Pocket watch use peaked in the late 19th century as a wave of investment went into pocket watch design and manufacture by companies such as Elgin, Waltham, Hamilton, and Illinois. The was because railroads needed highly accurate, precision timepieces so their locomotive engineers could maintain strict schedules, thus avoiding collisions.
Hunting case watches, popular during the 19th century, have a closed cover that flips open when you push a button. By 1900, the open face watch took over and hunting case watches became less commonplace.
The shafts on the wheels of pocket watches are made of steel, and the plates are made of different kinds of brass, most commonly nickel brass (also known as nickel plate). The gears are usually made of brass, but some were made of steel and gold was used on high-grade watches.
Antique pocket watch collectors care both about a watch's movement and its case. Cases were made of different metals like silver and gold. Many were gold-filled, with two thin sheets of gold on the outside around a thicker layer of brass.
Pocket watch cases were also made from a wide variety of silver colored material, with names like silveride, usually nickel based. While gold watch cases are appealing to collectors, today's value has more to do with what was appropriate to the watch at the time.
The quality of an antique pocket watch movement is related to the number of jewels it has and other factors. For a more detailed discussion of jewels see railroad pocket watches.
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Recent News: Pocket Watches
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The Latest in Luxury WatchesBarron's (blog), January 30th
By digitally mapping different sounds on a screen, AP demonstrated how it's trying to marry the rich and sonorous chimes of an 1888 pocket watch with the exquisite melody of a 1924 minute-repeater wristwatch, all while using 1993 materials and...Read more
The Fire on the 57 Bus in OaklandNew York Times, January 29th
Previously Sasha's style tended toward steampunk — top hats, tweeds, vests and bow ties, even a pocket watch. But Sasha loved the sartorial gender-mashup that came from adding a skirt to the vest and bow tie. For Sasha's parents, the most surprising...Read more
Pocket watch and football medal stolen from 72-year-old's Accrington homeThe Bolton News, January 29th
A POCKET watch of “great sentimental value” and a football medal were among the items stolen from a pensioner's home after it was burgled. Police are appealing for information after the 72-year-old man's house was broken into in Accrington on the...Read more
British minister apologizes for watch gaffeABC17News.com, January 26th
A British transport minister on a trade visit to Taipei got a lesson in the perils of diplomatic gift giving Monday when she presented a pocket watch to the city's mayor -- a taboo act in Chinese culture...Read more
British minister breaks taboo with watch gift for Taipei's mayorCNN International, January 26th
Ko, who was recently elected and isn't a career politician, told reporters that he had "no use" for the pocket watch. "I can just regift it to someone or take it to a scrap metal dealer and sell it for cash," he was quoted as saying. On Tuesday, he...Read more
Lib Dem Minister Accidentally Creates Diplomatic Incident In Taiwan Involving ...BuzzFeed News, January 26th
Baroness Kramer, a transport minister, was visiting Taiwan on an official trade mission when she gave the present of a pocket watch to Ko Wen-je, the mayor of Taipei. Unfortunately Kramer was unaware the gifting of watches is considered to be taboo in ...Read more
Have you seen this distinctive pocket watch?The Argus, January 21st
The JW Benson silver half hunter pocket watch, with a silver pendant, was taken from a house in Crowhusrst Road. The homeowner left the watch, which has a crest on the fob, by the front door. Anyone who has been offered the item for sale or has any ...Read more
Pocket Watch Sold for World Record-Making $24 MillionWall Street Journal, November 11th
In 1916, Packard was ahead with a 16-complication pocket watch. In 1925, Graves countered by challenging Patek Philippe to create a watch with 24 complications—the most complicated watch ever produced until that point, which the Swiss company ...Read more