Antique Railroad Grade Pocket Watches

Railroad grade pocket watches were built to conform to the General Railroad Timepiece Standards specifications, a set of technical requirements designed to ensure that train engineers and other rail company employees would carry timepieces that were accurate, reliable, and durable. The mass production of these precision pocket watches, many with interchangeable parts, movements, cases, and dials, was an amazing feat of industrial engineering at the time, and has left us with a legacy of wonderful pocket watches that keep very good time today. Here collectors can find all the great old American pocketwatches from Waltham, Elgin, Howard, Hamilton, Illinois and others, with a new collection of historic timepieces appearing daily.
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POCKET WATCH DIAL ELGIN SIZE 18s Buy Now »

POCKET WATCH DIAL ELGIN SIZE 18s

Buy: $10.00 Ships:
$3.80
$13.80
Buy now
HAMILTON RAILROAD SPECIAL POCKET WAT10 KT GOLD FILLED  21 JEWELS LARGE NUMERALS Buy Now »
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HAMILTON RAILROAD SPECIAL POCKET WAT10 KT GOLD FILLED 21 JEWELS LARGE NUMERALS

Buy: $287.09 Ships:
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$287.09
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1 min
Beautiful Waltham p.s. bartlette19j men's USA pocketwatch Bid Now »
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Beautiful Waltham p.s. bartlette19j men's USA pocketwatch

Bid: $72.00
Ships:
Free
$72.00
3 mins
Elgin National Watch Co. Engraved Train Pocket Watch Silver Color Buy Now »
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Elgin National Watch Co. Engraved Train Pocket Watch Silver Color

Buy: $143.39 Ships:
Free
$143.39
Buy now
4 mins
Waltham Pocket Watch 1909 Buy Now »

Waltham Pocket Watch 1909

Buy: $355.00 Ships:
Based on Zip
$355.00
Plus shipping
Buy now
5 mins
Vintage 18S Waltham Balance Staff 8 day Bid Now »

Vintage 18S Waltham Balance Staff 8 day

Bid: $15.00
Ships:
$5.50
$20.50
8 mins
Vintage 12S Waltham Balance Staff Col B Bid Now »

Vintage 12S Waltham Balance Staff Col B

Bid: $15.00
Ships:
$5.50
$20.50
8 mins
Antique Ladies Elgin 14k Yellow Gold Pocket Watch Running Bid Now »

Antique Ladies Elgin 14k Yellow Gold Pocket Watch Running

Bid: $125.00
Ships:
$3.85
$128.85
8 mins
ANTIQUE POCKET WATCH 1800s AMERICAN WALTHAM 14k-GOLD-BACK BARTLETT MONARCH FAHYS Bid Now »

ANTIQUE POCKET WATCH 1800s AMERICAN WALTHAM 14k-GOLD-BACK BARTLETT MONARCH FAHYS

Bid: $51.00
Ships:
$5.00
$56.00
8 mins
Vintage 0S Waltham Balance Staff 19368-10 Bid Now »

Vintage 0S Waltham Balance Staff 19368-10

Bid: $10.00
Ships:
$5.50
$15.50
11 mins
Hamilton model 21 Chronometer jewel in setting clear Bid Now »

Hamilton model 21 Chronometer jewel in setting clear

Bid: $35.00
Ships:
$5.50
$40.50
11 mins
Vintage 18 size Hamilton balance staff 127 SR long collar Bid Now »

Vintage 18 size Hamilton balance staff 127 SR long collar

Bid: $15.00
Ships:
$5.50
$20.50
11 mins
Vintage 16 size Hamilton balance staff sr 435 Bid Now »

Vintage 16 size Hamilton balance staff sr 435

Bid: $15.00
Ships:
$5.50
$20.50
11 mins
Vintage 18S Waltham Balance Staff 1857 Key Wind Variation A pocket watch Bid Now »

Vintage 18S Waltham Balance Staff 1857 Key Wind Variation A pocket watch

Bid: $20.00
Ships:
$5.50
$25.50
11 mins
Vintage 18S Seth Thomas Century Short balance staff Bid Now »

Vintage 18S Seth Thomas Century Short balance staff

Bid: $10.00
Ships:
$5.50
$15.50
11 mins
Vintage Hamilton Model 22 balance staff Bid Now »

Vintage Hamilton Model 22 balance staff

Bid: $20.00
Ships:
$5.50
$25.50
11 mins
Vintage 12S Waltham Balance Staff Col B 7865 Bid Now »

Vintage 12S Waltham Balance Staff Col B 7865

Bid: $10.00
Ships:
$5.50
$15.50
14 mins
Vintage 6S Elgin balance staff 868 Bid Now »

Vintage 6S Elgin balance staff 868

Bid: $15.00
Ships:
$5.50
$20.50
14 mins
Vintage 12S Hamilton 1250A Double Roller balance staff Bid Now »

Vintage 12S Hamilton 1250A Double Roller balance staff

Bid: $10.00
Ships:
$5.50
$15.50
14 mins
Vintage 18S Seth Thomas 903-3 balance staff Bid Now »

Vintage 18S Seth Thomas 903-3 balance staff

Bid: $10.00
Ships:
$5.50
$15.50
14 mins
Vintage 12 size Elgin pocket watch Staff 4177 pocket watch Bid Now »

Vintage 12 size Elgin pocket watch Staff 4177 pocket watch

Bid: $10.00
Ships:
$5.50
$15.50
14 mins
Waltham 645 21Jewel  pocket watch RUNS Porcelain dial Bid Now »

Waltham 645 21Jewel pocket watch RUNS Porcelain dial

Bid: $145.00
Ships:
$5.50
$150.50
14 mins
Vintage 16 size Elgin pocket watch Staff 658 pocket watch Bid Now »

Vintage 16 size Elgin pocket watch Staff 658 pocket watch

Bid: $10.00
Ships:
$5.50
$15.50
14 mins
Vintage 16S Howard Balance Staff friction 338 Bid Now »

Vintage 16S Howard Balance Staff friction 338

Bid: $15.00
Ships:
$5.50
$20.50
14 mins
Vintage 18S Waltham Balance Staff 1857 Key Wind Variation C pocket watch Bid Now »

Vintage 18S Waltham Balance Staff 1857 Key Wind Variation C pocket watch

Bid: $20.00
Ships:
$5.50
$25.50
14 mins
Vintage 18S Illinois 47602 455-21 balance staff Bid Now »

Vintage 18S Illinois 47602 455-21 balance staff

Bid: $20.00
Ships:
$5.50
$25.50
14 mins
Vintage 12 size Hamilton balance staff 3350 pocket watch Bid Now »

Vintage 12 size Hamilton balance staff 3350 pocket watch

Bid: $10.00
Ships:
$5.50
$15.50
14 mins
Vintage 12 size Hamilton balance staff  short pocket watch Bid Now »

Vintage 12 size Hamilton balance staff short pocket watch

Bid: $10.00
Ships:
$5.50
$15.50
14 mins
Vintage 3/0 Illinois balance staff SR 836 pocket watch Bid Now »

Vintage 3/0 Illinois balance staff SR 836 pocket watch

Bid: $10.00
Ships:
$5.50
$15.50
14 mins
Waltham 16s 17j antimagnetic melamine dial decent gold filled case runs Bid Now »

Waltham 16s 17j antimagnetic melamine dial decent gold filled case runs

Bid: $120.00
Ships:
$5.50
$125.50
14 mins
Vintage 12S Elgin 4191C balance staff Bid Now »

Vintage 12S Elgin 4191C balance staff

Bid: $10.00
Ships:
$5.50
$15.50
14 mins
Vintage 12S Waltham Balance Staff Premiere Bid Now »

Vintage 12S Waltham Balance Staff Premiere

Bid: $10.00
Ships:
$5.50
$15.50
14 mins
Vintage Hampden 18S 422-14A0 balance staff Bid Now »

Vintage Hampden 18S 422-14A0 balance staff

Bid: $15.00
Ships:
$5.50
$20.50
14 mins
Rare Hamilton 992 E BAR OVER "ELINVAR" Railroad Special 10k GF Pocket Watch *Gem Bid Now »

Rare Hamilton 992 E BAR OVER "ELINVAR" Railroad Special 10k GF Pocket Watch *Gem

Bid: $579.99
Ships:
$10.00
$589.99
16 mins
ELGIN FATHER TIME RR 16S GRADE 454, POCKET WATCH,PARTS OR RESTORATION Bid Now »

ELGIN FATHER TIME RR 16S GRADE 454, POCKET WATCH,PARTS OR RESTORATION

Bid: $59.00
Ships:
$3.00
$62.00
16 mins
ILLINOIS BUNN SPECIAL 16S 21J GOLD FILLED MONTGOMERY DIAL POCKET WATCH - RUNNING Bid Now »

ILLINOIS BUNN SPECIAL 16S 21J GOLD FILLED MONTGOMERY DIAL POCKET WATCH - RUNNING

Bid: $239.99
Ships:
$11.90
$251.89
16 mins
Vintage 6S Waltham Balance Staff 13219 Bid Now »

Vintage 6S Waltham Balance Staff 13219

Bid: $10.00
Ships:
$5.50
$15.50
17 mins
Vintage 12S Elgin 2660 balance staff Bid Now »

Vintage 12S Elgin 2660 balance staff

Bid: $10.00
Ships:
$5.50
$15.50
17 mins
Vintage new old stock Hamilton 992B cannon pinion and gear pocket watch Bid Now »

Vintage new old stock Hamilton 992B cannon pinion and gear pocket watch

Bid: $10.00
Ships:
$5.50
$15.50
19 mins
Vintage 18 size Hamilton balance staff 126 DR short collar pocket watch Bid Now »

Vintage 18 size Hamilton balance staff 126 DR short collar pocket watch

Bid: $10.00
Ships:
$5.50
$15.50
19 mins
Vintage 16 size Elgin pocket watch Staff 6167 pocket watch Bid Now »

Vintage 16 size Elgin pocket watch Staff 6167 pocket watch

Bid: $15.00
Ships:
$5.50
$20.50
19 mins
 HAMILTON "974" 10k GOLD FILLED OPEN FACE 17J  GREAT POCKET WATCH KEYSTONE CASE Bid Now »

HAMILTON "974" 10k GOLD FILLED OPEN FACE 17J GREAT POCKET WATCH KEYSTONE CASE

Bid: $149.99
Ships:
Based on Zip
$149.99
Plus shipping
20 mins
Antique Elgin 18 Size Pocket Watch Bid Now » Buy Now »
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Antique Elgin 18 Size Pocket Watch

Bid: $100.00
Buy: $130.00
Ships:
Free
$100.00
Buy now
20 mins
Hamilton 992B 21-jewel 16-size Railroad Pocket Watch, Model 11 Gold Filled Case Buy Now »
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Hamilton 992B 21-jewel 16-size Railroad Pocket Watch, Model 11 Gold Filled Case

Buy: $599.99 Ships:
Free
$599.99
Buy now
21 mins
Fantastic Illinois Watch Case Co. Nickel Silver Pocket Watch Case c.1889 Bid Now »

Fantastic Illinois Watch Case Co. Nickel Silver Pocket Watch Case c.1889

Bid: $10.00
Ships:
$3.00
$13.00
22 mins
Vintage 18S Seth Thomas Balance Staff Century pocket watch Bid Now »

Vintage 18S Seth Thomas Balance Staff Century pocket watch

Bid: $15.00
Ships:
$5.50
$20.50
25 mins
Antique 14K Gold Waltham 13 Jewels Pocket Watch #1449285 REG. PRICE: $4,980 Buy Now »
Free Shipping

Antique 14K Gold Waltham 13 Jewels Pocket Watch #1449285 REG. PRICE: $4,980

Buy: $1,992.00 Ships:
Free
$1,992.00
Buy now
28 mins
Vintage 16S Illinois balance staff 455-3 pocket watch Bid Now »

Vintage 16S Illinois balance staff 455-3 pocket watch

Bid: $10.00
Ships:
$5.50
$15.50
29 mins
Vintage Waltham 18S Staff 1703 W8823 P11 Short Pivot pocket watch Bid Now »

Vintage Waltham 18S Staff 1703 W8823 P11 Short Pivot pocket watch

Bid: $10.00
Ships:
$5.50
$15.50
29 mins
Vintage Waltham 16 size 4860 balance staff Bid Now »

Vintage Waltham 16 size 4860 balance staff

Bid: $15.00
Ships:
$5.50
$20.50
29 mins
Some sources of information on the history of railroad grade pocket watches and other topics of interest to watch and clock collectors and horology enthusiasts.

The place to start is Horology - The Index, the website of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, or NAWCC. There you can find horological organizations, information on horological science and the development of timekeeping devices, and useful tips on antique pocket watch repair and restoration as well as buying, selling, appraisal and collecting antique watches and clocks. They also have a very nice virtual watch and clock museum tour with all kinds of interesting horological information and pictures.

To get a quick overview of the development of portable timepieces, from clock-watches of the 16th century to the railroad grade pocket watches of the late 19th century, see wiki's watch page.

To find definitions of words used for the various parts of watch movements and other technical terms used in horology, see Barry Goldberg's watch information page.

If you would like to understand the intricacies of how things like balance wheels and lever escapements work, check out The Horologium.

Some interesting perspectives from noted collectors of antique pocket watches:

Tom McIntyre talks about collecting American Watch Co. products of the Waltham Watch Company, including lots of historical details about watch companies, watch movements, and informed antique "railroad" watch collecting.

Vintage watch and clock expert Jonathan Snellenburg talks about the societal forces driving watch and clock technology and the historic cultural changes that resulted from better timepieces, as well as technical details of the progression from the verge escapement through pocket watches to wrist watches.

Horologist Barry S. Goldberg gives advice on collecting antique American made pocket watches, including great tips for beginners on things like gold-filled and silveride cases, two tone watch movements, and how the original authenticity of railroad grade pocketwatches can be compromised.

The Ohio jeweler and watchmaker Webb Ball led the commission that established the General Railroad Timepiece Standards, standardizing railroad chronometer specifications.

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