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!
Shopping for a Pocketwatch - Part 4, Swing-out Cases
There are many different designs of watch cases. But since we have focused here on American makes, that tends to narrow it down. Most watch cases are a type that opens at the front and the back, or they are swing-out cases.
Cases having a front and back that open are built in three sections; a middle ring that holds the movement and the stem, a solid back, and a front that carries the bezel and the crystal. On these cases the front and back parts may attach to the midsection in a variety of ways. Many are threaded, some snap on, and some are hinged to the middle ring. These may appear in any combination. Hunter cases are often this type, with the additional complication of the hinged front cover.
It is important to know what sort of case you have before trying to open it.
Swing-out cases have no removable back. Under close examination, one will find that there is no gap or seam around the case revealing that the back is a separate part. Only the front is removable on a typical swing-out case. And removing the front reveals a hinged loop that can be pulled and lifted from the bottom of the case. The movement is carried in this loop.
On most American pocketwatches, the winding arbor is part of the case and the female part is in the movement. So in order to lift the movement it is usually necessary to give the stem clearance by snapping out the crown. Even then it can be tricky. But the winding arbor will often have a little play and can be wiggled and turned to get the movement out. Swinging the movement back in and getting the arbor in place can be similarly tricky.
Swing-out cases have the advantage of being sturdier, having fewer parts with the one-piece body, and of being better at keeping out dust, having just the one seam, for the front. Many railroad watch specifications called for swing-out cases.
In the earlier parts of this series we arrived at a general recommendation of 12 or 16 size open-face Elgin watches as being a good choice for a first pocketwatch. The majority of these are found in some form or other of a three-piece case. Swing-out cases are slightly more common with 18 size movements.
It is worth mentioning that there are many other types of cases that open in different ways, including some creative and unique designs. But these are all on the rare side in watches from the early American market.
- ► 2017 (128)
- ► 2016 (465)
- Why Have Your Watch Serviced?
- Shopping for a Pocketwatch - Part 4, Swing-out Cas...
- Shopping for a Pocketwatch - Part 3, Setting Mecha...
- Elgin Grade 466
- An Early Elgin, Grade 69, Part 4
- An Early Elgin, Grade 69, Part 3
- An Early Elgin, Grade 69, Part 2
- An Early Elgin, Grade 69, Part 1
- Burt's Patent
- Shopping for a Pocketwatch - Part 2, Cases
- Shopping for a Pocketwatch - Part 1, Getting Start...
- Elgin Grade 372
- How Pocketwatch Cases Work
- Elgin Grade 303, 8 Sided
- Elgin Grade 294
- Waltham 1908 Model
- Tightening a Solid Cannon Pinion
- Waltham 1857 Model
- Man's Conquest of Time
- Every Elgin Now Assembled In Dust-Free Atmosphere
- Watches for Sale!
- A Grade 303, Rusty
- Case Pin Gone Again, but for a Different Reason
- Do You Know?
- The Waltham Taper Shoulder Detachable Balance Staf...
- Staking the Balance Staff
- Dial Repair
- It's "Barrel Time", All the Time With This Big Clo...
- New Grooved Balance Staff
- Elgin Announces Their New Beryl-X-Balances
- The Scrap-Heap Clock
- Seconds-Beat Regulator and Calendar Clock
- Found! First Elgin Watch Ever Created
- ▼ March (35)
- ► 2014 (291)
- ► 2013 (281)
- ► 2012 (406)
- ► 2011 (135)
- ► 2010 (75)
- ► 2009 (96)
- ► 2008 (25)