How much gold is in a pocket watch?

We receive countless inquiries with questions about the amount of gold in pocket watches. Smart folks with plans to sell want to know how much gold is hiding in their pocket watch before they start offering their timepiece. Most people know that a watch’s gross weight doesn’t equal its gold weight. But how can you find out how much gold was used to produce your pocket watch?

Basically, there is just one way to achieve accurate weight information:

Take your watch apart if you have the tools at home. Or, you can ask a watchmaker to take it apart or mail it to reDollar to get the non-precious parts separated from the gold. We’ll provide you with photos of all parts on our laboratory scale so that you can understand exactly how we calculated your purchase offer. reDollar’s motto is “Like A Bank,” which means that you can fully trust our experience and reliability, and know that we’ll recover every tiny piece of valuable gold for you.

Let’s take a pocket watch apart

The really heavy part of a pocket watch is its movement. We took several pocket watches apart to get some information about the movement’s weight. We also disassembled a hunter pocket watch and weighed all parts to do a case study.

The Experiment & Case Study
How much gold is in a pocket watch?

Gross Weight: 93.98 grams
Movement’s Weight: 54.34 grams
*Crystal’s Weight: 2.63 grams

*Gold-filled frame incl. in weight

**Case’s weight: 39.45 grams

** Crown and inner metal frame incl. in weight

The crown: 1.17 grams

The crown includes heavy steel components and is pretty much only gold covered. We took the crown apart and the net-gold weight came to 1.17 grams. Please see pictures of “non-precious parts” at the bottom of this page.

Inner metal frame: 6.72 grams

The inner metal frame is very heavy and made of steel or sometimes copper. In this case, the inner metal frame weighs 6.72 grams and needs to be deducted from the total weight. Do not underestimate the frame’s weight, as it’s the second-heaviest non-precious part of a pocket watch.

The Math
How much gold is in a pocket watch?

In our experiment, the pocket watch had a cross weight of 93.98 grams (100%). While non-precious parts came to a total of 63.87 grams (68.03%), the watch’s gold content came to 30.02 grams (31.97%).

Very important to know! Every watch is different, so this case study may NOT apply to your watch. You can identify an unreliable gold buyer or pawn shop just by them NOT taking apart your pocket watch to estimate the gold content. For an expert, disassembling a pocket watch only takes a few minutes. Please also consider that rare pocket watches won’t be taken apart, as their value exceeds the value of the gold used to produce the watch.

PartWeight (grams)Percentage (%)
Whole watch weight93.89 grams100%
Movement54.34 grams57.88%
Crystal2.63 grams2.80%
Crown’s gold1.17 grams1.25%
Crown’s base metals2.71 grams2.87%
Inner metal frame6.72 grams7.16%
Case’s gold (total gold weight)30.02 grams31.97%

How much gold is in a pocket watch?

The Experiment

We are taking apart a South Bend Watch Co. 17 Jewels Double Roller pocket watch with a 14K Keystone case. It’s a private label watch originally made for M.M. Bovard & Son.

The movement is the heaviest part

It’s absolutely necessary to remove the movement to find out how much gold is in a pocket watch. It’s very easy to do, and the process will NOT cause any damage to the watch if professionally done. Depending on the watch, two or three screws hold the movement in place, and removing those screws will separate the case from the engine. Be very careful and do not touch hands, wheels, or other sensitive parts.

We took 12 different-sized pocket watches apart to give you an idea of the weight of your movement.

Pocket Watch Movement
19.13 mm | 0.75 inches

Weight: 5.28 grams

19.13 mm pocket watch movement weighs 5.28 grams

Pocket Watch Movement
23.65 mm | 0.93 inches

Weight: 8.44 grams

23.65 mm pocket watch movement weighs 8.44 grams

Pocket Watch Movement
26.94 mm | 1.06 inches

Weight: 12.76 grams

26.94 mm pocket watch movement weighs 12.77 grams

Pocket Watch Movement
27.90 mm | 1.09 inches

Weight: 12.84 grams

27.90 mm pocket watch movement weighs 12.84 grams

Pocket Watch Movement
29.73 mm | 1.17 inches

Weight: 16.96 grams

29.73 mm pocket watch movement weighs 16.96 grams

Pocket Watch Movement
38.87 mm | 1.53 inches

Weight: 33.47 grams

38.87 mm pocket watch movement weighs 33.47 grams

Pocket Watch Movement
40.60 mm | 1.59 inches

Weight: 44.13 grams

40.60 mm pocket watch movement weighs 44.13 grams

Pocket Watch Movement
40.64 mm | 1.60 inches

Weight: 39.14 grams

40.64 mm pocket watch movement weighs 39.14 grams

Pocket Watch Movement
42.02 mm | 1.65 inches

Weight: 42.03 grams

42.02 mm pocket watch movement weighs 42.03 grams

Pocket Watch Movement
43.05 mm | 1.69 inches

Weight: 50.00 grams

43.05 mm pocket watch movement weighs 50.00 grams

Pocket Watch Movement
44.33 mm | 1.74 inches

Weight: 50.59 grams

44.33 mm pocket watch movement weighs 50.59 grams

Pocket Watch Movement
44.57 mm | 1.75 inches

Weight: 47.38 grams

44.57 mm pocket watch movement weighs 47.38 grams

Let’s Take A Pocket Watch Apart
How much gold can we recover?

From 93.89 grams down to 30.02 grams!

Heavy Hunter Case Pocket Watch

weighing a hunter case pocket watch with a digital scale

Total pocket watch weight: 93.89 grams

How much gold is in a pocket watch?

It’s very important to know that the gross weight of a pocket watch is not the weight used to calculate the value of your watch. It’s easy to calculate the value of a wedding band, for instance, as you can just put the ring on a scale and use the displayed weight to do the math. That’s not possible with a pocket watch, as you need to deduct the weight of non-precious parts before you can find the value.

Non-precious parts are

  • the movement
  • the inner frame holding the movement in place
  • the crystal
  • most parts of the crown

Precious parts are

  • the case
  • the gold surrounding the crown

Case without movement

Weighing a solid gold pocket watch case for gold recovery

How much gold is in a pocket watch case?

After removing the movement, which is considered the heaviest part of a pocket watch, we still can’t use the net weight to calculate the value. There are still non-precious parts present: the inner frame holding the removed movement in place and most parts of the crown. But even NOT removing the inner frame and the crown can give you a better idea of the gold’s net weight.

The pocket watch case, with movement removed, weighs 39.45 grams, which equals about 42.02% of the watch’s gross weight. So you see, we already “lost” over 60% of the pocket watch’s total weight.

Additional knowledge!

Pocket watch cases marked “14K 25 Years Warranted” are gold-filled and not made of solid gold. Pocket watches marked “14K Warranted” without “25 years” can be considered solid gold.

Weighing the movement

Weighing a pocket watch movement

What’s the weight of the movement?

As already discussed, the weight of a pocket watch movement is a significant factor when it comes to finding out how much gold is in the watch. This movement weighs 54.34 grams, representing 57.88% of the watch’s gross weight. Depending on the size of your pocket watch, movements usually weigh between 40% and 70% of the total weight. It’s very important to remove the movement to get a clear idea about the gold weight.

Fact Summary

  • Movement diameter: 43.08 mm = 1.70 inches
  • Movement weighs 54.34 grams = 34.94 dwt
  • Movement presents 57.88% of total weight

Crystal & Gold-Filled Frame

Weighing a pocket watch crystal with frame

What’s the weight of the crystal?

The crystal of this pocket watch weighs 2.63 grams, including the frame. In that case, the frame is just gold-filled, so we cannot add it to the total gold amount. Some pocket watches also come with a solid gold frame. It’s very important to know that this crystal was made of plastic replacing the original crystal. Plastic crystals are usually lightweight in contrast to old, heavy glass crystals.

How can you find out if you have a glass or a plastic crystal? Gently knock on the crystal. While glass will give you a nice sound back, plastic will remain almost silent, making only a dull noise.

Disassembled pocket watch case

14k solid gold pocket watch case with movement removed

Other non-precious parts

There is a steel frame placed inside the case to hold the movement in place. This steel frame needs to get deducted from the total weight as well. This particular frame weighs 6.72 grams (= 7.16%). Besides the frame, there is a steel component inside the crown. This steel pin is responsible for winding the watch as you move the crown. We took the crown apart to weigh those parts (the winding pin and another steel component inside the bow). The non-precious parts of the crown come to 2.71 grams (= 2.87%).

Non-precious parts

Pocket watch frame and crown with steel components

Inner steel frame, crown and bow.

How much is it worth?

The watch contains 30.02 grams of 14K gold. Today, we’ll pay you exactly $1215.85.

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