Hunter Case Pocket Watches

What Is a Hunter Case Watch?

Also known as a "hunting case" watch, A “hunter case” watch is simply a watch with a front cover. A watch without a front cover is called an open face watch. To open a hunter case watch and tell the time, hold the watch with the crown [the knob that sticks out of the top of the watch] facing the right, and then push the crown in with your thumb. If the “lift spring” is in good working condition, the front cover should pop open. If not, you may need to pry it open with your thumbnail. When closing a hunter case watch be sure to press the crown in to keep the little “catch” from wearing.

A "Demi-hunter" case [also known as a “half-hunter” case] is a hunter case that has a circular window cut out of the front cover, often with an additional crystal inset. Most demi-hunter cases have additional numbers on front cover of the case which correspond to the numbers on the dial, which means that you can actually tell the time by looking through the central window without having to actually open the case. A “true” demi-hunter cased watch will also have a special hour hand with an additional pointer on it that can be seen with the cover closed.

-- from The New Collector's Guide to Pocket Watches, © 2000 Barry S. Goldberg

I'm not exactly sure why, but I simply LOVE hunter case watches! Maybe it has something to do with all those old pictures of train conductors pulling out those big old hunter case watches from their pockets. Or maybe it's the extra work and detail that often went into making a hunter case watch. Whatever the case [no pun intended], I just can't seem to get enough of them.

If anybody has some additional information about these watches that they would care to share with me, please send me an e-mail and let me know!

Click on any image below to see additional pictures and information for that watch.

Key wind pocket watch with a rare "chinese duplex" movement and a center second hand. Probably Swiss made for the Chinese market. Silver hunter case measures 2 1/4 inches in diameter. Ca. mid to late 1800's.
VERY early Waltham pocket watch. 18 Size, Model 1857, "Dennison, Howard & Davis". Key wind and key set. 15 jewels. Engraved hunter case is probably 18-Karat gold-filled. Dates to about 1855, the company's fourth year in existence.
Very old Waltham pocket watch. 18 size, Model 1857, "Appleton, Tracy & Co." Key wind and key set. 15 sapphire jewels. The watch is encased in a beautiful and very heavy solid 18 karat gold hunter case with wonderful engine turning on the front and back. The serial number is only 21772, which dates it to about 1860.
This pocket watch was made by the United States Watch Company of Marion, NJ. It is an 18 size "Marion Watch Company" model, "G.A. Read" grade, with 7 jewels. Has the distinctive "butterfly shaped" cut-out on the movement. Gold-filled hunter case. Ca late 1860's to early 1870's.
Early Pre-Elgin "National Watch Company" pocket watch. Size 10, Model 4, "Gail Borden" grade, key wind and key set from the rear, with 11 jewels. The watch is housed in a simply stunning 14K gold hunter case. Ca. 1873
American Waltham Watch Company, 18 size, Model #1887, "Appleton, Tracy & Co." grade in a nice gold-filled hunter case. 15 jewels. Originally key wind and key set, later fitted with Abbott's Stem Wind Conversion and is now stem wind and lever set. Ca. 1883
Waltham "P.S. Bartlett" pocket watch, Model 1877. Stem wind and lever set. Size 18 coin silver hunting case. Single sunk porcelain dial marked "A.W.C. WALTHAM". No jewel count marked, but probably has 11-15 jewels. Ca. 1884.
Waltham Chronograph, Size 14, Model 1874, 13 jewels. Stem wind and lever set. Original sterling silver Waltham hunter case, nicely engraved. Ca. 1886
Illinois Pocket Watch, size 18, Model 2, Grade 100-S with either 11 or 15 jewels. Stem wind and lever set, with unusual "Chalmer" patented regulator. Housed in a very nice gold-filled hunter case. Dial and movement marked "E. Goldberg" [no relation....] Ca. 1886.
E. Howard & Co. pocket watch. "N" size [close to a size 18] Series VII with 15 jewels. Stem wind and pendant set. Original hands and dial, replacement case. Ca. 1880-1889.
Seth Thomas pocket watch. 18 size, Model 2, Grade "56" with 11 jewels. Stem wind and lever set. Housed in a nicely engraved gold-filled hunter case. Ca. 1890.
Hampden "John Hancock:" railroad grade pocket watch. 18 size, stem wind, lever set, 21 jewels. Heavy gold filled hunter case with gorgeous engravings on both the front and back. Stunning fancy glass enamel dial. Ca. 1898.
This is a Swiss-made quarter hour repeater in a sterling silver hunter case. It measures approximately 50mm in diameter and probably dates to the early 1900's. It is stem wind and pendant set and the movement has a lever escapement and 15 jewels. The repeater function is activated by a button near the 6.
18 Size Illinois "Bunn Special" in a highly engraved solid 14k gold hunter case. Stem wind, lever set, with 24 ruby jewels. Ca. 1900.
Waltham "Vanguard" pocket watch. Size 18, Model 1892. Stem wind and lever set. 23 jewels, adjusted to 5 positions. Housed in a lovely gold-filled hunter case. Ca. 1902.
Waltham pocket watch. 18 Size, Model #1883, "820" grade with 15 jewels. Highly engraved gold-filled hunter case. Very fancy enamel dial in mint condition. Ca. 1903.
16 size Waltham "Marquis" made for the English export market and housed in a stunning gold-filled "demi-hunter" case. Stem wind & lever set. 15 jewels. Circa 1918.

Back to the Pocket Watch Collection Main Page

Proud member of the
National Association of
Watch and Clock Collectors