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Keys for Winding & Setting Antique Pocket Watches

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Recent activity1637 of 178983A Few FavoritesHamilton No. 940 Railroad Timekeeper
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Posted 2 years ago

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pw-collector
(166 items)

Before a pocket watch was wound by turning the crown or the time set by pushing the crown in or pulling it out, and turning the crown until the hands were set at the proper time, pocket watches had to have a "key" to wind the watch and to set the time. You had to open the back cover, exposing the movement to accomplish this task. Some pocket watches had two post on the movement, one to set the time & one to wind the watch. Others only had one post (as the one pictured above) that was for winding the watch. To set the watch, you opened the front of the watch exposing the dial, and there was a square post in the center holding the hour & minute hands. You placed the key on the center post and turned it until the hands were set at the proper time.
There were some watches, like the one pictured, that had a "hidden key". You would unscrew the crown, and the other end of the crown stem, was the key. This will be a separate posting I will make at a later date.
These keys were made in 14 different sizes, numbered 00, 0, and 1-12, (smallest to largest), to fit the various sizes of post used on the movements. There were some fancy keys, gold ones, ones with precious stones, advertising ones, ones with a ratcheting handle to make it easier & faster, plain keys, and then there was my favorite, the pocket watch key fashioned in the style of a firearm.
In the center of my small collection pictured above is the "holy grail" of my collection. A #5 size pocket watch key fashioned after a "Lefaucheux Pinfire Revolver". Many years ago while collecting small 2mm pinfire pistols, I heard of a small pocket watch key, that resembled a 12mm pinfire revolver. That was all it took, and the hunt was on. In 1983 a book "The Pinfire System" was published, and there was a photo of one in there. The hunt intensified. In the mid-late 1990's, (I believe), there was a photo of different pocket watch keys with a revolver like mine in the photo (see photo #4 above) in the Complete Price Guide to Watches . It wasn't until 2004-05 that I saw one advertised on eBay and it was located in the United Kingdom. After approximately 30 years of searching, I won the bid and wear it proudly on a watch chain with my key-wind watches.

You can have your fancy, hi-tech, Apple watches. I'll stick with my 150+ year old key-wind watches!!!

Thanks for looking,
Dave

Comments

  1. pw-collector pw-collector, 2 years ago
    Thanks vetraio50 for the appreciation.
  2. Rustfarm Rustfarm, 2 years ago
    That first photo is over the top! This is an incredible piece!
  3. pw-collector pw-collector, 2 years ago
    Thanks Rustfarm. When I first made the post, I used the second photo of the collection as the lead photo. But the more I looked at this shot, the more I was convinced it needed to be the lead photo.
    Thanks for the comment and appreciation.
  4. pw-collector pw-collector, 2 years ago
    Thanks eye4beauty for the appreciation.
  5. pw-collector pw-collector, 2 years ago
    Thanks rniederman for the appreciation.
  6. scottvez scottvez, 2 years ago
    Great educational posting-- love the revolver key!

    scott
  7. pw-collector pw-collector, 2 years ago
    Thanks kaputs11 for the comment & appreciation.
    Usually, when looking for a certain item, I take my time to find one I can afford, but for this one, the wait was for the first one I saw come up for sale, no matter the cost!!
    By the way, I have yet to see another one come up for sale.
  8. pw-collector pw-collector, 2 years ago
    Thanks scottvez for the comments.
    Thanks again kaputs11 for the kind words.
    Thanks bobby725 for the appreciation.
  9. pw-collector pw-collector, 2 years ago
    Thanks Kerry for the appreciation.
  10. GeodeJem GeodeJem, 2 years ago
    Thank you for the education, never knew that.
  11. pw-collector pw-collector, 2 years ago
    Thanks for the comments & appreciation:
    fortapache
    mikelv85
    officialfuel
    GeodeJem
  12. pw-collector pw-collector, 2 years ago
    Thanks walksoftly for the appreciation.
  13. pw-collector pw-collector, 2 years ago
    Thanks Roycroftbooksfromme1 for the appreciation.
  14. Trey Trey, 2 years ago
    Love the little Pistol:)
  15. pw-collector pw-collector, 2 years ago
    Thanks Trey for the comment & appreciation,
  16. pw-collector pw-collector, 2 years ago
    Thanks shawnicus for the appreciation.
  17. pw-collector pw-collector, 2 years ago
    Thanks aghcollect for the appreciation.
  18. pw-collector pw-collector, 2 years ago
    Thanks BB2 for the appreciation.
  19. pw-collector pw-collector, 2 years ago
    Thanks for the appreciation:
    JoyB
    Roycroftbooksfromme1
  20. antiquerose antiquerose, 2 years ago
    Now those ARE KEYS!!

    Sweet Post !!
  21. pw-collector pw-collector, 2 years ago
    Thanks antiquerose for the comments & appreciation.
  22. pw-collector pw-collector, 2 years ago
    Thanks Nicefice for the appreciation.
  23. Padit, 2 months ago
    Can't seem to get away from your posts. Maybe the same era's or locations. My father was a Jeweler/Watchmaker during the late 40's and early 50's after WWII.
    He used the GI Bill for his education after the war and when I was small, he used to bring shoe boxes full of pocket watches home for me to play with. I remember the keys. Not the fancy ones though and I wish I still had one or two of the watches, along with the jewel setting tool. Great collections!
  24. pw-collector pw-collector, 2 months ago
    I've been away for awhile & need to catch up on appreciations, so thanks to:
    antiquerose
    SpiritBear
    toolatetoo
    Padit
    kyratango
    ttomtucker
  25. pw-collector pw-collector, 1 month ago
    Thanks for the appreciation:
    buckethead
    roddyq
  26. pw-collector pw-collector, 1 month ago
    Thanks Jono for the appreciation.
  27. pw-collector pw-collector, 9 days ago
    Thanks for the appreciation:
    Franca
    MacDaddyRico
    Oroyoroyisthatyourhorse
    boysfarm

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