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My grandfather's railroad pocket watch

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Railroad Pocket Watches38 of 67Hamilton US RR Grade Pocket Watchsilver (?) heavy men's antique pocket watch with train engraving
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Posted 4 years ago


(1 item)

This is my grandfather's pocket watch. He was an engineer with Great Northern Railway, and I found a photo of him wearing it. I would love any info on this watch!

It appears to require a separate piece to wind, some sort of square piece to insert, or am I missing something about how it winds?

Face: says "Illinois Watch Co"

Inside back cover top side: "Invisible Joint cased_ (hard to read) coin silver 10555"

On the back side of the back cover: "Patented Nov 9, 1883" then the number 3 inside a diamond shape, and the number 10555 again.

On the watch mechanism: Illinois Watch Co, No 229193, Springfield, Ill, Patent Pinion (hard to read)"


  1. pw-collector pw-collector, 4 years ago
    This is a key-wind & set watch. Watch keys are numbered 00, 0 & 1 through 12 (00 being the largest size). The watch is wound with the key with the post on the back of the movement (photo #3) and it is set with the key at the post in the center of the hands on the dial (photo #1).
    Below is one on-line database:
    Grade: 101

    Movement Serial Number:229193
    Estimated Production Year: 1881
    Run Quantity: 2000
    Size: 18s
    Jewels: 11j
    Movement Configuration: Hunting
    Movement Finish: Nickel
    Model: 1
    Movement Setting: Key
    Plate: Full Plate
    Barrel: Going
    Adjusted: Yes
    Railroad Grade: No

    Thanks for showing this watch and giving some history of it.
  2. pw-collector pw-collector, 4 years ago
    Here is a link to an article on What is a Railroad Watch
    A set of watch keys are readily available on eBay.
    I have a couple of Illinois Key-winds & they take a #5 key.
  3. blunderbuss2 blunderbuss2, 4 years ago
    pw, you seem to know your stuff. Going to be where my Illinois watch that I posted awhile back & will get s/n etc. & maybe you can help me. Neither my sister or her jeweler could unscrew the back so I've had to let it ride but want to know more about it & will get in touch.
  4. nwmale, 4 years ago
    PW, thank you so much for your help! I appreciate the links and help. I will get on eBay and look for a #5 key. I'm thinking I may polish it back up and perhaps have the bevel polished. If there are any risks/tips in cleaning it up, I would appreciate the help. I'm thinking I'll restore it a little and perhaps mount it in some sort of frame with the photo of my grandfather wearing, while holding my mother in his arms.
  5. nwmale, 4 years ago
    PW, one further question, the info you sent shows an estimated production year of 1881, but the watch shows "Patented Nov 9, 1883." Actually, as I look at the closeup photo I posted it looks more like Nov 8 or 6, but the year is clear. Any thoughts on that?
  6. pw-collector pw-collector, 4 years ago
    You are taking the date off of the case. The movement normally was sold separately to a jeweler, and the customer would pick out a case he liked and the jeweler would match them up. So in this case, the movement was manufactured before the case was manufactured.
    You need to have the watch professionally serviced by a qualified jeweler before winding this on a regular basis. Damage to the watch parts will happen if not serviced and oiled properly. I prefer only light cleaning of the case.
  7. nwmale, 4 years ago
    Dave, thank you again. I just ordered a key off eBay, and will get the movement professionally serviced before winding at all. You've helped me learn a great deal. By the way, my 84 year old mother will love seeing her dad's watch spruced up a bit.

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