I'm thinking about buying a pocket watch...

I'm not certain about how this is entirely relevant to Instructables, but I need some help on picking out a pocket watch. (Perhaps I could write up a "How to buy a pocket watch" sort of thing...)

I've always loved mechanical things, parts working smoothly together, things that go tick, clockwork, blah blah blah. Plus, I've been told that I come across as saying we should take everything back to 1800's. ("We should use gold nuggets as currency, or even go back to the bartering system!" "Zeppelins kick ass!" "Get rid of cars, let's all ride bikes!") :D

Anyhow, I wanna buy a pocket watch for about one hundred American dollars. I'd like it to tick, I'd like it to be wind-up, I want to be able to see the clockwork inside, and I don't want it to fall apart after a week. Does anyone have any tips for me? Like, "Make sure it says '17-jewel,' or else it's no good."

On that note, if a watch is listed as having "17 Jewel Skeletonized Mechanical Movement," does that mean that it's wind-up?

How much of a problem is it if you buy a watch with a plain, smooth case? (I'm worried about scratching).

If it isn't too much trouble, I'd appreciate it if you'd share what watch/es you've had in the past.

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Honus9 years ago
If the watch is listed as a mechanical movement, then it will be a manual wind watch. There are automatic mechanical pocket watches, but they are pretty rare... Generally speaking, the greater number of jewels, the higher quality the movement is. If the movement is skeletonized, that means that the metal plates that form the base of the movement have been pierced through. Sometimes the bridges (extensions spaced off the main plates where the some of the jeweled pivots are located) on the movement are pierced through as well. Many mechanical pocket watches available today (this doesn't include antique or super high end pocket watches) use the same base movements, which in many cases is manufactured by ETA -probably the single largest manufacturer of mechanical movements. If it has an ETA movement, then it's probably a pretty good watch. Often what you are paying for is the finish or modifications applied to the movement, the construction of the case and the quality of the dial and crystal. It's not a problem to buy a watch with a smooth case- many watches are made that way to allow for the case to be engraved or monogrammed later. All cases will scratch over time. Hope this helps!

Automatic pocket watches are surfacing. Besides dubious quality Chinese pieces with European names such as Charles Hubert, and the totally stupid, tremendously expensive UR Werk 1001, in order of availability: Eterna-matic Golfer, Tissot Visodate, Citizen Leopard.

Just found about some Universal Genève automatic pocket watches that seem to be better available than the Tissot or Citizen; also, even rarers Citizen Seven star de luxe and a IWC prototype.

carbon (author)  Honus9 years ago
Ah, good. Thanks for the help!

I think sou!!!!

neilb31 year ago

I have bought all my Pocket watches from China and they are great, auto mechanical, hand wind or Quartz they are all great and very reasonable prices.

billbillt4 years ago
I have bought several mechanical ones from China on Ebay..They run from $8 to $15. I am very pleased with them.. There are many styles to choose from..
I purchased a mechanical Pocket watch from Wal-Mart for $20. It has glass panels on the front and back so you can see the mechanics and if you look right all the way through. However the finish is worn off where my chain rubs. But it is a very sturdy reliable little time keeper.
Kiteman8 years ago
If you want ticking, you want mechanical. If it's not mechanical, it's quartz, which is the crystal that keeps digital watches in step.

"Automatic mechanical" means there is a small pendulum within the watch that does the winding for you, driven by the movements of your body, but I've never seen an automatic mechanical pocket watch.

If you want a pocket watch just for show, try ebay. Look for hunter style watches or pocket watches linked to the rail network (I expect British Rail will be cheaper than US rail, as UK train guards stopped using pocketwatches more recently (I think)).

Jewels? The more the merrier - slivers gemstones (ruby ?) are used as low-friction, long-life bearings.
Kiteman Kiteman8 years ago
Oh, and chiming ones are often called repeaters.
Kiteman Kiteman8 years ago
Try this.
its a lion9 years ago
it looks like that watch has nowhere to hide a battery since you can see all of the workings. i have no idea what most of that means... lets google it and see what happens. ok, appereantly "skeletonized" or "skeleton design" means you can see into it. and i found this: "The jewel movement involves the use of jewels within the mens watches to act as bearings at the wheel train as well as around the escapement lever. These are areas within a watch component where wear and tear is the most prominent. " actually you may want to read the site, as it has alot of info for you.
as to buying the particular watches, i have no idea. never bought a pocket watch before. i always kind of wanted one, but never wanted to have to carry it around.
carbon (author)  its a lion9 years ago
Carrying it around is part of the fun, in my opinion. I almost went and bought an old one, so I'd be forced to adjust it all the time to get good time out of it. Then, I feel like I'd be getting the whole experience, or something.
lennie78 carbon8 years ago
hi carbon -

were you able to buy yourself a pocket watch? i'm thinking of buying one for my significant other for his 30th bday. im reading and learning about pocket watches, too! i found this book for $10+ about pocket watch basics: http://www.cafepress.com/barrysworld/1287896

I have not bought it, yet. Now...where to find this pocket watch perfect for SO. :)

jtobako9 years ago
It's going to sound silly, but ask at a watch repair place (they are rare, but still open in larger population areas). They may even have a deal on an older watch that someone never came back for.
> Search for horology/horologist.