Internet Horology Club 185
South Bend "Trolley" Watches

This topic can be found at:

October 18, 2021, 11:42
Bill Stockton
South Bend "Trolley" Watches
I have a fairly extensive collection of South Bend watches until recently never saw one referred to as a Trolley watch. Have always been impressed by the grade 217 with 17 jewels, lever set, 3 adjustments and the gilded lettering. Does anyone have documentation that the 217's were considered as a trolley grade watch?
October 22, 2021, 17:03
Lindell V. Riddle

Yes they were and yes we do have the documentation Bill,

Specific mention is in the South-Bend Watch Company "A Book of Beautiful Watches" published each year beginning in 1917 and at least as late as 1920 for which we also have a complete price list.

CLICK THESE WORDS FOR: South Bend Catalogs and Literature <<< Click for listings page and downloads!

Once there go to the CENTER COLUMN and find the 1917 Edition of "A Book of Beautiful Watches" wherein the GRADE 217 is first mentioned on Page 7 and very specifically again on Page 25 where it is described as "A VERY popular with street-car (another term for trolley-car) men..." and it continues with the best description of the Grade 217 that I recall ever reading.

As you pointed out, the 217 was a 17-Jewel, Lever-Set movement and it is worthwhile to mention that later South-Bend introduced their 219 which was a 19-Jewel Pendant-Set watch aimed at that same street-car, trolly, bus-driver market. Out of that design grew the 21-Jewel "Studebaker" Mail-Order Watch" (circa 1923-29) which would become their all-time best selling grade.

Those unfamiliar with what Bill and I are talking about, please go to our South-Bend Watch Company Research Forum and the monograph "SOUTH-BEND WATCHES, A HISTORY OF THE COMPANY AND THEIR PRODUCTS" for an in-depth study of the little-known (outside our hobby) but I think you will agree, very fascinating South-Bend Watch Company.

Thanks for the question Bill, hope my response is of help to you and others.