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I thought I would start up a conversation and see what pics, info and input we can produce on this sticky about very early 'Production' pillar plates, specifically pre 1961 non date stamped plates. We all know that the early M1 & M2 date stamped pillar plates generally used that unique location of lower right of top center.
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And in or around 1963, they moved the pillar plate Date stamp to Top Center
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So recently I have been researching and asking around for info on (M0) date stamped pillar plates. I started out looking for one to buy but all inquiries came up zippo,nothing. And add to that, nobody I talked with even had a pic of a M0 date stamped Pillar Plate. I assume there are some out there but as of this typing, I can't find a pic of one or talk with anybody that has a pic or some don't even recall seeing one. I can't say I have ever seen a M0 stamped pillar plate but I was never really looking for one.

So with that info, I ask the first question: Does anybody have a pic of a M0 date stamped Pillar plate????

Then I started looking at old factory advertisement of 1960ish Bulovas to see what I could find. That and some pillar plates I did come to acquire seemed to invoke more questions then answers.

So here's some pics and observations. I hope any of you can add to this info and maybe we can get a better idea of what was happening during this early time in late fall of 1960 with these pillar plate design and production use.

Factory ads of the early Accutrons. *Note the drilled hole at the top right of center usually where the M1 & M2 date stamp would go on later pillar plates and also the lack of the two small holes at the bottom of the pillar plate.
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So those factory pics show a pillar plate similar to the 114P plates as talked about in this other thread: Odd Pillar Plate Thread

And then I found these set of pics. I own the blue background pics of the two non dated pillar plates and the other was a ebay auction of a 214 watch with good non dated pillar plate pics. None have date stamps, non have patent numbers and all have the front cutout and the back has the drilled hole at the top and are missing the two small holes at the base of the plate. These sets appears to have been used in actual watches and were part of the production line, but no date stamps. So where is a pillar plate with a M0 date stamp and what does it look like?
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Discussion Starter · #22 · (Edited)
I have seen quite a few 214's across my bench, but I can't say for sure that I have ever seen an M0 stamped pillar plate, even in M0 watches. I have seen ones like Spaceview M2 shows above which have the cutout and hole for the earliest type of regulator I believe, before they used the tabs on the tuning fork. They also don't have the machined recess on the dial side under the tuning fork foot, or the 2 mounting holes for the coil lead retainer plate. Coincidentally I have on my bench at moment a M0 spiral lug Accutron for repair. It also has the same pillar plate as Spaceview M2 shows, along with the unstamped tuning fork and the earliest type coil, this one with the earliest transistor also, which is quite a bit larger than the usual transistors used, even on these early coils. Also, these early pillar plates have a slightly different lower jewel plate, not interchangeable with later ones.

Pillar plates like these with the machined recess for the earliest type regulator are what I refer to as the original M0 pillar plates, the first production types. Later M0 pillar plates omitted the machined recess, yet still didn't have the coil lead retainer plate machining and drilling.

The pics below show the pillar plate in the M0 spiral lug watch.

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Discussion Starter · #23 · (Edited)
Types of tuning forks and pawl bridges

Apart from the variations in pillar plates as seen in this thread, there are a few variations in tuning forks an pawl briges seen over the years. I will add pics later if I can get any decent shots that show the very small details we talk about here.

Tuning forks: We see 5 types. In the very early years, I believe in 1960 and 1961 (Spaceview M2?) we see unstamped forks of three types. "Unstamped" means that the tuning fork foot on the visble side is plain and smooth. "stress relief"refers to having a second short finger placed next to the main finger which reduces stress on the finger where it exits the hole in the post. "Milled" refers to the top of the post having two flats milled on it, to allow a tool to be placed over the post which is used to bend or twist the post to get the finger alignment correct.

1) Unstamped with round top post and no stress relief, Very uncommon forks, even in early movements.
2) Unstamped with milled post and no stress relief.
3) Unstamped with milled post and with stress relief.

Later we see stamped tuning forks, with the visible side of the fork foot having a number or letter stamped on it.

4) Stamped with milled post and no stress relief
5) Stamped with milled post and with stress relief. These are the most commonly seen tuning forks.

For pawl bridges, we see four types of those, either with the finger pinned to the post or glued into a slot in the post. The glued type are typically seen on Swiss made movements, and can be very problematic if not dealt with properly, as some watch cleaning solutions can dissolve and weaken the glue they used, causing the finger to get loose, or fall right out. No doubt this type was designed by a bean counter to save 1 cent per pawl bridge! So we have:

1) Pinned finger with no strain relief (early USA made movements, around M0, M1 and maybe M2 but not sure.
2) Pinned finger with strain relief. The one we see most commonly in later USA made movements.
3) Glued finger with no strain relief (early swiss made type)
4) Glued finger with strain relief (later swiss made type).

Regards, Rob
 

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Alittle observation on patent stamped pillar plates.

* general consensus is the patent number stamping at the bottom of the pillar plate started showing up on 1963+ date stamped pillar plates. Most 1962 and previous pillar plates don't seem to have that patent stamping. Well, just to show it seems to be a transition period, below is an M2 pillar plate (with a patent stamping) and a M3 pillar plate (without a patent stamping). So there is some transition time anomalies here when it appeared and didn't.

M2 Pillar plate with a patent stamping.
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And here is the M3 Pillar Plate without a patent stamping.

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Discussion Starter · #25 · (Edited)
That's very interesting. Another thing is that the M3 pillar plate does not have a coil lead retainer plate, while the "earlier" M2 does. That implies to me that the M3 pillar plate was a very early one, possibly an M0 one left-over from a production run, that that was pressed into service some couple of years later and stamped at that time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
Coil Lead Retainer Plates and Lower Jewel plates

Another couple of small variations can be seen when comparing the earliest pillar plates (what we would imagine are M0 ones), and M1 and later pillar plates.

Coil lead retainer plate - Looking at the pic below, the later CLRP's (M1 and on) have the center section waisted a bit, down to the width of the tuning fork, giving more room for the wires to be more free until they reach the entry to the coil form. Some of the "M0" pillar plates have no CLRP at all, as in the examples above, and some had either the earliest or the later type of CLRP, it seems.

Lower jewel plate - The later (M1 and on) lower jewel plates have a right angle type inside corner instead of rounded, and a trimmed outer corner. See pic below. This helps locate the jewel plate more precisely, and gives a cutaway to lift the jewel plate out with tweezers when cleaning.

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
Here's an unusual pillar plate variation. It is the only actual example I have seen, aside from one in an Astronaut on ebay. The 214H text is engraved on an angle. This pillar plate is marked M2. This was a pillar plate supplied by a customer to use in one of his early Accutrons that needed an M2 pillar plate. Unfortunately, this example has been damaged badly and can't be used unless some serious repair work is done (which is possible). One of the tuning fork dowel holes has been punched out and distorted, and it has a stripped thread in the pillar plate.

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An advertisement from 1960. Interesting how the advertised movement doesn't even have a 214 on it. Also shows no patent numbers.

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I see the pillar plates referred to as zinc and gold...do the gold, actually contain gold? and do the zinc contain nickle?


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Rob mentioned a less seen M2 214H pillar plate in post #27. I received an Accutron yesterday and had the same non-patent stamped angled 214H callout on the pillar plate.

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Had this unusual Pillar Plate pic sent to me this morning. Gold 1960(M0) Pillar Plate with 1970(N0) date stamp. This plate also has the patent number at the bottom which is very odd for a 1960 plate but correct for a 1970 plate :blink:

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