You probably have heard about Waltham watches, or you may even own a piece. But do you know how and when these watches were made? They can vary in price but on average, you can expect to pay a couple of thousand bucks
Waltham watch lovers are spoiled for choice with many different types of watches. To avoid being conned and buying a counterfeit Waltham watch, we will guide you on determining the timepiece’s value and where to buy legitimate models. Stick around to find out more about this famous watch brand.
History of Waltham Watch
The Waltham watch company started in 1850, thanks to its three founders; David Davis, Aaron Dennison, and Edward Howard. It first began in Roxbury, Massachusetts, and these three geniuses aimed to get quality yet affordable watches.
However, due to lack of capital, the Waltham watch founders got funding from Samuel Curtis, and the production began in 1851. In 1852, the first watches were made but not sold to the public. The officials of the company owned the first product. In 1853, the first Waltham watches were sold to the public.
Every new company gets challenges when starting, and Waltham was no exception. Initially, the founder’s idea was to produce high-quality watches using interchangeable parts.
Like every new company, they tried new ideas to see which one would work. Waltham incorporated the use of jewels, enamel dials, and producing plates with a high level of finish, which put a tremendous financial strain.
Besides, the company found that each of the first watches produced had unique defaults, which needed to be addressed. Adjusting the watches to look and work the same way took months, but they succeeded and made better timepieces that competed with other high-end companies.
The watch company continued growing, and in 1953, the factory buildings were completed. However, they did business under the American Horologe Company, which later changed to Boston Watch Company. The Massachusetts factory was built in 1854, and the first watches produced here were signed.
More money struggles saw many financial reorganizations and renaming in the company. Unfortunately, in 1857, the Boston watch company failed, and Royal E. Robbins bought it through auction.
The watch company later changed its name to Tracy Baker and Co, which also changed to Appleton, Tracy, and Co in the same year. Watches produced during this time were marked Appleton, Tracy, and Co. In 1857, the C. T Parker movement was reintroduced, and it went for $12, which was a lot of money back then.
Waltham Watches during the Civil War
The Waltham Improvement co. and Appleton, Tracy, and Co. joined in 1859 and formed the American Watch Company. However, the 1860s were not good years for the company. After the election of President Abraham Lincoln, the country went through a civil war, and the watch company was greatly affected.
There were heavy financial constraints at the American Watch company, and it was on the verge of collapsing. However, the company officials were intelligent enough to keep it running by cutting costs.
The company’s name changes began again in 1885 when it became the American Waltham Watch Company. In 1923, they changed to Waltham Watch and Clock Company, and then the Waltham Watch Company name was returned in 1925.
Until 1957, Waltham was manufacturing watches and clocks, but they stopped and sold their rights to Hallmark Watch Company of Chicago, which used the name Waltham to sell imported watches.
Most Waltham watches were named after the board members and company investors. The watch grade defines the watch model and level of finish. Although you can still get a modern quartz watch today with Waltham’s name, it is unlikely they are from the genuine American Waltham Watch Company.
Types of Waltham Watches
Waltham Watch Company grew, and with time, it had employed over 3000 people and produced over 40 million timepieces. By 1954, the company had expanded to SA in Switzerland, and in 1981, it had become the most famous watch brand in Japan. Next we look at some of the most famous examples of Waltham watches.
The Waltham Pocket Watches
Waltham Model 1857 – The Waltham Model pocket watch was produced in 1857 and was the most iconic of all watches produced. Besides, it was the first watch to be industrialized, and the company gave one of these watches to President Abraham Lincoln.
Waltham Vanguard Railroad – The Waltham Vanguard Railroad pocket watch was produced in 1870. Its popularity grew fast, and by 1907, it had been sold to over 52 countries across 5 continents. The Up and Down power reserve indicator came with this model and became a thing in the later Waltham watches.
Waltham Wrist Watches
The company produced its first wristwatches in 1915, and the American Armed Forces mostly wore them. Working with the US government was a big opportunity for Waltham, and it contributed a lot to their survival. The production methods had improved by this time, and the wristwatches were durable and convenient.
Waltham Depollier Khaki – The Depollier Khaki watch from Waltham was first produced in 1916, mainly for the military. However, the company collaborated with Jacques Depollier and Son, which made Waltham’s high-end cases.
The Depollier watch had a military appearance, and the soldiers could engrave their details on the strap. The watch was long-lasting because it had a dustproof oxidized case and a heat-insulated disk.
It became popular among the marine troops, and the officers would also change the straps. With time, the Depollier was one of the finest watches that US troops wore, and it began being advertised as the watch in the trenches.
Waltham A11 Navigational Watch – After introducing the Waltham A11 watch, it became a standard issue for the American armed forces. However, they produced the watch in two versions; waterproof for the military and dustproof for the common people.
The features of this A11 watch were a black dial with contrasting white indices and a silver case. The watch also came in a one-piece strap and was widely worn by the Americans.
The hand-wound had a hacking movement for seconds and minutes. The company featured an outer-minute track with 10-minute demarcations and a minute and hour hand. It also had a minimum of 15 jewels in the movement.
Also, you would find all the watch’s specifications at the stainless steel back case, and the company included the people authorized to use the watches. However, other models were sold to the people who were not in the army.
Waltham A17 Pilot Watch – Later in the years after producing the Waltham A11 version, the company continued supporting the United States military by making watches for the US Air Force and Navy. The Waltham A17 Pilot Watch was theirs.
The A17 Pilot was an improved version of the A11 and had different features like black stripes. The watch also had 5-minute indices and an hour and minute hand. It was easier for military people to read because it had an auxiliary 24-hour track.
Waltham produced the A17 in three cycles, first in 1950 and then in 1952 and 1956. Also, the A17 was waterproof, but the wearers needed to service the watch’s components for continuous functionality.
Waltham did not shift its entire attention to the US military. The watch company also made watches for the civilians who enjoyed the timepieces. You can also get second-hand pieces of the Waltham watches at a reasonable price.
The company mainly used art deco-inspired designs on their watches, which are still fashionable. They produced various models over the years. If you fancy Waltham’s fashion and the look of their watches, you can find some second-hand pieces on eBay.
The Vacuum series of the Waltham watches was received with much love and admiration in the Asian market. It was produced in the 1970s and featured unique and beautiful materials and the ability to work in vacuums.
The popularity of this Waltham vacuum watch in Japan led Heiwado and Co. to buy the Waltham International SA. The new company transferred the watch manufactory to Japan, but the first produced watches didn’t last.
After the company’s transfer, the quality of the watches dropped, and people stopped buying. With time, the brand started falling. In 2000, the Japanese Waltham watches brand produced the radiant 2000, with 150 carats of diamonds.
How to Determine the Value of Waltham Watches
It is hard to determine the value of a Waltham watch, but qualified watch dealers and valuers can do it. Find an individual specialized in vintage and antique timepieces. Some of the factors they use to value the watch are;
The watch conditions matter when finding its value. The more worn out it is, the less valuable it is. Your timepiece will be more valuable if it is still in its original state, with the original parts, including the straps and cases.
Waltham made its watches using different materials. Those made with gold, diamond, and other precious metals have a high value. Also, the Waltham watches made of platinum are valuable because of the value of the scrap platinum alone.
You are most unlikely to find the first watches produced by Waltham. The rarer the watch is, the higher value it has. This also applies to other watch brands.
The watch’s value will also depend on the global economy. For example, if it is made from gold and the precious stone’s value is lower at the moment, your watch’s value also decreases. However, the value of gold can increase, leading to increased value for your timepiece.
The Most Valuable Waltham Watches
Waltham AeroNaval XA Pure Watch
The AeroNaval Waltham watch resembles the company’s military timepieces for the US military. They have a titanium casing and are made with a masculine design. However, the titanium casing makes it a little bulky.
AeroNaval has high-quality oval rubber straps, which ensure comfort, and it is water-resistant up to 300 meters in water. The wearers can use it when deep-sea diving, and it glows in dark areas. The battery is quality and can last for up to 44 hours. The price of this watch ranges between $4400 and $5500.
Waltham Aeronaval-01 Watch
The AeroNaval-01 resembles the XA pure, but this one is smaller. It fits people with a smaller wrist well because of the 43mm width. You can also get it in different colors. The Italian leather straps are high quality, and the numerals are in various shades, including white, blue, yellow, and red. The watch’s hands and numerals radiate a green glow.
The battery life of the AeroNaval watch lasts up to 38 hours, and the wearers can comfortably do snorkeling with it. It is water-resistant up to the depth of 100 meters. The watch is cheaper than its XA Pure relative. This one costs between $2750 and $3850.
AeroNaval CDI Black Matter Waltham Watch
The AeroNaval CDI Waltham watch is similar to the Waltham watches worn by the US military during the Second World War. The watch has a round dial on a square case, which signifies the Hellcat aircraft’s cockpit instruments.
The wearers get a comfortable non-allergic strap with a titanium case measuring 47mm. You can comfortably adjust the central date indicator and time zone settings. Its battery life is 44 hours long, and it has a water resistance feature of up to 300meters deep. The watch’s price ranges between $6450 and $8200.
Where to Find Waltham Vintage Watches for Sale
Although Waltham watches are no longer produced, you can get second-hand timepieces of the brand. Some of the dealers in Waltham watches are;
eBay – eBay is an eCommerce marketplace for people and companies to trade. The watches here are sold at fixed prices or auction terms, depending on the seller’s preference. You can also get vintage Waltham second-hand watches on the website.
Timepeaks – Timepeaks is a Japanese-based luxury watch company that sells through auctioning. The website contains second-hand vintage watches, including pre-owned Waltham watches in good condition.
Etsy – Etsy shop sells handmade and crafted items and sells vintage items. It is a marketplace where you can get a Walmart watch. They have various types of Waltham timepieces at average prices.
Watch Patrol – if you are looking for vintage Waltham watches at affordable rates, check in the WatchPatrol store. It is one of the famous watch enthusiast forums where you can get new and used watches.
How to Care For the Waltham Vintage Watches
Your Waltham vintage watch is valuable, and the parts cannot be replaced. Some of the tips to care for your timepiece are:
Vintage watches were made when technology was not as good as today, so most of its parts are fragile. The bracelets of these watches have hollow links instead of solid ones, making them less impact resistant and easy to scratch. To make the watch last longer, the wearer should be gentler when wearing it.
Don’t Demand Perfection
Waltham vintage watches were made a long time ago. You can’t compare them with today. Sometimes, they could be inaccurate, and adjusting it every time loosens the parts.
Avoid Water Contact
Today, most electronics are made with water resistance up to a certain depth, unlike before. Although there are Waltham vintage watches with water resistance, not all of them can. Check the watch’s instructions to see where it can withstand and avoid water contact with the other types.
Dust causes watches to stop. If you remove the crown to set the watch, ensure you are in a clean place. Also, wipe the outside watch with a soft cloth, and don’t forget to wipe the case back.
Store in a Box
You probably won’t wear your vintage watch daily, so you can store it in a box when you are not wearing it. The constant wearing and removing or transferring the watch to other rooms in the house can reduce its lifetime.
Are Waltham Watches Good?
Waltham watches are still valuable. They are collectible, and you can get them in good condition. Besides, they are made with precious stones that are still valuable.
How Often Should You Wound Your Waltham Pocket Watch?
Mechanical Waltham watches should be wounded 30 to 40 half turns. This lasts the watch days. Wearers should avoid wounding the watch more because this doesn’t allow it to keep time longer.
What Is the Lifespan of a Waltham Watch?
Your Waltham’s watch battery will last for 18 to 24 months. Some have a lifespan of up to 5 years, after which you can replace the battery. However, the lifespan depends on the watch’s features and maintenance.
General Advice on Valuing and Collecting Vintage Watches
Collectors should always find out the brand and model of the watch before buying. Those from well reputable brands have great value. Also, the watch’s condition matters because it dramatically influences its value.
Some collectors don’t mind minor scratches on the watches because they are second-hand timepieces, while other buyers want to get almost new ones. Consider your budget also, as vintage watches are expensive, so you should be ready to spend a fortune.
When valuing vintage watches, get a professional watch valuer. They use the watch’s manufacturer or serial number and consider other factors like the condition. Hopefully now you have all the info you need about this incredible watch brand.