Two-Tone Movements

Although many "serious" collectors might deny it, claiming that the intrinsic value of a good watch lies in its craftsmanship and timekeeping ability, the fact remains that watches have always been considered a form of jewelery to one degree or another. There is an old collector's maxim that the fancier and more ornate the case and dial, the lower the quality of the actual watch movement, but this was not always the case and even the highest grade railroad watches that were sold in plain, base metal cases and designed to be used on the job often had ornately engraved movements.

During the last couple of decades of the 19th century and into the 20th century, one popular fad was to have watches with multi-color engravings on their movements (commonly referred to as two-tone damascening or damaskeening). In most instances, this involved first adding a separate layer of gilding onto select portions of a movement made of nickel, and then engraving the entire movement. Two-tone damascening can be found on lower grade movements occasionally, but are most often found on mid to high grade watches. Presumably, this was to reward those people who valued the movement over the case and dial.

If anybody has some additional information about these watches that they would care to share with me, please send me an e-mail and let me know!

Click on any image below to see additional pictures and information for that watch.

American Waltham Watch Company, 18 size, Model 1892, 17 Jewel, "P.S. Bartlett" grade. Open face base metal display case. Stem wind and lever set. Gorgeous two-tone movement, which really cries out to be in a display case! Ca. 1908.
Illinois pocket watch, size 18, Model 6, with 17 jewels. Stem wind and lever set. Checkerboard 2-tone movement in a display case. Movement marked with private label of a Boston jeweler. Ca. 1896
18 size Illinois "Bunn" with 17 jewels. Stem wind, lever set, with lovely two-tone damascening on the movement. Housed in a nice, plain-polished gold-filled case. Ca. 1901.
Rockford pocket watch, 18 size, Model #7, Grade 87, Stem wind and lever set, 15 jewels, marked "Adjusted". It also has a really gorgeous 2-tone movement with gilt damaskeening. Ca. 1890.
16 size Waltham Model #1888, "Riverside" grade with 15 jewels. Stem wind and pendant set. Housed in a nicely engraved, triple-hinged gold-filled case. Absolutely spectactular two-tone damasceening on the movement, together with gold jewel settings, gold screws, a gold regulator, and even a gold center wheel. Ca. 1900
Illinois pocket watch, 16 size, Model #7, Grade 605, Stem wind and lever set, 17 jewels, adjusted to 4 positions. Housed in a triple-hinged gold-filled case. Movement has gorgeous two-tone damaskeening and gold accents. Ca. 1913.
16 size Waltham Model #1908, Grade No. 620, with 15 jewels. Stem wind and pendant set. Gilt damascened two-tone movement, housed in a factory Waltham salesman's display case. Ca. 1919.

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