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 Waltham Vanguard

Here is a very nice Waltham Vanguard featuring an up/down power indicator.
More images here: http://www.rdrop.com/~jsexton/watches/museum/walthamVanguard.html

Vintage Watch Wave

Google WaveImage via Wikipedia

Do you have a Google Wave account?

I have created a public forum on Google Wave for discussion of vintage watches and watchmaking. Sign on to Google Wave and search for "Vintage Pocketwatch Repair and Restoration" and feel free to join in.

If you don't have Google Wave account, I can send you a Google invitation to sign up. Just email me to let me know.

See you on the Wave...
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Patek Philippe

Here's a Patek Philippe on Antiques Roadshow. These things are truly in a class by themselves...

Italian Watch Repair

The other day I received the following email.

Hi Jeff Sexton, ho trovato il tuo indirizzo on line mentre cercavo foto di orologi elgin. Io sono un collezionista di orologi, principiante orologiaio. So solo smontare e montare orologi, pulirli ed oliarli. Lo faccio solo coi miei orologi. So che conosci molto bene gli orologi elgin vintage. Ti invio due foto di un orologio che ho appena smontato. L'orologio funziona. L'unico problema è la messa all'ora. In questo orologio avviene non estraendo la corona ma agendo su una leva posta sul lato del quadrante. Questa leva non la trovo...

Ti chiedo:
manca qualche pezzo? Qualche molla di richiamo? (foto n. 2, lato quadrante).

Purtroppo non parlo inglese.

Vivo in Italia.

Cordiali saluti.

Luigi P.

* * *

Fortunately I was able to help.

* * *

Hi -

Sto usando Google Translate.


Sembra che tu abbia un orologio sei dimensioni che dispone di un meccanismo che non è ovvio.
Non ci sono pin sul lato superiore e inferiore della piastra di base che deve essere sul lato corretto di due molle.

Io in avanti a voi due foto. Essi mostrano le due molle l'orologio ha, uno in alto e uno in basso. Entrambi stampa pin. Quello superiore verso l'esterno, verso il margine del movimento, e quella inferiore verso l'interno. Questo fa sì che l'orologio "vogliono" essere nella modalità di impostazione. Quando viene messo nel caso le presse staminali e spinge l'orologio in modalità di liquidazione.

* * *

Maggior parte degli orologi non possono essere montate in modo errato, ma questo meccanismo può essere. Spero che questo aiuta.

* * *

I few hours later I received this.

Grazie molte Jeff Sexon.
Grazie per la puntualità e la sollecitudine della risposta. Con le tue foto, ho verificato che l'orologio è integro e montato nel modo corretto. Pensavo di dover agire su una leva per la messa all'ora. Viceversa la messa all'ora avviene nel consueto modo estraendo la corona. E' solo un po' dura...
Ho rimontato il tutto e tutto funziona.
Grazie ancora!

* * *

Problem solved!
I don't speak Italian, but thanks the the internet and Google Translate, language was no barrier at all in this instance.

Unusual Workmanship, by Charles Braun

From The American Horologist magazine, January 1942

Unusual Workmanship, by Charles Braun

Dr. Charles Braun of Weiser, Idaho, in his spare time converts ordinary lever watches in to chronometers. At a recent meeting of the Union Pacific railroad watch inspectors Dr. Braun exhibited an old 14 size Waltham watch to which he fitted a chronometer escapement. The illustration shows this watch but the exacting and delicate construction is best appreciated by seeing the watch itself. 

Elgin Grade 478

Here's an Elgin grade 478, 16 size, lever-set watch, made about 1926.

This is a 21 jewel railroad-grade watch made with the B. W. Raymond name.

How Freedom?

From The American Horologist magazine, January 1942

How Freedom?

How can freedom be acquired? By force? No. By knowledge and the proper application of scientific knowledge.

This applies to wars, to personal desires and business.

You and I are interested in our Government's safety; in our personal safety; in freedom from any and all exactations, which may include personal or freedom from financial obligations. How this freedom; how can I better serve my Government, self and family?

The answer is extremely simple and certainly possible. "Better and more complete knowledge of my profession."

How to acquire it? Use the National's Group Educational program.
It is available to you individually if your guild is not utilizing this educational program. Just write to the National office or this paper and full details will be sent at once. There are no obligations.

"Seek knowledge and acquire freedom."

Question Box

From Horology magazine, April, 1939

Question Box

Trouble in the Train

Editor Horology, 
Dear Sir:
I have a problem that I would like to have answered in your Question Box.

I have had several watches with the same trouble and now have an eight day Swiss traveler's clock. I use a cleaning machine and on this particular job, which was a little more gummed than usual, I brushed and pegged the plates and cleaned the pinions with pegwood also, before cleaning in the machine. After assembling this clock the train is perfectly free and runs completely down, but when I put the fork in and escape it either by pushing the fork back and forth or by putting the balance in and letting it escape normally, it locks up in the train tightly enough to stay locked even with the balance and fork removed. The least touch frees it and it runs completely down again.

I have examined every leaf in every pinion and every tooth in every wheel with an 18X loupe and simply cannot find the trouble. I have encountered this trouble several times before in small watches and by sheer luck got them going, but I do not know why. If you can enlighten me on this problem it will be a very big load off my shoulders and will be greatly appreciated.
R. T. W.

Answer : Your description seems to indicate that the watches and clocks stop chiefly on account of worn bearings. As soon as power is applied to the train, either a pivot sticks in an oval shaped hole or the relations between gears become altered. Such faults may escape notice when allowing the train to run down but become apparent as soon as the power is checked by the escapement.

Watch Anatomy

The TimeZone watch school has posted a really nice PDF glossary of watch parts, loaded with information.

Check it out here:


To U. H. A. of A. Members

From The American Horologist magazine, January 1942

To U. H. A. of A. Members

During the past year the United Horological Association of America has completed many accomplishments. These have been enumerated from time to time in your copy of THE AMERICAN HOROLOGIST.  During the same period the industry is proud of the things we have done and the gains we have made.

All this has been possible because of the interest the individual member took in the organization. The strength of the United Horological Association is not in the State or in the National organization, but in the individual member and his Guild. You are the contact we have with the public and on your actions depends our standing in the communities.

Your officers deeply a pprecia te the fact that you have seen fit to associate with us and help us this year. We hope to see you at a meeting of your Guild so that we may personally tell you how much we enjoy your support.

With the coming of another year many problems confront the Horologist. The problem of war and possibly the problem of the sort of peace which will follow the war. Two duties also confront us; the duty we owe our country and the duty to our fellow watchmaker. While we can accomplish some good while working individually, the most beneficent results can be obtained when working thru an organization such as the United Horological Association of America.

Won't you get in touch with your Secretary if you have not already done so and renew for 1942 today. We need your help and membership more than ever.

Fraternally yours,
National Executive Secretary
U. H. A. of A.

Elgin Grade 303

Here is another Elgin 12 size, Grade 303.

This style of dial and this watch size were very popular in the 1920s.

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

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