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    

South Bend The Studebaker Model: 329 Railroad Pocket Watch Vintage Antique3oz 57mm - Sterling Silver 18s Am Waltham Rr Hunters Pocket Watch CaseAntique Perret & Co Railway Steam Train Pictorial Dial Blue Enamel Pocket WatchWaltham Vanguard 21 Jewel 18s Model 1892 Railroad Pocket WatchIllinois Bunn Special 21j 16s Rare Bright Spot Damaskeen Railroad Pocket Watch16s Illinois 21j 60hr Bunn Special Rr Grade Ygf Bunn Special CaseLongines Express Monarch 21 Jewel 18 Size Railroad Pocket Watch1909 Hampden Dueber 21 Jewels - Rr Grade In Train Engraved Case - 18s - RunsVintage Hamilton, Box Set 992e Elinvar 21j, 10k Ygf Railroad Grade Pocket Watch!Hamilton Railway Special 992b Model 5 Size 16s 21jewel Pocket Watch Excellent!!!Antique 16s Illinois Bunn Special 21j 21 Jewel Railroad Pocket WatchRare Grade 374 Father Time Up Dn Indicator Railroad 21j Elgin Pocket Watch 16 Size 19 Jewel Hampden Special Railway Model 5 Runs And Winds Nice!Super 21j Bw Raymond Railroad Elgin Vintage Pocket WatchMirror Image Collectible Hamilton Rr Mod #5 Keystone J.boss 16s 10k 992 950 996!21j 60hr Sixty Hour Bunn Special Case Illinois Railroad Antique Pocket WatchLate-model Rr-ready Hamilton Case Model #17 16s Star 10k Ygf 992b 950b 950e 992eAntique Gold Filled Time Ball Special 21j 18s Railroad Pocket WatchBold & Beautiful South Bend 18s Ds Enamel Black Arabic Fancy Dress-rr Dial SuperPower Runner Dead Accurate Collector Hamilton 950l 16s 23j 5p Mint Dial+hands RrHamilton Vintage Railroad Special Pocket Watch, 992b (aprox 1944)Keystone J Boss 16 Size Superb Condition Railroad Pocket Watch CaseRunning 1922 Railroad Grade 16 Size 21 J Hamilton 992 In Display Case!Tavern Tussle Ready Illinois 16s Heavy-duty Nickel Dress-rr Case Indestructible!Hamilton Railway Special 21 Jewels 992b C363135 Pocket Watch 10k Gold Case RunsRare Old Illinois Railroad Mans Pocketwatch Watch Collector Dead Accurate Illinois Bunn Special 60-hour 16s 21j 6p Pristine Got Rr16 Size Rockford 17 Jewel Winnebago Railroad Grade Gold Filled Pocket Watch16s Howard 21j Series 11 Rr Chronometer Pocket Watch Movement. Great RunningHamilton 16s Factory Montgomery Railroad Dial For 992 / 950 / 990 Pocket Watch Vintage 1943 U.s. Govt. Hamilton 992b 21j, 10k Ygf Railroad Pocket Watch "nice"Hamilton 21j 992b Railway Special No Reserve NrHamilton 992 Green Gold Boc Rr Case Bold Dial 21 Jewel Runs Good Classic Look!Antique 16s Elgin Father Time 21j Rr Railroad Grade Pocket Watch Scarce 1881 - 16s Elgin - Rr Gr 85 3 Fingered Gf Pocket Watch Ball 16 Size 999b Hamilton Railroad Genuine Montgomery Pw Dial. 149cElgin Pocket Watch 21j 1942 S:16 Runs B. W. Raymond Movement Nr Railroad Runs LsVintage 1923 Elgin 21j Bw Raymond Railroad Grade Pocket Watch 16sWw1 Era 1917 Burlington Special Railroad Genre Pocket Watch.Spotless Complete Correct Waltham "crescent St." 16s 21j 5p Rr-grade Mvmt Nice!!Hamilton Railway Special 992b 21 Jewel Antique Pocket Watch W/ B&o Presentation14k Solid Gold 16s Waltham 23j Vanguard Rr Pocket Watch – 85.3 Grams Tw No ScrapBall 16 Size “stirrup” Hamilton 999b Factory Railroad Pw Case. 148cEarly 1070893 Hamilton 992 Railroad Antique 21j 16s Pocket Watch Beautiful Hamilton Railway Special Size 16 Montgomery Railroad Dial !Vintage 1911 Hamilton Model 992 21 Jewel Railroad Pocket WatchAntique Hamilton Railway Pocket Watch Attic FindAntique Elgin Veritas 23j 16s Railroad Pocket Watch - C. 1921Scarce 20th Century Ball Hamilton 21j Railroad Watch B626793 Pocket Watch1913 Hamilton Gold Filled Railroad Pocket Watch Presentation Ww1 Army MajorHamilton 18s 21j Grade 940 Yellow Gold Filled Rr Grade Open Face Pocket WatchVintage 10k Goldfilled 16s E. Howard Rr Pocket Watch #200514Rare Randolph Williamson 23j Up Down Indicator Waltham Railroad Watch DiamondScarce 3x Signed Up Down Indicator Waltham 23j Railroad Pocket Watch16s Elgin B W Raymond 21j Rr Railroad Grade Pocket Watch Hamilton 992b 21 Jewels Railway Special Pocketwatch Railroad Pocket Watch Gf Scarce 21j Open Face Elgin Grade 150 18s Nickel Railroad Mov't & Dial, Running!Antique Waltham Rr Grade Appleton Tracey 18s Gp Of Pocket Watch,runs,leverIllinois Pocket Watch 17 J Adjusted 4 Pos Railroad Lever Set Cal 706The Classic Keystone J.boss 16s Mainliner 10k Ygf Late-model Dress-rr Case Great