Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Serial Number Stamps on A 16 Size Waltham Pocketwatch

Antique American watches generally have their serial numbers stamped on various parts, in addition to where the number appears prominently on the works.

Here are some images showing the serial number stamps on this 16 size Waltham pocketwatch; on the top plate, under the balance cock, under the pallet bridge, and under the bottom plate (on the dial side). 

Elgin Grade 324

This is an Elgin grade 324, 0 size, 7 jewels, made about 1905

Watch or Clock Repair in Chicago?

I was contacted by a freelance journalist working with Chicago Magazine on their annual "Best Of" issue. He's interested in profiling someone in the watch/clock repair business in the Chicago area. Anyone have any tips?

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Elgin Observatory

The Elgin company was the only watch company of its day to construct an observatory, in 1910, dedicated to measuring time. This was of course long before atomic clocks.

According to my Grandfather who toured the observatory in 1936, there was in use there a fixed telescope. An operator would lie on his back and observe the transit (meridian crossing) of stars. Later images show a seated operator at the telescope, it may have been updated at some point. At the moment of the transit, the observer would press a button activating an electrical relay and setting two Riefler chronographs to exact time. 

The chronographs were kept in a separate room which only two people were allowed to enter at a time in order to avoid temperature shifts. The room was heated to a constant 81 degrees by dozens of light bulbs all around the room. Each light bulb had an individual thermostat turning it on and off as needed to maintain temperature. To control air pressure, each chronograph was sealed in a glass enclosure connected to an apparatus allowing air to be pumped in or out as needed..  Each clock was mounted on a concrete pier that extended down into the ground 60 feet. 

The exact time, within 10-hundredths of a second, was transmitted electrically from this facility to the factory. Thus, using this facility, Elgin was able to accurately measure time to within hundredths of a seconds, and update clocks in the main building. This was a remarkable technological achievement at that time!

Elgin operated this system until 1958 when technology began finally providing better methods. The observatory structure still exists today at 312 Watch Street, Elgin, Il., just a block of National Street. It is owned by the city and operated by the Elgin school distinct as the Elgin U-46 Planetarium.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Elgin Grade 123, Before Images

Here are a few "before" images, showing the insides of a typical antique pocketwatch that has not been serviced in a very long time.

This movement is an Elgin grade 123, 18 size, 15 jewels, made about 1892

Stay tuned for more...

Another Student Project