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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I'd like to add one or two Waltham wristwatches to my collection and need help choosing specific models.

I don't collect one style or brand of watch, but instead, try to gather timepieces that best represent a given watch manufacturer -- usually their most distinctive or most popular model, or a watch that reflects the height of that manufacturer's history or technical advancement. My Hamilton collection includes an Ardmore, a Thinmatic and a military issue watch. For Bulova, I have Accutrons.

I've looked at numerous Walthams and read a bit of their history, but I'm still unclear which eras and specific models would best fit my criteria. Waltham's cushion styles from the 20's are my favorites aesthetically and I also like the later tank styles. I'm open to anything.

I'd really appreciate suggestions on particular Walthams that would best fit into my collection!

Tx, piscator

P.S. I'm not committed to these but it's nice to have pix, so here's several I've admired:













 

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This is probably NOT representative of anything except Walthams bid to stay alive in the 70s with the coming of electric and quartz. Howvwer-that said when I first got this watch for $40 and stuck a battery in it it amazed me how the electric balance wheel movement [ESA 9158]keeps near cosc accuracy. Its build quality seems as good as my 70s Omega and Longines and dial is a beauty. You like 20s cushions but not everyone likes 70s chunky cushions. But I wore this watch in my shop for months and beat it to hell. Eventually I wore out the plating and the day wheel but it still runs great. If you had to have 2 walthams this would represent one end of the spectrum and maybe one of the last great quality walthams before they went ...wherever they went. I rarely have a chance to show it anyway:
 

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Just my prejudice, but if you want a representative Waltham get a Waltham pocket watch and the same for the other American companies.

Dabaeker: Don't know who made your electric wristwatch, but the American Waltham company went out of business in 1957. Other companies have purchased the rights to use the Waltham name.
 

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Just my prejudice, but if you want a representative Waltham get a Waltham pocket watch and the same for the other American companies.

Dabaeker: Don't know who made your electric wristwatch, but the American Waltham company went out of business in 1957. Other companies have purchased the rights to use the Waltham name.
well I knew waltham was dying but didnt know it was already dead when I bought the watch! Actually I didnt buy for brand back in 08 but I got on a short kick with pre-quartz electrics. I decided I was going to snap up as many as I could before they shot up in price. well-it seems like only the Omega f300 shot up and Accutrons have gone up but not "shot" up. So-the Waltham 'electrodyne' was the $40 beater that kept near cosc time for 18months on a battery. Whoever the heck made it it was pretty nice quality. Its signed 5x with the 'W' so i guess somebody thought the name meant something. But I don't really think it represents the epitome of waltham. I just wanted to show the only one I owned.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Dabaeker, I love electrics and that's a cool watch! While not manufactured by the original company it does reflect a part of Waltham's story. It's a lot of watchfun for $40! Thanks for sharing it.

Ron In PA, I'm shopping for a Waltham pocket watch also. Inexplicably, I think of PW's as seperate from wristwatches. I don't know much about PW's but I carry a Longines pretty regularly. Can you suggest a quintessential Waltham PW model?

As to wristwatches, can someone clue me in to Waltham's best or most popular? Any comments on the pix I posted? Which do you favor?

p
 

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I think the first one is best because it's an early attempt and quite attractive. Waltham never did wristwatches well so I would think the early attempts are more representitive. The second is also quite attractive.
 

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I'd say, go for an early one with a 3/0 movement, or a 6/0 '42 or '44 A-11. Those pretty much are the high points for Waltham wrist watches in my opinion.

I am rather keen on the early cushion cases (this one of mine is 1920 ish, second hand is temporary and not correct) - you won't likely find this dial, but the other dials from this time are nice...



This is a uncommon early 1942 A-11, plain waterproof case (not mine) - hard to find a correct photo of one of these, the second hand should only be painted white at the tip, and usually the dial is sterile (no maker's name, see mine and the next one).



this one is mine (yellow crystals = bad) , I'll finish it one day...



This is the most common 1944 A-11, dustproof knurled screw bezel and back (not mine - I don't have one yet)



Actually, here are the official drawings...



Be careful on these, they are franken city on the 'bay.

Pocket watches are a different story. Where to start! So many great ones to choose from.

How could you turn down a civil war KW, or a 1883 or 1892 or ... sigh. Kid in a candy store.
 

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Waltham wasn't a great wristwatch company; they massively overextended themselves in the early 1900's trying to come to grips with the new world that erupted after the war, not to mention the loss of Royal E. Robbins (the man largely responsible for their success). They survived largely by pretty much abandoning things like Research and Quality Control, and living off their reputation.

Up until about 1935, Waltham's "wristwatches" were mostly just their smaller ladies movments; they didn't make a dedicated wristwatch movment until (I believe) the model 870 (which I think was built with machines purchased from the swiss). Their "best" wristwatch movement (IMO) was the model '42, which went into all their military offerings. There are versions of this movement with shock-protection, calender and hacking, but some are difficult to find.

Waltham stopped making watches entirely in 1949 (although the factory was open off and on until 1952 to finish and case inventory), and sold the rights to the Waltham name in 1959. Between 49 and 59, you can find inventory movements, A-17 military watches and "Hallmark by Waltham" (swiss watches imported by Waltham and sold through the Hallmark Watch Company).
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
Tim, great photos and info! Thanks so much! I like the cushion styles myself. The white dial with red 12 that I posted is my favorite Waltham cushion so far.

I appreciate your endorsement of the A-11. It's a watch I would wear often. I already wear "small" watches (34mm -- 38mm which I consider "normal") but I've started to prefer 32mm to 34mm diameters. A legible military face would work well for me.

Did they really make the A-11 with a date complication? That would be the "cat's pajamas" for me!

AbslomRob, thanks for the thoughtful history! I've been trying to learn about Waltham, but find more pocket watch info that wristwatch. I guess that in itself should tell me something! I figured out that Waltham doesn't share the illustrious reputation Hamilton enjoyed, but I didn't have any sense for the quality of Waltham wristwatches. What you've offered is very helpful!

I do want to add a Waltham to my collection, but I'm beginning to see Rob-in-PA's point that a pocket watch might the best representative example. I wear pocket watches regularly but don't know much about them. Maybe I should study up.

I'd still like to learn more about Waltham's earlier "ladies movements." Did they have shock protection? Or were they simply pocket watch movements pressed into wristwatch service? Were they of comparable quality to other PW movements like Hamilton?

On the whole, the A-11 may be the best choice for my first Waltham, based on yours and Tim's advice. Standard A-11's seem fairly easy to come by and I will definitely wear it.

Were the military issue engravings on the A-11 etched by hand rather than stamped? If so, was this done by the manufacturer? Or by the issuing authority? The A-11's I've seen on-line often look like this one:







Thanks for the great information. Vintage watches are fun and I love learning about them! :-!

piscator
 

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I'll try to answer the question about a representative Waltham pocket watch by suggesting either a size 18 model 1883 (made to the tune of 5.4 million from 1883 till 1920 in many grades from 7 to 17 jewels with many different damaskeening patterns on the top plate, the most produced American pocket watch) or a size 16 model 1899/1908. These were produced till the end of pocket watch production and were used by the US Army in WW2. The best were made between 1900 and about 1920 when Waltham started going down in quality. The Vanguard and Crescent Street were railroad grade watches.
 

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The A-11 watches didn't have date complications, but they made consumer watches based on the same caliber that did (the "ChronoDate" and "Recorder" models). Never seen one myself, I only know about them from the material catalogs.

You won't find shock resistance in any Waltham watches outside of about 20,000 made in 1949.

For the A-11 casebacks, my understanding is that the most of the caseback was machine stamped , except for the last five digits of the serial number (which was added once the watch was assembled).
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Abslom, hmmm... so is the A-11 I posted a "franken-fake?" To my eye, that caseback lettering doesn't look stamped.

Thanks for the info on shock absorbing and calender complication. I've never seen a date window on an early military watch, so it did seem odd. I'd like it though!.
 

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You would need to run that one past the experts on MWR. I am not prepared to say is is a fake, as there was some variation in the casebacks. That one looks like it was done with a pantograph. There were also thick and thin digits on the dials, all of these things changed a little from the first '43 models through to the later ones.

Here is my '43 (which is the earlier) waterproof and you can see the back is clearly stamped.



Here is a similar '45 (from MWR, hq_sandman_ute) which is most likely engraved with a pantograph, but has quite different specs listed.



I expect the one you showed is most likely legit, but would need the eye of a specialist collector to be sure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
Trim, thanks so much for your explanation and fine pix! I'm sure you're correct that the A-11 I posted is legit. The photo is from a learned seller who I trust completely. I should have worded my query differently.

What really surprised me was the thinness of the characters. I couldn't figure out how they might be stamped. A pantograph, as you explained, puts that mystery to bed!

Do you think I should buy the A-11 I posted as my representative Waltham? Or look more toward a pocket watch?

I saw a "drop dead gorgeous" Waltham PW at a watchmaker's today. I don't recall the model # but he described it as Waltham's "best ever." A #16 size, 18k, hunter cased, with decoration on the movement so beautiful it took my breath away!! I'm not a pocket watch collector, but this one may convert me. At $3,500, I can't afford this particular PW, but it sure whet my appetite! :p

Sorry I don't have pix. I visited the watchmaker to pick up an Omege he serviced for me and didn't take a camera. I wasn't expecting to shop for watches, but because of this thread asked if he had any Waltham PWs. From out of the back room, he unveiled this magnificent Waltham. Truly astonishing!

Thanks again for your help!

piscator
 

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Do you think I should buy the A-11 I posted as my representative Waltham? Or look more toward a pocket watch?

I saw a "drop dead gorgeous" Waltham PW at a watchmaker's today. I don't recall the model # but he described it as Waltham's "best ever." A #16 size, 18k, hunter cased, with decoration on the movement so beautiful it took my breath away!! I'm not a pocket watch collector, but this one may convert me. At $3,500, I can't afford this particular PW, but it sure whet my appetite! :p
You need collect the watches you like. Ultimately it is your call about that A-11, but it looks good to me - again think about running this watch past a military watch collector.

I don't see why you can't have both a wrist watch and pocket watch. They reflect very different things about the company and neither is individually representative. The example pocket watch you talk about, is very expensive - although I am sure it is very beautiful. You can get a great RR grade with fantastic damaskeening AND an A-11 for a fraction of that. There is nothing wrong with a pristine GF, silver or silveroid case.
 

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Waltham, as mentioned by others, has gone through many owners since 1957. I found this one from the 60s a few years ago.
It uses a Seiko Sportsmatic DS5 movement.

 
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