This post is for all of you antique watch fans…
I recently inherited my grandmother’s Avalon pocket watch, circa 1935 – 1940.
Although the crystal was broken and the movement was quite dirty, the watch
seemed to be keeping decent time. It came with a really fabulous chain that
could either be worn as a single long necklace, or looped twice and worn
shorter. I really wanted to bring this beauty back to life, so I did some
hunting on the internet.
Through a process of elimination, I found
Terry Nelson in Portland Oregon. His
informative website and prompt email
responses made me feel comfortable enough to send my heirloom across the country
to a virtual stranger.
Note the broken crystal and the way the watch had been modded to read sideways.
Even though the gold filled case was in decent condition, it was scuffed and
badly in need of a polishing.
Avalon watches? I had never heard of them. According to Terry, "Avalon was a
jewelry company based on the east coast who contracted from the notable watch
factories and the watch case factories to create their own designs. It was
marketed throughout the country especially in the great lakes region. Their
advertisements ran in Saturday Evening Post and Popular Science, amongst others.
They were quality goods that jewelers stood behind."
The dial is ceramic and had a gorgeous patina with cobalt blue numbers and
hands. Little gold dots were used to mark the minutes…just lovely. I asked
Terry to clean the dial, but to leave the patina as I felt it added character to
I sent the watch to Terry USPS, and he received it a couple of days later. I
told him I was leaving town in two weeks, so if it couldn’t be ready before I
left then there was no big hurry.
I kid you not – it was just two days after he had received it when Terry emailed
to tell me that the watch was ready. Three days later, I had it in my hot little
Look – a gorgeous domed crystal! I couldn’t believe that he had the exact one
this watch needed. The watch case has shined up nicely, and looks brand new.
According to Terry, "Your Grandmother’s watch was missing a pillar plate
screw, a dial washer, a crystal and had a worn detent. I put my hands on the
appropriate parts immediately. I have a back up parts watch for this model (AS
1002), so in the future should yours be damaged by rust or by a fall, I’ve got
Terry reinstalled the dial facing the correct direction, and left the dial’s
patina as I requested. I guess this is what’s known as a sympathetic
restoration, because I didn’t want it to look like a brand new watch. I wanted
to look it’s its age, but be fabulous – which it is!
I didn’t tell Terry who I was when I sent my watch to him, or that I might be
critiquing his work online – yet he treated me like a celebrity client. My
grandmother’s watch got the respect that it deserved and the treatment it needed
to last for generations to come.
If you have an antique pocket watch, or a wristwatch for that matter, that
has tons of sentimental value but is languishing in a shoe box because doesn’t
run, then you should write Terry and see if he can bring your heirloom back to
life. In case you couldn’t tell, I am thrilled with the job he did! :0)