Waltham pocket watches are some of the oldest American watches you can still buy today. Their high-quality engineering and handiwork put them on the map, putting them in direct competition with the high-end pocket watches from Europe that dominated the market at the time. They changed the way watches were made in the middle of the 1800s, and they were also some of the first “railroad-grade” pocket watches ever made.
Waltham pocket watches might be a good choice if you want to buy a timepiece that is both reliable and has a long history. Without further ado, here are 10 things you need to know about Waltham pocket watches.
How can you tell if a pocket watch is made by Waltham?
There are a few ways to tell whether or not a Waltham pocket watch is real.
First, open the watch’s back cover and look for “A.W.W.Co.” and “Waltham, Mass.” in the watch’s inner workings. For this one, you might need a loupe or a magnifying glass. This will also tell you how good the watch is. For example, a “A.W.W.Co. Riverside Waltham, Mass.” will be written on a Riverside grade watch.
A serial number is another way to tell who made a Waltham pocket watch. Every Waltham pocket watch made after 1852 has a serial number that is unique to that watch. With these numbers, you can find out how old the watch is. You don’t have to be an expert on time to figure this one out. You can just go to sites like pocketwatchdatabase.com and look for the years and serial numbers that match. If the serial number is between two dates, it means that the pocket watch was made earlier.
Lastly, if the pocket watch has a cover, look inside for the letters “AWco.” This will show that Waltham made the cover as well. If there is a “K” followed by a number, the case is made of gold, and the number shows how many carats it is. “K18” means, for example, that the case is made of 18-carat gold.
What does “Railroad Grade” mean?
After the big train accident in America in 1891, which was caused by a broken watch, Waltham, Elgin, and Hamilton, three of the most well-known watchmakers at the time, started making watches to a new set of rules called the “railroad standard.” To be railroad standard, the watches had to meet the following requirements:
- Size 16S or 18S was required
- They had to have at least 17 gems.
- They had to be set with a lever.
- The stem had to be at 12 o’clock and the face had to be open.
- They had to be able to be moved to at least 5 different positions.
- They had to have Arabic numbers on the dial that was big and easy to read.
- They could spend no more than 30 seconds on each weekly check.
Is it hard to find a Waltham pocket watch?
Since the Waltham pocket watch was the first one to be made in large numbers, you might think that there is still a lot of them on the market. But it’s hard to find Waltham pocket watches that are good enough to be an investment.
What is the value of a Waltham pocket watch?
The price of an old Waltham pocket watch can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. It depends a lot on how good the watch is. These are antiques that need a lot of care to keep them in good shape. As a result, there are a lot of Waltham pocket watches that are so cheap that they are basically just used as scraps. However, sometimes a real investment-grade pocket watch comes up at an auction and sells as the top lot.
How do you put a price on a Waltham pocket watch?
There are many ways to figure out how much a Waltham pocket watch is worth.
- Age, grade, and size are the first things that are thought about.
- How many jewels are there? First, let’s agree on what jewels are. These aren’t like the gems you usually see for decoration. Instead, they talk about the industrial gram gemstones that are used as bearings in the watch. These are meant to stop wear and tear from happening. The more jewels a watch has the higher its grade. Most of the time, a pocket watch is of a lower grade if it has 15 jewels or fewer. Another thing that needs to be made clear is that the value of the jewels is not shown by the jewels themselves. The more jewels a watch has, the better it works. This is what makes the watch more valuable.
- The state of the watch. Are there any dents, scratches, or broken dials on it?
- The materials used to make the watch are also a big part of its value as a whole. The price goes up as the quality of the materials (like silver and gold) goes up.
- Is it in working order? It goes without saying that a working watch will be worth more than one that no longer works.
When did the first Waltham pocket watch come out?
The Waltham Model 1857 was the first pocket watch ever made by Waltham. It was made in 1857, as its name suggests, and was the first watch to be made in large quantities and with standard parts. Before 1857, each pocket watch had different parts, which made making them and fixing them hard and expensive. Most watches at that time were also made in England or France, so the Waltham pocket watch is a good example of how well things were made in America.
The 90% pure coin silver was used to make most Model 57 pocket watches.
Did Abraham Lincoln have a pocket watch made by Waltham?
Abraham Lincoln did own a Waltham pocket watch, that is true. The 16th President was given a Waltham pocket watch model 1857 with serial number 67613 after he gave the Gettysburg Address. The watch is currently on display at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in Washington, DC.
Does Waltham still make watches?
Like most old things, it’s important to keep it in good shape. If you took care of your Waltham pocket watch, it will almost certainly still work today.
What was so important about the Waltham Factory?
The Waltham factory was important because it changed the way Americans made pocket watches. In 1849, Aaron Lufkin Dennison, Edward Howard, and David Davis got together to start a business that could make watch movement parts in large quantities. Before this, all watches made in the United States were made by hand. This made building and fixing them takes a long time and cost a lot of money.
Waltham thought that making watches with standard parts that could be swapped out would save a lot of time, money, and energy.
The business first opened in 1852 and stayed in business until 1957. During that time, more than 40 million fine watches, pocket watches, clocks, and other instruments with high levels of accuracy were made. It was definitely one of the most successful watch companies in the United States, and by the early 1870s, Waltham watches were winning awards all over the world.
Can Waltham pocket watches still be bought?
Yes, Waltham pocket watches are still for sale today. You can easily find low- and middle-quality watches online or in antique shops. However, investment-quality Waltham pocket watches are usually sold at public or private auctions.