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!

When is a Watch Over-Wound?

There is no such thing as over-wound.

Winding a watch is turning the mainspring around its arbor.  As the arbor turns, the coils of the spring are pulled from the outside of the barrel, inward.  It wraps around the center arbor until it gets to the end of the spring and then you can't turn it any further.  It's like wrapping a string around a stick, you can't wrap more than the whole string.

At the end, it's fully wound.

This is like fulling the gas tank of a car.  Full is full, you can't add more.  And along those same lines, saying a watch is "over wound", which I hear almost daily, makes no more sense than saying a car won't start because the tank has been filled.

Today, we can just wind watches occasionally, for the pleasure of running them.  But when vintage mechanical pocketwatches were in common use, they were designed to be fully wound once each day, at about the same time - in the morning for example.

On a full wind the watch will run in the ballpark of 30 hours.

Jeweling Tools

A previously replaced jewel is loose in its bezel...  This is the tool to fix it.

Worn Out Barrel

This is about the most beat up mainspring barrel I've ever encountered.

Elgin Grade 430

This Elgin grade 430, 6/0 size, 7 jewel watch was made about 1925.  It's a men's wristwatch with an unusual hinged case.

Elgin Grade 554

This is an Elgin men's wristwatch, grade 554, 15 jewels, made about 1950.

Elgin Grade 10, With A Stem Kludge

This grade 10 Elgin pocket watch, made about 1894, has an unusual customization.  Elgin movements are made to fit in a case having a male, square arbor in the case stem.  This goes into a square hole in the movement.  Some older movements are the opposite.  They have a square arbor sticking out of the movement and this goes into a square hole in the stem part of the case.

This case was made for the later type, so a watchmaker has fashioned a crude, square post to go in the movement so the case  can work.


 This a Silvana, German  made wristwatch, military style.  It features an AS 1130 Swiss movement.  I'm not sure of the era, 1950s?

Pallet Bridge Abuse

From time to time I see something like this.  The bridge for the pallet fork has been sloppily ground down on top.  The nickel finish is completely gone, and now it's all rough.  I think people do this because they've replaced the balance wheel and not trued it correctly, such that it rubs on the top of this bridge.

The correct thing to do is to shift the balance wheel up and make sure it stays true in flat and round.  One of the cardinal rules is never to alter what's there to fit a replacement part, always the other way around.  Also, nothing should ever be done that can not be undone.

File under "creative fixes"...

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