The Great American Railroad Pocket Watch--Quality antique and vintage railroad watches
We all love and cherish railroad memorabilia...the good old days...when times were simpler, and a person had time to stop and enjoy a great sunset, time to smell the roses so to speak. But what is all the interest in the American Railroad Pocket Watch. We see advertisements each day by sellers claiming to be marketing true railroad watches because the dial is Arabic, or that is an open face about a 16 or 18 size, or that it has an engraving of a locomotive on the case.
So what is that makes a railroad watch so desirable--so collectible--and so very expensive. How does one recognize a true railroad grade watch? Sorry--no fast easy answer--but the following information may give you some insight into the whole matter.
It began in 1891, the country was experiencing prosperity of the gay 90's, and the rail system was expanding with great enthusiasm. April 19th saw a fast mail train known as No. 4 traveling east on the same track as an accommodation train was going West. Unfortunately the engineer's watch on the accommodation train had stopped for 4 minutes, and then started up again. The two trains met their destiny at Kipton, Ohio, where both engineers were killed, along with nine others.
Following the disaster, a commission was appointed to come up with standards for timepieces that would be adopted by all railroads. The industry now had to demand precision in its timekeeping. Thus were born some of the finest timepieces ever made in the world!!!
The General Railroad Timepiece Standards were adopted by most railroads in 1893. They had to meet the following standards:
A railroad watch had to be open faced, size 16 or 18, have a minimum of 17 jewels, adjusted to at least five positions, keep time accurately to within 30 seconds a week, adjusted to temps of 34 to 100 degrees F., and have a double roller, steel escape wheel, lever set, regulator, winding stem at 12 o'clock, and have bold black arabic numerals on a white dial, with black hands.
A system of individual watch inspections was set up, and any watch that gained or lost 30 or more seconds in 7-14 days had to be repaired by an experienced and approved watchmaker. Because this system was adopted and adhered to, American watch manufacturers produced a superior railroad watch, and the traveling public was assured of increased safety.
The railroad watch standards changed throughout the years, and generally the watches became even more accurate. The railroad man was compelled to buy a timepiece more accurate than many scientific instruments of precision used in labs. Because of the railroad standards, the most accurate and rugged regulator systems that the world had ever seen were developed.
But it was more than unsurpassed accuracy that has made the American Railroad Watch a great collectible and a good investment. The simplistic beauty of the dial, the artisanship with which they are designed, the precious jewels and metals used in the production of the high quality movements, all contribute to the making of a great American collectible. If you pay a fair value for a good running railroad pocket watch, you can expect that its value will hold, or most likely appreciate over the years--making it a good investment.
Just What Is A RailroadWatch? Compliments of Kent Singer http://ph.nawcc.org/Railroad/Railroad.htm