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!
627, AS1447 or BM-SS1396
628, UNIT 543
629, FONT 28
630, Swiss made
632, FONT 62
634, AS 1477 or AS 1563
643, AS 1423 or BM-AS 1361
644, AS 1421 or BM-AS 1323
645, AS 1422 or BM-AS 1320
653, BM-AS 1323
657, LIP R40
659, FONT 73
663, AS 1580
664, AS 1580
677, Buren 690
678, AS 1361
679, AS 1430
694, AS 1124
695, AS 1124
696, FONT 60
697, FONT 60
698, Seiko 6x8
699, Seiko DSS
720, JEAM 23D
723, JEAM PS32
746, AS 1525
747, AS 1156
748, FEF 37IN
749, FONT 60
756, PUW 1260
790, PUW 57
791, AS 1526
794, AS 1156
795, AS 1673
796, AS 1673
799, FONT 69
810, FHF 552
811, FHF 552
812, AUR 4200
816, FHF 72
817, FHF 72
818, VENUS 188
819, Felsa 1560
873, AS 1604B
889, FONT 72
938, FOR 189
950, AS 1673/74
951, AS 1673
957, PUW 361
958, PUW 1360
959, PUW 1361
961, AS 1803
1421, AS 1323
1422, AS 1320
1423, AS 1361
647, Movement made by Helvetica and sold for use on the Mexican railway system.
658, Movement made by Helvetica and sold for use on the Mexican railway system.
846, Movement made by Buren and sold for use on the Mexican railway system.
846, This is a 21 jewel version of the Elgin grade 658, made by Helvetica.
645, This is a variation of grade 644
653, This is a variation of grade 644
678, This is a variation of grade 627
752, This is a variation of grade 750
821, This is a variation of grade 820
Are there others?
The grade 119 is a 6 size, 11 jewel watch. This example was made about 1893.
This is a 12 size, 17 jewel movement. It was a popular model. Elgin made over 730,000 of these movements.
I don't deal in watch parts at all. There's several reasons for this, but the main point I take away from the email I have been getting is that spare parts are drying up - fast. It would seem that over the next few years it is going to become vastly more difficult to repair even relatively common vintage makes.
It was made about 1894.
The thing to note here is that pulling the lever out pushes the assembly toward the cannon pinion. These are really then just two gears whose teeth must engage in order to work. It is possible for the gears to happen to come together in a position such that they do not line up and engage.
If this happens, which is really just a matter of chance, a slight turn of the crown will move the wheels a little so the mechanism can engage.
This next photo gives a better view of the other side of the cannon pinion. There is a tooth missing, and at least two others are badly bend over to one side. This is a result of the gears being pushed together with force when they are not aligned.
Even under good conditions, the way these wheels come together makes the teeth on these brass gears subject to wear causing an uneven and rough feel to setting.
This is an old Elgin design (the model is similar to the first watch Elgin ever made in fact). But it represents the highest state of the art for this technology and manufacturing for its day. It's over 100 years old. The design is not like a modern watch would be, and it is far from perfect. Even just slightly later watches have a completely different clutch design, improved to better avoid such problems.
Parts for these watches are becoming more and more scarce. In the not so distant future it will become vastly more difficult to repair a problem like this.
Let's be careful with these old machines.
Now and then a prospective customer wants to call me on the phone before taking such a leap. That's understandable and for that reason I include my complete contact information in my initial email contact with watch owners. But what does this really prove? Not a lot. Sometimes they have specific questions, but they almost always say something like "well, I just wanted to hear a voice at the other end."
I hadn't really given it much thought until once when someone said something like that, then added "I guess that really doesn't mean much though."
No, it really doesn't, come to think of it.
I have extensive websites, including blogs that show watches that I have handled, going back years. If it's conceivable that I have created this internet presence as a trap to get that next watch and flee the country, then what does hearing my voice prove?
As I say, I include my complete contact information in initial emails for customers. They're quite welcome to call me on the phone if that helps. They can also look up my address on Google Street View. With this information, they have my name, address, phone number, and there are photos of me online too. If I'm stealing watches, I'm doing a pretty poor job of hiding from authorities.
I wonder do folks have suspicions about brick and mortar businesses? I have heard quite a few stories of bad experiences with watchmakers that customers have dealt with in person. For example, one customer told me that a shop had totally replaced his movement without consulting him. In another case, the extra rare type of hands on a watch had been replaced with a more common style and the victim had been unable to get the hands back. These are just a couple of stories I've been told in the past few weeks, about physical shops - I've heard many stories like this. I have no doubt that the vast, overwhelming majority of shops operate with a high degree of professionalism. But does a physical shop, locally, lead to complete confidence? Should it?
And yet, not too long ago, a prospective customer, after several exchanges, questions and answers, wrote in an email a final, simple, question, "how can I trust you?"
I don't really know what to say to this. So I pointed out all these things. I responded that he was welcome to speak to me on the phone, as others do. But this does not prove I can be trusted. I can also put a customer in contact with past customers. But that could all be faked as well. I do not have a store front that a customer can walk into, but having one doesn't actually prove anything either. I don't see anything I can do.
If you send me a watch, and I disappear with it, you can phone the local police. You'll have my name, address, phone number, and what I look like. They'll have no trouble finding me.
But the advice I'd really like to put out there is this; if something like sending your watch off to be repaired is going to keep you awake at night then by all means do not do it. Seriously, it's not worth it, and frankly I'm not going to try to convince anyone otherwise.
This is known as a three-fingered bridge movement. Although all three screws on the "three" bridges are real, the bridge is actually all one piece.
Made about 1905...
This was a very popular Elgin model. The grade 313 is a 16 size, 15 jewel movement.
This one was made about 1927 and features an especially nice dial with minute numerals.
This one was made about 1918. It placed in a military-style wrist watch case, with the protective grill at the front.
As an aside, new military tactics emerged in this era as well - tactics involving coordinated, timed, actions by ordinary troops.
March 23rd to and Including March 31, 1940
It is recommended that you sell your clientele on the idea of having their watch inspected, both inside and outside - in other words, "rejuvenate" your watch by making it both smart and accurate.
Don't overlook the replacement of wornout cases and antiquated watch bands.
Avail yourself of the free newspaper advertising mats, tieing in with the National Watch Inspection Week, as supplied by the Jacques Kreisler Manufacturing Corporation.
|From Elgin National Watch Co|
In its later years Elgin began using a letter code as a prefix to movement serial numbers. The letter stands for a number of millions, as follows:
|X||38 and 39|
|C, E, T and Y||42|
- ► 2017 (106)
- ► 2016 (465)
- ► 2015 (452)
- ► 2014 (291)
- ► 2013 (281)
- Hamilton 4992B
- An E. Howard Pocketwatch
- Imported Elgins
- Elgin Grade 119
- Elgin Grade 345
- Vintage Pocketwatch Parts
- Elgin Grade 110
- Lever Issues
- Elgin Grade 306
- Elgin Grade 69
- Elgin Grade 203
- Elgin Grade 313
- Elgin Grade 463
- National Watch Inspection Week
- Elgin Looks Way Beyond 1923
- Elgin Grade 141
- Elgin Serial Number Beginning with a Letter
- ▼ March (18)
- ► 2011 (135)
- ► 2010 (75)
- ► 2009 (96)
- ► 2008 (25)