The Waltham Watch Company founded by Aaron Dennison, David Davis and Edward Howard pioneered the manufacturing of interchangeable parts. Set up in America, Massachusetts to be more specific and incorporated in 1851, it produced a broad line of affordable pocket and wrist watches in a large factory located along the banks of the Charles River in Waltham, Massachusetts. The city is about 10 miles west of Boston. After the initial early company ran into financial difficulties and was sold at Sheriff's auction, Mr. Dennison and Edward Howard, embarked on creating the world's first enterprise aimed at mass watch production.
After a few years of difficulties and setbacks, the best engineers and a skilled labour force were eventually employed, considerably increasing the production of watches at a low cost in the 1860s. The Waltham Company went through several changes throughout the 1800s and with each of these changes came more unique watches, but most of the collectable, antique pocket watches come from before the turn of the century. Railroad watches are particularly appealing to collectors for several reasons, even though the faces are very plain.
The quality of Railroad watches was very high, second only to chronometers and the company was also the first to comply with the needs of the railroad industry, but they were quickly followed by all of the other major American watch manufacturers, including Illinois, Elgin and Hamilton. It is these pocket watches, frequently featuring as many as 23 jewels and six adjustable positions instead of five, that are most sought after by collectors. American watch manufacturers were obsessed primarily with uniformity of their movements.
The Waltham Watch Company continued to mass produce watches right up until 1957. Antique pocket watches are not accurate by today's standards. A good watch, cleaned and adjusted with care, can achieve an accuracy of +/- one minute per 24 hours. Watch cases were made in a variety of metals.
You can usually find out what type of metal your case is made out of by looking inside the back cover. Watches would have to keep accurate time to within fractions of a minute per week. They would need to be impervious to temperature swings or the orientation in which they were held. Case parts such as bezels are mostly not available; they must be taken from another watch. Generic parts such as crowns and crystals can usually, but not always, be obtained. Cases are buffed, crystals are polished and bands are cleaned.
Mechanical watches utilize energy from a wound spring. They keep time through a regulated release of energy through the wheel train, which is a set of gears, and an escapement. Here are a few old fashioned watchmaker's tips to get you going: Removing Movement from Case - The first thing to do is take the watch, or rather its mechanism or "movement." out of the case. In the Waltham, the movement is held in the case by two dog screws at the edge of the back plate. Having turned these, the movement can be pushed out from the back of the case.
It will be noticed that near to the two o'clock there is a small pin in the edge of the movement, which fits into a hole in the case edge and keeps the movement in position when the dog screws are tightened. Having taken the movement out it will be seen to consist of a frame containing the barrel and train wheels. On the front of it is the dial and on the back, held by the balance cock. This, together with the hairspring, is really the most important part of the watch; the timekeeping depends on it, and it serves the same purpose as the pendulum of the clock.
When set vibrating, or revolving backward and forwards under the influence of its hairspring, it will move quite regularly, whether it is turning only a quarter of a turn each way or a turn and a half. As a matter of fact, there is in most watches an extremely small difference between times of the long and short vibrations, but this may be ignored for the present. The consequence of this equality in time of the vibrations of the balance is that, provided the mechanism of the watch is in fair order and capable of keeping the balance vibrating, the watch is sure to keep fairly good time, provided the balance and hairspring are themselves in perfect order.
If the balance or spring is faulty, then the best possible mechanism in the rest of the watch will fail to make it go well. The essential points of a good balance are as follows: It must be in perfect poise - that is to say, its rim must have no heavy part, but balanced exactly, so that no matter in what position the watch is held, the balance will act the same. Then it must have fine and smooth pivots, working in well-fitting and smooth jewel holes and the ends of the pivots must rest on smooth end stones. The balance itself must revolve quite freely, not being nipped by the presence of the end stones on the pivots, but having just the least consequence of lift or end shake to ensure absolute freedom. The balance must not touch anything as it revolves or its freedom of motion will be impaired. For instance, the balance cross-arm sometimes touches the outer coils of the hairspring, and in such a case it cannot possibly keep time.
The hairspring must be flat and true in its coils, not wobbling as the balance turns; and it must not touch anything. So the first thing to look at, on taking the watch out of its case, is the balance and hairspring. Give it a spin, and see if it revolves truly.
Hold the watch up to the light and look at the pivots sideways as the balance revolves. If they are bent, a wobbling will be discernible. Try the end shake with the points of a pair of fine tweezers, lifting the balance rim and letting it fall again to see what lift it has. When doing this do not look at the rim, as that may be bent, and so be deceptive, but watch the roller or the top pivot. Then the exact amount of lift can be seen.
If the balance seems true and free, look at its spring carefully. If that is also free, and seems perfect, the balance cock, may be removed, together with the attached balance and spring, and passed as in fair order.
For more information on repairing clocks and watches using illustrated skills of a bygone age visit http://www.antique-e-books.co.uk