Home / Railroad Watches / Private Label Trade Names on American Pocket Watches: “Burlington Watch Co.” Part 73: Railroad Grade Classification for 16-Size Burlington Watches

Private Label Trade Names on American Pocket Watches: “Burlington Watch Co.” Part 73: Railroad Grade Classification for 16-Size Burlington Watches

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“Our 21 Jewel Smashes Prices” Baltimore and Ohio Magazine, September 1920.
“Our 21 Jewel Smashes Prices” Baltimore and Ohio Magazine, September 1920.

In contrast to the Santa Fe Watch Company that sold watches with identical traits, the Burlington Watch Company never directly promoted the Burlington watch for railroad service in the United States. 

The majority of 16-Size movements manufactured by the Illinois Watch Company for Burlington were factory-adjusted to three positions, falling short of the five positional adjustments required by most American railroads at the time. On a small number of railroads, like the Santa Fe, where only three positional adjustments were required, the 16-Size Burlington would have qualified for railroad service. 

While never directly stating the watches were intended for railroad service, the Burlington Watch Company often published testimonials from railroad men to suggest the quality was comparable to a railroad grade watch.

Some advertisements featured illustrations of locomotives, and the company even promoted the Burlington watch in railroad industry publications like the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen’s magazine. 

However, the only watch sold by the Burlington Watch Company that broadly qualified for railroad service in the United States was the limited-run Sangamo Burlington, adjusted to six positions. Likewise, the Swiss Moser Burlington, introduced to the Canadian market in 1928, was approved for service on Canadian railroads. 

Except for the Sangamo Burlington and the Moser Burlington, the 16-Size watches sold by the Burlington Watch Company should be classified as a “Class G” watch, having “Limited Approval” on American railroads.

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