Railroads were at the forefront of the effort to standardize timekeeping in the late 1800's, because when their engineers' watches weren't accurately synchronized, terrible locomotive collisions could result. In addition to encouraging the creation of standardized national time zones, the railroads provided a ready market for pocket watches made to exacting specifications, including the number of jewels and adjustments.

Adjustments means the watch has been specially calibrated to keep constant time regardless of position, adjusted to work in the vertical position, the horizontal position, the left, right, upside down position.

Jewels are bearings on the various gears to reduce friction. A watch with no jewels is metal grinding on metal and soon will stop.

On a very high-grade watch, every single wheel or gear would have a jewel, one on the front and one on the back, plus cap jewels to prevent it from going up or down.

Lower-grade watches would only have them on the gears moving the fastest and a really poor quality watch would only have one or two jewels or maybe none. These are not gem-quality jewels, but industrial type jewels (rubies, sapphires, and diamonds are so hard they make very good bearings because they don’t wear). A watch must have at least seven jewels to be considered a jeweled watch, and standard high-jeweled watches have 23 (and sometimes even more – the McIntyre Watch Company had a watch with 25 jewels). High-jeweled watches are rare, and therefore sought-after by collectors.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Railroadiana Online

Railroadiana Online

If you've ever wondered how to tell real from fake railroad china, or how brass baggage tags originated, this extre… [read review or visit site]

Barry S. Goldbergs Pocket Watch Collection

Barry S. Goldbergs Pocket Watch Collection

Barry Goldberg’s excellent collection of pocket watches, mostly American models from the late 1800s and early 189… [read review or visit site]

American Watch Company Web

American Watch Company Web

Tom McIntyre’s reference site on antique watches, especially those made by the American Watch Company (later know… [read review or visit site]

National Watch and Clock Museum

National Watch and Clock Museum

This virtual museum, created by the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, lets you stroll through tim… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

16s21jewel Illinois A Lincoln Railroad Red Ball Dial Near Mint Condition1968 Hamilton 992b Railroad 21j Pocket Watch Montgomery Dial Railway SpecialIllinois "railway" 18 Size 11j Silver Keywind Scarce Pocket WatchScarce Tutone Waltham 21j Hunter Case Crescent Street 1892 Model Rr GradeHamilton Grade 950 Model 3 Railroad Pocket Watch 16s 23j Lot 6 Elgin Waltham Railroad Riverside Pocket Watch 17j 14k Gold Fill Cases Vintage 1925 Ball Hamilton, 999, 21j, 14k Wgf, Railroad Grade, Pocket WatchElgin Pennsylvania Railroad Co. 18s 15j Bw Raymond Rare Early Rr Pocket WatchHamilton Pocket Watch 21 Jewel 940 Motor Barrel Railroad Approved Very Nice RunsIllinois Bunn Special 163 161 60 Hour Railroad Pocket Watch Dial & HandsHamilton 992b 21 Jewel 16 Size Model 11 Case Railroad Pocket WatchHoward Series Viii Ball Order Of Railway Conductors Pocket Watch, Good RunningVintage Pocket Watch Hamilton Railway Special 950b 23 Jewel Montgomery Dial BocScarce Hamilton 21 Jewel Rr Grade Hunting Case Pocket WatchWaltham Crescent St 21 Jewel 16 Size Railroad Pocket Watch1907 Hamltion 940 21 Jewels Pocket Watch Northern Pacific Railway Case 588338Ferguson Dial Elgin Bw Raymond 21j 16s Railroad Pocket Watch 1911 GreatconditionRailroad Grade 21j 16sz Hamilton "992b" Gold Filled Pocket Watch-serviced-timed16,21jewel Hamilton 992b Railroad Stainless M#15 Extra Fine+ ConditionHoward 21 Jewel 16 Size Series 10 Railroad Pocket WatchLarge Collection 3 Railway Special Hamilton 992b 21j RailroadHamilton Watch Co, 21j, 16s Model 992, Railroad Pocket WatchHamilton 992 In A Fancy Glass Back Case 21 Jewel Railroad Pocketwatch Circa 1930Nice Keystone 16s Pocket Watch Case - 10kgf Hamilton Model 11 ? Rr Case Nr!Hamilton 940 21 Jewel Rr Grade With Awesome Raised Train J. Boss CaseSuperb Looking Hamilton 992b, 16s 21j Antique Railroad Pocket Watch, Great CaseIllinois All Original A Lincoln 21jewel 16 Size Railroad Pocket WatchWaltham Vanguard 21 Jewel 18 Size Railroad Pocket WatchVery Nice Farm Fresh 1915 Vintage 21j Hamilton 992 Rr W/handsome Ds DialAntique Hamilton 21 Jewel Railroad Wind Pocket Watch Grade 940 18 S Train CaseElgin 23 Jewel Veritas Railroad Pocket Watch. 10k Gold Plate Illinois CaseAntique Hamilton 17 Jewel Railroad Wind Pocket Watch Grade 936 18 S Gold FilledLongines Rare C1920 Italian National Railway Pocketwatch Ferrovie Dello StatoHamilton 992b Railway Special 10k Gold Filled Wind & Set Pocket Watch, 21 JewelsHamilton Railroad €1929 Hamilton Pocket Watch Railroad Grade 992 21j 16s 10k Gold Filled CaseElgin Father Time 21 Jewel 16 Size Railroad Pocket Watch18s 17jewel Hamilton 924 Rare (the Union ) Railroad Extra Fine ConditionVintage Illinois Pocket Watch Dial Santa Fe Special 21 Jewel Movement For RepairAntique Burlington Special Railroad 19 Jewel Wind Pocket Watch 3 Finger 16 Size16 Size Illinois Santa Fe Special 21j Railroad Pocket Watch Montgomery Dial16s Ball 21j Railroad Grade 999b Pocket Watch Porcelain Dial Stirrup Bow CaseBeautiful Illinois Bunn Special 21j Railroad Pocket Watch 1918 Leverset Must See16s Illinois 21j Bunn Special Railroad Grade Pocket Watch Montgomery Dial16s 17j Illinois L&n Railroad Railway Sw Ps Pocket Watch Just Serviced!!1939 Hamilton Railroad 992e Grade 21j 16s 14k White Gold Filled Case1917 Hamilton Double Roller 990 Montgomery Dial B L Of E Railroad Grade 21jsVintage Roskopf Patent Railway Pictorial Case Fob Pocket Watch WorkingUs Watch Co. Waltham Express Train 18s 15j Rare Railroad Pocket WatchBeautiful Elgin Bw Raymond Railroad 18s 17j Ornate 119 Y/o Pocket Watch RunningElgin Father Time 21 Jewel 16 Size Sunburst Damaskeen Railroad Pocket Watch1936 Waltham Vanguard Railroad Pocket Watch 1623 Grade 23j 16sHamilton 940 21 Jewel 18 Size Railroad Pocket WatchHamilton Railroad Approved Antique Pocket Watch 1918 Gold Center Wheel Grade 992* 1884 18s Hefty Waltham Locomotive Railroad Case Running Antique Pocket WatchHamilton 950e Railway Special In Great Shape Circa 1939Hamilton 971 23 Jewel Lever Set Railroad Pocket Watch B Prefix With Vest ChainElgin 18 Size Railroad Pocket Watch Dial. 96gWorking Hampden Hunter Pocket Watch 1891 Pocket Watch Railway Hunting MovementExtra Fine & Versatile Waltham 18s Dress-rr Dial Ds Enamel Fits All 18s Walthams