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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!

An Early Elgin 18 Size


Here's a watch that was a treat to see run again. This is an Elgin grade 12, 18 size, 11 jewel, "J. V. Farwell" model.

This one was made about 1870. It is key-wind and key-set, with the dial marked "National", not Elgin, National Watch Company being the original name.

Note the solid balance, unusual for Elgin products.

This model is extremely rare.

An Interesting Repair Choice

You never know what you'll find when it comes to watches. This old hunter case somehow lost its cover. This isn't unusual, but what is interesting is that its long ago owner decided to replace the egg-shell thin hunter crystal with a much thicker open-faced crystal and apparently went right on using the watch.


This is a 12 size, 15 jewel, grade 314 Elgin with a fancy dial in unusually good condition - especially considering something had happened to the case cover. It has been in the current owner's family, but the story of the missing cover is as lost as the cover itself.

Aside from the missing cover, everything is in great shape.

New Poising Tool

From The American Horologist magazine, March, 1940

New Poising Tool

For the man wishing greater accuracy and precision, faster results and sureness of purpose... the new Hansen Poising Tool will meet every requirement of the most discriminating Horologist.



The Poising Tool is so designed that balance cannot creep to a rakish angle or roll from the blades. Instead, one pivot enters a whole jewel, bearing the other pivot rest in a half whole jewel bearing.

Your balance cannot leave your poising tool. An agitator is supplied which aids in vibrating or agitating out of poise posit;on to drop.  This tool accommodates from largest to smallest balances.  Not just another Hansen tool... but one with a long-felt need! 

Elgin Advertising, 1922

The Value of Time
By Kronos
Paintings by HAROLD DELAY

Alexander the Great, setting out at twenty to conquer the world, found the city of Tyre blocking his path to glory.

In Tyre he saw the key to the vast Persian empire.  Its massive walls had withstood the battering of centuries.  Solidly intrenched on an island guarded by the Phoenician fleets - while Alexander had only land forces.

Calling together his engineers, the youth settled down to such a siege as never was on land or sea.  Under an incessant bombardment from the island, he calmly proceeded to build a great pier straight across the ocean's floor - a pier that stands to this day.

Tradition says the when his generals murmured at the delay, Alexander answered "I must wait - for I am in a hurry!"  Seven months of incredible toil bridged the gulf and made him master of the seas.  Hammering his way into Tyre, he opened an easy gateway to the empires of the East.  His campaign of the next few years proved that his seven months had been well invested.  Alexander, like Confucius before him, knew how to take Time to save Time.

The boy of twenty taught the world a lesson that will be remembered to the end of Time.  Before hos birth, Antiphon declared that the sacrifice of Time was the most costly of all sacrifices - after death, Theophrastus called Time "the most valuable thing a man can spend."

Step by step, the world draws nearer to a practical recognition of the Value of Time - and of the inestimable service rendered to mankind by those marvelous timekeepers which guard over the priceless moments of today -
Elgin Watches

An Elgin Timer


Here we have an Elgin timer, or stopwatch. This piece was the prize, I am told, in a contest its owner won as a young man. The watch is a military unit, with the black dial and black exposed wheels, and other parts. It was made about 1944.


The basis for this design is a typical 16 size watch with an added mechanism under the dial. The mechanism draws power off the middle of the train with an extra wheel and pinion. It engages, disenganges and resets a large seconds hand and a small stepping hand on the dial.


A fast rate is achieved by replacing the balance wheel with a much smaller one than a 16 size watch would normally have. It looks to me to be about what one might see in a 6/0 or so size wristwatch. As a result the escapement practically buzzes when running.


Elgin Grade 243

This is one of the best examples of Elgin's 16 size three-fingered bridge model that I have seen.


This is a 17 jewel watch made about 1903.


The engine tuning of the hunter case is just outstanding, as is the unusual pattern on the exposed wheels.

Elgin Grade 95

This Elgin grade 95 has a fantastic hunter case.

This is a 6 size, lever-set, 7 jewel watch. This example was made about 1889.

In the third photo, we can see the lever extended, near the 5:00 mark. With the lever extended, the crown switches from winding to setting mode.

Hamiltion 992



A relative of the popular Hamilton 992B is the model 992, a 16 size 21 jewel watch.

TM9-1575

TM9-1575 is an old military manual on the service of mechanical timepieces. It covers at least the basics of watch tools, maintenance, repair and even timing machines, for pocketwatches, wrist watches and clocks.

Here is the PDF of TM9-1575, enjoy...
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Elgin Grade 315

Here's another real nice Elgin grade 315.

This one has a real nice ten sided case, and a dial in excellent condition.

This was made around 1925.

This watch went through a washing machine before coming to me for repairs.

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

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