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Lifestyle

December 8, 2012

A 23-jewel watch is popular with collectors

:Dear Helaine and Joe:

I traded for this watch 50-some years ago. It is 23-jewel, in excellent running condition and keeps perfect time. Could you please tell me something about it and how much it is worth?

Thank you,

J.O., Cleveland, Va.

Dear J.O.:

Please understand that we are not pocket-watch specialists, but we will do the best we can to offer what information we could find.

The Springfield Watch Co. was founded in 1869 in Springfield, Ill., largely through the efforts of J.C. Adams, with the first watch being made in 1872. The first directors were J.T. Stuart, William Miller, John Williams, George Black, George Passfield and John Bunn.

The company changed names several times and eventually became the Illinois Watch Co. It made its first nickel movement in 1879, and its first mainspring watch in 1882. Illinois used a large number of names on its movements, and collectors find such designations as “Benjamin Franklin,” “Army and Navy,” “Baltimore and Ohio R.R.,” Chesapeake & Ohio,” “Comet,” “Commodore Perry,” “George Washington,” “Stuart” (which was the name of the first movement the company made), “Adams Street,” “Mason,” “Bunn” or, as is the case for today’s watch, “Bunn Special.”

The size of this watch is probably 16. It has 23 jewels, adjusted temperature and six positions, motor barrel, 60 hours and appears to be model 163A. It has a serial number of 5456916, which indicated it was made around 1931. This was after the Illinois Watch Co. was sold to the Hamilton Watch Co. of Lancaster, Pa., which happened in 1927.

The question might be asked whether this is a railroad watch. And that is a good query. The genesis of these so-named watches began with the great train disaster that happened on April 19, 1891, when an engineer’s faulty timepiece caused two trains to collide near Cleveland, Ohio, with 11 casualties.

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