Northern Partners Vintage Watch Repair & Sales

Pocket Watches


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This is a 992B movement after cleaning before assembly, click on photo to enlarge.

If you are new to pocket watch ownership and are considering buying or have already purchased one, read over the information about them on this site. It will save you a lot of consternation. 

Over 1500 watches have been sold from this website, we sell so many watches not because there is never a problem with an old watch but rather because we fix those problems. 

If you are considering a watch purchase please scroll down and read the information on this page.

I believe we have more pocket watch chain varieties than you can find anywhere else, check it out here

 

I have noticed a significant increase in magnetism in watches in the last 20 months, I suspect it is something the post office is doing, perhaps their increased use of scanning devices, but it is definitely a problem. 

There are a lot of ways magnetism can get into a watch, a lot of household appliances emit it. Especially computers, TVs, cell phones, battery operated land line phones and etc.. Cell phones may be a significant problem because they may be carried close to the watch. If possible keep it as far from your pocket watch as possible. Battery powered land phones emit a very strong magnetic field so don't lay your watch near them at night. Most of these electronics did not exist at the time many vintages were made so the magnetic field they create was not a consideration.

I think there may be another consideration and that is "Sunspots" these are darker, cooler areas on the surface of the sun in a region called the photosphere.

The photosphere has a temperature of 5,800 degrees Kelvin. Sunspots have temperatures of about 3,800 degrees K. They look dark only in comparison with the brighter and hotter regions of the photosphere around them.

Sunspots can be very large, up to 50,000 kilometers in diameter. They are caused by interactions with the Sun's magnetic field which are not fully understood. But a sunspot is somewhat like the cap on a soda bottle: shake it up, and you can generate a big eruption. Sunspots occur over regions of intense magnetic activity, and when that energy is released, solar flares and big storms called coronal mass ejections erupt from sunspots.

Low solar activity can actually cause dramatic cooling on the earth so high activity most likely causes warming and increased magnetic activity, although this interaction is not fully known even today. For the last couple of years sunspots have been concentrated near the sun's equator with the frequency relatively high. This corresponds with what appears to be a warming of the earths surface "global warming" [I am not suggesting sunspots are the only cause].

Scientists believe that the number of spots on the sun cycles over time, reaching a peak—the so-called Solar Maximum—every 11 years or so. Some studies indicate that sunspot activity overall has doubled in the last century. The apparent result down here on Earth is that the sun glows brighter by about 0.1 percent now than it did 100 years ago.

If this results in some sort of magnetic disturbance being projected towards earth it might explain the dramatic increase in mechanical watch magnetism.

If you are having timing problems go to this page.

Turning a watch's hands counterclockwise while setting it is not necessarily harmful. It is only damaging when the timepiece contains a chiming mechanism.

If you would like to see what we do to prepare a watch for sale click here   

Please read all of the following information if you are considering purchasing a watch from us, it is useful for anyone interested in vintage watches.

I have been getting more request lately to take trade-ins. To see the policy for this click here. This is a word document and may download as a file, just open it to read and close to return to the website. 

If this is your first pocket watch read this Click Here for hints on operating and caring for your watch.

For watch chains, case knives and other items go to the accessories page.

A note on dome style hanging display cases, most watches will not keep good time while hanging from a hook!

A note on Consigned watches, many of these watch have not been serviced by me so my written descriptions will be somewhat limited, you should rely heavily on the photos. Many of the watches could benefit greatly from a service of the movement, dial and case. I will not list them unless they are running and reasonably accurate. Even when watches are keeping time when I have not serviced them I do not know what if anything has been done to the watch.

A note on low grade watches (non- RR Grade): This is (for this discussion only) any watch below a jewel count of 17. Many low grade watches will keep excellent time, but some do not. Any watch that runs can most likely be made to run accurately, but low grade watches may not hold the accuracy for long. Another problem is the amount of time it takes to time pocket watches to accuracy cannot be justified by the selling price or the amount I charge for servicing. 

I only offer a few non-RR grade watches and these I believe to be worthy of collecting for a number of reasons. A consignor may as they are likely to be brand collectors as opposed to exclusively high grade or Railroad Approved watch collectors. If you purchase one of these watches you should do so understanding that they may not come anyway near railroad accuracy. I will do my best but I can't guarantee accuracy on low grade watches.  

If accuracy better than a minute or so a day is important to you I suggest you only consider pocket watches made after the mid 1940's. It is not that earlier models can't keep better time it is just later model watches generally have seen less use. It just is not realistic to expect a watch made in the 1030's to keep time within a few seconds per day. I can regulate and adjust them to do this but it is unlikely they will hold this precision for any length of time. I know some do but that is the exception not the rule.

 

If you sent us a watch for repair and have not heard back from us within two weeks please call or email us about the watch. We sometimes get watches without complete owner contact information. And I can misplace the information, I hate to admit it but I do.

I have started to just list the watches as keeping time, not great or excellent as I did in the past. These terms can be confusing to a buyer thinking they have different meanings when they do not. I do not list any of the watches that I have serviced that are not keeping time within a few seconds per day. When the watches sell they are checked again and must keep time within a few seconds per day. Of course shipping may change this a little.

Unless a pocket watch is very rare small differences can make a big difference in price. If you are new to collecting pocket watches my best advice is to take your time, even buying from me. For example some perfect dials can add $500.00 to the cost of a watch while the same dial in minor damaged condition may add nothing. Engraved initials, especially on the back cover can affect the price. The list of things that raise or lower the price of any given watch is extensive. If you are buying a watch to carry accepting small imperfections at a lower price is worth considering, while if you are collecting for future gain probably not. There are no absolutes and it takes time to get a handle on all of the things to consider. I am more than happy to talk to anyone needing help in this area so feel free to call.

 

Information pertaining to many of the watches listed on this site is generated in part using  http://pocketwatchdatabase.com/ this is a very useful source for information pertaining to many watches so long as you know the serial number.

 

A very common problem for pocket watch owners is for the hands to get out of alignment and interfere with one another. The tools and information below can be useful to correct these problems. To purchase these tools on eBay click here about $15.00

 

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Hand setting and removal tools

   

Removing and installing watch hands

1.     When using the puller to remove the hands from the watch place a thin sheet of plastic over the dial. This will protect the dial and keep the hands from flying away.

2.     Always work on a light colored surface so you can see the hands if they do get away from you.

3.     Avoid working over carpeted areas, and if you have to, keep a magnet handy to help find a hand if you drop it on carpet.

4.     You may not be able to grip the small second hand with the tool without first getting it up a little off the dial. A single edge razor blade is handy for this.

5.     After removing the hour and minute hand use the eraser of a pencil and push down on the top of the cannon pinion as it may have come up a little when you removed the hands. This will insure that the cannon pinion and minute wheel are fully engaged.

6.     When replacing the hands line the hour hand to 3

7.     When you use the hand setting tool try to have the hour hand pushed down just enough so there is room to attach the minute hand properly, this is right at the top of the hour wheel. If you look closely you can see where this is.

8.     If you get the hour hand down too tight against the dial it can stop the watch and also increases the chance it will interfere with the small second hand.

9.     Next put on the second hand on, you should have needle point tweezers for this

10.  Once the second hand is on check to be sure the hour hand clears it.

11.  Then move the hour hand back to 3

12.  The minute hand should be aligned towards 12

13.  After both hands are installed look to be sure they clear

14.  If they don’t use the tool to put a little pressure on the back of the minute hand, this should raise the tip of the hand slightly.

 

Additional photos of watches, movements, dials and case  covers are available on request. 

We want you to enjoy the experience of owning the pocket watch you purchase. That starts with a worry free purchase, without the stress of gambling on an item sold at auction. We really care about our watches and do not sell any of them without some regret. Every watch we sell is a mechanical wonder that you can be proud to own, if you do not feel this way about your purchase just return it, undamaged within five days of receipt. 

If you insist that a pocket watch be absolutely accurate you may want to consider quartz. While many railroad grade watches kept time within a few seconds per week, many did not even when they were new. And, even the ones that did where checked, adjusted and serviced on a schedule that is not practical for most people today. Remember that these watches are probably seventy years old or more. Another major factor is that these watches were serviced and picked up locally, so were not subjected to the abuse that goes along with having to ship them.

Terms of Sale

Please check the complete details from the link on the left of this page

We offer a full money back guarantee* on any of our watches so long as you return it within five days of receipt and we receive it in the same condition as we sent it to you. ** Does not include shipping cost. Pocket watches are insured up to the purchase price.  All shipments are F.O.B. Ludington, Mi.. If a claim arises you must deal with the carrier but we will assist you in making your claim. Be sure to keep all of the original packaging for the carrier's inspection. We normally ship U.S.P.S. priority mail. When you click on the buy it now button you acknowledge you have read the terms and conditions and agree with it.

Dealing with the post office on claims is not easy, they are always reluctant to honor a claim. So while your purchase is F.O.B. Ludington all we ask is that you notify and document the claim at your local post office. We will do the rest. I have learned the hard way to keep all of the necessary documents and how to work on the claim. When we are finally successful in getting the claim paid, we usually are but it takes time and effort, we collect the funds from the post office and then in the event of a lost item refund to you. When we are claiming damage we will make the repairs at no cost to you and fight it out with the post office, but you need to document the damage with your local post office before returning the watch to us.

In the past when watches were returned for repair and/or adjustment because they were reported to be not keeping time or not running at all, it was our police to pay the return shipping after making the adjustments or repairs needed. However far too many watches are coming back that are either running perfectly or well within the range for regulator adjustment. So effective September 1, 2012 when watches are returned for repair or adjustment and repairs are not needed or only a minor regulator adjustment is required we will continue to make the adjustments at no charge but will not pay the return shipping. Watches that are within one minute per day should be able to be adjusted to within a few seconds per day at the regulator. If a few seconds per day error is not good enough for you I recommend a high quality jeweled quartz watch, not a vintage watch. We know that there are times when vintage watches behave peculiarly and if we return a watch to you that we determined did not have the problem you experienced and you have the problem again and we can confirm that after you send it back to us we will pay your return shipping to us, ship back to you prepaid after the necessary repairs have been made and refund the charges for shipping back the first time. I don't know how we could be more fair than that. 

Could there be an environmental factor?
Things like close proximity to electronics that emit some magnetism can cause erratic results in mechanical watches. Something like a TV on a dresser where the watch is set at night can cause a real problem. Even movements like Hamilton's 992B are affected during the exposure, even though they do not retain the magnetism in the hairspring. 

All of our pocket watches are serviced and checked for accuracy on our electronic timing machine and against an atomic clock for several days. Shipping, environmental conditions and location may result in some minor adjustments being needed. Occasionally I purchase a watch that is reported to have just been serviced. A visual inspection of the movement can determine if this reported service is false but can not definitively insure that it is true. Whenever a watch is listed as serviced by others I will warrant the movement to run and keep time for 120 days from the date of sale. This warrantee covers the entire movement except for the balance staff.

Trades

In general it is better for you to sell your watch outright rather than trade it in. I will take trades but it is a very difficult transaction for me because of the way I sell watches. Even when the watch was purchased from me, because I don't know what has happened to it while out of my position I must service the watch and clean the case. If there is one tiny scratch on the crystal I will replace it. I don't want to offend customers but I must be extremely careful about taking trades and what I can allow for watches that are taken in trade. It is very easy to end up losing money on these transactions.

  1. If the watch was purchased elsewhere the very best price I will offer is 80% of bottom book, less the cost of service, case work, crystal replacement when necessary and dial replacement when necessary. So that is about $130.00 under 80% of bottom book, if a dial must be replaced you can add another $100 to that.

  2. If the watch was purchased from me within the last 60 days I will allow 90% of the purchase price, not including shipping. If over 60 days #1 applies.

 

 

A Few Good Tips Click Here To Open Or Download The File

Use the link above to get the recommendations we send to all our customers

To avoid mainspring breakage, especially on "older" (pre 1925) pocket watches do not fully wind at first, instead partially wind a couple of time each day to about 60% to 75% of full wind. After you wind them like this a few times without incident you can most likely resume normal winding. Remember these springs are very old if they have not been replaced. This probably is not necessary on newer watches, say post 1925.

Keep a surgical glove handy for installing and removing case covers, it is not necessary to wear the glove just use it to get a good grip on the cover. Using a case ball or flat rubber tool is even better.

If you cross thread a cover do not try to force it open, instead use a case knife to gently pry the case back into alignment.

A watch that stops in the same place usually has hands touching, this is common after shipping. If a watch always stops near 6:00 the hour hand is touching the second hand. If the watch stops when the minute hand crosses the hour hand they are probably touching.

One of my customers that is new to pocket watch collecting suggest that I post this information I sent him: 

 

The case ball is very handy for opening and closing cases. Sometimes it is hard to get a grip on the cover, something like a surgical glove helps a lot also, you don’t wear the glove just use it to get a better grip. They also sell a pad, at most dollar and grocery stores,  that helps get a grip on things like jam covers that work good. I sometimes use these to set the case on when I am using the case ball, especially when I am cleaning a case and it is wet.
 
As far as the lever goes if you have a little thumb nail it works best for me just to use that to pull out the lever, or a wood toothpick works good also and won't damage the dial or case.
 
When you are putting a cover back on just turn is counterclockwise until you feel or hear it fall into place, you will get the hang of it after a little while, then turn clockwise to close the cover.
 
When you are doing this you can look at the space between the cover and the case to see if it looks the same all the way around the case.
 
When you start to close the cover there won’t be a lot of resistance if the cover is lined up correctly, but you can sometimes feel a little. In just a little while you will get to know how it should feel.
 
You can’t damage the threads if you do not use force, in fact never use force for anything on a pocket watch.
 
Even the best covers can be a pain to get started every once in a while, but if you do it like I describe you will get it and and never do any damage.
 
There is a lot of variance in the feel of this from watch to watch, so once you are used to yours it will be fine. In fact a lot of things feel and sound a little different from watch to watch.

 

 

We offer pocket watches that are a good value in the various price points, irrespective if they are selling for under $100.00 or over $1000.00. We are not Gold Speculators, recently with gold prices rising and the so called experts predicting prices from $1650.00 to $2000.00 within a year it is very difficult to find a pocket watch with a solid gold case at a reasonable price. Our focus is and always has been on high grade movements and rare short run models from American watch makers. We do occasionally offer a high grade Swiss watch when we can offer you a very good value. 

Pocket watches vary greatly in price depending on the movement, dial. hands and case for each watch. We want each of our pocket watches to represent a solid investment. We focus on higher quality movements and fully service the movement before we offer the watch for sale. The only exception is when we acquire a watch that has just been serviced by someone we trust and our inspection confirms this.

All cases are cleaned and polished "when needed" and sometimes, but rarely electroplated with gold, platinum or silver, we have found that on specific make and models of cases this works out very well on others not so much. After plating if the case is not satisfactory it is discarded. My comments about case are limited to the functionality of the covers or hinges. The cosmetic condition is too subjective to comment on, but if a case look bad to us we do not use it. Unless a case is referred to as mint or new old stock you should assume there are signs of ageing, scratches and minor dings and dents. Please use the photos for determining cosmetic condition of cases and request additional photos if you are in doubt.

We replace most crystals (99%) and clean every dial. We do not sell any pocket watch with dial defects that are serious, unless there are no options and the defects will be noted in the listing. We prefer perfect or near perfect porcelain enamel dials but they are not always available.

Because this is somewhat subjective we will describe all dial defects and provide photographs so you can determine for yourself the extent of dial damage. With perfect original dials becoming difficult to find prices are starting to equal a complete watch price. In some case a high quality replacement dial may be the solution for buyers wanting a perfect dial. While they are not inexpensive high quality Melamine or painted dials are available on request. 

The cost of the value added service that we perform on every pocket watch would be $150.00 to $300.00 if you took the watch to your local jeweler or repair shop. 

We offer a full money back guarantee* on any watch purchased from us so long as you return it within five days of receipt and we receive it in the same condition as we sent it to you. We do not sell or ship damaged watches so any damage incurred during or after shipment is the sole responsibility of the buyer. Having said this we will work with the buyer to make repairs at minimal or no cost and to recover these cost from the insurance carrier when the damage is incurred during shipping.

* Does not include shipping cost. Pocket watches are insured for the full purchase price. All shipments are F.O.B. Ludington, Mi.. If a claim arises you must deal with the carrier but we will assist you in making your claim. Be sure to keep all of the original packaging for the carrier's inspection. We normally ship U.S.P.S. priority mail

We are a verified PayPal® merchant, PayPal® is the payment system that allows you to use almost any method of payment, including all credit card and bank transfer without having to divulge any of you private information to us. It is the most secure method of internet payment available.

We tried offering credit card acceptance but in addition to the regular percentage they kept charging additional fees for things that I believe should just be their cost of being in business. This plus all the extra time needed to keep this updated on the website and record keeping just made it impossible to keep accepting credit cards except through PayPal.

 

Up A. Waltham Ball Elgin E. Howard Hamilton Hampden Illinois Rockford South Bend Other Makes Pendent Set Hunter Case Size 18 $750 & Up $350.00 to $749 Under $350.00 Accessories Timing Your Watch

New Listings Pocket Watches Wristwatches Layaway Sold Watches Shipping Consignments Services Histories