It seems fitting that a Hamilton Railway special, one of the best and most popular railway watches of all time, would be the first pocket watch to be featured on Dial + Bezel. While pocket watches are not always on the top of our want list, the combination of form, function, history, and value make this piece especially compelling to us. Even more so when shown in such excellent condition.
Railway watches date back to the early days of the railroad when people, for fairly obvious reasons, realized that conductors having an accurate timepiece kept them from testing out the Pauli exclusion principle. “Railway Special” was registered by Hamilton as a trademark on 24 December 1939. At introduction in late 1940, it was advertised boldly as “America’s finest and most accurate railroad watch.” It was also the last railroad watch, made and certified after others went out of production in the 1950s, and late 1960s.
50mm 10k gold filled bar-over-crown case produced by Wadsworth with a screw-on caseback and front. The style is referred to by Wadsworth as the Number 2 as was a much loved and highly successful style that was produced from 1925 until 1953. This case dates to some time between 1947 and 1953 as a result of the lack of a patent number on the inside caseback. With the movement dating to 1951, and a case production date year 0f 1950/51 (according to IHC185) this gives credence to this being the original case for the watch. Overall condition is excellent and all components are correct and thought to be original.
The Dial and Hands
The dial on this pocket watch is what is referred to, in rather un-PC terms, as a Blindman’s dial due to the large and legible size of the hour numerals. The style is a Montgomery 379 and is a double sunk produced in Melamine. Hamilton began phasing-in the melamine dials in 1948 and by 1950 the change-over was complete. The earliest melamine dials were smooth and shiny but gradually the surface became increasingly dull and of greater porosity. Many survivors have surface cracks and loss of intensity on the numbers and letters. Luckily this dial retains its luster and shows no cracks or loss of intensity. Overall condition is just excellent and all components are correct and thought to be original.
This pocket watch features a hand-wound Hamilton Grade 992B movement. It has 21 jewels, 16 size, is factory adjusted to keep accurate time in all 6 positions, and is lever-set. The watch is running and the service history is not known.
|Location||New York City|
|Movement||Manual, Hamilton 992B|
|Case Material||10k Yellow Gold Filled|
|Original Box||No (reproduction box included)|