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Wadsworth-Hamilton Case Numbers History and Database
This information should be reasonably accurate in dating most Wadsworth cases found on Hamilton movements produced from the mid-1920s until the 1953 end of Wadsworth case production. Our simplified grouping of numbers can be expanded or updated and revised as additional information surfaces. But remember, what you see here only works for Wadsworth cases, so if your Hamilton movement is housed in any other make of case this list will not apply. (NOTE: See "Keystone-Hamilton Cases Year-By-Year" for Mainliner Elinvar, Case A, Case 11, Case 14 and Keystone Railroad 17 Database, images, descriptions, explanations and other information about those fascinating cases.)
Begin research by looking up your Hamilton movement on the Hamilton Serial Number Listings Preserved by John F. Gelson then check the Wadsworth case numbers and years of production on this list for the one that comes closest to yours. If your movement and case are an original combination the years should then be a close or exact match.
WADSWORTH-HAMILTON CASE NUMBERS YEAR-BY-YEAR
1924 - 6900000
NOTE: The earliest "Crossbar" cases used a Wadsworth numbering system which changed by the following year.
1925 - 0200000
1926 - 0250000
NOTE: The patent registration marking "PAT'S PEND'G" was dropped at this point and "PAT 5-22-26" markings began.
1927 - 0300000
1928 - 0400000
1929 - 0500000
NOTE: Around 0500000 the case number layout had changed from straight line to a curved "v-shaped" formation.
1930 - 0550000
1931 - 0600000
1932 - 0650000
1933 - 0700000
1934 - 0750000
1935 - 0800000
NOTES: During this time, the case numbers were back to being in a straight line again. And they used SIX DIGITS rather than SEVEN on case numbers for a while during 1935 as numbers 087682 and 087881 have been confirmed as correct and that spread of numbers indicates there are likely others out there.
1936 - 0900000
H-PREFIX BEGAN AT H000001 IN 1937
NOTES: Around this time Wadsworth restarted their numbering system having them preceded by an "H" prefix, beginning with H000001 and continuing forward on both the Model 2 and Model 10 cases. The Wadsworth Case Model 8 was phased-out having been last shown in the 1936 Hamilton Catalog at which time they introduced the Model 10 case which would be kept in the line until it was eventually phased-out during 1947 production.
1937 - H150000
1938 - H200000
1939 - H300000
1940 - H400000
1941 - H500000
1942 - H575000
1943 - H625000
1944 - H650000
1945 - H680000
1946 - H800000
NO PATENT DATES INDICATED AFTER H800000 in 1946
NOTE: We have H799517 with the "PAT 5-22-26" patent date and H814140 which is blank in that area with NO PATENT DATE so it is likely the patent date was eliminated right around the approximately H800000 case number.
1947 - H900000
1948 - H999000
J-PREFIX BEGAN AT ABOUT J080000
NOTES: It is important to recognize that between the end of H-prefixes and beginning of J-prefixes during 1948 there were a series of 00-prefix numbers. Of course this often causes confusion but fortunately they had dropped the patent dates by this time so knowing that we can easily distinguish these cases from previous ones. These 00-prefix numbers run to around 0077500 or so, then it appears the first 0 was replaced with a "J" with J-prefix numbers taking over at around J080000 and continue through the end of Wadsworth production as shown below.
1949 - J200000
1950 - J275000
1951 - J350000
1952 - J375000
1953 - J400000
WADSWORTH PRODUCTION ENDS, READ WHAT FOLLOWS FOR MORE IMPORTANT DETAILS
All information is subject to update as additional documented examples appear.
Entire topic © 2002-2019 IHC185 with All Rights Reserved
Here is a review of the Hamilton Railroad Cases that were made for them by Wadsworth during the period from 1924 through 1953 inclusive. (All watches shown in this topic are from my personal collection.)
We begin with the case model known as "Crossbar" which was the first Hamilton factory issued case specifically marketed as being intended for use primarily as a Railroad Model Case. This attractive case was released in 1924 with Wadsworth number around 6888000 or so but then by 1925 the numbering system had changed and we find numbers in the 0200000 area, the numbering system we show from that point on appears to be exclusive to cases made for the Hamilton Watch Company. They made white, green and yellow gold-filled versions of the "Crossbar" case and it appears that by 1928 it was gone from the Hamilton lineup.
• Below, the "Cross-Bar" case in Green Gold-Filled...
The highly successful Case Model 2 followed in 1925 and it continued to be offered through 1953 production. Eventually the Keystone and later Star Case 17 would replace it, but that is another subject, here we will focus facts about and descriptions of Hamilton's various Wadsworth Railroad cases. Both the "Crossbar" and Model 2 cases were marked "Wadsworth Quality" and earliest examples had "PAT'S PEND'G" markings inside the case-back.
Model 2 numbers began at 0244400 or thereabouts, we have an early Model 2 number 0244488 recorded. Earliest of the Model 2 cases had "chevrons" on either side of the frame just below the pendant. The highly successful Model 2 was produced in 14K white or green, 10K rose or yellow gold-filled as well as white, green or yellow 14K solid gold. They were also made with fancy pattern-backs in the early years, in fact no other Hamilton factory-issued railroad case was produced in such wide variety of choices or for such a long period of time.
When the patent for the bar-over-crown design was granted on 5-22-26 that date replaced the "PAT'S PEND'G" marking and they continued to be marked that way until the post-WWII era, during 1947 the patent date was finally dropped and from then-on just Wadsworth, the gold content and case number.
By something like number 0390000 area in 1928 the chevrons were gone providing the only real change in styling for Model 2 Cases in their nearly thirty years of production.
• Below, the Wadsworth Case 2 in Yellow Gold-Filled...
The evolutionary Case Model 8 which defines the popularity of "Art-Deco Design" with its interesting style and complicated details was first seen during September of 1931 in Hamilton advertisements and it was last in the 1936 catalog when the Case 10 was introduced.
• Below, the Wadsworth Case 8 in White Gold Filled...
The stylish Case Model 10 which also had Art-Deco influences was introduced in mid-1936 advertising and its last appearance was in the 1946-47 Hamilton catalog. Smoothness of design and flowing lines spoke of advancements in transportation and society as a whole.
• Hamilton boxed-set features their Model 10 case...
The Wadsworth-Hamilton "Two-Tone" Case Number 3 not to be confused with the 1920s "Model 3" made by Fahys, was introduced in 1946 during the booming postwar market. This most unusual case consisted of a 10K gold-filled frame (or center section) along with stainless steel back and bezel. The back and bezel design is entirely unlike those on Model 2 cases, because to make them "different" from the Model 2 dies from early "First-Model" series Wadsworth "Bunn Special" cases were used in this project. Inside these case-backs a circular finish and outside the case-back a vertical finish, both "butler" (or brushed) finish style. Always check carefully for matching numbers on Number 3 cases for authenticity.
Hamilton discontinued these cases after 1946-47 due to a problem with the stainless steel back and bezel wearing the gold-filled frame to brass upon repeated closure contact and realization these attractive but problem-prone cases are also vulnerable to cross-threading due to the inherent hardness of stainless steel backs and bezels rubbing against a gold-filled frame. Inside, the stainless steel backs were marked "Wadsworth Base Metal" in keeping with the jewelry trade considering anything but gold or silver as simply base metal. Then on the Case Frame, down low in the center they placed the usual stylized "W" that was a Wadsworth Trade Mark followed by "10K Gold-Filled" which completes the proper marking of all case components. (This marking may be worn down on a heavily-used or over-polished case but it was originally there.) When taken together these markings make perfect sense particularly in the context of the time when these were sold but taken individually today they may seem a bit confusing.
Interestingly, these cases would have been properly designated as a "Model 13" were it not for the superstition about that number. For that reason the case introduced between Hamilton Case 12 and Case 14 oddly carries a "Number 3" designation.
Finally, during 1948 some of the last new leftover 21-Jewel Illinois Bunn Specials from deep in the vaults were fitted with 992B Balance Wheels and Hairsprings to be marketed in leftover Number 3 Cases. For that reason if you find a late 161A Type II P (meaning Elinvar marked on pillar plate) Bunn Special housed in a Wadsworth-Hamilton Number 3 Case with no other apparent screw marks please resist the temptation to re-case, you may have found an important and highly desirable, odd but original combination. Click Late 161A's with Hamilton-Style Cases for more about these unusual Bunn Specials and what to look for in authenticating them.
• Number 3 Yellow Frame, Stainless Back and Bezel...
At some point during 1948 apparently Wadsworth had exhausted all their H prefix numbers perhaps as high as even the H999999 number and soon after they commenced using a "J" prefix beginning at about the J080000 number area. But as if to confuse future collectors in between there were 00-prefix numbered cases. For additional specifics on this odd numbering, see the special note in the 1948 area of our case listings above.
Then in 1951 the Wadsworth Case Company was sold to the Elgin Watch Company which one might conclude had something to do with Hamilton deciding to phase-out their use of Wadsworth cases.
The J-prefix numbers on Model 2 Wadsworth cases evidently ran to about the J396000 area by the time the very popular Wadsworth Model 2 was discontinued by Hamilton during 1953 production.
MORE IMPORTANT NOTES:
As the Wadsworth Case Models 8 and 10 and later Number 3 were introduced they assumed the same numbering system as the Crossbar and Model 2 had used. Wadsworth was the only case company to consistently number their cases in chronological order.
Other Wadsworth cases used on various Hamilton watches such as their 12-size and 10-size factory cased pocket watches along with Hamilton wristwatches employ the same numbering system as the Hamilton Railroad cases discussed above.
Wadsworth-Hamilton cases came in varying tones or colors.
As explained above, the "Cross-Bar" case came in White, Green and Yellow as did the Case Models 2 and 8 but the Model 10 came only in Yellow whereas the Number 3 was produced using a unique combination of Yellow-Gold-Filled frame mated with Stainless Steel back and bezel, the back oddly carried a "Base-Metal" marking.
There were Solid-Gold versions of the Case Model 2 and they came in White as well as Green in addition to Yellow. Each of the Hamilton Solid-Gold Railroad Model cases are very rare and highly sought-after by collectors. For additional information see our "Hamilton Solid-Gold Railroad Cases" topic.
From the 1920s to the 1950s Wadsworth-Hamilton Cases were often featured in Hamilton advertising. The one shown below was part of a 1927 promotion aimed directly at railroad employees, that watch case is of course the Model 2 which was immensely popular during nearly thirty years of production.
We will continue expanding this area with additionally updated comments and descriptive synopsis to go with our pictures of all the beautiful Wadsworth cases for Hamilton Railroad Watches.
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