Classic watches, watchmaking, antique tools, history, vintage ephemera and more!

Learn about mechanical timepieces and how they work, the history of the American watch industry and especially all about the Elgin National Watch Company! Check back for new content daily.

Although this is technically a blog, the content is not generally in a time-based sequence. You can find interesting items throughout. Down the page some is an alphabetical word cloud of keywords used here. A great way to dig in is to look through those topics and click anything you find interesting. You'll see all the relevant content.

Here are a few of my favorites!

There are some large images on some posts, so that might impact your load times, bit I think you will find it worth the wait. Thanks for visiting!

Job Number 160289

This is an Elgin grade 96, 18 size, 7 jewels, made about 1899

The secondary serial number stamps have an inverted V like symbol.
Here's the escapement, featuring the old style perpendicular pallet. That part is the flat rectangular part the rocks perpendicular to the escape wheel.

Job Number 160257

Here is a grade 81, 18 size, 13 jewels, made about 1883

This watch had a very loose roller jewel, shown here near the center of the underside of the balance wheel. Amazingly, the jewel was in there, on the roller table, and not lost. But all the shellac was loose.

This pocketwatch movement has the seconds dial 180 degrees from the 12:00 mark. That makes it an open-face movement in a hunter case (a hunter case is one with a front cover). A hunter movement has the seconds dial 90 degrees from 12:00.

The two types of movements exist so that 12:00 will face up when placed in the corresponding case. A hunter movement in an open-face case is usually called a side-winder because the stem will fall at 3:00. See some examples here.

This watch has an open-face movement in a hunter case. Or is it? Careful observers will notice that this is a key-wind, key-set Elgin. The crown does not even turn. This movement has no place for a stem from the case to go in. The orientation of the movement does not matter at all.

It's not the movement that is open-face style. It's just the dial that is.

The orientation of the movement in the case is dictated by a pin in the edge of the movement that goes into a hole in the inside edge of the case rim. The location of that hole orients the movement. And some cases of this type indeed have a hole in two locations, 90 degrees apart, for just this situation.


 A photo of mine was used as a cover image for a a local weekly in Elgin.

BRAVO Magazine is a free alternative monthly magazine devoted to culture and entertainment in and around Elgin, Illinois.

See the whole issue here!

Job Number 170082

This is an Elgin grade 124, 18 size, 15 or 17 jewel configurations (this one is 15), made about 1893.  

This movement has all its blued plate screws, likely originals. One of the screw has a head that it not only not blued, but not even polished. This one goes in a recessed hole, it is not visible when the watch is assembled.
This movement has a broken off roller jewel. I found the broken off piece inside the watch.

Here's balance cock with the balance assemble ready to go - replace roller jewel installed. Note the secondary serial number stamps with an alpha character prefix.

See the whole album for this watch here.

Find more content about vintage watches here.

Click "Older Posts" just above for more, or use the archive links right here.

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