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Eaglegale

"Railway Timekeeper" - Swiss-made - Date?

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I have a brass-cased pocket watch that used to say "Railway Timekeeper" on the dial.  Long story, but someone polished it off!  You can just about make it out if you look hard.  It's got a Swiss movement made by "JF".  The case is stamped "JF" too.  Any ideas as to who that is, and when it might have been made? 

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12 hours ago, Eaglegale said:

I have a brass-cased pocket watch that used to say "Railway Timekeeper" on the dial.  Long story, but someone polished it off!  You can just about make it out if you look hard.  It's got a Swiss movement made by "JF".  The case is stamped "JF" too.  Any ideas as to who that is, and when it might have been made? 

Unfortunately that watch has a lot of things that are hard to tied down. "Railway Timekeeper" was something I've read European watchmakers put on the dial for export to the US, but it's not exclusive to one maker. The movement appears a lot in watches with "Best Patent Lever" on the dial, sometimes with a maker's name, more often not. I found a couple stamped "J.F." in that diamond shape, but no clue who that might be. Also found "Railway Timekeeper" watches with the "J F *" markings on the case, but again no clue who that belongs to. Similar queries on this and other forums haven't produced much information either. So unless this reply brings someone with more knowledge out of the woodwork, I think we're stuck.

https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/antique-swiss-half-hunter-pocket-1778496563

https://www.collectorsweekly.com/stories/26611-generic-pocket-watch

https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/vintage-railway-timekeeper-pocket-309555087

https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/antique-jordan-benet-railway-time-254059509

https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/vintage-pocket-watch-jordan-benet-463278645

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The only railway watches I know of are high grade waltham and Elgin watches, adjusted to many positions and temperatures.  It was critical that each station master on the railways had an accurate timepiece, literally life and death as otherwise trains crashed into each other :jawdrop1:

They couldn't be accidentally set, as you have to unscrew the front glass to pull the lever to allow you to set the time.  These lever set watches are highly desirable. 

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As Scott rightly points out, Waltham & Elgin produced high quality 'Official Railway Timekeepers' mainly for the the American railroad operators.

One of my examples...

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Here in the UK, Coventry & Lancashire watchmakers produced high quality Railroad Timekeepers, along with highly accurate Station Clocks, which were larger & wall mounted.

The Swiss produced many 'Certified' railroad timekeepers, particularly DOXA.  They produced thousands for railroad companies in Europe, their main customer being the Hungarian Railroad Co.

Hope this helps.

:thumbsup:

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Hi Eagledale,

This is late Roskopf watch, may be produced 1920-30’s. Roskopf watches were originally produced to be cheap but reliable, the workman’s watch. After Roskopf’s death, around 1900,  almost any watch company in La Chaux de Fonds was making money producing a “Roskopf watch”, further simplifying the design and making it more and more cheaper. The result is what You have… It is ugly and cheap, but still able to work for several years.

Don’t mint the “Railroad Timekeeper”, it is only a name. The same if You buy “Squirrel” pralines: You don’t expect to find a real squirrel inside box…

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9 hours ago, nevenbekriev said:

Hi Eagledale,

 

This is late Roskopf watch, may be produced 1920-30’s. Roskopf watches were originally produced to be cheap but reliable, the workman’s watch. After Roskopf’s death, around 1900,  almost any watch company in La Chaux de Fonds was making money producing a “Roskopf watch”, further simplifying the design and making it more and more cheaper. The result is what You have… It is ugly and cheap, but still able to work for several years.

 

Don’t mint the “Railroad Timekeeper”, it is only a name. The same if You buy “Squirrel” pralines: You don’t expect to find a real squirrel inside box…

 

"It is ugly and cheap, but still able to work for several years"

Just like me!

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@Eaglegale I've done a bit more digging around and found a couple of "Railway Timekeeper" watches on Ebay with "J F *" in the case and the movement signed "Orabek". Bad news is it's not the same movement as yours, looks earlier and more up market to me, but that trademark belonged to C. Jequier-Borle in Fleurier. He was part of Jequier Freres and made cases, so it's possible that's what "J F" stands for, just can't prove it. This was their advert in the trade journal Davoine for 1908.

Jequier Freres 1908

 

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