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!


This month I placed an order with society6.com. The order arrived in a timely manner, in good condition, and a good level of quality for the price. There was one problem.

I was sent a completely different item.

The email acknowledging my order had the correct item listed. But the packing slip in the package, and the item itself, were something else, something I really didn't want. 

Here's the thing though, there is no way to contact society6.com. They have a form on their website to report problems, and I did, including my order number, a description of the problem, their exact description texts of the product I order, and the one I received, and an image of the email acknowledging my order, with the correct description, and all my information. I received an automated response immediately, saying they would get back to me within 24 hours. They did not, ever. 

There is no other way to contact the company. In fact, after some digging, I would conclude that society6.com has deliberately made sure there is no contact information for them anyplace on the internet. Avoiding completely the cost of any sort of customer service what so ever, I assume, is part of their business model.

I have an item I don't want, and I am out the money.

I recommend avoiding society6.com.


Here's a Waltham Seaside in for service.

Sometimes with watches like this, I am asked about the green (or yellow) dial. The dial is white enamel. The crystal is an early type of plastic, cellulose or acrylic. This material discolors with age.

This crystal should be replaced as they give off corrosive gases. The hands on this watch are already slightly impacted and damaged by this.

Two New Arrivals

Two Elgins in for service...

Elgin Grade 374

This detail shows the top of the motor barrel, without the barrel bridge. It's possible to see here how the top and inner walls of this type of barrel move separately from the outer wall where the teeth are.

See more examples here.

This is a high end Elgin, Father Timegrade 374, 16 size, 21 jewels, made about 1911

Elgin Grade 97

All of the secondary serial number stamps on this movement are prefixed with a square.

The older Elgin 18 size watches use just one case screw. Opposite the screw there is supposed to be a pin that sticks into a hole in the inside edge of the case to secure the movement. I have mentioned a number of times here that for some reason this pin is almost always broken or missing and I have to make another one. It is supposed to be threaded into the edge of the case, but where the hole is destroyed (often is) I friction fit them.

This watch movement has the pin, but it's obviously a rather crude replacement. It's just a little snip of brass wire, looks like, stuck in the hole. It's not snug, it came right out. When cased, this works fine.

This is the older, English style, tangential escapement. Elgin and other American makes used this design in earlier watches, but soon transitioned to the more stable Swiss style, perpendicular, pallet arrangement which remains the type used in most mechanical watches to this day.

The watch is an Elgin grade 97, 18 size, 7 jewels, made about 1888

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

Blog Archive