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Grandpa's Pocket Watch

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Early in our marriage my husband’s Grandfather passed away. I didn’t know him well as his health was failing when we began dating. I do remember him talking about his Grandfather and remembering the good times they spent together when he was young and his Grandfather was in better health. Shortly after his Grandfather’s death, his Grandmother gave him a pocket watch which was owned by Grandpa. My husband wasn’t a pocket watch collector at that time and didn’t know much about the watch. It had simply been owned by his Grandpa and that was enough.
The pocket watch was a Hamilton 921 and had a 14K gold case. It was probably Grandpa’s everyday watch as the case had the scuffs and scratches to prove daily use. Somewhere along the line it had lost it’s chain and had also stopped working. While my husband is a pretty handy guy he never attempted to fix the pocket watch. He would take it out every now and then, give it a look over, open the back and then put it away. I’m sure he was thinking about his Grandpa every time he took the watch out for examination. 


Many years passed with the pocket watch spending it’s time hidden in a drawer. I’m not sure why my husband never took it to a watch repair shop. He had started collecting pocket watches and wristwatches years ago and knew someone who did an excellent job in restoring watches. I didn’t know if it was the potential cost, watch repairs can be expensive on vintage watches, the possibility that parts were no longer available which would mean that the watch couldn’t be fixed or potentially something else. Last week my husband was finally determined to get his Grandpa’s pocket watch working again and took it to his watch repair guy.


We picked it up yesterday and for the first time in 30 years the watch was ticking again and keeping time. I could see that this made my husband very happy as he spent most of the day taking the watch out of his pocket and checking the time. When he first received the pocket watch in its scruffy condition I’m sure he thought it had more sentimental value than monetary value. Over the years he learned that the Hamilton 921 was a popular pocket watch and was known for its reliability. This is probably why Grandpa bought the watch in the first place.


When Grandpa bought the watch is was at least half a century before the advent of the smartphone which is now the most common method of time keeping for men. The Hamilton 921 was probably a bit of a splurge with its 14K gold case but I don’t believe that Grandpa was making a fashion statement. He wanted a watch that kept good time because this was how you did it back in the 40s. While a pocket watch may have been considered a little old fashion even in the 40s, it was Grandpa’s preferred method of timekeeping as evident by its use.

So while this pocket watch may still have loads of sentimental value it now is back in working condition which has increased its monetary value. I don’t believe that my husband will ever sell the watch as it still evokes so many memories of his Grandpa and the time they spend together. So when my husband pulls that watch out of his pocket I’m sure he thinks of Grandpa and how he did the exact same thing. Checking the time, checking to see if he was going to be late for work, checking to see if the train was on time or probably wondering why it was taking Grandma so long to get ready to go out for the night. Some things never change.

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