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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.

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Rusty

Gold does not rust.  So when this watch arrived, outwardly, it appeared to be in good condition.  Even the dial and hands looked good.  But looking inside, this watch had significant rust issues.


This is a grade 495, 12 size, 17 jewel Elgin pocketwatch, made about 1937, that obviously got some water inside at some point.

It is important to realize, as carrying vintage watches has become more and more popular of late, that these old designs do not include any sort of water resistance features.  And an old watch does not actually have to be submerged for rust to get started.  Even condensation can do it, from humidity.

There are three things that finish a watch off, beyond the realm of ordinary repair; rust, fire and running a watch without proper lubrication.

But rust is often not as bad as it looks.  The gold, brass and nickel plated parts are stained by rust, but not actually damaged.  Nickel plated steel parts will need replacing, if the rust is bad enough, but the staining can be cleaned off.

Steel springs you can be sure rust will ruin.  But that said, this pocketwatch pulled through to tick another day.







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