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!

The Beginning of the End?

From The American Horologist magazine, December 1938...

No Watch Necessary
"The electric clock, once its accuracy is proved, will make all of this anxious watchfulness unnecessary. The special generator by which the clock is actuated produces an alternating current of 100,000 cycles a second, which is "de-multiplied" electrically to provide a 500-cycle supply for the dial.

"The generator is controlled by an oscillating quartz crystal contained in a chamber with a temperature kept constant to one-hundredth of a degree. The probable resultant margin of error is one in 100,000,000.

Lord Elgin and Lady Elgin Watches

From The American Horologist magazine, November 1937...

Elgin Presents Timepieces to Earl and Countess

"A gala program, broadcast on two continents, Thursday, Oct. 21st, introduced the new Lord and Lady Elgin Models.

"These watch represent the newest achievement in seven decades of American leadership in the industry. The Lord Elgin is a 21-jewel model and the Lady Elgin is a 19-jewel semi-baugette, the only watch of this type in the United States. The Lord Elgins sell from $50.00 and the Lady Elgins from $47.50.

"The Right Honerable the Earl of Elgin and Kincardine, K.T., C.M.G., and his lady, the countess of Elgin and Kincardine, were the recipients of the first watches named in their honor. They were a gift from the city of Elgin, Illinois, named for the illustrious family of the present title-bearer. The watches were presented in silver boxes enscribed with the Elgin crest, in London England, by Mr. Francis Powell, president of london's American Chamber of Commerce.

"Through the facilities of the British Broadcasting Company, Trans-Atlantic Radio and the Columbia Broadcasting System, the dedication speech of T. Albert Potter, president of the Elgin Nation Watch Company, and the expression of gratitude by Lord Elgin was heard on 50 American stations. The program was climaxed by Lord and Lady Elgin setting their watches to the "time from the stars" tonebeat - exact to hundredths of a second - radio-transmitted from the Elgin National Watch Company Observatory at Elgin, one of the thee greatest observatories in the world.

"The American broadcast emenated from the Red Lacquer Room of the Palmer House, where several hundred civic leaders, wholesale distributors and company officials banqueted. Toastmaster Harry C. Daniels, president of Elgin's Association of Commerce, traced briefly the history of Elgin through the days of Chief Blackhawk, Joliet and Marquette, to the settlement along the river in 1935, the start by a handful of skilled workmen - of the Elgin National Watch Company and the founding, in 1865, of an industry that was to attain world renown."

More about Lord and Lady Elgin watches here and here...

Progress Watch Company?

I don't know anything about the history of Progress watches, but in spite of being marked "Progress USA" this movement showed several signs of being swiss made.

This family heirloom needed a new center staff and a mainspring for its current owner to put it back in service (just on weekends).

Do YOU Have Odd Experiences With Your Watch Customers?

From American Horologist and Jeweler magazine, December 1959

mourner corner
Do YOU Have Odd Experiences With Your Watch Customers?


A. T. Stonehouse, 529 University Avenue, San Diego, Calif., operator of a watch and clock repairing shop, specializing in antique clocks, recently suggested that some of the odd experiences of jewelers and watchmakers in their dealings with the public ought to be in print.

Writes Mr. Stonehouse, "I am sure your readers can supply plenty of them." 

From his own rich experience he provided a couple of experiences that would provide a year's supply of salt-water at a watchmaker's bench, and corrode every watch in sight.

Whose tears are more bitter than Mr. Stonehouse's when he can recall these experiences?

"A man brought in his watch. He said that he had the watch repaired by a New York watchmaker about two months ago, and that the New Yorker guaranteed the icb for a year, but the watch had stopped.  We made the needed repairs, and when the man came for it he took the watch, put it on, and started to walk out. The watch repairman was surprised and said: 'Hey wait a minute. You haven't paid me. The customer replied, 'Why should I pay you? The man in New York guaranteed my watch for a year.' He wasn't kidding, either. He absolutely and flatly refused to pay for it.

"Another time I repaired a chime clock for a lady, and of course carefully adjusted the hammers so that they struck evenly.  But she came back complaining that it did not sound like she remembered it! I explained that there was no way that I could get inside her head and find out just what her memory of the sound was, and that the chimes were correctly adjusted, but she insisted that she would have to take the clock elsewhere to have the chimes fixed.  I'm still trying to figure out a way to tell what another person's memory of a sound should sound like."

The Thousand Watch Project

We tend not to throw old watches away. There's something personal about them I suppose. Even cheap wristwatches are saved in a drawer someplace, for decaeds. The Thousand Watch project aims to collect 1,000 old watches, and their stories. When complete, the collection will be donated to the Smithsonian.


Elgin Advertising, 1925

An engineer made him an Elgineer on his twenty-first birthday
One of a series of little biographies of Elgin Watches

Everyone knows what a watch means to a railroad man.  My father - a locomotive engineer in the days of wood-burning locomotives in the West - taught me how to read time almost before I learned the alphabet.

On my twenty-first birthday, he gave me an Elgin Watch and to a railroad man, the son of a railroad man, no finer gift could have been given.

During many years of railroad service, I worked by this Elgin.  Long after its heavy hunting case design went out of style, it remained dear to me.

Today I carry a modern Elgin - a Corsican model.  But the old watch still means much to me, the gift of a father to a son, a remembrance of railroad days.

- by Walter P. Chrysler

Young Men!

From The American Horologist magazine, February 1936... Note that William Samelius's name is misspelled in this ad.

Young Men!

Learn Watchmaking
Famous Watch College Will Give You Start in This Well-Paid Field
If you are an ambitious young man over 17 and anxious to enter a fine profession, enroll in the Elgin Watch College. Limited number of openings now available. Hundreds of graduates own profitable businesses. Others make fine salaries as watchmakers for leading jewelers. College is sponsored by the Elgin National Watch Company. It offers intensive shop training under expert Elgin watchmakers. Moderate tuition. Write for full details on this unusual opportunity - Address Dept. E-1.
Founded 1921
W. H. Samelrus, Registrar Elgin, Illinois

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