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!

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Do You Know?

From The American Horologist magazine, May, 1937

Do You Know?
Directed by 
W. H. Samelius, Chairman
Science of Horology and Technical Board

Pumice - A highly vesicular volcanic glass, produced by the extravasation of water vapor at a high temperature. A lava comes to the surface, hardened volcanic glass froth. It is used especially as a powder for smoothing and polishing.

Crocus - A deep yellow or red powder, the oxide of some metal, calcined to a deep yellow or red color. Especially the oxide of iron, thus produced from the salts of iron and is used as a polishing powder and pigment.

Rouge - A red amorphous powder consisting of ferric oxide usually prepared by calcining ferrous sulphate. It is used in polishing glass, metals or gems. Jewelers rouge is a fine gently calcined variety. It is sometimes prepared from ferrous oxalate.

A skillful watchmaker one day reasoned with his customer, who complained about his watch.
"You complained," said he, "that your watch gained a minute a month.

"Very well, then you will congratulate yourself when you have listened to me. "You are aware that in your watch the balance is the regulator which makes five oscillations every second, which is 432,000 per day. So your watch is exposed to all vicissitudes which heat and cold occasion it, the varying weight of air and the shocking to which it is subjected. It has not varied more than a minute a month, or two seconds per day.

It has only acquired with each vibration of the balance a variation of one 216,000th part of a second.
"Judge, then, what must be the extreme perfection of the mechanism of this watch." From last reports the customer is satisfied that he is the possessor of a good timepiece.

We often hear of novelty clocks and contrivances. About 1875 a prominent watchmaker of Sweden invented a device which was attached inside of a door.  It was so made that when a caller rang the doorbell, a record was made on a paper dial as to just what time the caller rang the bell and for each time he rang, showing the intervals of time.

He also had a fine wire which projected from the underside of the door out into the hall. The idea was if it were a lady caller, her crinoline skirt would be very liable to come in contact with the wire, moving it slightly, and this slight movement was recorded on a dial, thereby showing a lady had called.  So, you see, the inventor could tell if a lady or gentleman called, what time they called, how many times they rang the bell and how long they waited between rings.

Another watchmaker conceived the idea for a self-winding clock. He had levers attached to the inside of the front door, which were connected to the winding mechanism of his clock by means of cables, so each time the door was opened and closed the clock would be automatically wound. 

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