The Model 3 was the successor to the earlier Model 1 with an identical plate layout, though with improvements to the winding pinion, setting mechanism, and mainspring click. The gear train was upgraded to a fast (or quick) rate of 18,000 BPH instead of 16,200, and the plates were available in nickel, which allowed for plenty of dazzling radial damask patterns. Since the Model 3 was lever-set some would be considered railroad grade, including the Railway Queen, with jewel counts ranging from 7 all the way up to 21 for its highest grade of all - the very rare Henry Molineux.
The total production of the Model 3 was approximately 40,000 watches in 39 runs, starting at SN 10,901 where the Model 1 left off and ending with a final run of a hundred at SN 517,500. Nearly all the early runs were low and mid-grade gilt movements, but by the 1890s the bulk of factory production were nickel 15-jewel Grades 170 and 196 and the 17-jewel Grade 506. Private labels were common before the factory returned to the 7-jewel gilt movements at the end.
The Model 3 picked up where the Model 1 left off in 1888 as the company's open-face watch, experiencing the shortest run of all the high-grade models. Like the Model 2, the M3 continued into the serial number range of the Old Eagle's starting year of 1896, but not as far. There is no reported record or advertisement of the Model 3 past 1900.
Henry Molineux was born in New Hampshire around 1832, managing the Pacific Coast Department of the Seth Thomas Clock Company for 30 years until 1883 as an agent, stockholder and employer. He was a personal friend of Seth Thomas Jr and served the public trust for many years in California as county treasurer, clerk, and recorder of Sierra County. In 1881 he was elected supervisor of the 5th ward, and was also president of four San Francisco Banks during his time in the west. He died in Boston in March of 1900.
The company created a grade in his honor, which was the second-highest named grade that Seth Thomas produced, offered in the Model 3 in two jewel counts.
Roughly 300 Model 3 Henry Molineux were produced in three separate runs between SN 47,000 and 100,000. All were lever-set and were apparently offered in two distinct patterns with a single plate signature. No two-tone examples have been reported.
The Model 3 version of the Henry Molineux was advertised with jewel counts of either 17 or 21. The pallet fork was capped on both variants, and the center wheel was left un-jeweled on the lower version. The 21-jewel variant had a standard full configuration with a jeweled center wheel and an additional capped pair on the escape wheel.
All known adverts list the Molineux grade as simply Adjusted with no mention of any positions.
The Private Labels
There is one known PL Model 3 that has an identical pattern, jeweling count, and hairspring stud as a standard Molineux grade - SN 70,522, for Otto Fasoldt in Albany, New York.
Grade assignment for the Model 3 is based on all known advertisements and catalogs, and takes into account all of the attributes that define them. The company viewed both nickel and two-tone finishes as being the same.
The factory seldom jeweled the center wheel on the pillar plate, resulting in a 16-jewel watch that appears to be fully jeweled. The company did produce 17-jewel variants, but without pulling the dial there is no way to visually tell the difference. None of the known advertisements list a 16-jewel Model 3, so it's not clear if there are any missing grades yet to be found. For ease of research the 16 and 17-jewel grades have been combined.
The Grade 170 was defined in every publication as a 15-jewel lever-set nickel Model 3, but if the word "Adjusted" is milled into the pillar plate the same watch becomes a Grade 196. In the middle SN blocks those two grades alternated with each other seemingly at random on consecutive movements, especially in runs with private labels. The 17-jewel Grade 506 is Adjusted to Temperature and Position, according to both the plate engravings and the period ads, while the Henry Molineux is simply Adjusted.
Webster Clay Ball was given authority as the Chief Time Inspector in 1891 after the deadly Kipton, Ohio crash, tasked with enforcing strict requirements for railroad timepieces and overseeing thousands of miles of track. Seth Thomas was one of the American companies that complied with Webb Ball's new accuracy standards, making watches under the Ball label using the name Railway Queen, and the movement the company chose to use was the Model 3.
The Serial Numbers
There are three known Model 3 Railway Queens, although there are differences in dials, finishes and patterns. Both of the higher numbers have marked Ball/Cleveland dials and the patented Higginbotham hairspring stud also found on the Henry Molineux grade. No surrounding examples have been reported, so there may be more.
Charles Higginbotham, Seth Thomas's master watchmaker, invented a unique hairspring stud for the Henry Molineux grade, found on both Models 2 and 3.
Every other 18-size Seth Thomas model utilized a cylindrical hairspring stud, seated in a round hole and held in place by a set screw. This means the stud can be raised or lowered slightly, altering both the beat rate and the beat error.
Higginbotham's new patent addressed this problem by trapping the hairspring stud in place with a bracket (Fig. 3 & 4), which has an edge (I) milled into it to mate with a corresponding notch (J) in the stud (Fig. 5 & 6), preventing it from moving either vertically or rotationally.
For further information visit the Patents page.