Standards for an Antique Pocket Railroad Watch

By: Jeff Holmes


If you are looking for a retirement or graduation gift, there is no better item than an antique pocket railroad watch. Although some people may not be very familiar with the true value of such an item, it is sure to be appreciated by anyone. The truth is an antique pocket railroad watch is really quite expensive. Nonetheless, there are fairly good reasons why you should spend a bit for such a gift.

The Railroad Watch History

Most people know from history books that the 1890s was the time when trains were widely used for transportation. Trains were not only crucial for transporting people, they were also important for the timely and efficient movement of economic goods. This in itself was enough of a reason for what we know now as antique pocket railroad watch pieces to function well.

It was not however, just an issue of timeliness. Efficient railroad watches were necessary to prevent accidents. Since there were hundreds of trains at that time, schedules had to be maintained and trains and tracks were supposed to move according to the set time. Sometimes though, a conductor's railroad watch could malfunction. This was what happened in Kipton, Ohio in 1891, when two trains in opposite directions met and crashed into each other. This all happened because one conductor's watch was four minutes late. The government therefore instructed a commission to come up with guidelines and standards for timepieces.

The main reason therefore for the value of an antique pocket railroad watch is its enduring and sturdy quality. An antique pocket railroad watch was made with such great attention to detail that a good piece can still function well even after more than a hundred years.

Of course, a collector could also treasure an antique pocket railroad watch not just for its unique level of craftsmanship. An antique railroad watch can bring back the romance and simplicity of the old days.

Standards for an Antique Pocket Railroad Watch

The first general standards for railroad timepieces were already in use in 1893. The standards however were often changed and made better through the years. A number of watchmakers were also able to make railroad watches that were far better than just the compliant pieces. Every antique pocket railroad watch should therefore be assessed for quality and authenticity depending on the year it was made and the company that made it. There are two main points though that you have to consider in an antique pocket railroad watch.

1. An antique pocket railroad watch follows a standard movement size. The watch size is not really referring to its width. The first standard size was 18. Later on, size 16 became the size of choice.

2. The second main point to consider in an antique pocket railroad watch is the components and characteristics. Your pocket watch should be temperature compensated and should be adjustable in five positions. It should have 17 or more ruby toroid jewels, a winding stem positioned at 12, a double roller, a lever set, a regulator and a steel escape wheel. It should also have Arabic numbers on an open white face.

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