Difference between Railroad Grade and Railroad Approved

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Difference between Railroad Grade and Railroad Approved

New postby Larryl » Sat Jun 16, 2012 11:06 am

I have a customer who is asking the difference between, Railroad Grade, and Railroad Approved.

I have all kinds of answers rolling around, but just cannot put it into words. Is there anywhere I can direct him so that he can get the "correct" answer?

Thanks
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Re: Difference between Railroad Grade and Railroad Approved

New postby Marty101 » Sat Jun 16, 2012 8:34 pm

Tell him it's not a fair question;that the standards changed with time and also changed from railroad to railroad.
I think the easy answer would be that some 16-18s/21 jewel (or less) pocket watches filled the bill everywhere- the Ball "Official RR Standard" of course,but also movements like Elgin B.W.Raymond & Veritas,Waltham Vanguard,Hamilton #940 & #992,etc.
If he wants more than that,he needs to join GH and gitintoit! :D
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Re: Difference between Railroad Grade and Railroad Approved

New postby Stephan » Sun Jun 17, 2012 6:03 am

My understanding is that both terms are a bit flexible and tended to change over time but

Railroad Grade was based more on the construction of the watch, how it was made, jewels, adjustments, regulator etc.

Railroad approved was based more on what make and model a particular railway accepted at any given time and could be more influenced by "economic" considerations of one sort or another.

A watch could be railway grade but still not approved by the railway you were working for.

Perhaps the other way around as well but I am not certain it went that far.
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Re: Difference between Railroad Grade and Railroad Approved

New postby Larryl » Mon Jun 18, 2012 4:26 pm

Thank you Marty and Steven for your help.

I guess I pretty well felt the same way, but was hoping to maybe give him a better answer. When you think about it, I guess you really can't.

I also think the case the movement was in had a lot to do with it also. I guess it would have been nice if there was one set of specs. for a Railroad approved watch with all the railways, but making it easy in the busuness world has never been that easy.

Thanks again!
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Re: Difference between Railroad Grade and Railroad Approved

New postby Stephan » Tue Jun 19, 2012 1:06 am

Remember that if you worked for a Railway you had to buy a watch from their list.
I do not believe they were that concerned about the case as long as it was open faced. ( very early on a few hunters were acceptable )

Many railway watches came in those big silveroide cases with the screw on covers.
It was not automatic that a high grade railway watch came in a fancy rolled gold case.

This tended to happen later when advertising hype got involved.

Solid gold cases were usually reserved for presentation watches.
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Re: Difference between Railroad Grade and Railroad Approved

New postby Larryl » Tue Jun 19, 2012 4:16 pm

That is interesting.

I thought that they had to have the movement in an OF screw bezel and back.

That's why I guess I wonder when I see a movement that, in every way is railroad approved, yet it was put into a HC, or an open face but with a snap cover/bezel.
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Re: Difference between Railroad Grade and Railroad Approved

New postby Stephan » Wed Jun 20, 2012 1:33 am

I believe the railway companies moved to open face fairly early on.
They also required lever set rather than stem set the idea being you could not accidently alter the time if you were playing with your watch in your pocket.
There may have been a railway accident that helped this along a bit as well. Depends which story you believe.
I am not sure if screw covers was a requirement or just a preferance because it afforded the watch better protection from dust.
Steam train = coal dust = unhappy watch.

There followed a public perception that railway watches were better than normal ones so normal ones started to adopt some of the railway requirements.
Then the advertising hype started and things get more confusing about who was driving what.

An interesting aside is that in the book
" A History of Railroad Accidents, Safety Precautions and Operating Practices" by Robert B Shaw, 1978 railway watches don't get a mention.
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Re: Difference between Railroad Grade and Railroad Approved

New postby 4brokenow » Wed Oct 11, 2017 6:12 pm

Posted this for Marty's benefit. Might be a great thread here to continue discussion regarding Pocket watches that border on Railroad approved.

Mentioned is the Hamilton 942, Dueber Watch Co 21 jewels marked "Adjusted 5-positions" or "Adjusted". Waltham's 16-size answer to the Hamilton 942 perhaps was the 17-jewel grade 642 produced in 1918. Only 3000 made of those. They were marked adjusted "5 positions".
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Re: Difference between Railroad Grade and Railroad Approved

New postby perby » Thu Oct 12, 2017 12:07 am

I think that the how many position markings came about that time, maybe slightly before, after whatever the date was, unless they were grandfathered in, they would not be accepted without that marking.
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Re: Difference between Railroad Grade and Railroad Approved

New postby veritas » Sat Oct 14, 2017 2:25 pm

My understanding is before the big train accident the standards were more lax. Also watches were grandfathered as mentioned. Many watches used on Canadian railroads were not what you would expect a railroad watch to be. We used Swiss makes here, some collectors think these watches are inferior, but the Swiss made many great watches.
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