Internet Horology Club 185
Bunn Special Factory Cases
March 26, 2006, 06:52Rob Smithers
Bunn Special Factory Cases
Mike...Thank you for patiently answering my Illinois questions. I try to share the answers with others so I can remember the answers myself....ha!
Also, a big thanks to Robert Sweet for these incredible adds you share on a daily basis....Robert
March 26, 2006, 22:27Robert M. Sweet
Here's we have the Wadsworth Model 108 from Oct. 1931 and that being the year it was introduced.
March 27, 2006, 03:52Mike Camelin
Now , darn it, Robert, I have to find 2 different chains, one for the "engraved" Keystone and one for the 108, just amazing! I do love these ads, thanks so much for more of the eye candy!
For Fred, Yes, you are quite correct and have good eyes! The white and green First model cases all have the same chain link bow and bezel design from beginning to end of production. However, the yellow First model cases when first introduced had a , what I call, circular concave pattern all around the bezel and back. I guess that is what you are calling fluted. That is O.K. with me. This design was used in the first year or so of production from the beginning up until sometime in 1926 when they changed the design to the , what I call, small half Balls or beaded pattern as seen on your case. We see this particular second, yellow pattern come in at around a case serial number of 7,140,000. There was at that time a square cutout under the crown area, which changed to a smooth semi circular cutout at around 7,206,000. Just to be a little more technical.
Why they changed the pattern on the yellow cases, I do not know, but it is certain that this later design as you pictured above, was used from 1926 until the First Model cases were discontinued in 1932. The second yellow design as yours is, looks prettier to me than the first one but the earlier pattern is the rarer of the two designs because of the brevity of it's production. So yes, Fred, good eyes, there are in fact , technically, 3 First Model Case designs. Two for yellow and one for green or white. This has been a fun and informative thread. Maybe someone can put up a picture of one of the early yellow First model cases for our viewing pleasure. Hope this helps and Happy Hunting!
March 27, 2006, 11:56Robert M. Sweet
Below we have the 2 versions of the yellow "First Model" cases that Mike described in his post above.
On the left we have the early "Circular Concave" pattern and on the right the later "Beaded" pattern.
March 28, 2006, 03:04Mike Camelin
Thanks Robert for again coming to the rescue and posting these nice shots or ads of exactly what I was describing as those pictures ARE worth a thousand words (especially mine, ha!)
I will make mention that the last case serial number I have for the early circular pattern on the left is 7,070,162. The earliest serial number I have for the beaded pattern on the right is 7,140,685. I find it interesting that I have never been able to find a First Model case between the serial numbers of 7,071,000 and 7,117,000. This is probably of no significance and most likely a period or range of numbers where Wadsworth was building other cases for other companies or jewelers. At any rate it is mentioned just for fun or trivia if you will. Maybe you have one in this range and can bring it to my attention.
Also, a special thanks to Lindell, who works so hard for the website, so that we may keep posting info on this obsessive hobby all nite . Get some sleep, Lin!
April 02, 2006, 23:02Robert M. Sweet
How many combination (tu-tone) cases were offered and the model # of each?
April 02, 2006, 23:40Mike Camelin
Robert, as best we know today, only 3 models of the Bunn Special cases were offered in 2 - Tone combination. These models were the #28, the #173 and the #206 . As always, these cases were green bow, crown and frame, with white back and front bezel all in 14K gold filled. All three of these cases are of course Keystone as well. Any of these 2 tone case models are very desirable today and especially with factory pattern backs command premium prices. One that is in top condition, I would hesitate to place an exact value on with the market changing so rapidly.
April 03, 2006, 13:05Robert M. Sweet
Here is a new one to add to your list, Wadsworth Model 108 from Nov. 1933.
April 03, 2006, 14:37Mike Camelin
Wow! Great Ad, there Robert! ...I must say, I have never seen or even heard of any reference whatsoever from any source of a 2 tone combination 108 case, so would definitely be a uncommon variant to find!......that said, I think it is important to point out that although the ad is stating that the 108 case is offered in 10K yellow gold filled and also in 14K white and yellow gold filled combination. We know that in previous ads, that the combination cases are always in fact white and GREEN not yellow no matter how they were described or stated in the ad. I would strongly suspect that this one would be the same way...HOWEVER, if it is indeed white and yellow as the ad states...IF that is accurate, then this truly is a unique case as it would be the only one offered ever that way. I am now hoping to see one of these one day and find out for myself. Thanks so much for keeping these unique and wonderful vintage ads coming! It truely makes my day a lot more interesting. Happy "2-tone 108" Hunting!
April 03, 2006, 15:01Larry K. Burwell
It has previously been discussed on 185 that both myself and Robert Smothers own TWO-TONE examples of Keystone 14k Model 107 cases. Yes, the frame numbers match the bezel numbers and the frames have not been green gold-plated later over white gold and have been tested on the inside to verify same. Mine is a plain back style case.
They did make a few 107's in two-tone and mine is serial number 88332 (very close to Bob's case number). I have owned mine for close to twenty years. I once saw another rough, worn example for sale and passed it up.
I have never seen an authentic (with matching numbers) two-tone Model 108 case as the above add offers. Maybe Wadsworth (a different supplier than Keystone) never put them into production, even though the add offers a two-tone version. I'm not sure Wadsworth made any two-tone cases outside of the Hamilton Number 3 base metal and gold-filled bar-over-crown that I can think of.
Henry Ford once coined a saying that I like--"You can't build a reputation on what you're going to do." Examples of existing Illinois Bunn Special Model cases are certainly more believable than advertising promotion of something planned, but never yet seen.
April 03, 2006, 18:26Charles R. Sides
This may need a new thread, but has anyone seen evidence of the 19j 60 hr bunn factory cased?
April 03, 2006, 21:06Robert M. Sweet
I believe this advertisement is similar to the one that contained the "60 Hour Hairspring" error. The party responsible for proof-reading that ad was definitely not familiar with watch movements or was proof-read on Monday morning before his or her 2nd cup of coffee.
With respect to this ad, I believe we have two factors here that lend credence to an ad error, 1) not expected tu-tone colors, 2) never seen before by two well seasoned "Bunn Special" experts.
Just my opinion.
April 04, 2006, 02:49Mike Camelin
Thanks for refreshing my memory Larry,.... I do remember the thread of your 2-tone 107 case now that you mention it and had previously forgotten about it until your posting about it now. Of course I do not claim to have seen one , ...yet, ha! and while I can't remember ever seeing mention of one anywhere in the book or vintage ads, that certainly does not rule it or anything else out. We of course have'nt seen it all yet as they say and we are hoping to learn all the time as well.
In reply to Robert Sweet's post on the 2-tone Wadsworth 108 . I think they may have indeed missed the accuracy of the "correct colors" but I do feel that there may indeed be some rare 2 tone 108 "combination" examples out there....somewhere. We keep learning, looking and hoping to find new stuff all the time( I know I do) and sometimes just knowing it may be out there, causes us to look a little more closely sometimes. Happy "now I need one of those too!" Hunting!
December 21, 2006, 03:38Ray Hallenbeck
I've had this 60hr bunn special for many years and always wondered about the color of the case. It has a rose gold colored hue to it that I have not seen before, but then again I havent' seen many to begin with. Hard to photograph and I will try to get a better pic up tomorrow in natural light but here goes for the experts. Case is Wadsworth with ser# 7683833, watch ser# is 4980462.
December 21, 2006, 15:04Charles R. Sides
Illinois did not market a rose gold case, it is just a variation of the yellow goldfilled 10k case. Some of them are quite rosy. Little more copper, little less gold.
December 21, 2006, 15:34Lindell V. Riddle
As Charlie pointed out so far as we know rose Bunn Special Cases were not marketed as such.
Some will even doubt there were rose cases produced, and that is because at this juncture we do not have available to us any original documentation of specific references yet found in advertising. One theory is the mix varied accidently from time to time and that resulted in some rose cases. Theories are interesting, but the cases exist. Unfortunately, most databases will have the rose cases recorded as yellow because of the controversy.
A few posts above you will see a side-by-side comparison of two of the styles of "First Model" Bunn Special Cases that Robert Sweet culled from 1920s Illinois Advertising. There is not the slightest question in my mind that both those case designs were produced in 10K rose tone gold-filled variants that are otherwise identical to yellow.
Recently we were discussing the case tones on page 5 of our "Sangamo Special" Style Cases topic and I dropped in an image showing rose, white and green Hamilton Model 2 Cases as a side-by-side instructional comparison. By the way in these Wadsworth Cases, 10K GF will be either rose or yellow and 14K GF will be either green or white.
Bottom line your case is rose so compare it to a yellow, white or green and there will be no doubt.
Anyhow..."That's my story and I'm stickin' to it!"
December 21, 2006, 22:24Ray Hallenbeck
Thanks for clearing that up, makes more sense now. And to all who have compiled this information, great job! and great reference material.
December 22, 2006, 00:57Charles R. Sides
The manufacturing process will yield products that fall within acceptable tolerances and those that don't. Acceptable tolerances apparently included cases that tended to the "rose" side of the spectrum as well as the traditional yellow. Some Bunn spl 10k gold filled cases had more rose color to them than others I have seen. I do not deny their existance. I do doubt, however, that wadsworth was making a batch of rose and then a batch of yellow to meet the requirements of Illinois/Hamilton. If Ill/Ham had ordered rose gold cases it would have been to sell more watches, and if so, why did they not tell the watch world about it.
There is no lack of factory advertising for green gold, yellow gold and white gold. I have not seen a watch ad from a case maker or watch company, any watch company, that offered a rose gold case. I have seen Illinois ads for 10k yellow, 14k green and 14k white gold/GF. Has anyone seen rose gold offered as an option, either in Illinois or anyone line?
I am not a metallurgist, but common sense tells me that to make 10k yellow gold more pink or rose, you use a higher copper content. If you add a higher copper content, does this push the actual karat towards 9k?
December 24, 2006, 16:52Lindell V. Riddle
I understand and respect your opinion Charlie, we disagree politely in a friendly way.
Like with much in our hobby we are left to our speculation about these cases. But it's hard for me to think that the rose Bunn Special First Model and Hamilton Model 2 Cases were all made by accident. We find them dating from the mid-1920s to the end of that decade, not just clustered in a narrow time-frame. If they happened by a mistake in the mixing formula that mistake would have been corrected, it would not have continued. I think too many have shown up for that to be the answer.
However, one answer for these particular cases that we may not have considered as yet may simply be this, like certain special dial markings and damaskeening the Bunn Special First Model and Hamilton Model 2 Wadsworth rose cases may have been specially ordered by one or more retailers. That may turn out to be as good an answer as any. I agree, we have not found ads from the 1920s mentioning them as such, but as we know, there are some highly sought-after variant dials and damaskeening patterns as well as several interesting models of factory case designs that we have not yet found in advertising either.
Both wrist and pocket watches in rose cases were eventually advertised by the various watch companies. In fact, Hamilton called many versions of rose cases by their trade mark "Coral" in advertising and catalogs.
Click both these links for interesting additional reading...
Find-Or-Search results for "Rose Case" on our site.
"Coral Case" in a "Find-Or-Search of our site.
"Hamilton Coral" was shown in twelve different 1940 case designs...
December 24, 2006, 23:19Charles R. Sides
Thanks for the images. Had not heard of the Coral line. Very interesting.
Now find me a Coral ad for the BS & #2 hammy.
March 05, 2010, 18:04John J. Dolan
First post so bear with me please.
I'm trying to find out as much as I can about
my fathers watch. For now I have a question about
the case as it fits this thread.
keystone model 173 two-tone,white and green?
factory pattern back. My fathers watch is a
1929 Illinois Bunn Spesial 23 jewel 60 hour.
There seems to be an issue as to when the case
was first used.
Watch serial 5,182,628
case serial 7087884
How many factory patterned back
designs are there? Is one more preferred by
collectors? Also there is a very etching inside
the back of the back, could be initials but I
can't enlarge it enough.
Any help here would be appreciated.
March 05, 2010, 18:13Tom Brown
Welcome to the club, you are correct about the year of your Bunn Special.
I am not a case person but we have several & I am sure one of them will come along.
Thanks for signing in.
March 05, 2010, 18:16Tom Brown
I don't know if you have the Complete Price Guide to Watches but it shows 15 cases for Bunn Specials including your 173.
If you don't have a copy you can buy it here, we all use it all the time.JOIN IHC185 AND GET THE 2010 SHUGART WATCH GUIDE HERE
March 05, 2010, 20:37John J. Dolan
Thanks for welcoming me aboard. The watch means a lot to me. It was carried by my father
who was an engineer for the D&H in Warevliet (out of Mechanicville) N.Y in the fifties.
He died on his way to work in a car accident.
the obituary stated the time of death was determined by his stopped watch. My mother had
the glass replaced in the late 60's and gave me the watch. It sits on display in a glass case
with other collectibles of lesser value. It is just recently that I wanted to know more
about the watch. I have learned a lot about the watch but every answer raises a new question.
One question I will probably never get answered is Why did the watch stop? I think the lever set was pulled out when the glass broke. There was no other damage done to the watch.
The watch is one of 9,000 Type IIIa but it is the only one my father carried that I now have
I read a post reguarding time inspectors. I found one ,Rosens Jewelers, Troy, N.Y Date 1956.
The place and time fit. Did these jewelers retain serial numbers for the watches they inspected?
Silly but curious. Sorry to ramble . I though a little history of the watch would be O.K.
John dolan II
March 05, 2010, 21:36Tom Brown
No problem at all, sounds like you do have quite a keepsake, it took me over 30 ears to get my dad's watch back after he died, long story but it was eventually led me to this club.
As to why it stopped, not that I want you to, but does it work? The quickest answer to why it would have stopped was if the balance staff broke. It is the most fragile and easily damaged by a shock other than the glass crystal.
If you have any questions at all or just want to talk about your father & the railroad please go ahead.
There are quite a few railroad mean on this site, both current & retired. We all love to hear railroad stories.
If you ever get a chance to photograph the watch we like to see photos or them.
March 06, 2010, 19:47John J. Dolan
Here are some shots of the watch.
March 06, 2010, 19:48John J. Dolan
2 of 4
March 06, 2010, 19:50John J. Dolan
3 of 4
March 06, 2010, 19:51John J. Dolan
4 of 4
March 06, 2010, 20:48Tom Brown
Very nice watch John, your dad sure had a top of the line watch for work!
I hope some others join in here with some more information, sometimes the weekends are a little quite.
March 06, 2010, 21:41John J. Dolan
My daughter and son-in- law to be were nice to upload these pictures for me. The watch
runs fine but it has not been cleaned and timed for over fifty years. I found a local watch
maker who gave me a price of $195.00 for the service which seems in line with what I have read
here. I also ordered the Shugart book . As far as railroad stories go I do not have many.
Had my father lived longer its quite possible I would have followed in his footsteps as he
had his fathers. My father worked for the D&H for sixteen years before and after serving
in the Army for three and a half years during WWII. Based on his knowledge of trains he was sent to India
to serve on the Military Railroad Service, Army Transportation Corps ,first as a truck driver
than as an Engineer on the Bengal & Assam Railway. a.k.a. The Jungle Express. The rairoad
suppied guns, ammunition and supplies to the Chinese and Americans fighting the Japanese
in Burma. The Americans transformed the Indian raiway into a highly efficient mode
of getting supplies to the troops through jungles ,even during the monsoons.
The Military Railway Service was comprised of several thousand railroaders from across
the U.S. There distinguished efforts in Burma ,China and India successfully held the
Japanese back and helped win the war.
I am sure my father was proud to serve with his fellow railroaders and so am I.
Afer the war, my father returned to the D&H engineering a freight train from Mechanicville ,N.Y.
to Motreal, Canada until his death at age 39 on his way to work.
If anyone had info on the Military Railway Service, Army Transportation Corp I'm
sure it would make for interesting reading.
March 06, 2010, 22:05Tom Brown
Looking around the web I noticed a book called "United States Military Railway Service: America's Soldier-Railroaders in WWII" that looks to be available from most of the book outlets. I don't know anything about the book myself.
March 08, 2010, 11:57Buster Beck
Hi John and welcome to the club
You have a very special and a very desirable watch that anyone would be proud to own.
While I am no expert, I cannot say how many of the cases were made, but probably a few thousand, if that many. As far as desirability, your watch ranks as the top case preferred. It also has the highly desirable 60hr marked variant dial. The small marks inside the case back would have been made by the watchmaker as to when and what he did to the watch at a regular servicing.
As far as a logical sequence of matching case & movement numbers, I would expect to see a 5,182,xxx movement in a 8,300,xxx to a 8,400,xxx case. By all known logical sequences to date, your movement would be a 1929 production model while we can assume the case is from a slightly earlier period by a couple or a few years.
Again, its a very nice watch and very desirable from a collectors standpoint. But from a sentimental standpoint, it is certainly priceless and your father was one of a few of the many thousands of railroad employees, that would of had such a high~end piece during that time frame.
Thanks for your story on the watch and the pictures as its a part of our history and the importance of the instruments used to make that history