Seth Thomas made some dazzling watches, which is what caught my eye, and they produced movements with more pattern variations than any other American company, which is why I collect them. I discovered just how little information there was after winning my first one in 2005 (see inset photo). Given the almost total lack of a paper trail - just the basics in the Fat Book and Ehrhardt volumes - it seemed the only way to reconstruct the factory's output was to document each and every movement that I could find. So . . .
I began by scrolling through past events from online venues, cataloging the photos on my PC, and finding enough adverts in the early jewelers supply houses to assemble a rough grade chart. I bought reprints of original Seth Thomas catalogs and modern Price Guides. I checked for web PDF scans from period trade magazines and the mail-order giants of the day to expand the list of known named grades, and started tracking private labels. I attended local meets and regional shows with my camera, pestering friends to take photos for me when I couldn't be there. I solicited unreported examples on the Facebook page and spent weeks trolling the US Patent Office archives looking for those awarded to Seth Thomas for watches.
I called the Historical Society in the factory hometown of Thomaston, Connecticut and was told that there were no records, period. The NAWCC Library had no records either, which was hard to believe. I wrote to the larger NAWCC chapters asking for help and never heard back from any of them. I approached a couple of fellow collectors from the NAWCC several times about a collaborative effort, but there was no interest. At the time the only known resource was Chris Bailey's book, published in 1981 with Dan Gaenger's help.
* * * * *
Many collectors before me had such an interest in their particular niche that they published their work, whether in book form or online, so after a lot of thought I launched the Seth Thomas Research site in 2015. I run daily online searches, looking for new examples to add to the two dozen serial number charts that I maintain. The biggest problem is photographs; even with the advent of digital cameras and smartphones, taking a decent picture is apparently difficult for some people. You'd be surprised how many well-known professional auction houses flat-out refuse to open the back of a watch and take a single goddamn picture.
I pay hundreds a year to maintain this little site of mine, updating the charts every week and still adding to my collection, some of which is visible on its pages. People write me often to ask about their watch and I'm willing to share what I know, so my sincere hope is that this Research site helps you to learn more about that little bit of history contained in the century-old heirloom that you hold in your hand. - - Eric Unselt
Whether you're an enthusiast with a large collection or trying to get that family heirloom fixed, we know how to get these tiny engines running properly. Trust us with your grandfather's pocket watch for expert repairs that will take just a few days.
"The reason that I am willing to send my antiques from Oregon clear across this continent for repair is that you can trust your precious antique to Eric. He gets it RIGHT the first time."
"Eric's level of knowledge, skill at his craft, and dedication to achieve perfection is very difficult to find these days. If you are looking for an old-world craftsman to return your old-world mechanical masterpiece to original, American Timekeeper is your answer."
"If you are looking to have a pocket watch restored so that it looks and performs as it did the day it left the factory then send that watch to Eric. Absolute perfection done at reasonable prices."
"Eric is the most thorough and exacting watch restoration provider I have ever worked with. His knowledge and workmanship are unequaled."
"There are many watch repair folks available; one only needs to go down to the local jewelry shop and let some schmuck tear up your valuable keepsake ... but to find someone that will treat your watch as their own from beginning to end you have to send it to Eric at American Timekeeper, and I guarantee you will be thrilled by the results." -- Jerry K, California
"I have a family heirloom carriage clock that nobody had been able to fix; it had sat motionless on the mantle for 20 years. This clock was extremely sentimental to my mother and I wanted to get it running for her birthday. American Timekeeper restored my clock and had it running perfectly within a few days! I am happy to report that my mother was thrilled and our clock now sits on the mantle, ticking away. Thank you!" -- Jennifer D, Canada
"I have bought many watches from American Timekeeper. The prices are very reasonable and the watches are better than advertised, arriving on time in great condition." -- Ron R, Delaware.
“Eric is an outstanding watchmaker, in the truest sense of the word. His horological knowledge is amazing, and he is able to completely restore your watch, so that you can claim any watch he has worked on is in “original” condition. Accuracy of your watch is of the utmost consideration too; your watch will always tell great time when you get it back. I would trust my finest watch to his knowledge and craftsmanship.” -- Chuck H, Idaho
"I was left my grandmother's mantle clock that was not working. I sent it to American Timekeeper, and not only did they get it running, they fabricated a part in-house, and gave me a value and brief history of the clock. Now I sound like an expert when friends and family ask about the clock, and it runs beautifully. Thank you!" -- Jack S, Virginia
"Eric's work is to an extremely high standard, giving you a full breakdown on what work has been carried out and to guide you on repair and cost. Always a pleasure with communication and an expert in his field, offering a whole range of fabulous old watches for sale in incredible working condition. I know that if I send him a watch it comes back in full working condition, and the attention to detail is way beyond my expectations. If you want to buy a pocket watch or have one repaired, I can highly recommend Eric at American Timekeeper." -- Barry H, Ohio