Enter the serial number from the pocket watch movement below. Do not use the case number. Tips for looking up your watch

How to Find Info About Your Pocket Watch

The Pocket Watch Database has compiled data covering the major American pocket watch manufacturers and created an easy way to find information using the serial number on the watch movement. Here are a few tips to find information about your pocket watch:

  1. Always input the serial number from the pocket watch movement (the "mechanism" of the watch).
  2. Never use the serial number from the case or any other part.
  3. Always select the correct manufacturer, which is usually stamped on the watch movement or dial.
  4. If the manufacturer is not listed on the site, you may have a "private label" watch or it may not be American-made.
  5. If the serial number includes a letter, enter it along with the number when using the lookup feature.
  6. Many pocket watch case backs screw off. Others may require a dull wide blade to pry or pop the cover. Be careful not to scratch or damage the movement.
  7. Consider uploading images of your watch by creating a collection account on the website. This is compeltely free and assists in promoting research in American horology.
  8. Understand that many companies did not keep accurate or complete records. As a result, information displayed on this site may have inaccuracies. This is to be expected, and we have included an option to report inaccurate information on the result pages so the database can be continually improved.
Pocket Watch Serial Number Lookup - Hamilton, South Bend, Illinois, Rockford, Waltham & Elgin Pocket Watches
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Pocket Watch Movement Plate Types

Movement plates provide the housing for the inner parts of the watch and contain the jewels, pivots, and screw holes. The top plate, which usually contains the manufacturer signing name and serial number, can be easily seen by removing the back of the watch. The pillar plate can be seen by removing the dial of the watch. Plate types are grouped into three basic classifications: Full, 3/4, and Bridge.

Full Plate

The gear train within full plate pocket watch movements is sandwiched between two metal plates while the balance cock is installed above the top plate. Early American 18s pocket watches are almost exclusively full plate designs.

Identification: The balance cock is attached to the top plate and the gear train is not easily seen.

Pictured: A Full-Plate 18s Elign Movement

3/4 Plate

3/4 Plates were commonly used when manufacturing movement sizes 16s and smaller, offering the ability to produce a watch much thinner when compared to a full plate watch. The balance cock and the top plate were adjacent and flush, requiring a cutout in the top plate of the movement. Many times, the 3/4 plate is split into two parts.

Identification: The top plate has about 1/4 cut around the balance, which is flush with the top plate.

Pictured: A 3/4 Plate Example on a 16s Illinois A. Lincoln

Bridge Plate

Bridge plates are separate peices that hold the gear train in place and were commonly utilized in higher-quality watch movements after 1900. The use of bridge plates allowed more of the gear train to be visible. Some manufacturers created models with "false bridges" to give the appearance of a more expensive and elegant watch. A false bridge has the appearance of being a separate plate but is actually part of the top plate structure. In contrast, a true bridge is a separate plate, usually having the appearance of an "arm" or "fingers."

Identification: The wheels of the gear train are held in place by separate pieces attached to the pillar plate. False bridges have the appearance of being separate bridge plates, and true bridges are actually separate pieces.

Pictured: A Bridge Plate Example on a 16s Waltham Crescent St.