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!



Elgin Grade 345

Elgin's grade 345 is a 12 size movement, 17 jewels, this one made about 1921.  

Lord Elgin

Lord Elgin...

One Way To Open a Stuck Pocketwatch Case

There are a few good tricks to getting a very difficult threaded pocketwatch case open. This case was one of the toughest I have encountered. The back was fine, but the front bezel resisted every attempt. It is usually the backs that are problems. On this one I finally went with this method.

It's just what it looks like, a nut super-glued to the crystal. The crystal, luckily, is very tight and secure, it did not itself turn. If it had, I likely would have had to give up on this project.

Once the glue had sat for a day under some mild pressure to hold the nut still, the wrench opened the case. Amazingly, it still wasn't easy!

To do this, it has to be the "super-glue" type of glue. It is strong against lateral force and so will stay put while slowly applying pressure with the wench. Also, by the way, it's important not to apply much pressure to the neck and stem of the case when using the wrench. Many cases are not as strong there as one might think, and the stem can be broken off. Afterwards this type of glue releases and disappears easily in Acetone and the nut comes off clean.

After removing the bezel, there was no clue as to why it was so tight. I expected to see glue or something, it was that tight. However, there were a number of little chips from the damaged dial. I think one of these might have been wedged in the threads.

Hurricane Sandy

This watch was in a safe, filled with salt water, for quite some time as a result of Hurricane Sandy.
I've worked on a handful of watches that have been in salt water. The interesting thing is that they are often not as bad as they look. The nickel plated, brass and gold parts do not themselves rust. They can be damaged of course, but they don't rust.

More photos of this project here.
These are some images of the final result. Only a handful of parts, were too far gone to bring back. Also note that this is an open-face movmenet, with a proper open-face dial, installed in a hunter case. Hence the sub-seconds dial and 12:00 mark are unusually placed for a hunter.





An Unsightly Regulator Pin

Well this is interesting...

The inner pin on the regulator has been replaced with one that is way too long. That is probably a dial foot pin, or just a replacement regulator pin that for some reason was not neatly trimmed down like it is supposed to be.

The two pins on the regulator arm are what cause the hairspring to be effectively longer or shorter as the regulator arm is moved. These pins should be just two tiny, parallel pins of brass. There's no reason what we find here wouldn't function, it's just rather untidy.


Lord Elgin...

[1]+ Kill


Gruen Veri-Thin



Elgin Grade 455

This is a nice example of Elgin's grade 455 pocketwatch movement. It's a 16 size, 19 jewel, design, this one made about 1922.  



We're Back

My Elgin serial number site was down overnight. The guilty party has been identified, and will be dealt with in a manner fitting of their crime.

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

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