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!

Dr. George Daniels

Arguably one of the greatest watchmakers that has ever lived, has died at the age of 85.


Elgin Grade 210

The grade 210 is a 16 size, 7 jewel hunter movement. 

It's a bit unusual to see this style of Elgin logo on a 16 size watch.  For whatever reason the style seen on this one is more common on smaller watches.

This example was made about 1900.  It features a triple-hinges hunter case.

Elgin Grade 44

 The Elgin grade 44 is an 18 size watch available in 15 and 17 jewel variations.

This one is a named movement, G. M. Wheeler, made about 1895.  Nice blued screws, all intact...

This watch features an unusual case.

The movement is held in a ring, like a swing-out case, but there is no hinge.  Instead of swinging out the ring clips into the case body back.
I have seen a case something like this only once before, but it was not the same case.  This one seems to be older and intended to be higher quality that that other one was.  However without the usual case screws anyplace in the system that would secure the ring, a small about of "rattle" is inevitable.  

Elgin Grade 626

The Elgin grade 626 is a 21 jewel US made wristwatch movement.

Elgin Grade 336

 The grade 336 is an 18 size movement, 17 jewels.
This one was made about 1919.  It features a very nice decorative case with initials subtly added.


Here's my most commonly used tweezers. The top one is the 3C, used most the time by far.

The Elgin Observatory

Elgin built an observatory in 1910 to measure time by the stars. The observatory included a a fixed telescope. An operator would observe the transit (meridian crossing) of stars. At the moment of the transit, the observer would press a button activating an electrical relay and setting two Riefler chronographs to exact time.

The chronographs were kept in a separate room which only two people were allowed to enter at a time in order to avoid temperature shifts. The room was heated to a constant 81 degrees by dozens of light bulbs all around the room. Each light bulb had an individual thermastat turning it on and off as needed to maintain temperature. To control air pressure, each chronograph was sealed in a glass enclosure connected to an apparatus allowing air to be pumped in or out as needed.

From Elgin National Watch Co
Using this facility, Elgin was able to accurately measure time to within hundredths of a seconds.

Elgin operated this system until 1958 when technology began providing better methods. Last I knew, the observatory structure still exists today at 312 Watch Street. It is owned by the city and operated by the Elgin school distict as the Elgin U-46 Planetarium.


This is a before and after showing redone black detailing in the decorative engravings on an upper plate.  The watch is an 18 size Elgin pocketwatch made in the early 1930s.

I'll have to work out a way to take better photos of this sort of thing.

Elgin Grade 117

The Elgin grade 117 is a 6 size, 7 jewel movement.

This one was made about 1896.

That Elgin Grade 478

I have posted a photo or two of this watch already.  It's an Elgin grade 478, 16 size, 21 jewel, B. W. Raymond model, made about 1926.

This watch had seen a lot of hard miles and needed about every repair and adjustment in the book, plus quite a few parts.

Elgin Watch Factory at Noon, 1920

From Elgin National Watch Co

Vintage Pocketwatch Resources

I am frequently asked about books and other resources useful in learning about pocketwatches, and vintages watches in general.  There are several.

These three by by M. Cutmore provide a good deal of information on the history of watches as well as about their care and use.

Some Others:

How much is your watch worth? This book is the place to look. This is a very widely used price guide that also contains quite a bit of general information on vintage watches, watch terminology, history and more.

Practical Watch Repairing by Donald de Carle is a reprint of a classic instructional book on watchmaking.  So of it is dated, some but most techniques are basically the same today.

Also by de Carle is Pratical Watch Adjusting.

For even more technical information, there's this one by master craftsman George Daniels.

This is not a definitive list, just a few I have seen. There are also many old and out of print books on watchmaking. Regularly checking used book stores and eBay will turn up a more.

Here are a few online resources:
Here's a few sources of watch material, specialty services, tools and supplies:

Elgin Advertising, 1926

If a friendly service is worth recognizing
 - recognize it fittingly

The what, when and how of remembrances...  
Don't guess - ask your jeweler

Many of the services rendered us are labors of love and friendship.

They are above and beyond and suggestion of monetary reward...  and too richly laden with sentiment to permit of any remembrance of fleeting worth.

Each such service should be recognized with a gift that lasts - a gift as enduring as the sentiment it betokens.

But how to express a gift impulse so as neither to overstep the bounds of good taste nor understate gratitude... that is the delicate problem of gift-giving.

What shall be the type of gift from a bridegroom to his best man...  to his ushers...  what gift form will best express to an intimate friend regret over an impending parting?  These are but a few of the myriad delicate gift-questions.

When you have a gift problem - on't guess - go to an expert for authoritative counsel.  See your Jeweler.  He is a past-master in the science of appropriate gift-selection.  And his consultations are free.

But, today, send the coupon below for a Tiny Treasure Book, a pocket brochure that treats of the What, When and How or remembrances.


Women Watchmakers at Elgin, 1946

From Elgin National Watch Co
The text associated with this photo reads as follows.

"Because women are patient, artistic and have a delicate touch, the Elgin National Watch Company is encouraging the employment of women workers in their factory here.  Although the company's production force is predominately women, it relies on expert male watchmakers to do technical work on fine watches.  If the present employment drive is successful, the company expects to step up its production schedule 1,000 units a day within three months.  Elgin officials estimate that this could be increased to 2,000 watches daily within six months.  The company attempts to maintain a normal ratio of 54 per cent women watchmakers.  Officials point out that the added force of women would create 500 additional production jobs for men.
"Here Elinor Ridgell, of Waldo, Florida, student at the Elgin Watchmakers' College in this city, is shown at the jeweler's desk working on a wrist watch."

The photo is dates August 2, 1946.


This a stack certificate for 100 shares of the Elgin National Watch Co, 1920.
From Elgin National Watch Co

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