This is remarkable thread, but on a ancillary topic- how did the railroads regulate the accuracy of the time pieces over the expanse of their systems?

Tom McGriel posted:

This is remarkable thread, but on a ancillary topic- how did the railroads regulate the accuracy of the time pieces over the expanse of their systems?

There were "Standard Clocks" wired into the Western Union, or some sort of telegraph system, and ever hour on the hour the "Standard Clocks" were all zeroed in, including the second hand, to that exact hour. I remember seeing many such pendulum clocks with the electric zeroing in "fingers", that maintained total accuracy every hour. Thus, there have been many photos of Engineers and Conductors comparing their pocket watches with the Standard Clock in the crew office.

First, you are not intended to be the one removing the back of the watch.  That was to be the job of the authorized jeweler engaged by the railroad to inspect, clean and adjust the watch on a regular basis, usually annual or semi-annual.  He was required to issue a record for you to present to the Trainmaster in order to be continued in the service of the company.  Towns serving as division points all had such jewelers and they would often inscribe (scratch) the date of their inspection on the inside of the back.

It is hard to find anyone to work on these master timepieces, anymore.  Search the web, I think there's a guy in Texas...

Last edited by Rapid Transit Holmes
Rapid Transit Holmes posted:

It is hard to find anyone to work on these master timepieces, anymore.  Search the web, I think there's a guy in Texas...

Nonsense. There are hundreds, if not THOUSANDS of people who work on these watches, BEN10BEN among them.

Last edited by smd4
Hot Water posted:
Tom McGriel posted:

This is remarkable thread, but on a ancillary topic- how did the railroads regulate the accuracy of the time pieces over the expanse of their systems?

There were "Standard Clocks" wired into the Western Union, or some sort of telegraph system, and ever hour on the hour the "Standard Clocks" were all zeroed in, including the second hand, to that exact hour. I remember seeing many such pendulum clocks with the electric zeroing in "fingers", that maintained total accuracy every hour. Thus, there have been many photos of Engineers and Conductors comparing their pocket watches with the Standard Clock in the crew office.

Here is one of the station clocks that would have it's time adjusted by the master clock. Every hour the clock would self wind itself via the battery.

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smd4 posted:
Rapid Transit Holmes posted:

It is hard to find anyone to work on these master timepieces, anymore.  Search the web, I think there's a guy in Texas...

Nonsense. There are hundreds, if not THOUSANDS of people who work on these watches, BEN10BEN among them.

That is true that there are thousands of people that work on these watches, but how many of them are truly competent.  It is just like the auto repair business with the myriad of “shade tree mechanics”.  Not disparaging anyone, just pointing out there are levels of competency. 

Larry

 

 

 

LLKJR posted:

That is true that there are thousands of people that work on these watches, but how many of them are truly competent.  It is just like the auto repair business with the myriad of “shade tree mechanics”.  Not disparaging anyone, just pointing out there are levels of competency. 

You can say that about any profession.

Suffice it to say that there isn't just "a guy in Texas" that can competently work on pocket watches.

Question about Ball pocket watches.

What is the difference between a watch that is marked “Official R.R. Standard” and “Official Standard”.  Did thay just drop the “R.R.”

Thanks,

 

Larry

 

 

NJCJOE posted:

Does anybody know how to open the back of this watch? I was guessing it was screwed on, but I can't get it to move. If it is a screw back, any tips for a stuck back?

My watch repairman, a former watch inspector for N&W, had to use a special glue to attach a lever-like handle on the back of one of my watches in order to get it off. The reason was that a screw inside had backed out and was binding on the inside of the back. After the back was off there was a clean and simple way to get the glue to release.

The interesting thing about this repair was that he had kept records of all of the watches he had worked on and his mark was inscribed inside where he had worked on it when it belonged to my father in law!

Big Jim,

That is pretty interesting. I was able to get the back of my watch off using the flat rubber jar opener Machinist suggested. 

Njcjoe, wow, I think we just did visit the museum.  Nice pics.  

LLKJR posted:

Question about Ball pocket watches.

What is the difference between a watch that is marked “Official R.R. Standard” and “Official Standard”.  Did thay just drop the “R.R.”

Thanks,

 

Larry

 

 

Gentlemen,

This may be a simple answer, but I still would like to know.  

Larry

LLKJR posted:
LLKJR posted:

Question about Ball pocket watches.

What is the difference between a watch that is marked “Official R.R. Standard” and “Official Standard”.  Did thay just drop the “R.R.”

Thanks,

 

Larry

 

 

Gentlemen,

This may be a simple answer, but I still would like to know.  

Larry

Just a guess but maybe they made watches for other than railroads who needed a watch but maybe not to the standards the RRs kept.  The one I have belonged to my wife’s grandfather who was a sheriff and chief of police in Vicksburg MS.

I got the watch appraised by the way.

Hot Water posted:
LLKJR posted:

I found the answer to my question.

Larry

So,,,,,,,,,,will you let the rest of us know the answer?

After Bing and Google searches and adjusting my search string, found an archive of NAWCC.org articles by E. Ueberall and K. Singer concerinig Webb C Ball and RR watches and standards. 

Now I understood that Ball Commercial Standard was not approved for railroad service, but I was confused about the missing “Railroad” in the Official Standard. 

Discovered that in the beginning, Ball used “Ball Standard”, “Ball Approved”, and various other monikers on watches that had the actual manufacturers name on the movement.  The moniker “Official Railroad Standard”, “ORRS” was used on Ball watches marked Ball Watch Company, Cleveland, Ohio sans any identification of the true manufacturer who can be identified by the serial number.  The Brotherhood Ball watches, BoLE, BoLF, ORC, would have a the Brotherhood abbreviation in a circle symbol and “Official Standard” on the movement.  Non Brotherhood watches would have “Official RR Standard”.

Later watches just used “Official Standard”, so depending on the age of the watch, you could see multiple types of monikers identifying the movement.  “Official Standard” does signify approved for RR service.

 

Larry

 

Last edited by LLKJR

I just wanted to give a bump to this older thread, as I forgot is was here and thought it might be of interest to some of the newer forum members.

I normally wear a Luminox wrist watch.  There are times (like now), however, when the battery dies on my modern watch and I need to wear another one. 

Luckily, I also have a 1923 Illinois Bunn Special (21J) with a Bunn Special case that I found on eBay 8 years ago.  The workmanship on these old pocket watches is outstanding.  Aside from being beautiful, they just run, run, and run.  My watch is now 96 years old!

My Bunn Special is shown in my post on page 6.  I wanted to renew this thread, however, as there is a LOT of information contained in the thread and lots of great pictures of these classic timepeices.

Jim

 

Last edited by jd-train

I admit to not checking in her too often anymore, but still have alerts set for this thread and pop in when someone makes a new post. My watch acquisitions have become somewhat infrequent and also I've sold many of my railroad watches, but that is mainly to fund and be able to buy other, somewhat more expensive watches.

So, with that in mind, more than halfway through 2019 I've made two notable purchases that are certainly in the "railroad watch" category, but really support one of my larger sub-collections of Kentucky Private Label watches.

The first is for a jeweler and watch inspector Fred Pieper of Covington, KY. I have posted a few watches marked for him, and have a half dozen or so. The "crown jewel" Pieper watch-in my book-is a 24j Bunn Special. I know OF one that belongs to a collector in the Chicago area, but can't pursue it now(unfortunately, there's more to that story than I want to get in to, and even more unfortunately that particular watch will likely be available for sale in the coming years).

In the mean time, though, here's a Hamilton 940 signed for Pieper. This would not be a particularly notable watch aside from the fact that it was the 14th 940 made-the first serial number was 48006, and this is 48019. I had the opportunity to examine it next to 48012, which sold under my nose a few years ago for a price higher than I wanted to pay, and is also marked identically for Pieper. Of these early watches, the ledgers indicate that 012, 019, and 020 were sold to Pieper-I just need to find 48020 to have the consecutive!

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The second was something that I thought I'd have to wait a lot longer to get, but it presented itself at the right time. The Ball Watch Company was arguably a private label in and of itself, but in the early years they sold "Official RR Standard" 17 jewel Hamilton Grade 938s or grade 999s marked for a wide variety of Ball dealers/inspectors. I think 30 some odd separate names have been identified, but quantities of each private label are quite low. The only one that REALLY interested me was signed for Wm. Kendrick's Sons, Louisville, KY. Fortunately, also, this seems to be among the most plentiful of the so called "Ball Private Labels" along with Marcy & Co of Indianapolis. I've passed on two others over the years. Sometime around 2014 one was listed on Ebay. I had planned to bid $2K on it, and was amazed when I watched the price climb well past my budget for a closing price of $2800. The second was listed a few months later in a Bonhams auction, and was rough and without the matching dial. I debated about whether or not to bid, and ultimately the hammer fell on that one at $800 without meeting the reserve(that was still more than I wanted to pay-I'd have maybe paid $500 as a place-holder, but that is an impossible to find dial).

This past spring, I was walking through the show in Wilmington, Ohio(Cincinnati area) when Don Barret of City Bank Antiques(Cleveland area) called me down and said he had a "Ben item." What he showed me wasn't QUITE as nice as the $2800 Ebay one, but was close, and he named a price a fair bit more in line with what I was willing to pay-and I negotiated it down to half the price of the Ebay example of a few years ago. So, that watch came home with me. 

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smd4 posted:
Rapid Transit Holmes posted:

It is hard to find anyone to work on these master timepieces, anymore.  Search the web, I think there's a guy in Texas...

Nonsense. There are hundreds, if not THOUSANDS of people who work on these watches, BEN10BEN among them.

In the early 70's, my grandmother "hid" my grandfather's railroad watch in the toilet bowl tank. I found it when we were closing the family home. She had also over-wound it. I took the back and face off, submerged it in alcohol overnight, dried it with a hair dryer, and sprayed the works with LPS. Probably not the smartest thing, but the best idea I could come up with at age 16. It "looked" OK, but wouldn't run.

My uncle inherited this watch. He lived in Va. Beach and was unsuccessful finding anyone in his area to repair it. The watch ultimately was displayed under a glass dome for 40+ years. After my uncle's death my cousins gave it to be because it didn't run, and they had been told by their father that it couldn't be repaired.

I live in Richmond Va., and called more than a dozen jewelry stores that advertised watch repair. None of them even wanted to look at my Grandfather's railroad watch. The businesses I found in my area equate "Watch Repair" with battery and band replacement. They'll be happy to ship your Seiko "back to the factory" for repair. There is a shop in Stanton that works on wall clocks, and will clean pocket watches. They did take the time to look at the watch but then declined the work. 

Big Jim gave us a referral to a gentleman in Roanoke. Were it not for a word-of-mouth referral, I also may have given up on getting this watch repaired. We ended up driving 3+ hours to Roanoke Va. to get it repaired. He had a BIG backlog. It took almost 11 months to get the watch back. VERY expensive, but after 47 years it was again operable.

I would bet there are thousands of inoperable heirloom watches because watch repair is not readily available. Many are probably scrapped for the gold value of the case. From my experience, I concur that watchmakers are indeed a dying breed. If there are a dozen in the entire state of Virginia, I would be shocked.

Last edited by Gilly@N&W
Gilly@N&W posted:
 

I would bet there are thousands of inoperable heirloom watches because watch repair is not readily available. 

It doesn't sound like you tried hard enough.

Watch Repair Shops

Vintage Pocket Watch Repair

Pocket Watch Repair

Elgin Pocket Watch Repair

These are just a few...

Sure, some of them just do the battery/strap thing, but there are indeed plenty of places to get your vintage pocket watch cleaned or fixed.

And as I mentioned in my post (although I can't speak to his obligations today) even Ben has repaired watches in the past (I know because he worked on one of mine). Did you ask him about your watch? He isn't a "shop," and there are indeed many people throughout the country who can repair vintage pocket watches, who won't necessarily show up in a Google search.

Last edited by smd4

Great read through this thread.  I know just enough about RR watches to be dangerous.  I think I might have posted this first watch before, but do not see it in this thread.  I apologize if it’s a repeat.

first is a Hamilton 992, 1908 railway special, size 18, 21 jewels, adjusted for temperature and 5 position.  Montgomery dial, with the B&O logo. It’s in a flip out case and contains etchings from inspections over the years.

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Next is not a pocket watch. It is the last watch my great uncle wore everyday. He gave it to me when he retired as an engineer for Southern Railway, over 40 years ago.  It’s a Bulova Accutron Railroad 214.

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Finally, a pocket watch that is not a railroad watch, but runs perfectly for its age.  It’s a Waltham Wm Ellery model, manufactured in 1864. Key wind and set.  Size 18, 11 jewels.  Case is a coin silver with an open face.

F5B81D86-8D04-4031-AC05-917C44C516E9182337B1-7420-4E61-B3B9-85F86E6732D2

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Last edited by jstraw124

Pretty sure this has been featured before but here is my replica Kansas City Southern Pocketwatch (got in 2013) alongside a personalized pocket watch (engraved with initials, not railroad-themed) I was given as part of my uncle's wedding outfit from 2016. Both are not "real" watches as they are battery operated. For 3 years both watches stopped ticking as I could not figure out how to replace the battery, but now tick once more and on the off-chance they stop, I've got more batteries on hand.

P.S. The KCS Watch's chain is flaking, is there any way I can preserve or restore the silver/faux silver or whatever material it is? I may not use it anymore but I still take it out to admire the beauty that it is, but the flaking/dirty paint is starting to become an eyesore.darfe4t-38d27544-c17e-4eec-bc32-ef940a6a441a

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jstraw124 posted:

 

Next is not a pocket watch. It is the last watch my great uncle wore everyday. He gave it to me when he retired as an engineer for Southern Railway, over 40 years ago.  It’s a Bulova Accutron Railroad 214.

F804415F-9988-4A35-8EC3-770FE1776C7B

 

I had one of those Accutron's. They were "Railroad Approved"...Hah! You know they worked off of a tuning fork. At the time they were high dollar watches, not easy on a new man's budget!
What I found was that sometimes when I had to throw a switch, the jolt would cause the thing to stop! Not good! I got rid of mine soon after that. 

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