Internet Horology Club 185
In Search Of Seth Thomas
September 03, 2011, 16:05Eric Unselt
In Search Of Seth Thomas
Having found my niche, namely Seth Thomas Models 2 through 12, I thought I'd post an on-going catalog of galleries and research. Very little information exists on Seth Thomas pocket watches, and most of my pattern assignments within grade have been educated guesses. To date I still have no data on production dates, assigned unmarked grade numbers, run sizes, variants within runs, etc. Anybody wanting to contribute to the thread with pictures, advertisements, catalogs, data, or questions please do so. This topic is for everyone.
The Seth Thomas Clock Company of Connecticut, founded in 1813, ventured into pocket watch production around 1885, and for the next 30 years made some three million watches total. 1885 saw the debut of four models; all quick-train, 3/4 plate, and a maximum of 15 jewels. In the 1887 catalog the Model 2 emerged, Seth's first 18-size hunter movement, and by 1890 the Model 5 had arrived. Seth Thomas blocked out a total
of 200,000 numbers for the full-plate 18-size Model 5 in a serial number range from 200,000 to 400,000 - and no Model 5 having a serial number higher than 352,000 has been reported
. If that's true, then there were at most 152,000 Model 5s ever made.
By 1915 pocket watch production ceased, and the September catalog made no mention of watches at all as the company turned its efforts back to clock making.
My thanks to John Grennan, who posted what became my very first Seth Thomas at auction here on IHC185 - a Model 5 pendant-set variant of the Grade 182, complete with a full set of volcano screws:
September 03, 2011, 16:08Eric Unselt
It fronts an interesting private-label fancy dial. I'm not positive, but I believe Rex to be a heavy-equipment manufacturer from the turn of the century.
September 03, 2011, 16:09Eric Unselt
It's all wrapped up in a great bezel-less internal-thread case with Rudolph on the back:
September 03, 2011, 16:11Eric Unselt
Seth Thomas's dedicated hunter-only movement is the 18-size Model 2, available in gilt, nickel, and two-tone with jewel counts from 7 up to 17:
Notice the open-kite hands.
September 03, 2011, 16:14Eric Unselt
This watch was rescued from a local meet, and what caught my eye was the matching Gothic signatures, it's 16 jewels (the center wheel is not jewelled on the dial side) and the Adjusted to Temperature and Position on the barrel bridge.
Oddly, there is far more information to be had concerning the Model 2, including serial number blocks, assigned grades, and catalog material than the Model 5.
September 03, 2011, 16:16Eric Unselt
Cased in splendor:
September 03, 2011, 16:20Eric Unselt
These beautiful engineering marvels were made without the benefit of CNC machining, CAD, motors, or even electric light. They were milled by belt-driven pulley-operated hand-made machines powered by water wheels.
Read the last sentence in the paragraph below:
September 03, 2011, 16:28Eric Unselt
Nothing was higher in the Seth Thomas catalog than the Maiden Lane.
Seth Thomas blocked out roughly 1300 numbers in all jewel counts for the Maiden Lane. 160 numbers were devoted to the 24-jewel variant, evenly split between two-tone and nickel, making it the second rarest of the Maiden Lanes.
My deepest thanks to Lin Riddle for locating and brokering this watch:
September 03, 2011, 16:29Eric Unselt
This two-tone 24-jewel example is one of 80 ever made, and it's breathtaking:
September 03, 2011, 16:30Eric Unselt
Housed in Keystone's best:
September 03, 2011, 16:38Eric Unselt
It took a while to assemble this next combination:
September 03, 2011, 16:40Eric Unselt
That's a genuine Seth dial without the seconds bit, and genuine Seth extra-heavy hands:
I had to find a Seth 4th wheel with a broken staff.
September 03, 2011, 16:41Eric Unselt
Seth Thomas lists the dial in Chris Bailey's reprint of the 1904 catalog ...
September 03, 2011, 16:42Eric Unselt
... as well as the hands:
September 03, 2011, 16:44Eric Unselt
The dial fronts a variant of the 15-jewel lever-set unadjusted Grade 59:
September 03, 2011, 16:45Eric Unselt
A hulking Keystone Silveroid case completes it:
September 03, 2011, 16:54Eric Unselt
Seth also made several named grades in Models 6 through 12.
Among the Edgemeres, Eagles, and Monarchs is the 18-sized Sentinel:
September 03, 2011, 16:56Eric Unselt
The Sentinel movement is a two-tone Model 12 with all those comical fake "jewels" and an unnecessary regulator gooseneck on a flat hairspring:
September 03, 2011, 17:13Phillip Sanchez
Eric, I don't know if you want my inane comments here or not, they can always be removed. I just wanted to comment on the great work and photography.
September 03, 2011, 17:56Steve Middlesworth
Unbelievably awesome examples Eric....very, very, nice.
September 03, 2011, 18:51Eric Unselt
Seth made just four numbered grades; one of them being the 21-jewel 248. This Model 5 fronts an unusual single-sunk Arabic dial with train tracks at the outer edge.
This example comes from IHC185's Barry Hanstein, who just had to have the check in hand before shipping the watch.
September 03, 2011, 18:53Eric Unselt
Like it's big brother, the 260, it came in two patterns with several variants. This is the fancier circles-and-rosettes damaskeening: