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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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Private Labels

From time to time, Elgin watches pop up with unusual dials, or odd markings on the movements.  These look like marks for other makes, and would seem to be a mystery.

What these are, are "private label" watches.  For whatever reason, over a number of decades, Elgin created customized movements, dials, or both, with a wide array of names.  These seem to be large Elgin retailers, special customers, or perhaps just people that paid for the service.  The exact reasons these exist is not known.  And the labels are quite numerous and varied.

In the very earliest days of watch production, before factory made watches, watch movements were created by individual watchmakers, or the shops of individual watchmakers.  Such watches bear the names of the watchmakers, they are "signed."  The private label watches seem to be an appeal to that tradition, as are Elgin's own named movements.

Pictured here are two Elgin private label dials, and one typical Elgin dial in the upper middle.

No definitive records of private labels exists today.

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