Railroad Pocket Watches

SantaFe158 posted:

Bringing this thread back to life.  I bought a 1950's Hamilton 992B last year to use at work when I'm the scheduled engineer.  It works well enough for what I need, but it loses time every couple days and needs to be reset every day I use it.  Does anyone know of a good watch repair shop in the Detroit area that would be capable of giving it a proper tune up?

You might just try adjusting it yourself. Unscrew the back cover, and you will see the speed adjustment pointer. There is an extremely small screw that can be turned by using a razor blade in the screw head slots. The screw head slots form a "+" so that only 1/4 turn adjustments can be made, using a razor blade. The adjustment pointer has a slow "S" and a fast "F' either side of the pointer, so that you know which way to turn the adjusting screw to move the pointer.

Some tips concerning maintaining accurate time keeping with your 992B:

1) Try and wind the watch at the same time every day, whether you are caring it or not.

2) Try and hang the watch so that it is in the same position that it is carried in your overalls, i.e. get a nice piece of VERY hard wood block and install a hook to hang the watch on when you are not caring it.

3) Your 992B should maintain correct time within 10 seconds per week, once adjusted properly. If not, it might require professional cleaning.

Hot Water posted:
SantaFe158 posted:

Bringing this thread back to life.  I bought a 1950's Hamilton 992B last year to use at work when I'm the scheduled engineer.  It works well enough for what I need, but it loses time every couple days and needs to be reset every day I use it.  Does anyone know of a good watch repair shop in the Detroit area that would be capable of giving it a proper tune up?

You might just try adjusting it yourself. Unscrew the back cover, and you will see the speed adjustment pointer. There is an extremely small screw that can be turned by using a razor blade in the screw head slots. The screw head slots form a "+" so that only 1/4 turn adjustments can be made, using a razor blade. The adjustment pointer has a slow "S" and a fast "F' either side of the pointer, so that you know which way to turn the adjusting screw to move the pointer.

Some tips concerning maintaining accurate time keeping with your 992B:

1) Try and wind the watch at the same time every day, whether you are caring it or not.

2) Try and hang the watch so that it is in the same position that it is carried in your overalls, i.e. get a nice piece of VERY hard wood block and install a hook to hang the watch on when you are not caring it.

3) Your 992B should maintain correct time within 10 seconds per week, once adjusted properly. If not, it might require professional cleaning.

I'll have to look and see if I can find any information on how to accurately set it.  As you said it shouldn't be that difficult for me to do, but I don't have much experience with watches other than enjoying the look and usefulness at work.  I just hate to mess up the timing and not be able to get it back to being accurate.

 

I do need to make a stand for it as right now I just keep it on top of our china cabinet table top horizontally.  Although I do wind it every morning before work at about the same time, so I should be pretty well set there.

Hello "strangers"...

  I think what was implied above is that horizontally, an increase in pressure on the thrust surfaces further increases any inaccuracy and/or wear. (increased axle wear? Tip wear, where it spins on jewels?)

  I pretty sure people 100 years ago would have kept it horizontally under their hat if it improved the accuracy. A good pocket watch was a big deal back then.

  I once read on a watch site, the vertical display hangers, were not just for display. I cant refer to exactly which site, total reasoning. or the accuracy of the statement, but it seemed logical enough to me to help me decide to keep mine on display -vs- in my dresser drawer.

Proper care will  be needed to keep it running "forever", just like that engine.

 Who knows, in a hundred years or so, a new caretaker may tell stories about the early caregivers runs....all while using your watch to time those very same runs.

 Hey, ask the jeweler about storage (and relay the answer back to us.. please) If its repeated info..oh well, repeating info, often helps in retaining it to memory.

Also, ask about getting your name engraved too. Then, in your will, give it to the train!  You just might become a famous portion of that trains history that way ( IMO, it sure would beat 15 minutes of fame today ).  

No photo? 

 

I built a stand for mine as Hot Water suggested.  I had never really thought about making my own... but of course it was extremely simple.   I took a piece of Ash leftover from a window trim restoration project and drilled a hole to fit a piece of large gauge copper wire bent to form a hook.  I've had the watch running and hanging in a vertical position for several days now and it seems to be keeping time just fine.  I'm thinking that was my problem since I often just leave it laying on its back when not in use, though I keep it wound during the operating season.

Eventually I'll get around to giving it a proper coat of stain and varnish, but it's functional for now.

IMG_7707

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I like it, simple, functional, and nice looking.  I have a complete inability to keep it simple.  I wanted to display my watch.  Wife picked the design and wanted me to make it out of walnut.  A little overkill. 

image

The watch isn't a railroad model.  It's one from 1864 I own.  

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SantaFe158 posted:

I've had the watch running and hanging in a vertical position for several days now and it seems to be keeping time just fine.  

The watch should keep time is six positions; if it only keeps good time in one, it should be serviced by someone knowledgeable about pocket watch repair--and believe it or not, that may not be a jeweler.

A well-serviced pocket watch can actually keep more accurate time than a quartz watch (i.e., it will gain or lose time less quickly than a quartz watch).

Steve

 

Guys,

The best watch repair in the country is in Birmingham, Michigan.

They are called: Universal Watch Repair located at 177 S Old Woodward Ave, Birmingham, MI 48009 (248) 723-5550

Please note these guys are very very professional and can be extremely expensive.  However no one else can repair/restore an old broken down wrist or pocket watch like they do.  To give you an idea of their capabilities, they make their own glass crystal when an original isn't available.  Go to their website and check it out.  www.universalwatch.net

I have taken three very expensive and rare watches there for repair / maintenance.   It cost me a pretty penny but I have some real nice pieces in perfect running order. 

They literally have clients from all around the world sending them watches to repair that no one else wants to touch.   

One fellow who is a CEO of some major bank out east, had his fathers pocket watch damaged during Sandy.  It was mud and crud covered.  The watch itself wasn't worth the expense, but since it had sentimental value, he had it repaired to like or better than new condition.  An incredible transformation! 

 

 

Kazar

C&O H8 Allegheny The heaviest & most powerful bad boy to ever traverse any rail!!

Allegheny posted:

"However no one else can repair/restore an old broken down wrist or pocket watch like they do."

That's just a bit hyperbolic and not at all true.

If you don't need a custom made crystal (you can still find NOS crystals for many vintage brands), there are other options and shops that will provide high quality repair and cleaning services that won't break the bank.

Jake's watch is running and likely only needs a cleaning and adjustment to make it perfect. Having the work done by a reputable horologist will certainly not need to be "extremely expensive."

Rob Carter at Pocket Watch Repair does fine work for a reasonable price.

 

Steve

 

Those of you who are quibbling about typos ON someone's homepage should instead have spent some time simply examining their website more thoroughly.  Under the heading of Trade Accounts you would have seen the following:

"Universal is the repair center for 14 of the top jewelry chains worldwide.   In addition, Universal is the service and restoration center for over 3,000 independent and guild stores and watchmakers Worldwide.

We are proud members of AGS, IJO, RJO and CBG providing repair service for many of their retail members at special discount.
In addition, Universal is the support service center for other factory and non-factory service centers, especially when they might not be able to complete a job that is deemed to complicated or labor intensive."

I'm not related to these people in any way aside from being a customer.  As I noted earlier, the watches I had repaired were rare and they were the only ones who had the expertize to do the job.  I was referred to them by several other watch repairmen who know their trade very well.   I was ready to ship my watches overseas until I was referred to these people who just happened to be 15 miles from my home.

Their repair area is similar to a lab environment and when you take a piece in for repair, don't expect to see it back for awhile as they are booked for weeks to months depending on how much restoration is needed.  How many other places do you know can replicate the original crystal when an original isn't available?

Our country has many watchmakers that are very well versed in their trade, but like any other profession there are those that simply stand a lot taller than the rest.  This shop is one that does rise higher than most.    Coming from a family of jewelers (I'm not one by trade) I can attest that there are those who think they are jewlers and then there are those who are REAL craftsmen in their trade.  When dealing with tradesmen it's always a good idea to check them out first before you hand over the job to them.   It's the same as taking your jewelry in for repair say Costco vs. Tiffany.  Who would you think would have the better craftsman? 

Kazar

C&O H8 Allegheny The heaviest & most powerful bad boy to ever traverse any rail!!

Wow, didn't realize this would stir up a hornets nest.


First of all, a watch losing a couple of minutes a day is well beyond what can be regulated out using the regulator. It needs some attention-there's likely a lot more going on.

 

Second, calling any place "the best watch repair place" in the country is a pretty bold claim. Truth be told, I've sent work to someone who could probably legitimately take that title. He can fix things that NO ONE else can-I've seen him create parts for a unique watch based on nothing but a patent sketch. But, he also takes works only by referral and even at that picks and chooses what he wants to fix, charges about what he darn well pleases, and is currently running at about 2 years. Most of the best folks in industry are like this.

But, then, you don't need someone like that unless you have a Waltham 5 minute repeater with a broken hammer and a few other missing parts .

There are a lot of competent repair people around-get a referral and check for certifications/memberships if you must. The current Swiss certification is called SAWTA, although WOSTEP is an older one and honestly a Hamilton 992B is not so complicated that you really need someone versed in the latest and greatest. In a lot of ways, someone who does more business in older watches would get my business over someone who services Rolexes all day.

Ben TCA 09-63474
smd4 posted:
MTN posted:
Arthur P. Bloom posted:

The best watch repair in the country is in Birmingham, Michigan.

Really? Better than these guys?

http://centralwatch.com/about-us

I'm not sure I'd trust workmanship claiming great accuracy when their homepage has a typo...  ��  Looks like all the pats on their back come from New York publications - perhaps home team favoritism at work?

Two typos.

This is why I gave up watch repair...  

I should stick to browsing on my laptop - the iPhone isn't doing the trick.

ben10ben posted:

Wow, didn't realize this would stir up a hornets nest.


First of all, a watch losing a couple of minutes a day is well beyond what can be regulated out using the regulator. It needs some attention-there's likely a lot more going on.

 

Not sure if you were talking about my watch or not, but it's a minute or so over the course of a week, not every day.  Obviously I'd be more concerned if it was losing that much time in a day.

 

Thanks for all the information everybody, it's definitely helped give me some resources to look towards to get my watch serviced.  I'd prefer to not pay twice what I purchased the watch for, even if they do amazing work, as I just don't have the money for that.  I have a $30 timex that works just fine in its place.  It's simply for the appearance aspect as I work in a museum setting.  I feel more in place with the pocket watch than my wrist watch.  This is especially true knowing that there are reputable repair-people that do great work for much less.  My watch definitely isn't pristine, which is why I bought it over the mint condition one the seller also had.  It's not a collectors item, it's in every day use in the pocket of my overalls on days I'm scheduled as the engineer, so obviously I'm just looking for a basic servicing, not a full on restoration.  I'm going to look into the link to Rob Carter that Steve posted.  He appears to have reasonable prices for the basic work I need.

Obviously my watch runs, I just highly doubt it's had a proper servicing since it's last owner that used it (not the seller I bought it from, who stated it would need a tuneup).

Bob Delbridge posted:

My wife passed away May 3 and I haven't been posting much, but today as I was going thru some of her things I found this:

 

 

DSCN0082

 

The face notation says "Ball Official RR Standard Cleveland".

 

I don't think it came from anyone on her side of the family that was a RRman, I know her grandfather was on the Vicksburg Police force (I have 2 of his badges, one is a captains badge).

 

Not sure how long this watch has been sitting, at least 25 years.  Should I try to wind it up or what's the first thing I should do?

 

(it must work, the second hand has moved 8 seconds since I took the photo)

Finally removed the back off the watch, here's what I saw:

BALL MODEL

WADSWORTH QUALITY

14 KARAT GOLD FILLED

7485828

There's an inscription that reads "All My Love Is Yours, Madge"

The inside the watch itself is the following:

BALL WATCH Co.

CLEVELAND O

TRADEMARK OFFICIAL STANDARD

21 JEWELS ADJUSTED 5 POSITIONS

B623063

How can I tell when this was made and an approximate value?

MODELING SOUTHEAST VIRGINIA

Having A Blast Running BPRC

Bob Delbridge posted:
Bob Delbridge posted:

My wife passed away May 3 and I haven't been posting much, but today as I was going thru some of her things I found this:

 

 

DSCN0082

 

The face notation says "Ball Official RR Standard Cleveland".

 

I don't think it came from anyone on her side of the family that was a RRman, I know her grandfather was on the Vicksburg Police force (I have 2 of his badges, one is a captains badge).

 

Not sure how long this watch has been sitting, at least 25 years.  Should I try to wind it up or what's the first thing I should do?

 

(it must work, the second hand has moved 8 seconds since I took the photo)

Finally removed the back off the watch, here's what I saw:

BALL MODEL

WADSWORTH QUALITY

14 KARAT GOLD FILLED

7485828

There's an inscription that reads "All My Love Is Yours, Madge"

The inside the watch itself is the following:

BALL WATCH Co.

CLEVELAND O

TRADEMARK OFFICIAL STANDARD

21 JEWELS ADJUSTED 5 POSITIONS

B623063

How can I tell when this was made and an approximate value?

Bob,

From what I remember, Ball actually did not manufacture any of his/their watches. Ball had quite a few "suppliers", over the years, such as Elgin, Waltham, Hamilton, and Illinois. The 14 Karat Gold Filled case, is by "Wadsworth", however someplace on the movement itself should be the manufacturer's name. I no longer have a serial number listing, but such information shouldn't be difficult to find.

Just an opinion but, with a Ball 21 jewel movement, and a 14 Karat Wadsworth case, I would guess the value at over $500.

EDIT:

In checking my records of my meager railroad pocket watch collection, I find the following:

Ball Watch Co. 16s by Hamilton. 21 jewels "999B". Original, outstanding Ball Watch Co. yellow gold filled RR case, with stirrup bow, serial #1B4137 (1938), near mint condition. I paid $342, including shipping, 8-2-1991.  I sold it for over $600, 4-2 2000. 

 

Hope this helps.

Bob Delbridge posted:
Bob Delbridge posted:

My wife passed away May 3 and I haven't been posting much, but today as I was going thru some of her things I found this:

 

 

DSCN0082

 

The face notation says "Ball Official RR Standard Cleveland".

 

I don't think it came from anyone on her side of the family that was a RRman, I know her grandfather was on the Vicksburg Police force (I have 2 of his badges, one is a captains badge).

 

Not sure how long this watch has been sitting, at least 25 years.  Should I try to wind it up or what's the first thing I should do?

 

(it must work, the second hand has moved 8 seconds since I took the photo)

Finally removed the back off the watch, here's what I saw:

BALL MODEL

WADSWORTH QUALITY

14 KARAT GOLD FILLED

7485828

There's an inscription that reads "All My Love Is Yours, Madge"

The inside the watch itself is the following:

BALL WATCH Co.

CLEVELAND O

TRADEMARK OFFICIAL STANDARD

21 JEWELS ADJUSTED 5 POSITIONS

B623063

How can I tell when this was made and an approximate value?

I'm sorry for your loss as well.

 You can plug in the serial number of pretty much any watch on this website and get results (the page I linked to is for your watch). Your watch was probably made in 1926.

Steve

 

Thanks Norm and Jack!!!

From what I found online, the watch "B623063" was made in 1926.

Thing is I need to get it appraised...it got stolen a couple of weeks ago!  I had a good idea who took it and called the cops.  As it turned out, the detective that came to the house went to high school with my daughter.  She (the detective) found the watch at a local pawn shop and I now have it back in my possession, but I need an appraisal so the police/DA can put a price on it for court purposes.  Not sure if a verbal or written appraisal is required.

A local appraiser will give me a verbal for $30 and a written for $75.

MODELING SOUTHEAST VIRGINIA

Having A Blast Running BPRC

Bob Delbridge posted:

Thanks Norm and Jack!!!

From what I found online, the watch "B623063" was made in 1926.

Thing is I need to get it appraised...it got stolen a couple of weeks ago!  I had a good idea who took it and called the cops.  As it turned out, the detective that came to the house went to high school with my daughter.  She (the detective) found the watch at a local pawn shop and I now have it back in my possession, but I need an appraisal so the police/DA can put a price on it for court purposes.  Not sure if a verbal or written appraisal is required.

A local appraiser will give me a verbal for $30 and a written for $75.

Bob,

That "local appraiser" obviously knows NOTHING about railroad pocket watches!!!!!

Hot Water posted:
Bob Delbridge posted:

Thanks Norm and Jack!!!

From what I found online, the watch "B623063" was made in 1926.

Thing is I need to get it appraised...it got stolen a couple of weeks ago!  I had a good idea who took it and called the cops.  As it turned out, the detective that came to the house went to high school with my daughter.  She (the detective) found the watch at a local pawn shop and I now have it back in my possession, but I need an appraisal so the police/DA can put a price on it for court purposes.  Not sure if a verbal or written appraisal is required.

A local appraiser will give me a verbal for $30 and a written for $75.

Bob,

That "local appraiser" obviously knows NOTHING about railroad pocket watches!!!!!

You do know that is the cost for the appraisal and not the value of the watch. 

 

Bob Delbridge posted:
Bob Delbridge posted:

My wife passed away May 3 and I haven't been posting much, but today as I was going thru some of her things I found this:

 

 

DSCN0082

 

The face notation says "Ball Official RR Standard Cleveland".

 

I don't think it came from anyone on her side of the family that was a RRman, I know her grandfather was on the Vicksburg Police force (I have 2 of his badges, one is a captains badge).

 

Not sure how long this watch has been sitting, at least 25 years.  Should I try to wind it up or what's the first thing I should do?

 

(it must work, the second hand has moved 8 seconds since I took the photo)

Finally removed the back off the watch, here's what I saw:

BALL MODEL

WADSWORTH QUALITY

14 KARAT GOLD FILLED

7485828

There's an inscription that reads "All My Love Is Yours, Madge"

The inside the watch itself is the following:

BALL WATCH Co.

CLEVELAND O

TRADEMARK OFFICIAL STANDARD

21 JEWELS ADJUSTED 5 POSITIONS

B623063

How can I tell when this was made and an approximate value?

Hi Bob,

The serial number of your watch indicates that it was produced in approx. 1926-1927.    To wind the watch,  just turn the crown(the serrated knob at the top of the watch case) clockwise.   You will feel and hear the watch winding up the mainspring.   I would wind it maybe 4 or 5 turns,  then set the hands to the correct time,  then go back and wind the watch fully.    In order to set the hands,  you must unscrew the front cover and remove it.   At approx.  between the 1-2 o'clock position you will see a slot with a small arm/lever protruding.   gently pull the lever outward until it stops.   You can then gently pull upward on the crown and then set the hands to the time.   Once the hands are set,  push the crown back down,  and gently push the lever back into the case.   Thread the front cover back onto the case(be careful as these fine threads are cross threaded very easily)-just make it a snug fit.   Then go back and wind the watch fully.   I'm not going to get into value because that's subjective based on condition(dial chips or cracks,  case wear,  movement scratches,  screw head damage,  etc)  rarity,  and desirability.   You would need detailed photos of the watch to get a better idea of value.

Nick 

USAF Security Service 1967-1971,  US Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District 1993-2012,  Pittsburgh Independent Hi-Railers

ben10ben posted:

From the serial number, it is indeed a Ball-Hamilton.

 

Sorry to be a curmudgeon, but I'd prefer not to see folks referencing the rip-off thief of an inaccurate website known as the Pocket Watch Database.

Thanks to Ben and all the rest.

 The watch runs fine after a bit of winding.

 I want to get it appraised, but I don’t think it will be any time soon, at least until the end of the month.

What do you guys keep your watches in? I had this one in a wooden box meant for a compass.

MODELING SOUTHEAST VIRGINIA

Having A Blast Running BPRC

Bob Delbridge posted:
ben10ben posted:

From the serial number, it is indeed a Ball-Hamilton.

 

Sorry to be a curmudgeon, but I'd prefer not to see folks referencing the rip-off thief of an inaccurate website known as the Pocket Watch Database.

Thanks to Ben and all the rest.

 The watch runs fine after a bit of winding.

 I want to get it appraised, but I don’t think it will be any time soon, at least until the end of the month.

What do you guys keep your watches in? I had this one in a wooden box meant for a compass.

I keep my very best RR pocket watches in the vault at our local bank (safety deposit box). I go to the bank and wind them twice a year. My other carry watches, are kept in the top drawer of my dresser, and I periodically wind them. 

smd4 posted:
ben10ben posted:

Sorry to be a curmudgeon, but I'd prefer not to see folks referencing the rip-off thief of an inaccurate website known as the Pocket Watch Database.

Can you enlighten us?

Here are the issues that I have:

1. The site uses NUMEROUS sources that are quite obvious if you're familiar with the literature available. The Hampden references are a direct rip-off of Henry Burgell's work, which was derived(with permission) from Jim Hernick and Bob Arnold's Hampden book(BTW, Bob says he's going to get around to revising the book "one of these days" and I hope he's able to). The Illinois stuff comes from Russ Snyder's database, along with the Erhardt Illinois book. Russ wasn't aware of it until I brought it to his attention, while a good friend of mine has the copyright to the Illinois book and is working on a revision of it.

The problem, though, with using these sources is that NONE of them are cited-the information is simply there, and again it's not used just a reference but as a blatant copy.

 

2. This really wound me up. The NAWCC is in possession of the Hamilton ledgers in their library. About 30 years ago, they were microfilmed and specific pages were supplied at no charge to NAWCC members or a small charge to non-members. About 7 years ago, 5 folks(two of whom are very good friends of mine) donated $1K each to have the ledgers digitized, and they are online as an NAWCC benefit for members. Again, they are also available for a small fee to non-NAWCC members. The database has a COMPLETE transcription of the ledgers available free for all, and again with no reference to the fact that the ledgers are property of the NAWCC or even that the information came from them.

3. The site invites corrections by observation. Unfortunately, this system is inherently flawed. I hate to sound snobbish about this, but observations of watches out of the ordinary really need to be vetted by folks who know the brand well to differentiate between legitimate factory oddities and put-together pieces. The author of the database takes observations at face value.

 

Also, I still try to keep information accurate, and, as an example, I had a round with the author over the first run of Waltham 1892 Vanguard model movements. I specifically collect movements from this run, so I feel like I know them fairly well. I have a half dozen and have handled probably 30 since I specifically watch for them at shows. The ledgers list the run as 17j and pendant set. As they stagnated, some were changed to 21j and some were changed to lever set(and of course some got both changes). Early on, the database was changed to 21j and lever set based on a single reported observation, and it took a LOT of emails back and forth(along with a lot of photos and other work on my part) to get the point across that the ledgers were accurate but that watches were factory up-jeweled and otherwise changed. The problem was compounded by the fact that the 17j Vanguards weren't marked with a jewel count, and many observations "assumed" 21j when nothing was marked("why would they make a 17j Vanguard?")-I had to spend time pointing out the number of uploaded photos that actually showed 17j watches. It was FINALLY noted as a split run, which was a reasonable enough compromise but still not totally accurate.

4. This one is probably a bit more nit-picky, but it pertains specifically to the Illinois section of the database. Hard core Illinois collectors(and yes, I'm one of them) break down watches into multiple variants. Frankly, if I'm looking up a Bunn Special, I don't care about how many were made that were marked "Bunn Special"-I care about how many were made in that size, jewel count, pattern, and marking variant.

Ben TCA 09-63474
Bob Delbridge posted:

What do you guys keep your watches in? I had this one in a wooden box meant for a compass.

I keep a couple in a cut off sock, one in a soft pouch and one in its original box. Except for the one in the original box, the other three have shoe laces serving as chains to avoid wear, the gold chains are kept in a separate plastic bag.

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