To use the website you must request access and send dial and movement photos of your watch.
Before you write or call, first check to see if your pocket watch is a Swiss reproduction.
This site is for vintage Seth Thomas pocket watches, NOT clocks.
Seth Thomas made some dazzling pieces, which is what caught my eye, and they produced movements with more pattern variations than any other American brand, which is why I collect them. I discovered just how little information there was after winning my first one at auction in 2005 (inset photo). Given the near-total lack of a paper trail it seemed the only way to reconstruct the factory's output was to document every movement that I could find.
I started 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 grade chart. I bought reprints of original Seth Thomas catalogs and modern Price Guides. I checked for web scans from period trade magazines and the mail-order giants of the day to expand the list of known named grades, and began tracking private labels. I attended local meets and shows with my camera, pestering friends to take photos for me when I couldn't be there.
I called the Historical Society in the factory hometown of Thomaston, Connecticut, which is behind a locked door on an upper floor of the town hall, and was told that there were no records. The town historian told me there were no records, other than the history of the factory building itself. The NAWCC was of absolutely no help and their library told me that they had no records either, which was hard to believe. When I got the then-president of the NAWCC on the phone, his first question was whether my dues were paid up. I wrote to several of the larger NAWCC chapters asking for help and never heard back from any of them. I approached some of their officers and admins several times about a collaborative effort, but got repeatedly stonewalled. There are also plenty of private collectors who won't share photos or data either.
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After launching the Seth Thomas Research site in 2015, I discovered that the biggest problem when logging examples is photographs; even with the advent of digital cameras and smartphones, taking a decent picture is apparently difficult for some people. You can't believe how many auction houses simply refuse to open the back of a watch and take a single goddamn picture.
Another problem is the Pocket Watch Database. While well-intentioned and well-organized, it's a source of nearly constant misinformation that people flock to and believe without question. The site also goes overboard, returning useless search information about the watch like the jewel settings and plate markings that are already obvious, since you're holding it in your hand.
I pay hundreds a year to maintain this website of mine, updating the charts every month and adding to my collection, some of which is visible on these pages. People write me often and I'm willing to share what I know, so my hope is that this site helps you to learn a little more about the history contained in your century-old mechanical work of art. -- Eric Unselt
Tom Manning and Chris Bailey
Diana Kelly and George and Patty Jones
Markus Harris and Dave Coatsworth
Fred Hansen, Joe Blossic, and Dave Bush
And everyone who sent photos and data!
In 2021 roughly 18,000 people visited the Research site to avail themselves of the charts, data, patents, ads, and hundreds of photos found here and nowhere else.
This website is both maintained and funded privately, which takes time and money.
Please help out if you can.