April Vintage Inspiration: Unusual Wilmington Pocket Watch Are you ready to cross the danger line? by Tomas Rosputinsky April 28, 2020 MIN READApril Vintage Inspiration: Unusual Wilmington Pocket Watch
I have chosen the aristocratic Wilmington with more than 60 numbers printed around the dial to disrupt your wrist quaran-time routine.
If you are reading this article, it means it got through our editor. We actually never discussed featuring pocket watches at Fratello Magazine. Exercising my beloved freedom of speech writing to share my regular monthly dose of vintage inspiration, I decided to break all last standing taboos and put some really old school material in front of you. But I’m warning you, it’s no boring grandpa business. The piece featured today has an edge. Let me introduce you to the artsy aristocrat Wilmington from the U.S.A.
Editor’s note: You had me at quaran-time…
I am not a particular fan of pocket watches and I don’t actively collect them. But if something interesting pops up, I am always keen to take a look. On a usual workday, my watchmaker sends me a picture of a pocket watch dial sitting on his workbench. As I was never very interested in pocket watches, I don’t know the full scope of what they offer. The moment I saw this particular minute track, though, I knew I wanted it. I am not exactly sure when and where I will sport it, but the idea is pretty genius and super simple.
Classy and elegant
We usually see 60 miniature indexes to mark every minute. Sometimes we see just 12 hour-markers or 12 numbers. But it never struck my mind there could be numbers 1 to 59 printed for each minute. After some quick and dirty research, I found another few examples by Illinois, Waltham, or Elgin. This might suggest the idea has something to do with old railroad traffic and the associated need for much faster, easier and more precise time reading.
Numbers distributed evenly between small rhombuses printed in five-minute intervals look like your everyday minute track but are way smarter and cooler.
If you told me there is a watch with more than 60 numbers on it, if we count the hours and the small seconds, I would think you were crazy. It has to be too busy, no? I thought the same, but I tell you the dial is nothing but classy and elegant. The numbers distributed evenly between small rhombuses printed in five-minute intervals look like your everyday minute track but are way smarter and cooler. The interesting part is that the Wilmington watch is no giant at all. The visible dial is only 40mm, while the whole thing is just about 50mm.
Never heard of Wilmington?
Don’t worry, me neither. Wilmington was used as a trading name on pocket watch movements manufactured by the New York Standard. According to the information I found, Wilmington operated between 1885 and 1929. This is probably the most accurate guess I can get if I want to date the 11 jewels movement. The jewels are set in chatons, the screws are gold-plated, and the bridge has been gently decorated. Also, notice the fake winding wheels engraved “Wilmington Special” that are screwed to the backplate. It was probably added to build the illusion of higher quality. I also got attracted by the 20 years stamping on the inner side of the cuvette. “Gold-plating quality and guarantees were much better back in those times,” according to my watchmaker Tomas.
The case is not really my taste. Half a summer garden is engraved on the back cover, even extending to the middle case. It is quite visible from the front look and it annoys me as it disturbs the clean look. The U.S.A. printed under the Wilmington is very cool though. What got on my nerves, in the beginning, were the hair-thin hands that look a bit weird by today’s standards. To any standards actually. The heavy tip looks like it is ready to drop off that super-thin neck. The well-preserved glass is a nice bonus. The last detail I like staring at is the biggest Arabic numerals guarding hours. It is hard to express, but the way the serifs are made makes it seem as if the numbers are constantly moving. Slightly blurred, ticking with the balance wheel. Pure art.
I guess some of you had this question jumping off the lips: “Dude, do you wear it?” Honestly, I haven’t had it on my person once since acquiring it. Yet. But I am on it and this article strengthens that commitment. I don‘t feel like I would like to tuck it into the pocket of my jeans. Well, I want to do it properly and I think I could do it without being perceived as a weirdo. I already started to look around for some stylish vests. My plan is to rock one of my future meetings with the Wilmington by my side. Have I inspired you to spice up your collection too? Let us know and share your pocket watch treasures with us. Happy hunting.
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About the author
During the day time, Tomas is an entrepreneur in the advertising, automotive and IT software industries. At night he turns into a watch enthusiast searching for quirky movements or vintage pieces with strong stories behind. Tomas was born and bred… read more
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