Determine the Age of your Vintage Pocket Watch
How to Use our Vintage Watch Serial Number & Date Lookup Tables
Instructions for using our serial number look-up tables
This page contains INSTRUCTIONS for using the serial number look-up tables that are found on many of our watch company history pages. The example below uses information from the American Waltham Watch Company, but that is just an example. You should consult the serial number table for the specific brand of watch movement you are trying to date by selecting a company from the menu on the left.
Not all vintage watches can be dated using the serial number. Some American watch brands did not use a consistent series of serial numbers, but most of the big manufacturers did. Most vintage Swiss pocket watches did NOT have serial numbers and can't be dated by this method.
Can't find YOUR exact serial number in our lookup tables?
Many watch companies made hundreds of thousands of watches, and some companies made millions of watches! It would be impractical to list the individual serial numbers of EVERY watch made... that would make some really long pages! Our serial number tables list RANGES of serial numbers. So to determine when your watch was manufactured, you will need to determine where your serial number fits within the range of numbers.
Serial number look-up example:
Let's say you have a Waltham watch with serial number 21,607,210 as shown in the photo below. Note that we're using the serial number from the watch movement, not from the watch case. Looking at the table of Waltham serial numbers (see example below), you can see that number 20,900,000 was made in 1917 and 21,800,000 was made in 1918 (marked in red in the table below). Since your serial number falls between those two numbers, you know that your watch was made in 1917 or 1918.
Not sure which serial number to use?
You must use the serial number from the MOVEMENT of the watch... the working part with the wheels and gears... not the serial number from the watch case. Cases and watches were often made by different companies and each usually has its own serial number. You usually have to take the back off the watch case to see the movement serial number which may appear anywhere on the watch movement.
Use the movement serial number. Do NOT use the case serial number!
This is an example only. Your movement serial number may not be in exactly the same location as the one in the photo, but you are looking for the serial number that is on the watch mechanism itself... not the serial number on the external case.
EXAMPLE SERIAL NUMBER LOOK-UP:
American Waltham Watch Company
Approximate Serial Numbers and Production Dates
This is an example using the Waltham serial number table. Be sure to use the table that is specific
to YOUR brand of watch when looking up your serial number.
Be sure to use the serial number on the movement of the watch itself.
Do not use the serial number from the watch case.