Railway pocket watch

Approximately 150 years old. Perfect working condition. All gems in place.


2 inches

Acquired From:


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Mearto specialist

June 4, 2024
Fair Market Value:

Hello Dexter, Thank you for sending in this pocket watch to mearto.com for an appraisal. TITLE: Gent’s size 16, pendant wound and lever set, gold filled, monogramed, open face pocket watch, Grade 161, Bunn Special, type IIE (model 15), made by the Illinois Watch company, Springfield Illinois, made circa 1931. PROVENANCE: “Was great, great grandfathers.” DESCRIPTION: Case: Size 16, two/three leaf, gold filled, open face pocket watch with coin pendant and shaped bow in the Art Deco style located at the twelve position. The back cover likely screws on and appears to be gold filled judging by the speckles of oxidation present. At the center is a monogram which appears to be LCH. The inside of the cover is not shown. The bezel around the dial is gold filled and canted at an angle. Dial: Triple tiered, double sunk white dial with upright bold black enameled hours, sunken subsidiary continuous seconds ring @6, steel 'Paris Spade' hands, and in the sunken dial center the printed name, ‘Illinois’. Simple Bunn Special dial. Movement: A size 16, damascened nickel split three quarter plate movement, the grade 161, Type IIE, Model 15, one of the Bunn Special Railway watch movements. Made by the Illinois watch company, Springfield, Illinois with serial number 5474413 produced in the year 1931 in a run of 2000 such movements. Made with 21 jewels, some jewels placed in raised gold screw settings, pendant wound and lever set, double roller to stabilize the balance wheel and the palette fork, 60-hour barrel motor, adjusted to temperature and 6 positions, Reed regulator (In 1867 the American George P. Reed invented and patented an improvement to the Bosley regulator, US patent No. 61,867 dated February 5, 1867. This was a precision adjuster for the regulator lever consisting of a spring curved around the lever to bias it in one direction, with a screw used to move the lever in the opposite direction against the spring. Reed's addition to the Bosley regulator allowed finer adjustment to the regulator than can be achieved by simply moving the index lever with a finger or the tip of a screwdriver.) balance wheel has an Elinvar hairspring which makes this the model 15 and NOT model 14 and is of railway Grade. CONDITION: Case: In good condition with speckles of oxidation on the back cover. Dial: Very good to excellent with no hairlines visible. Movement: genuine, original and PERFECT WORKING CONDITION. HISTORY: Illinois Watch Company - The 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 sizes, 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. COMPARABLES: ~https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/130218737_illinois-60-hour-bunn-special-21j-pocket-watch (Sold for $200 in 2022) ~https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/130277751_illinois-pocket-watch (sold for $160 in 2022) ~https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/125047984_illinois-elinvar-bunn-special-161a-16s-21j-sixty-hour-railroad-pocket-watch (sold for $750 in 2022) ~https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/125029895_an-illinois-bunn-special-163a-elinvar-type-iib-pocket-watch (Sold for $1300 in 2022) PRICING: Obviously, there is a wide price range for such railroad watches. I like the pricing I found on the Pocket watch database when I entered the various case conditions. The latest fair market values that I could fin place it near $800, so I have chosen a fair market range of $750-$850 for your watch. Retail price would be almost twice that amount. Thank you for choosing merto.com for your appraisal. My best, David