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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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!!!

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9 hrs
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Antique Coin Silver AM Watch Co. Waltham Pocket Watch  Railroad Railway Bid Now »
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Antique Coin Silver AM Watch Co. Waltham Pocket Watch Railroad Railway

Bid: $75.00
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$75.00
18 hrs
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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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21 hrs
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POCKET WATCH,"RAILROAD CONDUCTOR" QUARTZ Buy Now »
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POCKET WATCH,"RAILROAD CONDUCTOR" QUARTZ

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1 day
12 hrs
28 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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1 day
14 hrs
58 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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1 day
15 hrs
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18s 23j H.Hamlet & Co Pocket Watch Railroad Size 18  Hunter in OF Silverode Case Buy Now »
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18s 23j H.Hamlet & Co Pocket Watch Railroad Size 18 Hunter in OF Silverode Case

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1 day
17 hrs
36 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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1 day
20 hrs
29 mins
Vintage Haste Buren Pocket Watch / Railroad Edition Buy Now »

Vintage Haste Buren Pocket Watch / Railroad Edition

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3 days
12 hrs
58 mins
1800’s ELGIN NATIONAL WATCH RAILROAD JEWEL POCKET WATCH Train Graphic SERVICED Bid Now »

1800’s ELGIN NATIONAL WATCH RAILROAD JEWEL POCKET WATCH Train Graphic SERVICED

Bid: $50.00
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$56.00
3 days
15 hrs
39 mins
Pocket Watch Railroad Embossed Case Arabic Numerals with Chain Full Buy Now »
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Pocket Watch Railroad Embossed Case Arabic Numerals with Chain Full

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3 days
18 hrs
23 mins
Burlington pocket watch Railroad Watch rolled plate 1920, 21 jewels 12s running Buy Now »
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Burlington pocket watch Railroad Watch rolled plate 1920, 21 jewels 12s running

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3 days
18 hrs
31 mins
POCKET WATCH,"RAILROAD CONDUCTOR" QUARTZ / DATE WINDOW Buy Now »

POCKET WATCH,"RAILROAD CONDUCTOR" QUARTZ / DATE WINDOW

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$27.00
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3 days
22 hrs
46 mins
new collectible Vintage Style Locomotive Pocket Watch railroad quartz movement Buy Now »

new collectible Vintage Style Locomotive Pocket Watch railroad quartz movement

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4 days
9 hrs
12 mins
POCKET WATCH RAILROAD CASE SWING-OUT OPEN FACE SIZE 18s Bid Now »

POCKET WATCH RAILROAD CASE SWING-OUT OPEN FACE SIZE 18s

Bid: $35.00
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$38.80
4 days
12 hrs
31 mins
ANTIQUE EXCELSIOR 1895 POCKET WATCH RAILROAD TRAIN LOCOMOTIVE VTG REPAIR Buy Now »
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ANTIQUE EXCELSIOR 1895 POCKET WATCH RAILROAD TRAIN LOCOMOTIVE VTG REPAIR

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4 days
12 hrs
37 mins
1913 PAPER AD 18 Size Illinois Springfield Pocket Watch Railroad Grade Bunn Buy Now »

1913 PAPER AD 18 Size Illinois Springfield Pocket Watch Railroad Grade Bunn

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5 days
13 hrs
18 mins
POCKET WATCH RAILROAD DIAL HAMPDEN OPEN FACE SIZE 16s Bid Now »

POCKET WATCH RAILROAD DIAL HAMPDEN OPEN FACE SIZE 16s

Bid: $15.00
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$18.80
5 days
13 hrs
48 mins
VINTAGE MICKEY MOUSE POCKET WATCH RAILROAD SILVER TONE BRADLEY Bid Now »

VINTAGE MICKEY MOUSE POCKET WATCH RAILROAD SILVER TONE BRADLEY

Bid: $90.00
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5 days
13 hrs
55 mins
PRISTINE 23 JEWEL 950e ELINVAR HAMILTON OPEN FACE POCKET WATCH RAILROAD GRADE Buy Now »

PRISTINE 23 JEWEL 950e ELINVAR HAMILTON OPEN FACE POCKET WATCH RAILROAD GRADE

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5 days
21 hrs
12 mins
Hamilton Illinois Ball Pocket Watch Railroad Case Thread Repair Tool INFO 4 YOU Buy Now »

Hamilton Illinois Ball Pocket Watch Railroad Case Thread Repair Tool INFO 4 YOU

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6 days
9 hrs
38 mins
18s Elgin 70 Pocket Watch, Railroad Silverode Case, 17j Serial #4365307 1890, OF Bid Now »
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18s Elgin 70 Pocket Watch, Railroad Silverode Case, 17j Serial #4365307 1890, OF

Bid: $99.99
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6 days
10 hrs
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BRAND NEW SEIKO SOLAR WATCH RAILROAD-APPROVED#SNE84 .STAINLESS STEEL(free gift ) Buy Now »
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BRAND NEW SEIKO SOLAR WATCH RAILROAD-APPROVED#SNE84 .STAINLESS STEEL(free gift )

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6 days
16 hrs
5 mins
Antique NH N H Watch Co 14K Gold Fill Pocket Watch Railroad Engineer Lincoln Buy Now »
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Antique NH N H Watch Co 14K Gold Fill Pocket Watch Railroad Engineer Lincoln

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6 days
18 hrs
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1924 PAPER AD 4 PG 18 Size Pocket Watch Railroad North Shore Trans Atlantic Buy Now »

1924 PAPER AD 4 PG 18 Size Pocket Watch Railroad North Shore Trans Atlantic

Buy: $29.99 Ships:
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$33.98
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7 days
10 hrs
12 mins


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