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!

Alarm Clocks - Quarterly Shipments, 1943 and 1944

From The American Horologist magazine, May, 1945

Alarm Clocks
Quarterly Shipments, 1943 and 1944

Shipments of alarm clocks during the fourth quarter of 1944, amounted to 1,406,331, an increase of 68 percent over the same period in 1943 and 7 percent over the third quarter, 1944. Of the total shipments in the fourth quarter, 1944, 70 per cent went to commercial outlets, as compared to 55 percent in the same period of 1943.

Quarter            Total Units      Commercial   Other
1st Quarter 
2nd "              181,380             92          8 
3rd "              834,728             73         27 
4th "              835,961             55         45 
1944 - Total     5,113,414             70         30 
1st Quarter        975,675             62         38 
2nd "            1,411,905             70         30 
3rd "            1,319,503             76         24 
4th "            1,406,331             71         29 

Data on shipments to "Commercial" and "Other" are based upon the identification of such shipments in orders received by the manufacturer.

"Commercial" shipments include those going to wholesalers, distributors, retailers and other outlets normally selling to industrial plants, commercial concerns and households.

"Other" shipments include direct purchases from the manufacturer by military and export agencies, etc.

There was no production of alarm clocks during the latter half of 1942, because the supervisory personnel, skilled labor and machinery of the industry were urgently needed for direct war work. When production was resumed on a limited basis, it was arranged that "victory models" be made by specified manufacturers; however, victory models were pro-rated among all pre-war manufacturers who in turn, channelled the distribution of these clocks through their wholesale and retail customers.
Although the industry is still heavily engaged in war production, this concentration of production of alarm clocks and the pooling plan were discontinued 31,  1944, and controls defining type and specifications of clocks and materials were relaxed. Each manufacturer is now free to make his own clocks.

These data cover all alarm clocks, both spring wound and electric, representing shipments of the entire industry. 

Imports Seen Detrimental

From The American Horologist magazine, May, 1945

Imports Seen Detrimental

Albert Potter, president of the Elgin National Watch Co., disclosed recently that the greater portion of his company's output went directly to the government for the year 1944.

The company has made sparing distribution to the trade from a diminishing stockpile of civilian watches, he revealed.

Imports of foreign watches are depriving American watch makers of the backlog of accumulated postwar demand to which most mother industries look forward, he pointed out. Even though lack of shipping curtailed imports during the year, enough foreign-made watches were brought in for immediate public demand.

"We, in conjunction with other American watch manufacturers, have presented our problem to the government with the expectation that when we are again manufacturing civilian watches some adequate equalization of imports may be devised. This will permit us to more quickly regain our channels of distribution," he said.

The company's war products include a new type ship's chronometer with removable escapement, special watches, chronographs, t i m in g mechanisms, mechanical time fuses .for anti-aircraft projectiles and critical jewels for precision instruments. 

Who Owns Who In The Luxury Watch Business

There's a nice post over at Forbes on who owns who in the ever shrinking watch industry.  Check it out here:


"People in the watch business often say that the “industry is very small.” That isn’t because the multi-billion dollar a year watch sales market is insignificant, but rather that a few key stakeholders more or less control the business."

Elgin Grade 345

This grade 345 Elgin is a 12 size, 17 jewel movement, made about 1925.

8 and 10 sided cases were popular at that time, for a more modern look.

A 16 Size Hamilton

This 16 size, 17 jewel Hamilton was made about 1907.

Very nice open face case and breguet hands on this one...

Elgin Watch Database

I've added a few new parts categories, a few new images, and a new feature to the Elgin serial numbers website.

You can now click on the additional images, where I have some, to get a full size version. Some of these are pretty big, but the it's a good way to see details if you're looking for the differences between Elgin watch grades.

It keeps getting slowly better.  I made a couple small data corrections yesterday also.

Elgin Grade 335, Animation

This Elgin grade 335 was made about 1910.

It's an 18 size, lever-set, 17 jewel movement.  Note the old style tangential lever escapement, also called an English lever.

Hairspring Tools

Here are a few tools I use for hairspring work - fixing kinks and bends and such.  A couple of those tools on the right have tiny square notches in the tips.

Hairsprings must be perfectly flat and even, and can not touch anywhere as they expand and contract.  And that included one loop to another.

Hamilton Model 2

Here's some internal details on a nice Hamilton model 2.  It's a 16 size movement, with 17 jewels.

There's slightly less finishing work on this that some of the classic Hamiltons, but it's a solid design.

This one was made about 1912.

Elgin Grade 344, Animation

The grade 344 from Elgin is a moderately higher end 12 size movement with 17 jewels.

This example was made about 1909.

Elgin Grade 70

This grade, grade 70, is an example of the many irregularities that exist in Elgin records.  The is an 18 size movement, lever-set, made in 15 and 17 jewel versions. 

It is also found with both stem-wind and key-wind mechanisms, in the same movement.  Such movements are referred to as "transitional".

This one was made about 1874.

Elgin Grade 344

Elgin's grade 344 is a 12 size movement with 17 jewels.

This example, made about 1909, has a private label dial marked C. D. Peacock rather than Elgin.  Private label watches were factory made with alternate names for custom orders and large wholesale buyers.

Elgin Grade 210

This grade 210 Elgin is in a fantastic gold hunter case, in very good condition.

This is a 16 size, 7 jewel movement, made about 1900.

Elgin Grade 250

Elgin's grade 250 is a less common 18 size, 17 jewel movement.  We don't see these very often.

This example, made about 1904, is in a typical open face, nickle case, with the locomotive inlay on the back. Usually with these cases, the locomotive is so worn away that it's hard to make out what it is.  This one is quite good though.

Elgin Grade 95

This Elgin grade 95 is in a spectacular gold hunter case that's a little over size.  Notice the width of the bezel. 

This is a lever-set 6 size, 7 jewel movement, made about 1887.

Elgin Grade 133

Here's a particularly nice Elgin grade 133. This is a smaller 6 size movement, 15 jewels.

This example, with a fine hunter case and fancy dial, was made about 1898

Elgin Grade 207

Elgin's grade 207 is a big, heavy 18 size movement, lever-set, with 7 jewels.

This typical example was made about 1903.

Elgin Grade 241

Here's one of Elgin's popular three fingered bridge models, the grade 241.

This is a 16 size, 17 jewel, movement, made about 1906.

Interestingly, the design was considered what we would call today a "retro" look, back at the time.  These remain popular today for the very same reason.
Here are some other three fingered bridge watches from The Elgin National Watch Company.

Elgin Grade 239

The  grade 239 is Veritas model, true railroad grade.  
It's 18 size and 21 jewels.

This one was made about 1900. Note the double sunk dial.

Click "Older Posts" just above for more, or use the archive links right here.

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