Illinois pocket watches are just one of the brands of collectible timepieces sought by watch collectors internationally. The firm was originally established in the state of Illinois in 1869 under the name Springfield Watch Company, named for the town where the factory was located. In 1875, the name was changed to the Illinois Springfield Watch Company after an assets transfer and then it was changed again after a second reorganization took place in 1878. Henceforth, the company was known as Illinois Watch Company and remained so until it was purchased by the Hamilton Watch Company in 1927. Hamilton continued to use the Illinois brand on pocket watches until 1939.
While the manufacturer is no longer with us, their pocket watches live on due to their finely constructed mechanisms. Illinois watches are probably some of the most collectible in the vintage marketplace simply because of their extremely high quality. Fortunately for collectors, these vintage Illinois pocket watches are not that difficult to find, especially at online auctions.
Below are a few of the most popularly collected models. You can find some of these items now being auctioned online.
Illinois Ball Pocket Watches
Railroad-grade pocket watches made by the Illinois company are particularly collectible. One of the railroad watches sought by most Illinois collectors is the 16 size, 23 jewel, Illinois Ball pocket watch. About 3,500 hundred of this particular watch were produced by Illinois between 1927 and 1935.
Some of the other desirable Illinois railroad watches include the Sangamo, the Illinois Bunn pocket watch, the Bunn Special, and the A. Lincoln. Each of these were made available with 18 size movements and were put to use by railroad employees of the time. Of the Bunns, the most collectible is the one made after the Hamilton Watch Company took over the Illinois production facilities in 1928. A 16 size watch, the Bunn Special featured technological improvements by Hamilton and had a 60 hour movement.
Illinois Pennsylvania Special Pocket Watch
In addition to watches branded under the Illinois name, the watch manufacturer also specialized in private label brands for a variety of companies, including H.M Jacobson (the Pennsylvania Special, which is a Bunn) and the Oskamp-Nolting Company Ben Franklin watches.
The Illinois 26 Jewel Pennsylvania Special is an 18-sized watch. Its dial and movement are engraved with the name “Pennsylvania Special”, and it can be adjusted to six different positions.
This is just a small samples of vintage Illinois pocket watches that are available. If you really decide to get into collecting them, it is a good idea to pick up a book on collecting watches. There are a few that cover just watches manufactured by the Illinois company, the best of which was written by Bill Meggers, entitled “American Pocket Watches – Illinois Watch Co”. Unfortunately, it is as nearly difficult to find as some of the rarer Illinois watches themselves.