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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 170061

Here is a South Bend, 16 size 21 jewels, grade 227, model 2 made about 1925.

It has an open face case, gold filled, with an unusual snap dust cover, and a double sunk dial with 24 hour marks.
As is typical of American bridged movements, the train bridge is really one parts, designed to look like three.

This watch has an interesting case. The back is threaded. Inside is a snap-fit dust cover though; completely separate parts.

Job Number 170060

These Walthams sure have a lot of winding/setting parts.

See the whole album for this project here.




These animations are made from 20 or 30 images taken in "burst mode" with my OnePlus One. Unfortunately, sometimes it decides to shift expose or white balance in the middle of a set of photos.
This is a 0 size, 15 jewel Waltham Seaside 1891 model, made about 1896.

Job Number 170058

Here is an Elgin grade 291 pocketwatch, 16 size, 7 jewels, made about 1929
See the whole album for this project here.


Find more horological content here!




Job Number 170056

Here are a couple "before" images. This is why watches need to be serviced regularly. All this dirt becomes abrasive and while ruin parts.
There is a lot of wear on this watch. The nickle finish is completely gone in places.
This is a look at the lever-set mechanism, under the dial.
Here is the underside of the balance cock, where divots have been raised, and then removed, perhaps multiple times. It'll never be "like new".

We can also see the serial number prefix Elgin used on all the major parts. It's a 'W' in this case.

It really unusual to see this dial and hand combination in such good condition.
This is a grade 102 Elgin, 18 size, 11 jewels, made about 1892

See the whole album for this project here.


Find more horological content here!


Job Number 170054

This spring is really often broken on six size Elgins. Fortunately I had a replacement handy.
Here's the replacement spring in place.
 ...and the rest of the rather over-complicated setting/winding mechanism on this grade. On more worn watches, more typical of this vintage, it can be difficult to get all this to work. Smaller Elgins from this era are notorious for not switching between winding and setting mode well, mostly due to the flat springs loosing their strength.
The wear and tear on this watch is remarkably low. In fact, I don't recall seeing an example of this mechanism in such good condition (I've gotten some really horrifying example to more or less work over the years). On this watch the "keyless works" works perfectly.

It might be that early on in this watch's life that spring broke, and nothing more was ever done to it.


This is an Elgin grade 134, 6 size, 15 jewels, made about 1896

Job Number 170052

This watch had a surprise. It's one of Elgin's 18 size designs were one of the plate screws is covered up by the barrel bridge. When I went to remove the screw, I found that the head was completely loose - broken off. It was just sitting in there, in the recess, held in place only by the bridge that covered it.
Fortunately the body of the screw was pretty loose too. I was able to just set the head on and get a turn or so in to start the body coming out, then remove it completely with tweezers. Weird...
The lower balance jewel was all chipped out on this one. It's hard to get a photo... There was some damage to the staff as a result of the hole in the jewel being ruined, but I think we've gotten to it in time (get watches serviced! Just because they run doesn't mean they are OK). The staff will be usable. I really don't like to replace parts unless it is really necessary. The world is running out of them.



See the whole album for this project here.

More content here.
This watch is a grade 288, 18 size, 7 jewels, made about 1908.


New Arrivals

New arrivals, including a Seth Thomas pocketwatch and a Bulova wristwatch.

I don't normally do these but it's a repeat customer that has sent several watches in the past.

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

Blog Archive