Thank you for sending in this family pocket watch to mearto.com for an appraisal. I shall try to help you with that today.
Gent’s, Art Deco era, gold-filled/rolled gold, pendant wound and pendant set, open face pocket watch, Sterling model, Grade 405, made by the Illinois Watch Company Springfield, Illinois, USA, circa 1925. In jeweler’s fitted box with gilt link art deco era chain and gilt steel penknife fob.
“My grandfather gave this to me when I was a young (man).”
Case: Size 12, three leaf, gold filled, open face pocket watch with engine turned back cover with engraved foliage while the inside of the cover is marked as gold filled. There is a fluted coin shaped pendant and shaped embossed gilt bow placed at the twelve-position relative to the dial.
Dial: A gilt metal dial with black enameled upright Art deco Arabic hour chapter ring, open bar minute track with ‘Cubist’ five-minute markers, subsidiary seconds dial @6 and steel skeletonized quatrefoil hands. The upper dial is signed, “Illinois, Sterling”. (Sterling model)
Movement: Damascened in a sunburst patterned, nickel bridge-plate movement with exposed ratchet and crown wheels, curved center wheel bridge and to smaller jeweled finger bridges. This is the Grade 405, model 3, (Sterling) movement, made by the Illinois Watch Co. of Springfield, Illinois, with serial number 4671407, made in 1925 in a run of 6000 such movement each of 12 size and 17 jewels, some in gold screw settings. This was made for an open fac Illinois case, pendant wound and set with double roller. Going barrel, adjusted for three positions and for temperature with a bimetallic balance wheel with pelican-pouch shaped regulator. Records suggest that 16,300 open faced and 700 hunter movements made between 1920 and 1926 of the Sterling model movement. The movement is fully signed and properly numbered. It is not a railroad grade watch.
Case – The case appears to be in good to very good condition with some surface scratches.
Dial – In very good condition despite a scattered bit of scratches and oxidative speckling. Quite unusual to see a gilt dial on this model watch.
Movement – Good with some yellowing of the left side of the movement and some possibly early corrosive indication on the great wheel teeth.
Overall condition is good to very good. It is good that the Period Art Deco link chain is with the watch along with a penknife fob, fitted case and unusual gilt dial. Those all help to support the price.
ILLINOIS WATCH COMPANY HISTORY:
Illinois Watch Company (IWC) was formed by seven partners in 1869 under the name of the Illinois Springfield Watch Company. In 1879, a year they made their first nickel movement the name became the Springfield Illinois Watch Company. In 1882 they made their first mainspring in their own plant and the following year produced enamel dials for the first time. The final name change took place in 1885 when the name became the IWC. They used more names on their movements than any other company. The earliest watches bore the names of some of the original watchmaking partners on the movements and are the most valuable to collectors: e.g. Stuart, Mason, Bunn, Miller and Currier. The IWC was sold to the Hamilton Watch company in 1927. As the manufacture of watch movements developed both in quality and quantity, the American producer was quick to learn the lesson of their time, i.e. the necessity of specialization of watch movements for the use by railroad employees. The Illinois Watch Company was among the first to realize this lesson, and during the latter years of the 19th century, while not discontinuing its large output of moderate priced watches, nor abating constant effort to improve the quality of same, nevertheless sought the most highly skilled aid of workmen and inventors in producing a watch of the highest perfection. This means a watch to meet the exacting requirements of railroad service, and Illinois made a special effort in this direction by furnishing the "Sangamo" and the "Bunn", "Bunn Special", and "A. Lincoln" movements in 18 size, for the use of railroad men, so that those movements were well known wherever railroads were operated, and became the recognized standard watches for railway service.
https://www.invaluable.com/auction-lot/illinois-sterling-openface-pocket-watch-w-chain-342-c-ef042bab9e (Sold in 2018 with knife and similar watch chain, size 16, for $100)
https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/90741139_illinois-sterling-pocket-watch (The Sterling in a size 16 with 21 jewels sold for $100 in 2020)
https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/36597465_illinois-sterling-pocket-watch-16s-17j (Sold for $80 in 2015)
https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/56972417_illinois-sterling-pocket-watch (With gold chain this example was passed because it did not reach the $200 minimum)
https://www.invaluable.com/auction-lot/illinois-sterling-pocket-watch-2070a-c-8df4f7e8af (sold in 2017 for $100.)
This is a fine family heirloom watch, despite not being one of the truly rare Illinois models. The fair market value of the watch, chain, knife fob and fitted box in today’s marketplace would range from $150-$175, with retail values being, of course somewhat higher. I hope that helps you with the appraisal of your grandad’s watch. Keep it clean and running and continue to fully enjoy it. It was indeed made by a great American company. I hope you found this useful. Thanks for the extra info and photo.
Thank you for choosing mearto.com for your appraisal.
Thank you for contacting Mearto with your appraisal inquiry. So that I may best assist you, can you please upload some further photos and information for me:
1 - I need to see the inside of the back cover. That will tell me whether this case is solid gold or gold filled, possibly we may find the name of the casemaker. This should be easy to do since the case has a hinge and the back cover is made to be opened by using a blade. If you use a knife to do this please wear gloves so you do not cut yourself.
2 - The most important information for me is to see the movement. This may also have its own cover inside the case - but there is a point around the edge of the movement cover where it is made so one can open it up. The movement contains the serial number which allows precise dating of the watch.
3 - Does the link chain have a gold mark engraved on it?
Let me know if you can do any of this, please.
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