How many machine marvels of a hundred years or more ago have you held the palm of your hand and felt their beating heart, one tick at a time? How many mechanical wonders of the bygone era of the 19th and early 20th century have you encountered that continue to function a century or more beyond their making?
Unlike the silicon chips of today, the mechanical movements of pocket watches from centuries before our time bestows upon us the ingenuity of humanity in a way that we can more easily visualize and, thus, understand.
There’s a distinct pleasure in gazing upon the finely crafted parts of a movement and knowing each component’s exact purpose and function. It’s an elegant illusion of simplicity that obscures the complexity of these mechanical designs, as each piece moves in perfect precision, measuring one of the greatest powers of the universe: time.
Of the various watch designs created during the past two centuries, perhaps one of the most fascinating yet confusing and misunderstood functions of a pocket watch movement is the Up/Down wind indicator.
The number of watches produced during the 19th and early 20th century with the Up/Down indicator was limited to watches of the highest quality. It was an uncommon feature that only a few companies implemented in their designs, such as this Elgin Grade Veritas Grade 453 Model 15.
The Up/Dn wind indicator is designed to tell how many hours of the mainspring have been used. This was designed for use while in railroad service to safeguard against the watch accidentally stopping due to not being wound. On a full wind, it will read 0 hours. As it expends energy, the number of hours goes up. This does create some confusion. It is not uncommon for me to get a phone call asking how to read the indicator or, thinking the hand is on backward; it is kind of counterintuitive.
Due to their rarity, pocket watches with the Up/Down wind indicator enjoy a high level of popularity among collectors. If you’re a collector looking to add one of these rare pieces to your collection; or if you’re looking for a rare piece of horologic history or a classic timepiece to complement your wardrobe; be sure to visit www.thepocketwatchguy.com and peruse our curated collection of watches featuring the Up/Down wind indicator.
As always, I stand ready to answer any and all questions about this or any other of The Pocket Watch Guys’ “best of the best” American timepieces. Please feel free to contact me through email at Jeff@thepocketwatchguy.com or phone (310.486.0573) or Instagram direct message at pocketwatchguy.com/instagram/. Meanwhile, thank you for your consideration.
Thank you for your time and stay safe.
The Pocket Watch Guy