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!

Look, No Hands!

Here we have an odd watch.

This is a zero size, 7 jewel movement, Elgin grade 173. The odd thing is that it has been mounted in what seems to be, outwardly at least, as 12 size case. As a result it has no second hand. It has a metal factory dial, marked Elgin, with no sub-dial, no seconds marks and no hole for where a second hand would be, if this were a 12 size movement.

This watch movement was made about 1897, however the style of the case and dial indicate the late 1920s, or early 1930s. The inside back is marked "RADIO", and 14 kt gold filled, 20 years.

Obviously this piece needs some help. It's been in my to-do queue for awhile.

Video of a 16 Size Elgin Pocketwatch

Found on youtube, enjoy...

Elgin Grade 303

The Elgin grade 303 is a 12 size, 7 jewel watch; a size and style popular in the 1920s.

This one was made in about 1924 and features "fancy" hands, and a metal dial in gold in unusually good condition. I don't know exactly how they made these dials but they usually don't hold up so well, even when the crystal is fine.

Use of Complicated Watches Increases

From Horology magazine, July 1938

Use of Complicated Watches Increases

The figures quoted by Swiss Industry and Trade for watch exports show a decided increase in the use of complicated watches. During the first two months of the year exports of pocket chronographs increased from 17,000 to 19,000 and exports of wrist chronographs jumped from 11,000 during the first two months of 1937 to 18,000.

This would indicate that instead of being restricted to a few scientific or industrial applications these watches are finding increasing uses among sportsmen. Wrist chronographs, in particular, are becoming very popular.


It's always nice to get positive feedback. Getting a watch ticking again after many idle decades is the most rewarding part of the work.

* * *

dateMon, Dec 14, 2009 at 7:23 AM

Dear Jeff,

You may remember rebuilding my father's Elgin watch a year or so ago. I am very proud of it and show it off whenever I can.

I attended a luncheon last week and sported my Elgin in a vest pocket with a gold chain. It attracted a lot of attention and I was able to tell several people about how I found you, your background and how you performed your magic on my watch.

I keep my watch on a Victorian watch stand on a desk in the living room and each time I pass it I say, "Thank You Jeff".

I want to wish a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and yours.


New Elgin Portfolio Sees "Value" as Key to Christmas Sales

From The American Horologist magazine, October 1938

New Elgin Portfolio Sees "Value" as Key to Christmas Sales

Points Out Excellence of Elgin Holiday Values and Advantages of Tying-in With Pre-Christmas Drive. Offers Many New Tie-up Materials

A colorful and interesting portfolio, setting forth Elgin plans for the Christmas season, will soon be in the mail, according to advices received from the Elgin National Watch Company. This booklet, entitled "View Your Fortune in the Magic Sphere," analyzes selling trends, shows how the Elgin 1939 line keys in with the major trend, illustrates Elgin national advertising, and offers a wealth of display and promotional assistance.

According to "View Your Fortune," more and more consumers this year are seeking top values and finding them in products with top names. In keeping with this trend, Elgin points to the fact that its 1938-9 line includes the "finest values in 74 years." Particular mention is made of the new 15/0 Lord Elgins, the new Lady Elgins, the new, popular priced I5-jewel semi-baguettes, the new 17-jewel, 15/0 models, and the new low prices on 7-jewel semi-baguettes.

Millions of magazine messages, concentrated in the pre-Christmas season, will carry the Elgin value story throughout the nation. Full color pages will be employed exclusively. And in two of the advertisements the merchandise appeal will be enhanced by the use of fascinating personalities in whose families Elgin has been traditional for generations.

Elgin promotional assistance to jewelers this Fall includes an interesting new window display idea, free newspaper mats, individual advertising by the Advertising Department of the Elgin National Watch Company, a unique "quick-action" Santa Claus mailing piece, folders, post cards, movie slides, and radio commercials. 

Elgin Advertising, 1925

Santa Claus' Daughter Gets The Best Of All

When Santa Claus has finished his job of remembering the rest of the world, he drops quietly around to the jewelry store.

And There, unhurried and unjostled, he requisitions the Christmas joy for Mrs. Claus and the younger Clauses.

Some folks think of the jewelry store as the place to go, chiefly, for those gifts where expense is the second consideration.

But not Santa Claus!  That canny old gift expert knows better than that!

He judges the worth of a gift not alone by what it costs, but by what it yields - in service and satisfaction...  And long ago, he discovered that a dollar goes farther at the jewelry store than it does anywhere else, in procuring enduring usefulness and pleasure.

For the jeweler deals in imperishables - in Gifts That Last, like the fidelity of a fine friendship, for as long as life itself!

Specializing in jewels, the jeweler sees to it that every article in his stock is truly a jewel.  And whether it be for adornment or for utility, it must measure up to jewel-standards, in craftsmanship and integrity.

He who must coddle a lean purse or she who may indulge a fat one, both will find there the gifts they would most like to give - comfortably priced within their respective Christmas budgets.

But whatever the price, the quality is always jeweler's quality - uncompromising in its fine standards.

Ask Santa Claus.  He knows!

Life Membership Card Presented to W. H. Samelius by Indians Association

From The American Horologist magazine, January 1942

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