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You must use the serial number from the MOVEMENT of the watch... You usually have to take the back off the watch case to see the movement serial number which may appear anywhere on the watch movement. Be sure to use the serial number on the watch movement (the mechanism).
Preface Starting in 1894 and ending in 1954, Hamilton produced over 100,000 watches with various private label markings and/or special finishes specifically for Webb C. The earliest watches were marked “Ball’s Standard, Superior Grade” and were designated only as grades 936 and 937 in the Hamilton factory records. 999B Full Plate, Nickel, 17 Jewels, Double Roller, Ball Regulator. Type 1: Marked “Adjusted” and “Patented” on Barrel Bridge Type 2: Marked “Adjusted” on Barrel Bridge with Patent Dates on both Barrel Bridge and Balance Cock.
The first Hamilton Ball movements had the same markings during 18.
Note 2: First use of the Official RR Standard markings on dial and movement.
Let's say you have a Waltham watch with serial number 21,607,210 as shown in the photo below.
Note that we're using the serial number from the watch movement, not from the watch case.
Most vintage Swiss pocket watches did NOT have serial numbers and can't be dated by this method.
You should consult the serial number table for the specific brand of watch movement you are trying to date by selecting a company from the menu on the left.Not all vintage watches can be dated using the serial number.Some American watch brands did not use a consistent series of serial numbers, but most of the big manufacturers did.In addition to the information presented here, a number of early 16 size movements were also produced with Webb C. Examples have been seen in a number of grades including 962, 972/973, 974/975 and 976/977. Ball, Cleveland, O.) 938 Full Plate, Open Face, Nickel, 17 Jewels, Double Roller, Adjusted Five Positions, Hamilton Regulator, Ball Circular Damascening. Marked “Official RR Standard” with or without Private Label Markings. 999A Designation for all 18 size, 21 jewel Ball movements. 999E Full Plate, Nickel, 17 Jewels, Single Roller, Ball Regulator, Circular Damascening Pattern. In earlier movement runs, brotherhood markings may be found without serial numbers under the barrel bridge.These watches appear to be relatively scarce, but are not included in the information below. Ball, Cleveland, O.) 937 Full Plate, Hunting, Nickel, 17 Jewels, Single Roller, Adjusted, Hamilton Regulator, Ball Circular Damascening. 939 Full Plate, Hunting, Nickel, 17 Jewels, Double Roller, Adjusted Five Positions, Hamilton Regulator, Ball Circular Damascening. Full Pate, Nickel, 21 Jewels, Double Roller, Ball Regulator, “Sun-burst” Damascening. These Were Single Roller Movements For Use on Railroads Having Less Stringent Inspection Requirements. 999G Full Plate, Nickel, 19 Jewels, Adjusted, Ball Regulator, Double Roller, Circular Damascening Pattern. This indicates that Ball could change barrel bridges and dials at will to suit demands.