Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Development of the American Railroad Pocket Watch

An entrepreneurial leader, Craig Duling guides Heritage Management Services, Inc., and has contributed extensively to his local community. Away from work, Craig Duling has a passion for antique timepieces and maintains a blog in which he provides information oriented toward investment-grade pocket watch collectors.

Of particular interest to American collectors are railroad pocket watches, which were standard issue for conductors from the 1820s, when railroad travel emerged. Brakemen, enginemen, and yard foremen were also required to carry these pocket watches, for which railroad-grade guidelines were developed in 1893. 

The timepiece was of critical importance prior to the invention of the telegraph in the 1840s, as trains often shared a single track in opposite directions, and communication while in transit was not possible. Timetables emerged to ensure that trains did not collide and were kept on the most efficient schedule possible. Unified standards for the watches came into being after a fatal head-on collision in which a faulty watch, which started and stopped, thus losing four minutes, was the culprit.

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