Grandfather's Pocket Watch

Not all of your photo ops need to be outdoors and wildlife or nature related.  In fact, there’s some wildlife that probably shouldn’t  be photographed.  And what if you can’t get out because the weather’s bad, or you stubbed or broke a toe?  Well, you can look for a photo-op closer to or even inside your home.  Here’s a set of photos I made to document a watch passed down to me from my Uncle.

This is my Granddad’s Elgin pocket watch.  The model number (marked inside the front cover) is “Wadsworth Referee 20 year 5069868”.  Based on the movement serial number, it was made in 1921. We don’t really know the history on this watch, but we do have some documents from my Grandparents’ wedding and think that my Grandmother gave this to him on their 10th wedding anniversary.

1921 Elgin ” Wadsworth Referee 20 year” 5069868, Serial number 25010969

We’re also not completely sure about the spelling used to engrave his name.  It could be that this was an accepted alternate before Rosack was standardized with the “ck” ending.  It’s more likely a mistake, in which case I bet my Grandmother wasn’t too happy about it.

Inside back case, with engraving

Here’s what the movement looks like.  When thinking about how to show this, I wanted to do something more than a straight on standard macro photo.  So I positioned the watch movement at an angle to catch its reflection in the back case and made the final image using Helicon Focus software and the techniques I described here.

My Grandfather's Pocket WatchMovement macro-photograph (click on this image to get to a larger version on Flickr)

We wanted a nice case to display the watch and found this one.  One issue with making this photograph was dealing with reflections in the glass.  I was able to reduce them by using a polarizing filter, making multiple exposures and moving the lighting between some of them.  Then I combined the results in Photoshop to get this final image.  I like the way the lighting places the emphasis on the watch, but lets you see what the case is like.

You can buy pocket watch glass display cases

We did take the watch into a local watch repair place (not this one, the place we took it didn’t have such a nice sign).  They cleaned and repaired it and it now works fine.  The only problem seems to be a weak spring – it keeps great time, but not for a whole day.  The repair cost was about equal to the watch’s resale value, but to us of course the watch is worth much more.

Elgin watch jeweler sign – it’s fun to watch for related photos while you’re out and about

It was fun learning about this watch, getting it working and making these images.  Do you have something similar you could document?

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
©2011, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

1 thought on “Grandfather's Pocket Watch

  1. What a great series. Seems like fun to focus (pardon the pun) on a single object. The image of the watch in the display case is really wonderful. Great work.

Leave a Reply to bob towery Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.