• Chessie Railroad Watches Recalled

  • Discussion related to railroad radio frequencies, railroad communication practices, equipment, and more.
Discussion related to railroad radio frequencies, railroad communication practices, equipment, and more.

Moderator: Aa3rt

  by TheMar
My great grandmother owns two very old Chessie Railroad watches with a very strange history behind them. My great grandma was a part of the railroad system in Michigan, and recieved a watch to tell time when the trains would come. The watch still works today, seeing as it has a moving train that goes around inside the watch clockwise. It is the coolest thing I have ever seen. Well apparently, they asked for them back and my great grandmother refused and kept hers. We actually have two now, from my great grandfather and great grandmother. I think it would be kind of nice to know what's up these watches. I have looked all over the internet for them, and there is no information whatsoever. It says Chessie on the face of the watch, the train moves and it's in absolute great condition.
  by Gadfly
These were probably given as Christmas gifts or safety awards. However, they were NOT "railroad approved" watches for using in Timetable service. There is much misconception as to what a railroad watch actually is. According to the timetables of various railroads, an employee's approved timepiece had to be "lever set", be at least
21 jewel, and must not have a "hunting case"; that is, one that had the little "snap-open door. Many of these were made by "Illinois", Hamilton and other manufacturers.It also was required to have what I believe are called "Arabic(?) numerals on the face and NOT Roman numerals.
These were pocket watches, of course, and remained so for many years. Hamilton eventually became the most sought-after pocket watch in models such as 992, 992B, 950, and 950B series. They are very valuable. My Hamilton 992 was made in 1910, and I carried this watch for several years even into the 1980's. It STILL operates, and at the time I retired, it was STILL listed in the Norfolk Southern timetable as an
"approved" railroad watch. Every year (was it every 6 months; i forgot!!) one had to take his watch in to a designated Time Standard watchmaker for cleaning and certification by the appointed jeweler/watchmaker. You were given a "watch card" to carry (and you BETTER carry it, too, lest the Trainmaster catch you without it!).

In about the 1960's, wristwatches became accurate enough to start replacing the tried-and-true pocket instruments so faithfully carried by many an engineer, conductor, trainman and clerk/agent.
My first wristwatch was a Bulova Accutron, but it was notoriously failure prone. I found my Hamilton 992 in a thrift shop and put the Bulova away. That old Hamilton would keep time with the BEST of 'em! Then we either bought Seiko wristwatches that had "railroad approved" on the dial, or we were given approved watches as 'safety awards". These also had "Norfolk Southern" on the dial, or "NS". Still they were/are the REAL railroad approved watches. I also have a couple of these at home.
Since I longer have to be "rules" qualified, I wear a Timex "look-alike" that mimics a railroad watch. I do like the large numbers on the dial and the simplicity.

Many people think that, just because there's a company name on it, it says "railroad" on it, or there's a train printed on the case it's a "railroad" watch. Yours is probably a promotional item given to customers or employees as gifts. If it ain't in the timetable (last I read one), it AIN'T no "railroad" watch. :wink: Sorry.

  by DutchRailnut
todays electronic watches are about 100% better than any official railroad watch.
I doubt any railroad still having a watchmaker or callibrator in service.
and railroad rules now just specify what a watch must show " reliable time and a second hand"
  by Gadfly
Agreed. Most all of that has been done away with. My Timex "look-alike" "railroad-style" watch is likely AS accurate than those I had to have inspected all those years ago if not MORE so. Which is why they did away with the watch inspectors. Much of the Time Standard stuff was gone before I retired. Still I can wind my old 992 and it will stay right with my newer wristwatch. The craftsmanship is just great in those old timepieces.