I recently bought a watch. Not just any old watch, although it is just that. Old.
I spotted it on Ebay, which is not my favorite place to do my shopping but once in a while, I go and see what’s on offer. I do have a pocket watch and a chain. My wife bought the watch and very nice it is too. I bought an antique silver chain to hang it on and a couple of antique fobs for decoration. That is when I got the antique silver bug. Antique chain? Needs an antique watch. So the hunt was on. Looking for a working, large, solid silver watch took me to Ebay. I looked for a week.
Finally I found this Waltham in a silver Dennison case. All hallmarked and working, purportedly keeping good time.
I looked at the pictures for an age. I read the description several times.
Eventually, I hit the “buy it now” button and promptly paid the bill. £175.00. Turns out, I got a bargain.
I inspected The watch as soon as I had it in my hand. I disagreed with the seller’s description. He said it was hallmarked for London 1908. Wrong. It’s Birmingham 1912.
He said it weighed 125 grams. Wrong. It’s 136 grams.
The case is made by A.L.Dennison in Birmingham, England. The movement is from the Waltham American Watch company in Massachusetts.
According to the serial number on the movement, it was produced in 1909. I cleaned the case with a silver polishing cloth. It came up a treat.
The watch is key wound and the hands are set by opening the glass and gently turning the minute hand in the required direction until the right time is set. It keeps perfect time. I’ve had it running now for 36 hours and it hasn’t missed a beat. The sound of that old movement is wonderful.
I’ve married the watch to my double Albert chain. The watch at one end, the key at the other. The whole set up weighs a half pound.
Apparently, to keep the watch working well, one cannot simply put it away and leave it. This would actually damage the watch. The oil dries and gums up and stops the working parts from moving as they should. One should keep the watch running at all times, winding it once a day, every day.
It needs servicing too. There are various suggestions as to when or how often. Some say yearly, others say as long as two or three years between services. Servicing involves stripping the watch to pieces and washing all the individual parts in soapy water, then a cyanide solution and then alcohol. Then reassemble and oil all the moving parts. I won’t be doing that myself then, but I’ll find someone who can.
I find it fascinating that something so old can still function so well. I wonder how many watches that are bought today will still keep time in 100 years from now. With the right care, this watch may still be working then too. Which speaks volumes for the skill and method of our forefathers and their manufacturing abilities.
We live in throw away times. Buy something now and toss it away within ten years to replace it with the new version. Or even shorter when it comes to our electronics. I suppose that is what draws me to these old things. They have stood the test of time. They are still attractive by default and valuable beyond monetary value.
When I’m a thing of the past, this watch will be in my grandson’s possession. If he takes good care of it and appreciates it, it will probably outlast him too. I’ll take my time and tell him what he’s getting.
Hopefully, he will appreciate the history lesson.
N.B. Pictures nicked form Ebay…