Inspired to share the knowledge he has culled across his almost four decades as a collector of rare antique American pocket watches, Craig Duling created this web site, heritagepocketwatch.com. Using the far-reaching capability of the internet, he provides insights into the fascinating history behind the rare timepieces in his collection, and opportunities for scholars and aficionados of horology to view never-before seen examples of remarkable mechanical precision, meticulous workmanship, and artistic intricacy.
In 1975, Craig Duling was a young college graduate who had recently begun working as an engineer for Lockheed Missiles and Space Company. There, he became acquainted with a colleague named Scotty, who happened to carry an antique pocket watch. Craig was so impressed and intrigued by Scotty’s watch, that he decided to find one for himself. This was many years before the world wide web had become ubiquitously incorporated into everyday life. In those days, locating an item of such rarity as an antique pocket watch was a tedious process.
With his limited budget as a new collector, Craig began his search by placing a free classified ad in a local newspaper. For the ad to be free, text was limited to just two lines, so succinctness was essential. This is what he came up with:
“WANTED. Old pocket watches – any condition. 681-xxxx.”
Occasionally, Craig would receive a phone call in response to his ad. If a pocket watch piqued his interest and was priced within his budget, he’d schedule an appointment to view it; and sometimes, he’d purchase it. In this piecemeal fashion, Craig slowly established a modest collection. Later, as Craig Duling became more established and successful in his professional career, he was able to enhance and diversify his collection through the acquisition of increasingly rare, valuable, and elaborate pocket watches, ultimately focusing his expertise on antique American time pieces.
By the mid-1990’s, with the emergence of internet-based commerce, Craig followed online auctions and bid on collectibles that were offered for sale all over the world. Also, Craig connected with well-known professional antique pocket watch dealers who helped him locate specific timepieces that would complement his growing collection; and he regularly attended regional and national shows of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors (NAWCC). Over the last four decades, Craig has assembled a sophisticated and diverse assortment of rare mint condition watches, which he presents on this website.
A serious collector evaluates the merit of an antique timepiece based on three factors: (1) the quality of the movement; (2) the condition and appearance of the dial (there should be no hairline cracks or chips); and (3) the condition and appearance of the case (it should look like new, with engraving still crisp and surfaces unblemished). Depending on the intended purpose of a watch when it was built, the movement might be simple or complex; the dial, elaborate or plain; and the case, embellished or basic.
When considering a new acquisition, Craig Duling evaluates it with respect to these three categories, keeping in mind that a watch could still prove worthwhile even if it did not rate highly in each aspect. For example, consider the Nashua. Although its case is somewhat worn, the movement and dial are impeccable. Furthermore, all of its components are original, dating back to the 1860’s. Only four watches of this type are known to exist in the world. Because of its extreme rarity, and the outstanding condition of movement and dial, the Nashua was a superb procurement.
*Infrequently, a watch from this collection may be available for sale, although it will not be listed here. Inquiries about a particular item may be made to Craig Duling via email, outside of this web site.
Horology is defined as the art or science of measuring time. In current usage, however, the term horology refers mainly to the study of mechanical time-keeping instruments; while the broader term, chronometry, encompasses the study of mechanical as well as electronic devices for measuring time.
Please note: This web site is intended to be an informational resource for timepiece aficionados of all ages and expertise levels.