waltham watches have an interesting history, from company name changes to repetitive model names over years of production. In 1850, the vision of the American Waltham Watch Co.'s founders was to produce high-quality watches using interchangeable parts. After encountering many setbacks and several long months of adjusting each timepiece individually, the company made its first watches available to the public in 1853.
Check the authenticity of a Waltham watch using the serial number on the movement, not the serial number on the case. Watch movements produced in the Waltham factory of Waltham, Massachusetts, are marked with serial numbers 1001 to 5000 and signed “Dennison, Howard & Davis,” “C.T. Parker” and “P.S. Bartlett.” Serial numbers 5001 to14,000 were produced in 1857 after The Boston Watch Co. failed, was sold and reorganized as Appleton, Tracy & Co. The first 17 watches produced were marked "The Warren Mfg Co," watches 18 through 100 were named "Warren Boston, and the next 800 watches were named "Samuel Curtis." These early watches are extremely rare and very valuable.
Records of authentic Waltham Watch serial numbers are available from very limited sources (see Resources).
Confirm whether the Waltham watch is battery-operated. In January, 1859, the Waltham Improvement Co. and the Appleton, Tracy & Co. merged to form the American Watch Co. Waltham continued to manufacture watches until 1957. Modern quartz (battery-operated) watches bear the Waltham name, but they are not related to the genuine American Waltham Watch Co.
Verify the grade and model of your Waltham watch. The model of a watch includes the overall design of the watch’s movement. The grade of a watch indicates variations between examples of the same model associated with overall quality. Distinguishing variations can include the number of jewels or how well-finished the movement is. Waltham used many of the same grade names for multiple sizes and models. The highest or lowest grade for one model may not be the highest or lowest grade for another model bearing the same name.
Grade charts also are available from a limited number of sources (see Resources).
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- Antique Pocket Watch: The Waltham Pocket Watch Company
- Complete Price Guide to Watches No. 30; Cooksey Shugart, Richard E. Gilbert, and Tom Engle; 2010
Karin Barga contributes to various online publications, specializing in topics related to canines, equines and business. She earned career diplomas in bridal consulting, business management and accounting essentials. Barga is a certified veterinary assistant, holds certification in natural health care for pets, and is a licensed realtor and property manager.