4.1264 Russell/Longines Telegraph Pocket Watch, Nickel, Switzerland 1884

Very rare vintage telegraph operator’s pocket watch from the Swiss company Longines produced in 1884 – the best communications and telecommunications themed historical gift. Large, 58 mm heavy nickel case; enamel dial with large Roman numerals and red-letter markings. Runs well for a 130-year-old device.

Very rare vintage telegraph operator’s pocket watch from the Swiss company Longines, the best communications and telecommunications themed historical gift. According to the Longines serial number catalogue, this watch was produced in 1884. The item is quite early to have been made by Longines. Taking into account the excellent preservation, telegraph features, and the watches’ historical aspect, this piece has much potential as a collector’s item, and would also be a valuable, historical gift. The watch functions well, ticking cheerfully and showing the correct time.

Key Features

The watch is large, in a heavy nickel case with thick walls. The brand “T. R. RUSSELL” refers to a large English Russell trading house and marks a very interesting early period during which the company Longines worked on contract for many trading houses under foreign trademarks. It is easy to spot the legendary hourglass logo with wings on the balance bridge, which today symbolises the glorious history of the company, earned with great labour on precisely such orders as the watch described here.

On the enamel dial, the letter series “ABCDEFGHIKLM” is printed in a dark red shade, which allows you to encode numbers and times in a letter designation for transmission by telegraph in Morse code. You can read about the rules of telegraph encoding in this article. The letters on the dial can serve as a short encoding of the arrival/departure time of trains, convenient for transmission by telegraph – the main method of communication on the railways in the early 20th century. Morse code used alphabetic characters, without numbers. To transmit the arrival time, for example, 22: 45, you would have to input “twenty-two, forty-five”, and then look at the cipher dial and transmit only two letters: KI.

Servicing and Guarantee

This timepiece has been serviced with full disassembly in our Bristol workshop. The mechanics of the watch are all in order, the watch has undergone preventive maintenance and testing, and runs well for a 130-year-old device. There is a 3-month guarantee, subject to the usage and care guidelines.


Body: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  (9/10 near perfect)

Watch face: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  (9/10 near perfect)

Mechanism: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  (9/10 near perfect)

Accuracy: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  (9/10 near perfect)

Case and Strap

  • Large, open-type case.
  • Nickel.
  • Vintage natural mineral crystal.
  • Inside cover punched with serial numbers corresponding to 1884 Longines catalogue.
  • Large, vintage crown.


  • Diameter 58 mm.
  • Ring height 84 mm.

Dial and Hands

  • Original white enamel dial.
  • Large Roman numerals.
  • Red letter markings.
  • “T. R. Russell” signature.
  • Blued ‘spade’-type hands.


  • First generation Longines caliber movement.
  • Lateral escapement and anchor fork with counterweight ring.
  • 11 jewels.
  • Thickly gilded plates and bridges.
  • “T. R. Russell Liverpool 18 Church St.” on board.
  • Hourglass with wings company logo on balance bridge.

Servicing and Guarantee

  • Fully serviced with disassembly in our Bristol shop.
  • Dial in in generally excellent conditions with only a couple of cracks.
  • Mechanics in full working order – has passed preventative maintenance and testing.
  • 3-month warranty.
  • Guarantee Terms and Conditions. 

Links and Resources:

Longines Company History (official website). 

Longines Serial Number Catalogue.

Read More About Railway Telegraph Pocket Watches and Telegraph Decoding.

Russell/Longines 1878 Railway Pocket Watch.

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Case material


Dial tone




Size grade

50 mm and more

Year approx


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