. I know that there are many, fine-quality movements out there that have lost their cases: when Gold shoots up in 'value', many gold & even gold filled cases perish. This movement has been saved from Oblivion by being 'repurposed'...different dial and hands / slipped into a good-looking nickel case / fit with a proper crown...Voila!

Finally: if you'd ever really want to, this Lady Waltham could be 'put back together' pretty-much as it was when new. A gold case, bit fancier dial & hands, and you'd have a very elegant, 0-Size, Gold Hunting Case pocket watch. These components are available, and not really all that hard to find.

Still...to my eye, your watch looks very good just the way it is. Enjoy!

Michael.
 

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Michael,

Thanks so much for the info! Agreed. I think it looks great as is right now. It's great to hear that this movement might have got a second chance at life. The fact that this is a "frankenstein" watch is really interesting... potentially so much history in one package.

I was also a bit confused about the Lady movement being matched with an aggressive dial and hands. I did a little reading up on this as well and although I'm not certain an the reliability of this internet source, I found out that at this time in horological history, there was no blueprint for a standard issue trench wristwatch. Watch manufacturers were stuffing anything they could in these small watches just to meet demand. Since wristwatches were solely worn by women at the time, this is all that was available to be placed into the watch - hence the Lady movement. But again, not sure how true this is- just find it interesting at the very least.
 

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Michael,

Thanks so much for the info! Agreed. I think it looks great as is right now. It's great to hear that this movement might have got a second chance at life. The fact that this is a "frankenstein" watch is really interesting... potentially so much history in one package.

I was also a bit confused about the Lady movement being matched with an aggressive dial and hands. I did a little reading up on this as well and although I'm not certain an the reliability of this internet source, I found out that at this time in horological history, there was no blueprint for a standard issue trench wristwatch. Watch manufacturers were stuffing anything they could in these small watches just to meet demand. Since wristwatches were solely worn by women at the time, this is all that was available to be placed into the watch - hence the Lady movement. But again, not sure how true this is- just find it interesting at the very least.
Good to hear that you're comfortable with the Waltham...it really is a good looking watch.

The question of 'what dial originally came on what watch' arises quite frequently, and can be impossible to conclusively answer. With few exceptions, it's fair to suggest that more than one style of dial could have been on most USA watches at point of sale. Indeed, it's well-established that many a watch was 'put together' by a given, independent Jeweler at the request of the customer: different cases were offered ( most common ), as well--one assumes--were different dials & hands, although hands and dials were 'probably' infrequently swapped...it was mainly a mixing of cases and movements.

Trench watches, per se, started to show-up in general, public circulation, immediately after WWl. Over the past, few, years, the term has evolved to encompass most any round-cased, lugged watch, frequently, one with a movement made some time before The Great War. Your Waltham seems to fit within this latter context.

To my mind--and a Quarter Century's experience--it simply seems unlikely that a Lady Waltham would have left the factory in Waltham, Massachusetts with a dial such as yours. These 0-Size Walthams were designed to go in pretty fancy & delicate Hunting Cases...frequently, solid 14K or 18K. As such, they seemed to appeal to those who put aesthetics a bit above practicality, and a number of the dials that I have seen and / or owned, were embellished with Roman Numerals and, not unusually, rather fancy, gold hands...a style known as "Louis XlV" showing up with some frequency.

So--at first glance!--your dial and hands are a 'match': they provide an appearance rather like that of a scaled-down Railroad watch, and really do look good...something not at all easy to accomplish nowadays, when one has a limited selection of dials and hands from which to choose. ( I've done this several times...it's NOT easy! ).

Once again: a very nice watch. Looks good, and should last about Forever...!

Michael.
 
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