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WORLDWIDE Chapter 149 Message Board Forum Index » The Watch Collectors' Journal » John B Scott posted some great info on NSW plus 2 watches
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John B Scott posted some great info on NSW plus 2 watches
PostPosted: Sat Sep 01, 2018 2:29 pm Reply with quote
Jon
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Joined: 02 Dec 2002
Posts: 26123
Location: Boston, Ma




The Australian State of New South Wales (so named because of its immense reserves of high quality coal) covers a land area about 16% larger than Texas. Its government-run railway system reached more than 6,000 route miles, at its peak, or about 50% of the size of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Historically, the New South Wales Government Railways was a major railway system, in world terms. Though diminished in size, the railway system of NSW continues to be a major railway undertaking, today.

About thirty years ago, or more, the railways of NSW began to undergo modernisation and contraction. That process liberated thousands of collectable artefacts, including watches and clocks. These were sold off as surplus to requirements, to the public, largely from a special shop (store) created for the purpose, at Sydney Central Station, and known as the Railway Shop. I made several visits. I was fortunate to be able to purchase two NSWGR-marked pocket watches at reasonable prices. I chose what seemed to me to be the best of several such watches that I was shown on each of two occasions, in 1988 and 1989.

In Sydney, I noted some serial numbers, as follows:
October 1988 -
18121524 having a patent regulator (purchased);
April 1989 -
14125277, 18023883, 18107281, 18160505 – all having patent regulators; and
7018278, 19106731, 19106909 (purchased), 20057160 – all having star regulators.
Later, in 1999 in Melbourne, I noted 10099782, marked Non-Magnetic and having a star regulator, offered at auction.
I did not record jewel counts or furtherer details.

Interest in these watches has been expressed, from time to time, on this message board so, during a recent visit to the bank, I thought I would borrow the two watches in order to photograph them for readers, here. My attempts are shown, below.

Both watches have Waltham 1892 model open face pendant set movements, one (19106909 from a run of 500 movements in approximately 1913) a 15J movement marked American Waltham, USA, Non-Magnetic, Adjusted, Safety Barrel, with a gilded star regulator, the other (18121524 from a run of 500 movements in approximately 1910) a 17J movement marked Appleton Tracy & Co Waltham Mass, Adjusted, with a patent regulator. The dial of 19106909 is also marked Non Magnetic (no hyphen). Both dials are porcelain, have Roman numerals and bear the front marking New South Wales Government Railways.

Each watch has a silveroid (or similar) swing-out case made by the Crescent Watch Case Co. The case of 19106909 is numbered 19046, while the case of 18121524 is numbered 18622. The case back of 19106909 is marked GR 4634 (rather worn and hard to decipher, but I think that is it, possibly for General Running - Traffic Branch) whilst the case back of 18121524 is marked L 4773 (for the Locomotive Section of the Mechanical Branch). Watch L 4773 would have been carried by a Locomotive Fireman or Driver (Engineer).

I managed to obtain a copy of a history card for the watch marked 4634. Evidently the watch had been on issue to the District Superintendent at Orange, an important railway centre, west of Sydney. The card lists the branch of issue as MT 25, but I do not know the significance of that notation. There are other details on the card that will probably be of interest. I copy the card, below.

There is no guarantee that specific movements and cases stayed together whilst under the control of NSWGR. In fact, I think that would be most unlikely. The NSWGR owned hundreds, possibly thousands, of these watches, not to mention thousands of clocks (many American) and there were full time watch and clock makers constantly working to keep all in order. I think some mixing and matching of watch movements and cases would have been inevitable. I assume that the matches of the first two digits of the case numbers and movement numbers, for these two watches, is pure coincidence.

These NSWGR watches were the property of the Government of NSW. They were issued for the use of railway employees whilst on duty. I have retained the original receipts for my purchases of the two watches from the Railway Shop.

Each of the government railways of Australia issued watches to its employees and some, or all, of their privatised successors still do (wrist watches, these days). In the early days, the issued watches were pocket watches. Overall, throughout Australia, I believe most of those pocket watches were of Swiss manufacture and this applied in NSW in later years. There may have been pocket watches of American manufacture other than the Waltham 1892 model NSWGR watches, but I am not aware of them.

I should state that I do not live in NSW and that I am no expert in respect of NSW railway history. Anyone who can usefully add to what I have written, here, should not hesitate to do so.

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SUPPORT ETHICAL PRACTICES IN HOROLOGY--Keep watches original--DO NOT SWITCH, PART OUT OR "CREATE" PW abortions!
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 01, 2018 3:30 pm Reply with quote
Jon
Chapter President
Joined: 02 Dec 2002
Posts: 26123
Location: Boston, Ma




One of John's watches, a beauty:

https://mb.nawcc.org/attachments/walt-18s-19106909-movt-nswgr-jpg.491354/

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Jon "the truth" Hanson
Founder and President of Chapter 149--the leading horological collectors' club!
American Horologe Co -- America's Most Respected Name
SUPPORT ETHICAL PRACTICES IN HOROLOGY--Keep watches original--DO NOT SWITCH, PART OUT OR "CREATE" PW abortions!
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2018 7:32 am Reply with quote
John B Scott
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Joined: 05 Jul 2003
Posts: 105




Jon

Thanks for transcribing.

That waltham 19106909 seems pretty good to me, too. I have termed it an optimised watch. What I mean by that is it has everything it needs and nothing that it doesn't. I suspect that some smart watchmaker in NSW created the specification, someone who was not subject to the American jewel wars and general overkill. Don't get me wrong, though, I love the overkill.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2018 10:02 am Reply with quote
Neilywatch
Chapter Member
Joined: 16 Oct 2010
Posts: 5384




Hey John B.

As you may have noticed, I do own 2 of these NSWGR model 92's. The major difference being one has the Church regulator and the other has the Ohlson's regulator.

To the best of my knowledge, these NSWGR 92's are the only 92's made in nickel, with just 15j, pendant set and nonmagnetic balances. I would say that these were made to order for the company by Waltham. I think the ledger counts 300 made.

I have yet to find any AT and Co 92's made in 15j.

In any case, thanks for the lesson and pictures!

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2018 6:09 pm Reply with quote
StephanG
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Joined: 06 Nov 2008
Posts: 4690
Location: Melbourne Australia




Nice looking watch.

A similar modernization occurred in Victoria about 10 years earlier.
Here the same system re watches applied where the railways owned them all and issued them to those who needed them.
Likewise there was an internal watch repair section to look after them.
VR for many years used Omega watches ( it was a given we could not have the same as NSW ) and I have one in my collection.
The marking on the back is very crude.

I know there was a lot of switching and swapping of parts to keep as many watches serviceable as possible due to the limited budget given the section.

I learnt about these things from a friend who used to work in the VR typewriter service section that lived next to the watch guys.

He was able to get a bunch of watches when they were phased out in favor of wrist watches. Alas I could only afford the one at the time.

Watches in the VR did not hold the same significance as they did in the US as the system of operation was different and incorrect time keeping was not as likely to result in a disaster. Just a late train.

I suspect ( but not 100% certain ) NSW would be the same.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2018 8:25 pm Reply with quote
John B Scott
Chapter Member
Joined: 05 Jul 2003
Posts: 105




Neil

7018278
8714625
10099782
14125277
14125281
18023883
18107281
18121524
18160505
19106731
19106909
19106926
20057160

Firstly, I like your new home (separate post).

Secondly, I was not really trying to collect NSWGR serial numbers – but perhaps we should, so I have pasted in, above, a short list of those that have come to my notice. We can all add to that as we go along.

Seemingly, NSW bought Waltham watches over quite a period. It is also possible that Waltham refinished some unsold movements, so increasing the serial number spread.

How did you arrive at your figure of 300 watches? Given that the watches come from at least half a dozen runs, calculating the total number that were made is difficult, from my point of view.

Looking at the list and knowing what I know, now, I would really like to have another look at 7018278. It must have been in poor shape, so I did not select it, all those years ago. I know that there were several cracked or loose dials. Not many actually marked Non Magnetic!

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 03, 2018 11:01 am Reply with quote
Jon
Chapter President
Joined: 02 Dec 2002
Posts: 26123
Location: Boston, Ma




I have several, one is non Mag, in orig. silveroid case signed :Scott/25!"

_________________
Jon "the truth" Hanson
Founder and President of Chapter 149--the leading horological collectors' club!
American Horologe Co -- America's Most Respected Name
SUPPORT ETHICAL PRACTICES IN HOROLOGY--Keep watches original--DO NOT SWITCH, PART OUT OR "CREATE" PW abortions!
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2018 4:27 am Reply with quote
John B Scott
Chapter Member
Joined: 05 Jul 2003
Posts: 105




Yesterday I cleaned and oiled Waltham movement 19106909 as it had been in the bank vault for many years prior to its recent withdrawal. I wanted to ensure that it is in good order and to check its time-keeping performance.

I was fascinated to find that the balance cock and dial plate carry the serial number 19106901! The balance arms and movement top plates carry the number 19106909. Either the NSWGR watch repairmen or the assemblers at Waltham proceeded in the knowledge that they could always rely on the interchangeability of parts. I imagine, after all, that the two sets of parts would have been part of the same batch of ten, or so, at the Waltham factory.

Servicing the movement was a straightforward task as there were only two cap jewels to manage and there was the advantage of a simple but sufficient safety barrel. The escapement is of the double roller type, the escape wheel is of steel and, to the great credit of Waltham, the pallet lever is of bronze. It is a truly non-magnetic watch movement.

I checked and found that 18121524 has a double roller escapement and steel escape wheel but its lever is conventionally made of steel. As noted in my first post, each of these two movements incorporate a monometallic balance and a white anti-magnetic hairspring (having a Breguet overcoil).

After its service, I needed to regulate movement 19106909, using the mean time screws, and I adjusted the bankings. After that, I used an electronic timing instrument to record the positional rates, which were as follows:

DU +1;

DD 0;

PU +2;

PR -1;

PL -5;

PD -5.

I may do some fine tuning but I am already happy in the knowledge that I have been able to demonstrate that these Waltham NSWGR watches were of very high quality. The instincts of the experts have been proven correct!

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John B Scott posted some great info on NSW plus 2 watches
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