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!

What Will I Get Out of It?

From American Horologist and Jeweler magazine, June 1946

What Will I Get Out of It?

(Editor's Note: The following article is reprinted from "The Bulletin" of the Watchmakers' Association of New Jersey, dated June, 1946.) This question is often asked by Watchmakers. Therefore, we are taking the liberty to present an article that holds good in any organization.

The other day a group of league members were talking about getting some new members. One of the men asked, "What can I tell this fellow he'll get by joining the league? Surely that's the first question he'll ask." The question was answered by a man who had been a member of our league for a number of years-and it is so full of common sense-and business sense, too, that we give it to readers, just as we jotted it down, unknown to the speaker.

"You can tell the prospect," said the old-timer, "That he will get out of the league just what he puts into it." And then he elaborated. "The advantages of belonging to a league are so many, I can't begin to enumerate them, but I can frankly tell you that my league work, and the contacts I have made personally, have enabled me to build an ever expanding business in my territory.

"I am a salesman - most everyone is, for that matter - and I have made it my business to avail myself of every facility offered by the league for the growth of my business, and in return, I have given unselfishly of my time for league duties. In this work I have made many friends, met people I could not possibly come to know intimately in ordinary selling.

"It may sound far fetched to you, but I feel I owe the league much more than I can ever repay. The measly $25.00 a year my company pays is nothing, but the privilege of membership, with its opportunities for an alert man, might mean the difference between doing a mediocre job for your company and building a business that really means something to you. "If a man can't see league membership as that sort of give and take affair, then let him play 'lone wolf'." 

V.A. Extends Gemology Enrollments to Vets

From American Horologist and Jeweler magazine, August 1949


In response to an unprecedented demand from students in the New York area, a nonscheduled Resident Class A in the Theory of Gem Testing and Diamond Grading will be offered by the Gemology Institute of America beginning Monday, August 15 at Eastern Headquarters. The class will continue through the regular three week schedule as in previous sessions, ending September 2.

The Veteran's Bureau has agreed to a 90day extension to the GIA contract which was to have expired July 12, according to an announcement made by Richard T. Liddicoat, GIA's Assistant Director from his office in New York City. In addition to allowing new students to enroll until October 12, for the GIA Gemology Correspondence Courses under the G.I. Bill, this extension of the regular GIA-V A contract will permit veterans to enroll in resident class work in New York or Los Angeles.

Quota for the August 15 class is partially filled, and since some time is required for completion of forms and authorizations before enrollment can be completed, veteran students are being urged to make reservations immediately. Both interested civilian and veteran gemology students should write International Headquarters at 541 South Alexandria Avenue, Los Angeles 5, to assure definite enrollment. 

Elgin Advertising, 1908


There are other tiny watches, but the one worthy to bear the name which always and everywhere stands for reliability and excellence must be a timekeeper.  This dainty little watch is called the

Lady Elgin

It is in every respect a true Elgin - made as small as consistent with Elgin perfection.  The smallest watch made in America - the illustration shows its actual size.  Every Elgin Watch is fully guaranteed - all jewelers have them.  Send for "The Watch," a story of the time of day.

Elgin National Watch Co.
Elgin Ill.

Elgin Advertising, 1921

Through the Ages with Father TIme
Clockmakers' Company Raid

John Arnold, in 1796, was "called to the livery" of one of history's most amazing monopolies - the Clockmakers' Company of London.  For a century this guild bore the royal authority to search incoming vessels for "deceitful watches" - and to destroy them on the spot!

Arnold was one of the greatest of the guild's craftsmen.  Despite these high-handed methods, he and his comrades advanced enormously the art of timekeeping.

His earliest triumph was a tiny repeating watch made for George III.  The entire movement measured one-third of an inch across.  The Empress of Russia offered him a thousand guineas for a duplicate of it, but Arnold was not tempted.  "Let it remain unique," he said.

He little dreamed that the young republic a thousand leagues to the westward would yet outshine his proudest masterpiece with those timekeeping marvels of our day -

Elgin Watches
To the Children - Captain Tick is back!  His fifth picture book.  "Adventures in Search of Father Time," is now ready.  Ask your Jeweler for your FREE copy of the beautiful new book

Elgin Advertising, 1901

Just as physical perfection enables you to defy the doctor, so the mechanical perfection of an


makes it independent of the repair man.  When you purchase an Elgin it is yours for accuracy, for durability, for beauty, for convenience, for economy.  The World's Standard.  Full Ruby Jeweled.

Professional Services vs. Price

From The American Horologist magazine, January 1942

Professional Services vs. Price

(Letter from F. C. Sheldon of Anthony, Kansas to Peacocks, of Wichita, Kansas, in protest of their cutrate or standard repair prices advertised.) 

"Dear Sirs:
Excuse my forwardness and if I am mistaken correct me, Perhaps I am stepping out of my field and 'sticking my neck out.' "When I consider the cost of having my watch repaired. I cannot help but remember the character of the professional service I am about to employ. To provide that service competently, the professional watch repair man must spend years in acquiring the knowledge, experience, and skill that is needed. Much money must be invested in precision instruments and -equipment.

"I remember, too, that in all professions prices must be in a measure, commensurate with the services rendered. Incompetent men have to sell their services for less. No one knows what a product or service is worth better than the man who is selling the product of service.

"Why advertise that your watch repairers are not up to average and must therefore sell their professional services below the average." 

Elgin Watchmakers College Trains Men for State Examinations

From The American Horologist magazine, November 1941

"Twenty-two students trained at the Elgin Watchmakers College in Elgin, Illinois, have passed state examinations and are now employed as journeymen watchmakers in those states, it was recently announced by W. H. Samelius, Director of the Elgin Watchmakers College.

"Licensing laws for watchmakers are now effective in the states of Oregon, Wisconsin, and Indiana. And instruction at
the Elgin Watchmakers College is directed toward giving students a well-rounded background to meet and pass the high standards of those state examinations. In addition to a thorough technical training, students here receive actual shop experience under the supervision of master Elgin craftsmen. At the completion of their courses, these students welcome the opportunity to take state examinations. They know the such examinations are reciprocal and recognized as standards of fine workmanship throughout the country. Once he has passed such an examination, the student knows he will be in a position to obtain a top-notch watchmaker's job wherever he may be. A limited number of openings are available from time to time at the Elgin Watchmakers College for ambitious young men over 17 interested in entering this highly-paid profession. Sponsored by the Elgin Nation Watch Company, this world -famous institution has developed hundreds of today's leading jewelers and watch experts."

Notes on Escapement Adjustment

From American Horologist and Jeweler magazine, August 1949

Notes on Escapement Adjustment

The many and varied methods of "guessing" on escapement adjustment are truly amazing.

A great number of the so-called methods are seemingly based on having first learned to draw the different types of lever escapements. This drawing may be drawn with accuracy to minutes and some perhaps to seconds; after which the repairman resorts to a wiggle to determine a proper clearance in a watch escapement. If one intends to design and build escapements it is essential that he understand mechanical drawing and mathematics, but for the man who does not build it is unnecessary.

Some will hold the lever against the banking, then bring the roller jewel into the fork slot to point where it contacts, holding the balance wheel so that the roller jewel will keep this position as nearly as possiblethey then shake the lever. The position of the banking pin alone, with the "skill of guessing" on the amount of shake becomes the ruler or mike gauge in this method of guessing on the clearance-it really is nothing more than guessing how far the banking pin is from the line of center.

Others will endeavor to hold the roller jewel on the line of center (which is but a poor guess), and then try to judge by the distance the heel of the escapement tooth laps the lifting angle of the pallet stone. It is so simple to accept a guess as to the line of center, and if it is off a little, well, you guess again-arguing that you just missed it a trifle, and to forego the accepted first guess for a second one.

One of the most amazing spectacles of patience is witnessed in men at the bench who do not know, and do not try to find a source of knowledge-who sit and struggle for hours - guessing and blundering away precious and valuable time. If a fraction of this time was used in studying good books they would spare themselves these lost and confusing hours of guessing. Time lost in guessing and blundering would pay for many good books or courses, giving ample time for study. The problem is-that many men do not understand the books they read. None but those who have had practice in studying can read and digest what they read.

If one would start at the beginning learn the message contained in a few lines and digest these thoroughly, and would concentrate on these studies as industriously and as long as they cling to their blundering guess-work methods they would advance rapidly in the field of proper and acceptable watch repairing.

If one is to successfully progress in his chosen field or vocation it is well to diligently study and prove the teachings and methods of practical research authors.

Many poorly made watches, and also fine watches, that have been ruined beyond repair may not pay the workman for the time necessary to correct them beyond a running condition. Many such are accepted for repair because of the need of the work and money.

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

Blog Archive