One of the most frequently asked questions we receive at Vintage Watch Parts is how to find out which particular balance staff a Waltham or Elgin pocket watch needs.
There are a huge number of different balance staffs available and a large quantity of different calibre Waltham & Elgin movements… so which one to choose? The whole process can be quite overwhelming!
For this example, we are going to find a balance staff for the above Waltham movement with serial number 21020865.
The next step is to identify which particular model number this is.
Head to The Pocket Watch Database
When at the Pocket Watch Database – enter the serial number of your Waltham Pocket Watch movement into the serial number box, select Waltham from the drop down menu (or Elgin if an Elgin Pocket Watch) and hit search.
You will be present with a page showing a huge amount of information that is specific to the movement serial number you have searched for.
I have highlighted above the “Model” number – this is the important piece of information you will need to ascertain which balance staff you require.
In this example, the model number is 1908.
The next step is to search on Google for that particular model number.
Use the search phrase – Waltham 1908 Balance Staff – (1908 being the model number of the example – replace this with your model number of the movement you searched for on The Pocket Watch Database)
The first result is the very helpful Otto Frei website. The page shows a number of balance staffs for Waltham pocket watches.
A quick look at this page shows that there are two possible staffs for the Waltham 1908 model – Waltham Staff No 4860 or 4861.
The annoying thing is that Waltham used quite often, two different types of staff for each movement so it is important to get the right one!
The above two look very different from one another and by removing the staff you should be able to ascertain which one you need.
When you visit our Waltham Balance Staff listing page, you will find a large number available from a drop down box. Using the drop down, you can see a Waltham 16s 4861 Balance staff which is one of two possibilities for this model number movement. By visually checking the balance staff you will know you have chosen the right one.
It is very important to know that the harder to find or least produced numbers are quite hard to locate parts for.
Most balance staffs were produced by companies like Ronda, BestFit or DCN for the more popular movements. The rarer ones were never reproduced because they wouldn’t be needed as much.
If you do have a harder to find movement, I would suggest searching on Ebay for a donor movement that is not working but has a good balance. This way you can swap the parts over.