Late in the 19th century, the subject of jewels in watches became an issue. Especially, watches with higher jewel counts. The very rare Hampden Special Railway watch shown by @TexOmega
was produced by the Hampden Watch Co., and has 21-jewels. Hampden also produced a 23-jewel version. The Illinois watch Co. joined the fray, and produced a 24-jewel version. Watches with 25, 26-jewels, and 28-jewels also were produced by U S watchmakers. Needless to say, jewel counts became a big issue in watch advertising of the day, every maker seeking to gain a leg up in the battle for market share.
The Hampden Watch Co. was acquired by John Dueber of the case making firm, the Dueber Watch Case Co. Hampden became the Dueber Hampden Watch Co. Because Hampden had never produced a watch with more than 23-jewels, John Dueber countered the ads for higher jewel count watches produced by others by introducing the term “smokestack jewels” into Hampden Watch advertising. Essentially implying that these added jewels did nothing to improve the performance of those watches.
This preamble leads to discussion of the subject watch. Recently, one of the local watch repair fraternity called me, asking for help. He had a “Washington” watch for which he had been unable to locate a new balance staff. Why? Because there never was a “Washington” watch. The name was a house brand name for Illinois watches as sold by the U S Department store chain, Montgomery Ward. This chap asked me if I would make
a balance staff for the watch. He sent me the watch. It is a rare 24-jewel,
model 5, 18-size Illinois movement, marked on dial and movement, Washington! I had 18-size Illinois balance staffs on hand, but for a different model. The only dimension that was correct on the replacement staff was length, and the hub for the balance wheel. I had to reduce the sizes of the pivots, reduce the size of the roller table portion, and reduce the size of the hairspring collet portion. Job done.
Illinois) watch with 24-jewels is rather a rare one. I have only ever seen one other over many years. It is an example of what John Dueber called a watch with “smokestack” jewels.
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