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!

Elgin Grade 95

The Elgin grade 95 is a 6 size, 7 jewel, watch.

This one, made about 1887, has a nice hunter case.  Note that this movement is lever-set.  The lever is shown extended near the seven. 

Elgin Grade 291

The grade 291 is a 16 size, 7 jewel movement.  This one was made about 1932 and is an outstanding example of this classic.

A Fancy Elgin Grade 315

 The grade 215 is a 12 size, 15 jewel watch.  Elgin made a lot of these, it was a popular watch.

This one, from about 1925, has a fancy dial in unusually good condition.  These dials are almost always found chipped and cracked.

Elgin Grade 495

The Elgin grade 495 is a 12 size, 17 jewels movement.

This one was made about 1933.

Elgin Advertising, 1926

Santa Clause receives his Christmas Gift

A purchase from your local jeweler is an investment in permanent value

Vintage Elgin Watch Ads

Here's an assortment of watch advertising from various eras.

Enjoy vintage ads? There's a lot more to see here too!

From Elgin National Watch Co

The National House

The National House and Gymnasium was built by the Elgin watch company in 1890.  It was a multi-purpose employee rec center with a gym and ballroom.  The building is long gone today.
From Elgin National Watch Co

Mr. A. J. Shadley

From The American Horologist magazine, November 1936

This movement, a 21-jewel watch, was constructed by Mr. A. J. Shadley while attending the Elgin Watchmaker's College, Elgin, Illinois.

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

From Horology magazine, September 1937

Determining a Horologist's Ability

THE FOLLOWING letter from a subscriber offers a practical solution to a problem which has been a source of worry to every jeweler employing a horologist.

Dear Sir:
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.

Respectfully yours,

Elgin American

Elgin made a few different lines of pocketwatches under other names; Atlas and Sundial and a few others.  These watches did not say "Elgin" anyplace on them.  They seem, mostly, to be less finely finished versions of known Elgin models.  Their serial numbers also seem to fall into line.

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.

Elgin Advertising, 1937

For the noblest Christmas gift of them all -

Lord Elgin
Lady Elgin


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.


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