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!

Elgin Grade 70, Dial Repair

Here are several images of the secondary serial number stamps on all the major parts of this watch, in place they can't be seen when the watch is assembled.
Elgin used a prefix on these stamps for the first digits. In this case, the 'W' is a stand in for '45'.

This is a Swiss-style, tangential pallet. This design is still used in mechanical watches today.
This watch is lever-set. It is not set by snapping out the crown. Instead a lever is pulled out from under the dial to engage setting. This image shows the lever extended.
This image shows the setting lever retracted - winding mode. Note how the circular part in the middle has moved.

The dial has an old, and pretty sloppy, repair.
The damage to the dial is pretty bad, but the repair could be better.
Here is the dial after my repair. Not perfect, but better. There isn't really a way to truly repair enamel dials, but some damage can be hidden.

Find more examples here.
This is a closer view of the center setting/winding parts. The inside gear in a wheel with teeth on the inside and the outside. This design is rather clever, but it has a flaw. There is often, on an old watch, not enough tension to hold that inner wheel engaged to the cannon pinion in the center. Setting tends to slip. I have a hard time getting these to work well.

Elgin didn't use this design for long.
This watch is an Elgin grade 70, 18 size, 15 jewels, made about 1892.

New Arrivals

Two more...

I took and extra photo of the hunter case, closed, because it's in almost pristine condition. Nice to see!

Elgin Grade 291

This is a grade 291 Elgin, 16 size, 7 jewels, made about 1923.

 Unusual case design for the time... I've never seen one like this.

Job Number 170032

This next one is another three fingered bridge grade. More examples here.

See the whole album for this project here.

The train bridge is really one part. Here we can see the secondary serial number stamps on the bottom.
Note the "Pac-Man" prefix on this one.

This watch is Elgin's grade 248, 16 size, 15 jewels, made about 1902.

New Arrivals

In for service...

The one on the right has an up/down indicator. Luckily it seems to be working. I don't know where I'd get parts for that mechanism.

Job Number 170029

Here are some "before" images. It's all old oil and grit. 

Not only is the mainspring in this watch all out of flat, likely form being installed with fingers, but it's the wrong spring. The outer end has tabs and a hole. But this is a motor barrel model.

This is the outer end of the correct mainspring.
Here is the spring installed. The hook in one edge hooks into a slot in the outer half of the motor barrel.

This is an Elgin grade 187, 12 size, 15 jewels, made about 1900.

See the complete album for this project here.

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

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