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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 "guts" of the watch).
  2. Never use the serial number from the case or any other part.
  3. If the serial number includes a letter, enter it along with the number when using the lookup feature.
  4. 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.
  5. Always select the correct manufacturer, which is usually stamped on the watch movement.
  6. If the manufacturer is not listed on the site, you may have a "private label" watch or it may not be American-made.
  7. 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
  Serial Number:
Need to replace a watch crystal? Use our new crystal size guide to find the proper fit.

Pocket Watch Movement Setting Types

Understanding how to set a pocket watch is fundamental for proper use. Below are descriptions and instructions for the most common setting methods utilized by the major manufacturers.


Key Set

Early pocket watch movements were wound using a small metal key that fit snugly into the mainspring barrel. The key was also used to set the watch by fitting the key over the center arbor on the front of the watch, manipulating the hands directly.

Identification: The center of the hands arbor will be shaped as a small square. The case will likely not be fitted with a rotating crown.

How to Set a Key-Wind Pocket Watch:

  1. Hold the pocket watch dial-up.
  2. Look for a small lip around the edge of the bezel.
  3. Carefully pry the bezel and crystal toward you using that the lip, exposing the dial and hands. The safest way to do this is with your fingernail. If the cover is too snug, a tool may be required. Many early cases were hinged, so the bezel will likely swing away from the dial.
  4. Slide the key opening over the center arbor, where both hands are attached.
  5. Rotate the key until the hands indicate the correct time.
  6. Remove the key and carefully snap the cover back into place using force at the edge (not on the crystal).

Pictured: Hands on the dial of a key-wind watch

Lever Set

Lever-set watches became exceedingly popular in the late 1800s. Once railroad specifications were fully established, lever-set watches were required for service to prevent accidental time changes, which could result in fatal accidents. The lever is concealed under the crystal bezel at the edge of the dial.

Identification: The watch contains a rotating crown. Pulling up on the crown does not engage the setting mechanism. There is a lever at the edge of the dial once the bezel is removed.

How to Set a Lever-Set Pocket Watch:

  1. Hold the pocket watch dial-up.
  2. If the watch is contained within a hunting case, the lever might already be accessible. If the watch is contained within an openface case, carefully remove the bezel and crystal (Possibly screw-off, pry-off, or snap-off).
  3. Look around the edge of the dial for a small metal lever. Use your fingernail to swing the lever away from the dial in order to engage the setting mechanism.
  4. Rotate the crown until the hands indicate the correct time.
  5. Swing the lever back toward the dial.
  6. Carefully replace the bezel.

Pictured: A lever engaging the setting mechanism.

Pendant/Stem Set

Pendant-set watches offered a more convenient way to set the time on a regular basis since it was not required to remove the bezel from the watch. However, due to how easily the time could be changed, pendant-set watches were not allowed for railroad service once railroad requirements were fully established.

Identification: The watch contains a rotating crown. Pulling up on the crown does engages the setting mechanism. There is not a lever at the edge of the dial once the bezel is removed.

How to Set a Pendant-Set Pocket Watch:

  1. Hold the pocket watch dial-up.
  2. Grab the crown between your thumb and index finger.
  3. Carefully pull the crown away from the watch until you feel it pop. (Sometimes, a considerable amount of force is required, but exercise caution.)
  4. Rotate the crown until the hands indicate the correct time.
  5. Push the crown back towards the watch until you feel it pop.

Pictured: A pendant engaging the setting mechanism.