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Herman Von Der Heydt, 1883 Chicago, Illinois. Self Winding Watch Company

In 1881 Herman Von der Heydt, a German native and trained watchmaker, migrated to this county, settling in Chicago, Illinois.

Beginning in 1883 he perfected his self winding watch which he patented February 1, 1884, and began making these home grown watches by himself as time permitted (he was a jeweler and watchmaker by trade). It is rumored that some of the material he used came from Elgin but for the most part he made and perfected the parts on his own, limited equipment, at his leisure. These are 15J movements with a large crescent shaped piece of metal that works by gravity (up and down motion) which is connected to a ratchet on the winding wheel. Total production was just 35 examples of which 30 were gilt and the balance nickel and sold for $75.00 and 90.00 respectively. These watches are remarkable and actually work if properly serviced. In top condition they are strikingly beautiful as well as fascinating to watch while winding up. Seldom seen or offered--in recent history only two have been offered publicly, the last being at the Atwood sale in NYC at Sotheby's.

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