Apprasing Pocketwatches

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The purpose of this humble guide is to help newcomers to Pocketwatch collecting, By giving a few tips on what to look out for when assessing a timepiece. It is a good idea to have a mental checklist so with practice it becomes second nature. This checklist can prevent you from 'seeing without observing'  And later find out you have missed an important detail.

The Case.

What is the general condition? 

  1. Are there excessive dents or bruising to the case. A good place to look for scratches is under the thumb catch where is dust cover is opened as knife marks can be commonly found there.
  2. What is the case made from? If gold or silver take note of the Hallmarks. These can help determine the date, origin and quality of the watch.
  3. Is the case decorated? If so is it hand engraved or Machined turned, pierced or repousse. Note should be take of any wear present to decoration. 
  4. The Hinges and clasps, Are they in good working order?
  5. Is the Hallmark date consistant with the date of the watch movement?  Good way of seeing if the case and movement match is to see if the Case number matches with the Movement number.
  6. Is the glass orginal or replaced?

The Dial.

  1. It is important that the enamel face of the dial is free from any chips or cracks. As they are virtually impossible to repair. Cracks can be made less visible by good cleaning but dirt will soon show them off to there former glory.
  2. What material is the face made from Porcelain, Enamel, Silver, Gold or even base metal?

Does the face match with the movement or a later replacement.  I once had a very interesting chronograph with a dirty glass. It my surprise when I removed the glass for cleaning the face turned out to be hand drawn! I must point out I didn't buy it from Ebay.

The Hands

  1. Are they made of Gold, Silver or steel?
  2. Are all the hands present?
  3. Is the style of the hands consistant with the rest of the watch, or are they replaced or  too short.
  4. Do all the hands match each other?

The movement.

The obvious question is whether is not it works but other consideration should be taken into account

  1. Which type of movement? Is it a cylinder, lever, pin pallet or verge. In case of the latter is a fusse chain intact?
  2. Are there any interesting features to the movement? For example is it a repeater or have calender work? These features would make the pocketwatch much more desirable.
  3. Is the balance made is Steel, Brass or gold? Is it free sprung or does it have a regulator?
  4. How many jewels does the movement have? Are they made from glass or Precious stones. For example some watches have diamand caps.

This list is not exhaustive but i hope it will give some idea of the type is things to take into consideration.

When buying pocketwatches through Ebay be demanding! Yes, you have pictures and description to go by, but if you have any queries then ask the Sellers for addition information.  A good seller will be happy to help with any confusion or queries.

Happy hunting have fun! 

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