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.
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The grade 291 is a 16 size, 7 jewel movement. This one was made about 1932 and is an outstanding example of this classic.
This one, from about 1925, has a fancy dial in unusually good condition. These dials are almost always found chipped and cracked.
From The American Horologist magazine, November 1936
On completion this watch showed a very fine rate, being adjusted to five positions, heat, cold and isochronism. It shows excellent workmanship and is a credit to its maker.
Determining a Horologist's Ability
Although I am not a watchmaker but the proprietor of a jewelry store, I have been a subscriber to and reader of HOROLOGY for the past three years, and through your columns have learned to realize that it is impossible for an employer or store owner to determine the quality of work done by the watchmaker by mere observation.
For years the store owner has been accepting repaired watches from the watchmaker and delivering them to his customers without any means of checking the work done, with the result that in many instances the store owner is made the innocent victim of the customers' ire, as well as loss of patronage and long established friendships through the carelessness or incompetence of the workman intrusted with the work.
However, the various articles published in HOROLOGY on the testing of watches by the watch rate recorder suggest that this method could be successfully employed at the time of hiring a watchmaker and for the testing of new and repaired watches.
Purchasing new watches is a gamble, a certain percentage being found out of order, both before and after a sale has been made, necessitating the watches being sent to the repair department to be put in order at the expense of the sales department.
The watch rate recorder, as I now see it, offers a solution to the employers' problems bv requiring the watchmaker to furnish a printed watch rate recorder certificate with each watch repaired. This would require a higher standard of workmanship resulting in increased wages for the competent workman, and eventual elimination of the incompetent and uneducated worker who is non-progressive, and is usually a threat and a menace to his emplover and a destroyer of harmony in his craft.
The equipment of a central testing station in each of the large cities where watches could be tested at very small cost offers a fair and equitable means of securing high grade work and at the same time protecting the employer and jeweler against unscrupulous dictatorship which he now faces through intimidation and coercion.
In conclusion, I suggest that representatives of well known jewelry stores, members of the executive boards of the horological Associations, heads of wholesale material houses and trade shops meet and freely and conscientiously discuss the problems now confronting the watchmaking craft.
I was recently sent some pictures of what appears to be an 18 size, 7 jewel Elgin watch marked "American". To my knowledge there no record or other examples of this particular alternative brand.
The dial reads: "AMERICA", "PHILADELPHIA" and "USA".
Philadelphia? There's no relevant connection between the Elgin company and Philadelphia to my knowledge.
The watch's owner says it was purchased recently in Norway. Could Elgin have made this watch for the European market?
For now it remains a mystery.
AMERICA'S MOST DISTINGUISHED WATCHES
What to give this year becomes so easy ... and so exciting! The new Lord Elgins offer advantages to be had in no other make of watch. Each is 21-jeweled and aske winding only once in 45 hours. Styling is thoroughly masculine.
The Lady Elgins are the only 19-jewel American wrist watch created for women. Their patrician charm is the work of foremost designers. Cases are solid gold or 14 karat gold filled. See them at your jeweler's.
Only ELGIN creates such watches. For only here exists the perfect partnership of expert craftsmen and scientists. Only here are watches timed directly to the standard of the stares. Lord Elgins are priced from $50; Lady Elgins, from $47.50. Other ELGIN models in a wide range of prices.
...Named in honor of men who have made American efficiency world-famous
After such brilliant achievement many men might have settled back to a leisurely life, but today Harvey S. Firestone is still one of the busiest men in the world. Typifying the energy, and efficiency and appreciation of the value of time, which have crowded incredible achievement into hours of the American business man. So one of the models in ELGIN'S new American Efficiency Series has been named in his honor. Americans know time... and know time is money. So for American life this American watch. Created by ELGIN for American needs. For the needs of the busy, time-pressed man who must know the exact time to the very minute whenever he glances at his watch. The American Efficiency Series is ELGIN'S reply to the man who says his time is money. And are they handsome watches? Slender? Owning that elegance that a fine piece of jewelry should have? Just see them at your nearest ELGIN jewelers!
18 size, 19 jewels...
This one has seen a little use, but the movement is in great shape.
Note the dial repair above the 5 in this photo that also highlights the setting lever.
November 17 Opening Date in Elgin Drive to Boost Xmas Gift Sales for Jewelers
Here's a tip... If you take a razor blade and place its edge against a fine file, and strike it with a hammer. It turns into a very fine saw.
Getting closer to the final dimensions we switch to an arkansas stone, and then to a jasper stone.
The final pivots are .2 mm in diameter (two tenths). This has to be exactly right. Too big and the part will bind in the jewels, too small and the extra side shake will disrupt the escapement.
The pivot are finally burnished with a steel burnisher, and polished to a mirror finish.
Here is the completed assembly. The pallet is friction fit (in the staking tool) so thus the slightly tapered shape of the arbor is critical. It can not be adjusted.
The pallet must fit with the right amount of snugness at exactly the right height so that the fork addresses the roller correctly on the balance end, and at the other end the escape wheel teeth come midway on the faces of the pallet jewels.
Finally, the new part in place, a well running watch.
This one was made about 1897.
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