Watches in History

By The History Detectives Team
11 July 2009
Category: Viewer Mailbag

I was most interested to learn for the first time today about the federal standardization of railroad watches in 1893 because I own just such a watch, made by the Elgin Watch company in 1893, which has the newly mandated 17 jewels and is made of 14 carrot gold.

It is a family heirloom first purchased by my great uncle, Dr. John C. Hick. He was not connected with the railroads but instead was a horse and buggy doctor in Southern Illinois.

According to a nephew of the country doctor, there is another regulation which helped guarantee the accuracy of early railroad watches. The position of the hands could not be adjusted without first pulling out a lever on the side of the watch - insuring that the stem would not accidentally be twisted when the watch was pulled out of or returned to a gentleman's vest pocket.

Thank you for providing such a valuable insight about my heirloom watch, which when I pass on will pass down to my son, Dr. John L. Hick who has made a bit of history himself. He was the emergency physician who orchestrated the triage of casualties from the 35W bridge collapse over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis 2 years ago

Needless to say, I am a devoted fan of History Detectives.

Dr. John F. Hick

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