American pocket watches are living history.Those of us who buy, service, sell and collect them are captivated by their unique combination of practicality and horologic significance.This week I bring your attention to a pocket watch marking a crucial transition in the Illinois Watch Company’s history: a 1929 Type III 60-hour Bunn Special.
In 1928,just before The Great Depression, the Hamilton Watch Company purchased the Illinois Watch Company for $5m($75m in today’s money). Hamilton continued to operate the factory under the Illinois name as they gradually shifted the emphasis from pocket to wrist watches.
This Illinois Bunn Special was hardly “left behind.” It represents the peak of Illinois’ pocket watch production prowess, after 59 years as an independent watchmaker.
For one thing, it’s a 60-hour pocket watch – a major innovation when most pocket watches were limited to 42 hours of continuous run time (between winds). This Bunn Special Type III dial proudly proclaims its cutting edge technology with the highly collectible 23 jewel 60-hour text curved above the sunken seconds sub dial. Circumnavigated by beautifully blued steel hands, the porcelain dial also features the hugely legible Arabic numerals so crucial to railway safety.
The Bunn Special also boasts the ultra-reliable, smooth-running 23-jewel Type III movement, oiled and timed to its original specifications. Adjusted to temperature and six positions, the red-lettered nickel movement has a solid gold gear train, gold jewel settings and a double roller, all for added accuracy.
The movement’s decoration is phenomenal – a perfectly preserved example of the craftsmanship perfected by Illinois’ master watchmakers. More than that, to see and hear it working is to appreciate the respect and pride its original owners felt – and present-day collectors feel – for Illinois’ world-beating timepieces.
The Illinois Watch Company is gone but not forgotten. After producing some five million pocket watches, it left us a legacy of superb, fully functional timekeepers like this Type III Bunn Special. A pocket watch that embodies all the company’s skills and institutional knowledge.
If you’d like to add an example of Illinois’s superb swan song to your collection, just posted for sale this morning or $3450.
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.
Click the link to check out this Illinois Bunn Special pocket watch at www.thepocketwatchguy.com or any of our other fine offerings.
Thank you for your time and stay safe.
The Pocket Watch Guy