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Continuing on with my series of Railroad Grade Pocketwatches from my collection, is a very special E. Howard pocketwatch.

Before I post the pictures of this pocketwatch, perhaps a bit of history and other interesting facts about the E. Howard Watch Company are appropriate. This may be a bit of a long read for some, but there are some inportant facts here that still influence watchmaking today.

The original E. Howard Watch Company was founded in Boston, MA in 1858 and manufactured pocketwatches there until the company was purchased by the Keystone Watch Case Company in 1902. Manufacturing was moved to nearby Waltham, MA after the purchase, but all the watches kept the E. Howard, Boston name engraved on their movements.

The E. Howard Watch Company is particularly noted for several new movement inventions and was the first watch company to incorporate these inventions into their pocketwatches. Most of the E. Howard inventions were later utilized in some form or another by all the notable pocketwatch manufacturers, and most of these inventions are still used today in many of the finest watches available.

The more important of these inventions:

It was Edward Howard, for whom the company is named, who invented the “quick beat” balance and escape movement train in 1858, perfecting an entirely new movement type never before used by any watch company, in any previous movement. E. Howard was the first to sell watches with this "quick beat" invention. E. Howard's "fast beat" invention changed watch movement design forever.

Additionally, an associate of Howard, G. P. Reed invented and patented the “motor barrel” winding mechanism along with his “whiplash” regulator, both of these inventions being used first in pocketwatches produced by Edward Howard. The whiplash regulator was adopted by all pocketwatch manufacturers, further refined, some redesigned, but it is this regulator design that is present in more pocketwatches than any other regulator (note: the regulator is the timing device that is on top the balance and timing is controlled by a small set-screw located usually to the side of the whiplash), and variations of the "whiplash" are still used in wristwatch movements today.

Howard went further in improving and building his watches. He patented a newly designed steel motor barrel, an improvement on the G. Reed motor barrel, and Howard's design became the motor barrel used in essentially all pocketwatches from that time forward.

Howard also invented and sold the first “stem wound” watch, replacing, forever, the typical “key wound” pocketwatches (originally all pocketwatches were wound from the back case side using a key that fit over a small square or hex shaped bolt, the bolt being sunk into the watch movement, but the bolt protruding flush to the case -- by turning the key, the mainspring of the watch was tightened and wound). Replacing the need to carry a key to keep a watch wound was a huge improvement in watchmaking.

Howard was also the very first watchmaker to utilize interchangeable machine made watch parts in all his watches. Prior to Howard, all watch parts were individually made to work and fit in the particular watch being manufactured. Mass production of watch parts before Howard’s watches were unheard of.

During the entire existence of the E. Howard Watch Company (both the original company and the company purchased by Keystone, combined), despite all the very important inventions into watchmaking by Howard, sales of the E. Howard brand were not near the numbers of some of the other larger watch companies, namely Hamilton, Elgin, Waltham. Sales probably were lower due to the greater cost of the E. Howard watches and the fact that Howard spent a good deal of his time inventing. The total number of watches produced by E. Howard from 1858 to 1930 were less than 1,500,000, making most E. Howard pocketwatches some of the more scarce and most desired by collectors, if they can be found today. To acquire an extremely fine example of an E. Howard pocketwatch is a rare find.

From my collection, my only E. Howard pocketwatch, here with photos is a fine example of watchmaking, incorporating all of the previously listed Howard inventions. The original box and papers for this watch are part of my collection.

This E. Howard watch is a 16 size Railroad Grade Model 1907 (the 1907 coming from the year it was first produced), Series 2, 17 jewel, 3-finger bridge, ¾ plate movement. The watch is both pendant wound and set. It is housed in a Keystone open face hunter case. As noted, the open face has no case covering the dial while the back of the watch has two covers, an inner movement cover and the beautifully embossed and engraved back outer cover, initial free.

The watch, with a serial number of 1284530 is 95 years old, being manufactured in 1914. Its movement is extremely clean and free from any sort of dirt, with no marks, stains, pits. The watch runs beautifully, keeping excellent time. The spotless white porcelain dial shows off the beautiful plumb-colored hands. This railroad grade watch is rated with a STAR (*) signifying it to be uncommon, less than 2,500 being made. It is one of the earlier railroad grades manufactured.

When noting the Serialized Certificate that is photographed ontop of its black walnut presentation box, the serial numbers recorded for both the case and the movement are those engraved on the watch.

The first photo is of the face of the watch:


The second photo is of the back of the watch displaying the intricate machine turned engraving and the unmarked shield. Many watch owners of that day personalized their watches with their initials engraved into these shields, but this watch has no personalization. But, for some who keep these watches for sentimental reasons, having them passed down within a family, initial engravings are particularly precious and invaluable to the watch owner.


The third photo is of the movement. This movement keeps good time. E. Howard watches with movements this clean, this free from pitting, spotting, staining are near impossible to find today and it is the condition of the movement that determines, probably more than any other single criteria (excepting a fine solid gold case) the value of the watch.


The fourth photo shows the opened case, where both covers, the outer cover and the inner movement cover are present.


The fifth photo is of the inner movement cover, displaying the E. Howard name and its location, Boston:


The sixth photo shows the inner movement cover as well as the inside of the outer cover, while the watch is positioned on its display stand:


The seventh photo shows the pocketwatch on its display stand with the movement and both case covers open:


The final picture is of the black finish walnut presentation box with the E. Howard certificate ontop. Serial numbers on the certificate match those on both the case and the movement.


Thank you all for taking the time to read this long post.
May regards to all, and peace . . .
 

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Thank you so much for this very informative post; I learned a lot from it. What an extraordinary piece you've chosen to share with us. Thanks again, Jack. The older (and wiser) I get, the more my appreciation grows for the pocketwatch and the ones I was fortunate enough to inherit. Happy Holidays!
 

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Beautiful is about the only word I can think to post. The watch is incredible. The pic of the movement is amazing. I enjoyed every word of your post. So educational.
 

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Again, I am just blown away at your love for these timepieces! Good for you! :)

Thanks for taking the time to write this and for posting your pics. This is a great way for us to become (re-)educated with these vintage pocketwatches!
 
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