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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Help me buy a pocket watch

   
Author Topic: Help me buy a pocket watch
SenojRetep
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I used to have an antique-ish pocket watch. It belonged to my grandmother, and I claimed it when she died (no one else really wanted it). It was Kind of beat up and I don't think it had any real material value. I loved it, though, and liked wearing it from time to time, usually when I was wearing a three-piece suit.

I lost it about 10 years ago, and felt like I couldn't really replace it. On the one hand, it's value was primarily sentimental, so if I bought a new watch it likely wouldn't provide me the same thing my original watch did. On the other, it seemed both unnecessary and overly cute; when I wore the previous watch I could explain how it made me feel close to my grandmother. Anything new would just be for show.

All that said, I've now decided I want to buy a pocket watch. I'm tired of wrist watches, don't wear one often, but occasionally need something other than my phone to keep time. My previous pocket watch had a mechanical mechanism (non-battery, wind it daily) which I liked, so I'm focusing on watches with similar mechanisms.

I looked around, and there appear to be a flood of okay watches being manufactured in China. High-end pocket watches that are meant to last generations seem to be around $1000, but you can buy a cheap Chinese mechanical watch for $20-50. I've narrowed my search to a few watches:

https://www.amazon.com/Skeleton-Pocket-Mechanical-Movement-Engravable/dp/B013HHWKPA/
https://www.amazon.com/Valentine-Hunter-Hollow-Skeleton-Mechanical/dp/B00C54QX3M/
https://www.amazon.com/Carrie-Hughes-Steampunk-mechanical-CH307/dp/B0154RMV6O/
https://www.amazon.com/Gotham-Gold-Tone-Mid-Size-Mechanical-GWC14067GA/dp/B018V19IPC
https://www.amazon.com/Charles-Hubert-Paris-Gold-Plated-Mechanical-Pocket/dp/B002NSMDPM/

Note: on the last watch on the list (Charles Hubert 3756), I would purchase it from a non-Amazon source, with a price of $110 (rather than the $175 through Amazon).

Here are a list of my personal preferences, in roughly descending order of importance:
- Value: I don't necessarily want the cheapest watch, but I hate the idea of spending lots of money for something that only works as well as something cheap
- Usability: I prefer an open face to a half-hunter (i.e. no cover for the face vs. a partial cover for the face), don't like the skeleton (i.e. gearing) visible, and like well-contrasted hands and face (preferably white)
- Durability: None of these have the highest quality display, which is sapphire, but I prefer mineral glass to acrylic or plastic. I also prefer stainless steel case to bronze or copper (which are more easily dented)
- Aesthetics: I prefer gold or silver tone, and simplicity (rather than ornateness), and like Roman rather than Arabic numerals

I'm paralyzed by indecision. If anyone is willing to provide an opinion (could be as simple as 'this one', although reasons are useful, too), I could use some help.

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SenojRetep
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On a whim, I went on eBay and found there's quite a market for early 20th century pocket watches. This one is most similar to the one I lost:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Antique-1916-ILLINOIS-12s-17j-Large-Dial-Open-Face-Pocket-Watch-59g-/311804062981

It looks both a bit older, and a bit nicer than the one I had. So that's another option; buy something 100 years old off eBay, but very similar to what I had before.

<edit> The movement is working in that particular watch, but there are others of similar quality that do still work. </edit>

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TomDavidson
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Are you looking to buy this as an art object and conversation piece? Or do you really mean for it to be a practical way of knowing the time?
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kmbboots
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I bought my dad a pocket watch years ago. My suggestion is to visit jewelry stores - especially those that sell on commission and see if you are drawn to one.
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Synesthesia
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Ooo Buy an old one! Old ones are so much cooler. I love pocket watches! And get one with a hunting case!
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PanaceaSanans
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Well, you say you don't like seeing the skeleton, so the first three watches you linked have that subjective flaw.
The fourth has Arabic numerals. They do sell one with Roman numerals too, though, so that might be an option.
The fifth (Charles-Hubert) seems to fit your description perfectly. Open face, no visible gearing, stainless steel, Roman numerals, you won't find a much more simplistic design and the price you listed is very reasonable for that watch. Is there anything you particularly dislike about that one?

I personally prefer the antique look, so I tend to go with eBay, but that's just my preference... And I do find the look of both the Gotham and the Charles-Hubert quite appealing.

[Not a suggestion for you, but I really like this one.^^]

[ February 23, 2017, 03:04 PM: Message edited by: PanaceaSanans ]

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SenojRetep
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
Are you looking to buy this as an art object and conversation piece? Or do you really mean for it to be a practical way of knowing the time?

I'd like it to actually work. It doesn't have to work _well_; it's okay if it loses/gains a minute or two a day, but I only want to get a watch if it will be usable as a watch on an occasional basis.
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SenojRetep
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quote:
Originally posted by PanaceaSanans:
Well, you say you don't like seeing the skeleton, so the first three watches you linked have that subjective flaw.
The fourth has Arabic numerals. They do sell one with Roman numerals too, though, so that might be an option.
The fifth (Charles-Hubert) seems to fit your description perfectly. Open face, no visible gearing, stainless steel, Roman numerals, you won't find a much more simplistic design and the price you listed is very reasonable for that watch. Is there anything you particularly dislike about that one?

I personally prefer the antique look, so I tend to go with eBay, but that's just my preference... And I do find the look of both the Gotham and the Charles-Hubert quite appealing.

[Not a suggestion for you, but I really like this one.^^]

Preferences aren't absolutes, so I'd be willing to consider any of the watches I linked, even if they didn't match every one of my criteria. The Charles Hubert does match many of my usability/aesthetic preferences, and it's the watch I like the look of the best. However, it's also 5x more than the lower end watches, and my number 1 concern is not to overpay just for aesthetics. If a cheaper watch is going to function just as well I might prefer it even if it doesn't match my ideal aesthetics.
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SenojRetep
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quote:
Originally posted by Synesthesia:
Ooo Buy an old one! Old ones are so much cooler. I love pocket watches! And get one with a hunting case!

The problem with getting an old one (which I've considered) is that all things have finite lifespans; any 100-year-old watch in my price range of interest is probably 50 years past it's expected demise. While I have a tendency toward romanticizing the past, I don't want to fetishize it; I'd rather be practical about getting the greatest utility out of whatever object I choose to buy.

Also, I've pretty much eliminated getting a full Hunter, just because of the extra hassle in popping it open to check the time. Also, the hinges or clasp tend to fail, so the cover stays always open or falls off. Open face => fewer components => fewer ways for the watch to eventually fail.

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SenojRetep
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
I bought my dad a pocket watch years ago. My suggestion is to visit jewelry stores - especially those that sell on commission and see if you are drawn to one.

I'm leery of stores in general, especially those that work on commission; I fall in love too easily, get upsold, and then feel regret afterwards.
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PanaceaSanans
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quote:
Originally posted by SenojRetep:
Preferences aren't absolutes, so I'd be willing to consider any of the watches I linked, even if they didn't match every one of my criteria. The Charles Hubert does match many of my usability/aesthetic preferences, and it's the watch I like the look of the best. However, it's also 5x more than the lower end watches, and my number 1 concern is not to overpay just for aesthetics. If a cheaper watch is going to function just as well I might prefer it even if it doesn't match my ideal aesthetics.

I quite understand. When I got myself a pocket watch a few years back, I also went with the cheap and functional option. But I definitely adored the look of it.
Pretty sure you can find a cheaper one that matches your aesthetic preferences. I'd say if the ones you've found so far don't absolutely please you, definitely keep looking. You are not in a hurry, neh? What do you think of this, this or this for example?

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TomDavidson
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quote:
my number 1 concern is not to overpay just for aesthetics
I have to admit that I cannot reconcile this concern with the desire to own a pocketwatch at all.
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Samprimary
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just bundle the purchase with one of my bespoke monocles and you will find that the aesthetics are quite penny-conscious indeed
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SenojRetep
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quote:
Originally posted by PanaceaSanans:
quote:
Originally posted by SenojRetep:
Preferences aren't absolutes, so I'd be willing to consider any of the watches I linked, even if they didn't match every one of my criteria. The Charles Hubert does match many of my usability/aesthetic preferences, and it's the watch I like the look of the best. However, it's also 5x more than the lower end watches, and my number 1 concern is not to overpay just for aesthetics. If a cheaper watch is going to function just as well I might prefer it even if it doesn't match my ideal aesthetics.

I quite understand. When I got myself a pocket watch a few years back, I also went with the cheap and functional option. But I definitely adored the look of it.
Pretty sure you can find a cheaper one that matches your aesthetic preferences. I'd say if the ones you've found so far don't absolutely please you, definitely keep looking. You are not in a hurry, neh? What do you think of this, this or this for example?

While I like all of those aesthetically (particularly the last one), they're all Quartz movement, and I'd really prefer mechanical. Since I don't anticipate using it often, having it just tick down and waste battery bothers me. With a winding action, I can let it run down and start it back up the next time I need it.
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SenojRetep
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
my number 1 concern is not to overpay just for aesthetics
I have to admit that I cannot reconcile this concern with the desire to own a pocketwatch at all.
I don't mind paying for aesthetics; I just don't want to overpay _just_ for aesthetics. If I'm going to pay more, I'd like to get utility in addition to beauty.

As for the pocket watch being fundamentally about the aesthetic... I don't know. Maybe. Personally, I don't really like wristwatches. They rub/chafe my wrist, or else are too loose and end up encroaching on my wrist every time it bends. They're convenient to check, but can impede slipping on button-up shirts. I think there are utilitarian, rather than strictly signaling, reasons to get a pocket watch.

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SenojRetep
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
just bundle the purchase with one of my bespoke monocles and you will find that the aesthetics are quite penny-conscious indeed

Do you manufacture UV-blocking, tinted monocles? Because that would truly be smashing. I've been absolutely chuffed since I mislaid mine.
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SenojRetep
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I nearly bought this watch just now:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/ANTIQUE-WALTHAM-RR-GRADE-APPLETON-TRACEY-18S-GP-OF-POCKET-WATCH-RUNS-LEVER-/201818426070

My bid was about $15 too low.

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Synesthesia
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Aw you should have. And hunting cases are so much more romantic though. And they have a satisfying click sound when you close them. I have one but it's very old and doesn't work. but I could still wear a waist coat and dress in a victorian men's suit and strut out in society.
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SenojRetep
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After way too much internal debate, I bought this antique pocket watch off ebay over the weekend:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/c1894-New-York-Standard-Watch-Co-10S-7J-Pocket-Watch-Clean-Bright-Runs-Strong-/112327503634?_trksid=p2047675.l2557&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&nma=true&si =n78k4immr2onsBG3HVfITriAuSM%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc

Things I like about this watch:
- Open face
- Gold tone
- Not too much filigree (simple)
- Price (more expensive than cheapest new options, but less than any of the new options I found as aesthetically pleasing)

Things I don't like about this watch:
- Arabic (vice Roman) Numerals (although I like the font)
- Only 7 jewels (less accurate) rather than the more standard 17
- No guarantees on performance, especially given its age

The estimated delivery is on Thursday, so hopefully I'll have a sense by this weekend of whether I made a mistake or not.

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Synesthesia
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I love it though it's so pretty omg keep it forever look at it.
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SenojRetep
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That was great. For a week and a half. Until it stopped working.

Not that I'm mad; I knew there was a risk of this when I bought the watch. But I am sad, because I really liked the watch and wanted to be surprised by how durable it was. I thought I'd get at least a few months of use out of it.

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Synesthesia
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yes but it is old and lovely. did you wind it too much?
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SenojRetep
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quote:
Originally posted by Synesthesia:
yes but it is old and lovely. did you wind it too much?

No. It's more likely that one of the pinions isn't making good contact, or that the mainspring is jammed, which evidently happens sometimes with older watches. I'll probably take it apart at some point and try to diagnosis the problem, since there are no reasonably affordable options for fixing it.

[ April 05, 2017, 05:30 PM: Message edited by: SenojRetep ]

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Synesthesia
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if you can't fix it can i have it?
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