Fashionable Watches

Pocket watch

Pocket watch


A pocket watch is a watch that is made
to be carried in a pocket, as opposed to a wristwatch, which is strapped to the
wrist. They were the most common type of watch
from their development in the 16th century until wristwatches became
popular after World War I during which a transitional design, trench watches,
were used by the military. Pocket watches generally have an attached chain
to allow them to be secured to a waistcoat, lapel, or belt loop, and to
prevent them from being dropped. Watches were also mounted on a short leather
strap or fob, when a long chain would have been cumbersome or likely to catch
on things. This fob could also provide a protective flap over their face and
crystal. Women’s watches were normally of this form, with a watch fob that was
more decorative than protective. Chains were frequently decorated with a silver
or enamel pendant, often carrying the arms of some club or society, which by
association also became known as a fob. Ostensibly “practical” gadgets such as a
watch winding key, vesta case or a cigar cutter also appeared on watch chains,
although usually in an overly decorated style. Also common are fasteners
designed to be put through a buttonhole and worn in a jacket or waistcoat, this
sort being frequently associated with and named after train conductors.
An early reference to the pocket watch is in a letter in November 1462 from the
Italian clockmaker Bartholomew Manfredi to the Marchese di Mantova Federico
Gonzaga, where he offers him a “pocket clock” better than that belonging to the
Duke of Modena. By the end of the 15th century, spring-driven clocks appeared
in Italy, and in Germany. Peter Henlein, a master locksmith of Nuremberg, was
regularly manufacturing pocket watches by 1524. Thereafter, pocket watch
manufacture spread throughout the rest of Europe as the 16th century
progressed. Early watches only had an hour hand, the minute hand appearing in
the late 17th century. The first American pocket watches with machine
made parts were manufactured by Henry Pitkin with his brother in the later
1830s. History
The first timepieces to be worn, made in 16th-century Europe, were transitional
in size between clocks and watches. These ‘clock-watches’ were fastened to
clothing or worn on a chain around the neck. They were heavy drum shaped brass
cylinders several inches in diameter, engraved and ornamented. They had only
an hour hand. The face was not covered with glass, but usually had a hinged
brass cover, often decoratively pierced with grillwork so the time could be read
without opening. The movement was made of iron or steel and held together with
tapered pins and wedges, until screws began to be used after 1550. Many of the
movements included striking or alarm mechanisms. The shape later evolved into
a rounded form; these were later called Nuremberg eggs. Still later in the
century there was a trend for unusually shaped watches, and clock-watches shaped
like books, animals, fruit, stars, flowers, insects, crosses, and even
skulls were made. Styles changed in the 17th century and
men began to wear watches in pockets instead of as pendants. This is said to
have occurred in 1675 when Charles II of England introduced waistcoats. To fit in
pockets, their shape evolved into the typical pocket watch shape, rounded and
flattened with no sharp edges. Glass was used to cover the face beginning around
1610. Watch fobs began to be used, the name originating from the German word
fuppe, a small pocket. The watch was wound and also set by opening the back
and fitting a key to a square arbor, and turning it.
Until the second half of the 18th century, watches were luxury items; as
an indication of how highly they were valued, English newspapers of the 18th
century often include advertisements offering rewards of between one and five
guineas merely for information that might lead to the recovery of stolen
watches. By the end of the 18th century, however, watches were becoming more
common; special cheap watches were made for sale to sailors, with crude but
colorful paintings of maritime scenes on the dials.
Up to the 1720s, almost all watch movements were based on the verge
escapement, which had been developed for large public clocks in the 14th century.
This type of escapement involved a high degree of friction and did not include
any kind of jewelling to protect the contacting surfaces from wear. As a
result, a verge watch could rarely achieve any high standard of accuracy.
The first widely used improvement was the cylinder escapement, developed by
the Abbé de Hautefeuille early in the 18th century and applied by the English
maker George Graham. Then, towards the end of the 18th century, the lever
escapement was put into limited production by a handful of makers
including Josiah Emery and Abraham-Louis Breguet. With this, a domestic watch
could keep time to within a minute a day. Lever watches became common after
about 1820, and this type is still used in most mechanical watches today.
In 1857 the American Watch Company in Waltham, Massachusetts introduced the
Waltham Model 57, the first to use interchangeable parts. This cut the cost
of manufacture and repair. Most Model 57 pocket watches were in a coin silver, a
90% pure silver alloy commonly used in dollar coinage, slightly less pure than
the British sterling silver, both of which avoided the higher purity of other
types of silver to make circulating coins and other utilitarian silver
objects last longer with heavy use. Watch manufacture was becoming
streamlined; the Japy family of Schaffhausen, Switzerland, led the way
in this, and soon afterwards the newborn American watch industry developed much
new machinery, so that by 1865 the American Watch Company could turn out
more than 50,000 reliable watches each year. This development drove the Swiss
out of their dominating position at the cheaper end of the market, compelling
them to raise the quality of their products and establish themselves as the
leaders in precision and accuracy instead.
Use in railroading in the United States The rise of railroading during the last
half of the 19th century led to the widespread use of pocket watches. A
famous train wreck on the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway in Kipton,
Ohio on April 19, 1891 occurred because one of the engineers’ watches had
stopped for four minutes. The railroad officials commissioned Webb C. Ball as
their Chief Time Inspector, in order to establish precision standards and a
reliable timepiece inspection system for Railroad chronometers. This led to the
adoption in 1893 of stringent standards for pocket watches used in railroading.
These railroad-grade pocket watches, as they became colloquially known, had to
meet the General Railroad Timepiece Standards adopted in 1893 by almost all
railroads. These standards read, in part:
“…open faced, size 16 or 18, have a minimum of 17 jewels, adjusted to at
least five positions, keep time accurately to within 30 seconds a week,
adjusted to temps of 34 °F to 100 °F, have a double roller, steel escape
wheel, lever set, regulator, winding stem at 12 o’clock, and have bold black
Arabic numerals on a white dial, with black hands.”
Types of pocket watches There are two main styles of pocket
watch, the hunter-case pocket watch, and the open-face pocket watch.
=Open-face watches=An open-faced, or Lépine, watch, is one
in which the case lacks a metal cover to protect the crystal. It is typical for
an open-faced watch to have the pendant located at 12:00 and the sub-second dial
located at 6:00. Occasionally, a watch movement intended for a hunting case
will have an open-faced case. Such watch is known as a “sidewinder.”
Alternatively, such a watch movement may be fitted with a so-called conversion
dial, which relocates the winding stem to 12:00 and the sub-second dial to
3:00. After 1908, watches approved for railroad service were required to be
cased in open-faced cases with the winding stem at 12:00.
=Hunter-case watches=A hunter-case pocket watch is a case
with a spring-hinged circular metal lid or cover, that closes over the
watch-dial and crystal, protecting them from dust, scratches and other damage or
debris. The majority of antique and vintage hunter-case watches have the
lid-hinges at the 9 o’clock position and the stem, crown and bow of the watch at
the 3 o’clock position. Modern hunter-case pocket watches usually have
the hinges for the lid at the 6 o’clock position and the stem, crown and bow at
the 12 o’clock position, as with open-face watches. In both styles of
watch-cases, the sub-seconds dial was always at the 6 o’clock position. A
hunter-case pocket watch with a spring-ring chain is pictured at the top
of this page. An intermediate type, known as the
demi-hunter, is a case style in which the outer lid has a glass panel or hole
in the centre giving a view of the hands. The hours are marked, often in
blue enamel, on the outer lid itself; thus with this type of case one can tell
the time without opening the lid. Types of watch movements
=Key-wind, key-set movements=The very first pocket watches, since
their creation in the 16th century, up until the third quarter of the 19th
century, had key-wind and key-set movements. A watch key was necessary to
wind the watch and to set the time. This was usually done by opening the caseback
and putting the key over the winding-arbor or by putting the key onto
the setting-arbor, which was connected with the minute-wheel and turned the
hands. Some watches of this period had the setting-arbor at the front of the
watch, so that removing the crystal and bezel was necessary to set the time.
Watch keys are the origin of the class key, common paraphernalia for American
high-school and university graduation. Many keywind watch movements make use of
a fusee, to improve isochronism. The fusee is a specially cut conical pulley
attached by a fine chain to the mainspring barrel. When the spring is
fully wound, the full length of the chain is wrapped around the fusee and
the force of the mainspring is exerted on the smallest diameter portion of the
fusee cone. As the spring unwinds and its torque decreases, the chain winds
back onto the mainspring barrel and pulls on an increasingly larger diameter
portion of the fusee. This provides a more uniform amount of torque on the
watch train, and thus results in more consistent balance amplitude and better
isochronism. A fusee is a practical necessity in watches using a verge
escapement, and can also provide considerable benefit with a lever
escapement and other high precision types of escapements.
Keywind watches are also commonly seen with conventional going barrels and
other types of mainspring barrels, particularly in American watchmaking.
=Stem-wind, stem-set movements=Invented by Adrien Philippe in 1842 and
commercialized by Patek Philippe & Co. in the 1850s, the stem-wind, stem-set
movement did away with the watch key which was a necessity for the operation
of any pocket watch up to that point. The first stem-wind and stem-set pocket
watches were sold during the Great Exhibition in London in 1851 and the
first owners of these new kinds of watches were Queen Victoria and Prince
Albert. Stem-wind, stem-set movements are the most common type of
watch-movement found in both vintage and modern pocket watches.
The mainstream transition to the use of stem-wind, stem-set watches occurred at
around the same time as the end of the manufacture and use of the fusee watch.
Fusee chain-driven timing was replaced with a mainspring of better quality
spring steel allowing for a more even release of power to the escape
mechanism. However the reader of this article should not be misled to think
that the winding and setting functions are directly related to the balance
wheel and balance spring. The balance wheel and balance spring provide a
separate function: to regulate the timing of the movement.
=Stem-wind, lever-set movements=Mandatory for all railroad watches after
roughly 1908, this kind of pocket watch was set by opening the crystal and bezel
and pulling out the setting-lever, which was generally found at either the 10 or
2 o’clock positions on open-faced watches, and at 5:00 on hunting cased
watches. Once the lever was pulled out, the crown could be turned to set the
time. The lever was then pushed back in and the crystal and bezel were closed
over the dial again. This method of time setting on pocket watches was preferred
by American and Canadian railroads, as lever setting watches make accidental
time changes impossible. After 1908, lever setting was generally required for
new watches entering service on American railroads.
=Stem-wind, pin-set movements=Much like the lever-set movements, these
pocket watches had a small pin or knob next to the watch-stem that had to be
depressed before turning the crown to set the time and releasing the pin when
the correct time had been set. This style of watch is occasionally referred
to as “nail set”, as the set button must be pressed using a finger.
Jeweled movements For more information, see Mechanical
watch Watches of any quality will be jeweled.
A jewel in a mechanical watch is a small, shaped piece of a hard mineral.
Ruby and sapphire are most common. Diamond, garnet, and glass are also
seen. Starting in the early 20th century, synthetic jewels were almost
universally used. Before that time, low grade natural jewels which were
unsuitable as gemstones were used. In either case, the jewels have virtually
no monetary value. The most common types of jewels are hole
jewels. Hole jewels are disks which have a carefully shaped and sized hole. The
pivot of an arbor rides in this hole. The jewel provides an extremely smooth
and hard surface which is very wear resistant, and when properly lubricated,
very low friction. Thus, hole jewels both reduce friction and wear on the
moving parts of a watch. The other basic jewel types are cap
jewels, roller jewels, and pallet jewels.
Cap jewels are always paired with hole jewels, and always with a conically
shaped pivot. The cap jewels are so called because they “cap” the hole
jewels and control the axial movement of the arbor, preventing the shoulder of
the pivot contacting the hole jewel. For a properly designed hole and cap jewel
system, the arbor pivot bears on the cap jewel as a pin point on a thin film of
oil. Thus, a hole and cap jewel offer lower friction and better performance
across different positions compared with simply a hole jewel.
The roller jewel, also called the impulse jewel or simply impulse pin, is
a thin rod of ruby or sapphire, usually in the shape of a letter “D”. The roller
jewel is responsible for coupling the motion of the balance wheel to that of
the pallet fork. Pallet jewels are on the pallet fork and
interact with the escape wheel. They are the surfaces which, 5 times a second in
a typical escapement, lock the gear train of the watch and then transfer
power to the balance wheel. A jeweled watch with a lever escapement
should contain at least 7 jewels. The seven jewels are; 2 hole jewels and 2
cap jewels for the pivots of the balance wheel staff, one impulse jewel, and 2
pallet jewels. More highly jeweled watches add jewels
to other pivots, starting with the pallet fork, then the escape wheel,
fourth wheel, third wheel, then finally the center wheel. Jeweling like this to
the third wheel adds eight jewels, giving 15 jewels in total. Jeweling to
the center wheel adds two more giving 17 jewels in total. Thus, a 17 jewel watch
is considered to be fully jeweled. With American makers, however, it was
common on low-end movements to jewel to the third wheel on only the top plate of
the watch. This gives a total of 11 jewels, but looks identical to a 15
jewel watch unless the dial is removed. Since watches with 15 jewels and less
are often not marked as to the jewel count, extreme caution must be exercised
when purchasing movements which appear to be 15 jewels.
Additional jewels beyond 17 are used to either add cap jewels, or to jewel the
mainspring barrel of the watch. Watches with 19 jewels, particularly those made
by Elgin and Waltham, will often have a jeweled mainspring barrel. Alternatively
a 19 jewel watch will have additional cap jewels on the escape wheel. 21 jewel
watches commonly have cap jewels on both the pallet fork and escape wheel. 23
jewel watches will have a jeweled barrel and fully capped escapement. The
timekeeping value of jewels beyond 17 for a time-only movement is often
debated. Complicated movements will often have
additional jewels which do serve useful purposes.
Greater jewel counts are often associated with better quality watch
movements. While it is true that expensive movements often have higher
jewel counts, the jewels themselves are not the reason for this. The jewels
themselves add essentially no monetary value, and beyond 17 offer a negligible
improvement in timekeeping ability and in movement life. Most of the cost of a
more expensive watch is associated with better quality finishing and, more
importantly, with a greater number of adjustments.
Adjusted movements Pocket watch movements are occasionally
engraved with the word “Adjusted”, or “Adjusted to n positions”. This means
that the watch has been tuned to keep time under various positions and
conditions. There are eight possible adjustments:
Dial up. Dial down.
Pendant up. Pendant down.
Pendant left. Pendant right.
Temperature. Isochronism.
Positional adjustments are attained by careful poising of the
balance-hairspring system as well as careful control of the shape and polish
on the balance pivots. All of this achieves an equalization of the effect
of gravity on the watch in various positions. Positional adjustments are
achieved through careful adjustment of each of these factors, provided by
repeated trials on a timing machine. Thus, adjusting a watch to position
requires many hours of labor, increasing the cost of the watch. Medium grade
watches were commonly adjusted to 3 positions while high grade watches were
commonly adjusted to 5 positions or even all 6 positions. Railroad watches were
required, after 1908, to be adjusted to 5 positions. 3 positions were the
general requirement before that time. Early watches used a solid steel
balance. As temperature increased, the solid balance expanded in size, changing
the moment of inertia and changing the timing of the watch. In addition, the
hairspring would lengthen, decreasing its spring constant. This problem was
initially solved through the use of the compensation balance. The compensation
balance consisted of a ring of steel sandwiched to a ring of brass. These
rings were then split in two places. The balance would, at least theoretically,
actually decrease in size with heating to compensate for the lengthening of the
hairspring. Through careful adjustment of the placement of the balance screws,
a watch could be adjusted to keep time the same at both hot and cold
temperatures. Unfortunately, a watch so adjusted would run slow at temperatures
between these two. The problem was completely solved through the use of
special alloys for the balance and hairspring which were essentially immune
to thermal expansion. Such an alloy is used in Hamilton’s 992E and 992B.
Isochronism was occasionally improved through the use of a stopworks, a system
designed to only allow the mainspring to operate within its center range. The
most common method of achieving isochronism is through the use of the
Breguet overcoil. which places part of the outermost turn of the hairspring in
a different plane from the rest of the spring. This allows the hairspring to
“breathe” more evenly and symmetrically. Two types of overcoils are found – the
gradual overcoil and the Z-Bend. The gradual overcoil is obtained by imposing
a two gradual twists to the hairspring, forming the rise to the second plane
over half the circumference; and the Z-bend does this by imposing two kinks
of complementary 45 degree angles, accomplishing a rise to the second plane
in about three spring section heights. The second method is done for esthetic
reasons and is much more difficult to perform. Due to the difficulty with
forming an overcoil, modern watches often use a slightly less effective
“dogleg”, which uses a series of sharp bends to place part of the outermost
coil out of the way of the rest of the spring.
Decline in popularity Pocket watches are not common in modern
times, having been superseded by wristwatches. Up until the start of the
20th century, though, the pocket watch was predominant and the wristwatch was
considered feminine and unmanly. In men’s fashions, pocket watches began to
be superseded by wristwatches around the time of World War I, when officers in
the field began to appreciate that a watch worn on the wrist was more easily
accessed than one kept in a pocket. A watch of transitional design, combining
features of pocket watches and modern wristwatches, was called trench watch or
“wristlet”. However, pocket watches continued to be widely used in
railroading even as their popularity declined elsewhere.
The use of pocket watches in a professional environment came to an
ultimate end in approximately 1943. The Royal Navy of the British military
distributed to their sailors Waltham pocket watches, which were 9 jewel
movements, with black dials, and numbers coated with radium for visibility in the
dark, in anticipation of the eventual D-Day invasion. The same Walthams were
ordered by the Canadian military as well. Hanhart was a brand which was used
by the Germans, although the German U-Boat captains were more likely to use
stopwatches for timing torpedo runs. For a few years in the late 1970s and
1980s three-piece suits for men returned to fashion, and this led to small
resurgence in pocket watches, as some men actually used the vest pocket for
its original purpose. Since then, some watch companies continue to make pocket
watches. As vests have long since fallen out of fashion as part of formal
business wear, the only available location for carrying a watch is in a
trouser pocket. The more recent advent of mobile phones and other gadgets that
are worn on the waist has diminished the appeal of carrying an additional item in
the same location, especially as such pocketable gadgets usually have
timekeeping functionality themselves. In some countries a gift of a gold-cased
pocket watch is traditionally awarded to an employee upon their retirement.
The pocketwatch has regained popularity due to steampunk, a subcultural movement
embracing the arts and fashions of the Victorian era, where pocketwatches were
nearly ubiquitous. It is now considered an eccentricity to carry a pocketwatch.
Most complicated pocket watches The Vacheron Constantin Reference 57260
— 57 complications Patek Philippe Calibre 89 — 33
complications Patek Philippe Henry Graves
Supercomplication — 24 complications See also
List of watch manufacturers References
Bibliography Milham, Willis I, Time and Timekeepers,
New York: MacMillan, ISBN 0-7808-0008-7 External links
“Perfect Timepiece”, Popular Mechanics, December 1931 . Illustration of workings
of common mechanical pocket watch.


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