Sunday, February 6, 2011

New Era U.S.A. pocket watch

On Sat 2/5/2011 Jeremy asked:
Hey Mike,
My wife's grandfather has a New Era U.S.A. pocket watch that he recently inherited. He is very interested in finding out more about the watch, but we don't quite know what to do about getting that information. Perhaps you could help if you don't mind? The watch has a white face with black roman numerals, and the winder is on the right side next to the III. It is in a Silveroid case. The serial number on the case is 3294817, and serial number on the works is 5621159. Could you possibly give us a guess at the year it was made? The watch does not appear to work. Are there people that could fix this type of watch? If so, who? Lastly, do you have a guess at its value? We really appreciate your time.

New Era U.S.A. Pocket Watch was made by the New York Standard Watch Co. They were in operation from 1885 - 1929. Along with the New Era they also produced the Bay State, Chicago, Crown, Eldridge Excelsior, Gloria, Hamlet, Hercules, Hi Grade, Ideal, Jefferson, LaSalle and Solar to mention a few. The New Era was produced in 18 size with two models. one was the 7 jeweled skeletonized open faced or hunter case which would be worth from about $250 to $600. The other was a 7 - 11 jeweled open faced watch. The serial number means little in this case, the company was known to reuse serial numbers. The watch could have been made somewhere around the turn of the last century up until 1929, The value would be from about $45 to approximately $150, this would depend on the condition, grade (7 or 11 jewels) and where the watch was purchased.
It has also been known that some watch shops tampered with the 11 jeweled models by turning the first 1 into a 2 thus creating a 21 jeweled watch that was never made in the New Era line. I have a Hamlet in my collection where this was done.

There should be a number of jewelry stores in your area where you can find a watch maker to repair the watch. The repair, depending on what's wrong, could cost anywhere from $60 to just under $200.
If I may offer my thoughts, given I have no sentimental attachment to the watch, I would not bother with the repair as it would most likely cost more than the value of the watch. Ideally every time piece should be restored but in some cases the economics don't make sense. If you were a collector or dealer it might be different. If you do decide to have it repaired get a quote first to confirm this.


  1. wildishdart@hotmail.comSun May 20, 12:27:00 PM EDT

    Hello I found a new era pocket watch with my metal detector and serial number is AB128416 any idea on age of it I cant find any info that shows letters in the serial number. Thanks for your time Chris

    1. Hi Chris,
      At some point in time the New York Standard Watch Company, makers of the the New Era, added prefixes to some of their serial numbers. They then reused the serial numbers. An `AB` prefix puts this early in that process. As I`ve blogged before New York Standard is notorious for it`s record keeping, it`s very difficult to determine age for these watches. In other words best guess is the only way to go. My guess is that the watch was manufactured between 1920 - 1930.

  2. I have a hunting pocket watch that i am trying to find info on, could you help? the watch says ideal usa, sn is a1004001. the case says b&b royal warranted 20 years, sn is 6763489. any info would be helpful, but wondering date and if it is all gold, gold filled or gold plated

    1. The important number is the serial number on the works. As I've noted above the serial numbers for any watch manufactured by New York Standard are hard to verify. According to the reference I have (Warman's Watches Field Guide) the watch could have been made somewhere between 1895 to 1900. The value is the same as that which I've noted above for the New Era watch. The case is Gold Plated you can tell this by the "warranted 20 years". That means the plate is guaranteed not to wear off for 20 years.