Just for fun… An overview of Illinois Bunns

January 5th, 2009




The Bunn name was used in the production of Illinois watches
throughout just about the entire history of the company - beginning
in 1872 with the earliest 18 size 15 jewel keywind Bunn grade, and
ending in the 1940’s with the latest 16 size 21 jewel Elinvar Bunn
Specials which were finished and sold by the Hamilton Watch Company
of Lancaster, PA.

The lowest serial number used for a Bunn grade watch is 201, the
highest used for a Bunn Special is I believe 5610600, and I believe
both of these particular serial watches are known to exist and
belong to collectors. Between these extremes a little under a half
million watches were produced in total in the Bunn and Bunn Special

All Bunn and Bunn Special movements were high quality watches at the
better end of Illinois Watch Co. production, but at various times
were not the company’s top product and through the years would be
considered below certain other top level grades made at the same
time (grades such as the Stuart, 105, 179, 189, 310, 710, and
Sangamo Special).

The “Bunn” were the lower jeweled movements and were produced in the
following jewel counts …

- 15 jewel (18 size only)
- 16 jewel (18 size only)
- 17 jewel (16 and 18 size)
- 18 jewel (18 size only)
- 19 jewel (16 and 18 size)

The “Bunn Special” were the higher jeweled movements and were
produced in the following jewel counts …

- 21 jewel (16 and 18 size, also small number of 12 size according
to Meggers)
- 23 jewel (16 and 18 size)
- 24 jewel (18 size only)
- 26 jewel (18 size only)

Some important points in the timeline of these watches are (most
dates taken from the Meggers/Ehrhardt book or Russ’s database, but
may be up to a few years off in instances) …

- 1872 (Production of first keywind Bunn movements)

- 1878-1880 (first Bunn stemwind models, both hunting case and open

- 1894 (first Bunn Special, as 21 jewel 18 size)

- 1895-1896 (first 23 jewel and 24 jewel Bunn Specials, both 18 size)

- 1905 (first 26 jewel Bunn Special)

- 1913 (first 16 size Bunn and Bunn Special)

- 1919 (last 18 size Bunn)

- 1923 (last 18 size Bunn Special)

- 1924 (last 16 size Bunn)

- 1924 (earliest Bunn Special signed factory cases)

- 1924 (earliest 60 hour Bunn Special movements, as 23 jewel)

- Jan. 1st 1928 (Hamilton Watch Co. takes over operations following
purchase of the Illinois Company)

- 1928 (according to the Meggers book a small number of 12 size
grade 279 movements are marked Bunn Special)

- 1930 (Bunn Special grades are also given numbers, 161 for 21 jewel
and 163 for 23 jewel)

- 1931 (first use of Elinvar balance and hairspring for the Bunn
Special 161 and 163, soon replaced by grades 161A and 163A which
have a different damaskeen)

- 1940’s (last Bunn Specials are finished and sold by Hamilton,
including the 161B grade with friction set jeweling and some 161A
grade housed in Hamilton signed factory cases)

Between the different combinations of jeweling, model, size,
damaskeen pattern, regulator type, winding mechanism and markings
there are over 100 different variants to the factory marked Bunn and
Bunn Specials out there.

Even beyond this then you can add on dial variations, factory case
variations, and private-label (custom marked special order) watches
so there is really no end to how far a collector can go this is a
big part of why these watches are so fun to collect and study!

Hello world!

January 4th, 2009

Welcome to my Blog about watches. This is my first post.