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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18s Elgin 70 Pocket Watch, Railroad Silverode Case, 17j Serial #4365307 1890, OF Bid Now »

18s Elgin 70 Pocket Watch, Railroad Silverode Case, 17j Serial #4365307 1890, OF

Bid: $99.99
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$99.99
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1 hr
22 mins
Elgin Pocket Watch Railroad Style Gold Filled Case Bid Now »

Elgin Pocket Watch Railroad Style Gold Filled Case

Bid: $20.96
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$3.00
$23.96
1 hr
35 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!

Buy: $104.99 Ships:
$6.50
$111.49
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5 hrs
17 mins
Hampden New Railway Pocket Watch Railroad Grade Gold Case 23j Adjusted 5 pos. Buy Now »

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

Buy: $699.99 Ships:
$29.95
$729.94
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11 hrs
58 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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$90.00
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21 hrs
9 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

Buy: $2,300.00 Ships:
$11.00
$2,311.00
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1 day
50 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: $80.00
Ships:
$6.00
$86.00
1 day
1 hr
50 mins
RARE GEORGE EDWARD & SONS - LOAN WATCH NO 67 - SILVER POCKET WATCH - RAILROAD Bid Now »

RARE GEORGE EDWARD & SONS - LOAN WATCH NO 67 - SILVER POCKET WATCH - RAILROAD

Bid: $38.00
Ships:
$19.00
$57.00
1 day
16 hrs
24 mins
POCKET WATCH RAILROAD CASE PHILADELPHIA SILVERODE SWING-OUT OPEN FACE SIZE 18s Bid Now »

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

Bid: $35.00
Ships:
$3.80
$38.80
2 days
5 hrs
49 mins
Mickey Mouse Pocket Watch. Railroad/Engineer Scene. Verichron. Free Shipping Buy Now »
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Mickey Mouse Pocket Watch. Railroad/Engineer Scene. Verichron. Free Shipping

Buy: $80.00 Ships:
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$80.00
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2 days
8 hrs
10 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: $225.00 Ships:
$3.00
$228.00
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2 days
19 hrs
39 mins
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
Ships:
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$75.00
3 days
4 hrs
34 mins
New England Watch Co. Padishah Antique Pocket Watch Railroad Case Buy Now »

New England Watch Co. Padishah Antique Pocket Watch Railroad Case

Buy: $209.99 Ships:
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$209.99
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3 days
8 hrs
2 mins
POCKET WATCH,"RAILROAD CONDUCTOR" QUARTZ Buy Now »
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POCKET WATCH,"RAILROAD CONDUCTOR" QUARTZ

Buy: $19.95 Ships:
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$19.95
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3 days
22 hrs
52 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

Buy: $9.99 Ships:
$2.99
$12.98
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4 days
1 hr
21 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
Ships:
$5.99
$205.98
4 days
1 hr
35 mins
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

Buy: $145.00 Ships:
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$145.00
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4 days
3 hrs
59 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

Buy: $800.00 Ships:
$19.00
$819.00
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4 days
6 hrs
53 mins
Vintage Haste Buren Pocket Watch / Railroad Edition Buy Now »

Vintage Haste Buren Pocket Watch / Railroad Edition

Buy: $150.00 Ships:
$12.95
$162.95
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5 days
23 hrs
21 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

Buy: $27.29 Ships:
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$27.29
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6 days
4 hrs
46 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

Buy: $375.00 Ships:
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$375.00
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6 days
4 hrs
54 mins
POCKET WATCH,"RAILROAD CONDUCTOR" QUARTZ / DATE WINDOW Buy Now »

POCKET WATCH,"RAILROAD CONDUCTOR" QUARTZ / DATE WINDOW

Buy: $22.00 Ships:
$5.00
$27.00
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6 days
9 hrs
10 mins
new collectible Vintage Style Locomotive Pocket Watch railroad quartz movement Buy Now »

new collectible Vintage Style Locomotive Pocket Watch railroad quartz movement

Buy: $16.99 Ships:
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$16.99
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6 days
19 hrs
35 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
Ships:
$3.80
$38.80
6 days
22 hrs
55 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

Buy: $29.99 Ships:
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$29.99
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6 days
23 hrs


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