Information about my "new" Illinois watch.

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ChristerMN
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Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2018 5:11 am

Information about my "new" Illinois watch.

#1 Post by ChristerMN » Thu Mar 29, 2018 5:33 am

I was at a public antique sale today, I live in Norway. I've always liked pocketwatches, especially the older ones. I found this one, which looked quite nice. Checked the serial number and found it's from about 1895.

https://pocketwatchdatabase.com/search/ ... is/1240500

If anyone knows anything about this make and model, and if it's rare. Saw that there was made about 2200 of them back then.

Seems to be in good working order.
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mrtoad
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Re: Information about my "new" Illinois watch.

#2 Post by mrtoad » Thu Mar 29, 2018 6:56 am

Welcome to Illinois!

This is a very nice example of an Illinois watch from when the company was in its early 20s. As you can see from the serial number, they'd already produced about a million and a quarter watches; they went on to make nearly six million. Illinois was one of the four great companies that sat at the top of the American watch industry; their history is told in Fred Friedberg's massive new book, about which you can find out more on this forum.

This is an 18-size watch, model 2, grade 64. It has 15 jewels and a patent regulator; it was adjusted for temperature, isochronism, and positions. All of that means it was one of their high-quality movements. This model was also issued in open faced version, which would have made it eligible for railroad service. Yours is, of course, a hunter case model, not for railroad use. Your coin-silver case, by the Crescent Watch Case Company, has particularly nice engraving around the rim.

It's a great watch; enjoy it!

(Be warned: if you get one Illinois, you'll want more, and we'll be seeing you more on the forum!)

semroc
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Re: Information about my "new" Illinois watch.

#3 Post by semroc » Thu Mar 29, 2018 6:56 pm

Beautiful pocket watch! Great information mrtoad. So the big four American companies were Illinois, Hamilton, Elgin, Bulova, or Gruen, or Ingersoll, or Waltham? Were there others back then?

mrtoad
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Re: Information about my "new" Illinois watch.

#4 Post by mrtoad » Thu Mar 29, 2018 9:12 pm

In the pocket watch business, the big four were, in order of founding, Waltham, Elgin, Illinois, and Hamilton. These were the only companies that produced multiple millions of high-grade jeweled watches. A few others (e.g., Rockford, Seth Thomas) broke through the million production level. And then there was New York Standard, which produced gobs of mostly cheap watches (total production unknown). There were other interesting companies (I'm fond of Columbus, which in different ways gave birth to both South Bend and Gruen), but the big four dominated the industry throughout the end of the nineteenth century and on into the first half of the twentieth.

When it comes to wristwatches, the big four continued to be major players, but new kinds of companies, particularly the hybrid American-Swiss producers led by Bulova and Gruen, changed the dynamics of the industry in ways that they hadn't when pocket watches dominated. I can't begin to trace the history of the transitions in the watch industry, but there's a tremendous amount of information in Fred's new book: although he focusses on Illinois and Hamilton, the historical volume examines almost all the significant companies.

441victor
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Re: Information about my "new" Illinois watch.

#5 Post by 441victor » Thu Mar 29, 2018 9:13 pm

Until the big shake out of the depression there were at least a dozen major manufactures in the US pocket watch industry. Hampton and Studebaker are two that come to mind off the top of my cluttered brain. Just search for RR approved watches from the turn of the century. They all seemed to share founders and shakes in the horology business. It's very fertile ground for collectors. Most were consumed in the move to wrist watches and the competition from the dollar watch makers. Joel

ChristerMN
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Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2018 5:11 am

Re: Information about my "new" Illinois watch.

#6 Post by ChristerMN » Fri Mar 30, 2018 12:14 am

Thanks so much for the info mrtoad! The watch's sentimental value is certainly rising in my book.

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