After this tragedy, a commission was established to adopt universal guidelines for timekeeping standards for all railroads. A railroad watch per se was required to meet the standards for accuracy that were in place when that particular watch was manufactured. This is certainly a railroad-style watch, and a very fine timepiece, but whether it meets the technical requirements is not certain.
We have not seen the inside of the screw-off lid that covers the back of this piece, but we feel certain that this particular watch is in a white-gold-filled case and is not a “solid gold watch.” This is an open-face watch with bold black lettering in the railroad style, and a circular seconds dial.
The Illinois Watch Co.’s 163A Bunn Special, 23 jewels, 16 size pocket watch is very desirable to collectors and is not inexpensive. We have seen examples retail for as much as $4,200, depending on the condition.
Pocket-watch collectors can be picky, and a “pristine mint watch” is factory-new and in the box. “Near mint” has faint marks that can be seen only with a jeweler’s loupe -- not by the naked eye -- and “extra fine” looks as though the watch has had very little use.
We feel the watch in today’s question is worth at least $3,000 to $3,500 for insurance purposes, but J.O. needs to consult a specialist to be sure.
(Helaine Fendelman and Joe Rosson are the authors of “Price It Yourself” (HarperResource, $19.95). Contact them at Treasures in Your Attic, P.O. Box 18350, Knoxville, TN 37928. Email them at treasures(at)knology.net.)