Railroad Grade Pocket Watches

By the middle of the 19th century, American life and commerce had become increasingly dependent on railroads, and in the years following the Civil War the tracks became congested with train traffic. Trains needed to run on tight timetables so that all could share the available rails, and the need became evident to agree on a standard time. There were no time zones as we know them back then -- it was noon when the sun was high, which depends on your longitude. With rail lines spanning the North American continent, there were hundreds of definitions of "noon" spanning many hours, usually relying on the largest or most accurate clock in the area.

The railroad-grade pocket watch was developed to meet to make sure everyone operating the trains knew what time it was. To ensure that, the standards specified that a railroad grade pocket watch must contain a minimum number of jewels for bearings, pallets, and pins, must be lever set and have a lever type escapement with a safety wheel to ensure it would restart if stopped, must keep accurate time in several different positions and across a range of temperatures, regardless of how tightly the main spring was wound. Trainmen's pocket watches also had to be easily read in poor lighting, so they required a minimum size watch movement with Arabic numbers, a white dial, and contrasting spade hands.

Read more about railroad pocket watches, or browse the listings below to find one for your railroad memorabilia collection.
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Mens Seiko/ Pulsar Quartz Silvertone Calendar Watch/Railroad Approved-Y148-700L Bid Now »

Mens Seiko/ Pulsar Quartz Silvertone Calendar Watch/Railroad Approved-Y148-700L

Bid: $24.99
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$29.49
54 mins
VINTAGE WALTHAM 21 JWL POCKET WATCH RAILROAD 16A RARE MILITARY LEVER SET REPAIR Buy Now »

VINTAGE WALTHAM 21 JWL POCKET WATCH RAILROAD 16A RARE MILITARY LEVER SET REPAIR

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2 hrs
21 mins
1883 HAMPDEN WATCH Co 18s 15 JEWEL POCKET WATCH RAILROAD GRADE No. 56 MOVEMENT Buy Now »
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1883 HAMPDEN WATCH Co 18s 15 JEWEL POCKET WATCH RAILROAD GRADE No. 56 MOVEMENT

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18 hrs
13 mins
1916 Hamilton 992 16s 21j Gold Plate Pocket Watch Railroad Grade Non Working Bid Now »

1916 Hamilton 992 16s 21j Gold Plate Pocket Watch Railroad Grade Non Working

Bid: $199.99
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$205.98
20 hrs
10 mins
HAMPDEN POCKET WATCH Railroad Jewel Runs But Needs Repair Bid Now »
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HAMPDEN POCKET WATCH Railroad Jewel Runs But Needs Repair

Bid: $31.00
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$31.00
21 hrs
42 mins
1931 PAPER AD 10 PG Waltham Pocket Wrist Watch Railroad Lugless Buy Now »

1931 PAPER AD 10 PG Waltham Pocket Wrist Watch Railroad Lugless

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$41.48
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23 hrs
37 mins
Antique ILLINOIS A LINCOLN 21J 5 ADJ POCKET WATCH RAILROAD Buy Now »

Antique ILLINOIS A LINCOLN 21J 5 ADJ POCKET WATCH RAILROAD

Buy: $330.00 Ships:
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$334.00
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1 day
13 hrs
59 mins
 Turquoise Pulsar Quartz Men's Watch RailRoad Approved Buy Now »

Turquoise Pulsar Quartz Men's Watch RailRoad Approved

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$154.50
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2 days
16 hrs
7 mins
ELGIN 1899 21 JEWEL 54mm UNUSUAL GOLD HAIRSPRING POCKET WATCH Railroad No Reserv Bid Now »

ELGIN 1899 21 JEWEL 54mm UNUSUAL GOLD HAIRSPRING POCKET WATCH Railroad No Reserv

Bid: $64.00
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2 days
19 hrs
33 mins
RARR DISNEY MICKEY MOUSE POCKET WATCH RAILROAD WORKER with CHAIN Bid Now »

RARR DISNEY MICKEY MOUSE POCKET WATCH RAILROAD WORKER with CHAIN

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2 days
21 hrs
34 mins
Mens pocket watch Railroad steam engine with chain Buy Now »

Mens pocket watch Railroad steam engine with chain

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3 days
29 mins
SEIKO MEN'S WATCH RAILROAD APPROVED SOLAR STAINLESS GOLD STRETCHING BAND WORKS! Buy Now »

SEIKO MEN'S WATCH RAILROAD APPROVED SOLAR STAINLESS GOLD STRETCHING BAND WORKS!

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3 days
45 mins
ELGIN 349 ANTIQUE POCKET WATCH RAILROAD GRADE 21J RUNNING STRONG RR GOLD FILLED Buy Now »

ELGIN 349 ANTIQUE POCKET WATCH RAILROAD GRADE 21J RUNNING STRONG RR GOLD FILLED

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$217.20
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3 days
14 hrs
52 mins
HAMPDEN 23 jewel two tone Wavy Ribbon Movement  Pocket Watch Railroad Special Buy Now »

HAMPDEN 23 jewel two tone Wavy Ribbon Movement Pocket Watch Railroad Special

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$614.00
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3 days
21 hrs
32 mins
1800's REGULATEUR 24H all STEEL CASE POCKET WATCH Railroad running, 184 grams Buy Now »

1800's REGULATEUR 24H all STEEL CASE POCKET WATCH Railroad running, 184 grams

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4 days
1 hr
15 mins
Hampden New Railway Pocket Watch Railroad Grade Gold Case 23 j Adjusted 5 posit. Buy Now »

Hampden New Railway Pocket Watch Railroad Grade Gold Case 23 j Adjusted 5 posit.

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$629.94
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4 days
3 hrs
17 mins
1905 ILLINOIS 17J LEVER-SET 20 YEARS G.F. 18s POCKET WATCH RAILROAD ADJUSTED Buy Now »
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1905 ILLINOIS 17J LEVER-SET 20 YEARS G.F. 18s POCKET WATCH RAILROAD ADJUSTED

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4 days
8 hrs
12 mins
45th Disneyland Ingersol Watch Railroad Partners Ticket Mickey Boxed Pin Set Buy Now »

45th Disneyland Ingersol Watch Railroad Partners Ticket Mickey Boxed Pin Set

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$106.49
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4 days
14 hrs
16 mins
Antique Pocket Watch Railroad , Misc Lot of ( 6 ) Buy Now »

Antique Pocket Watch Railroad , Misc Lot of ( 6 )

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4 days
21 hrs
7 mins
Antique Westclox pocket watch railroad gold-toned case 16S USA  RUNS Bid Now »

Antique Westclox pocket watch railroad gold-toned case 16S USA RUNS

Bid: $7.99
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$6.00
$13.99
4 days
23 hrs
27 mins
HAMILTON 992 ANTIQUE POCKET WATCH RAILROAD 14k GOLD FILLED CASEĀ  DIAL RUNS Bid Now »
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HAMILTON 992 ANTIQUE POCKET WATCH RAILROAD 14k GOLD FILLED CASEĀ  DIAL RUNS

Bid: $87.00
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$87.00
5 days
6 hrs
41 mins
14k Gold Filled 1920 Hamilton 992 16S 21J Pocket Watch - Railroad Lever-Set!!! Buy Now »

14k Gold Filled 1920 Hamilton 992 16S 21J Pocket Watch - Railroad Lever-Set!!!

Buy: $299.00 Ships:
$3.00
$302.00
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5 days
18 hrs
28 mins
POCKET WATCH RAILROAD CASE SWING-OUT OPEN FACE SIZE 16s Bid Now »

POCKET WATCH RAILROAD CASE SWING-OUT OPEN FACE SIZE 16s

Bid: $35.00
Ships:
$3.80
$38.80
5 days
22 hrs
44 mins
New England Watch Co. Padishah Antique Pocket Watch Railroad Case Buy Now »

New England Watch Co. Padishah Antique Pocket Watch Railroad Case

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6 days
1 hr
59 mins
1951 Print Ad, Hamilton Watches, Americas Finest Watch, Railroad Accuracy, PA014 Buy Now »

1951 Print Ad, Hamilton Watches, Americas Finest Watch, Railroad Accuracy, PA014

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$2.99
$12.98
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6 days
19 hrs
19 mins


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