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!
FAQ - Will Part XYZ Work in My Watch?
First, you can look up what the old factory records say about part numbers for Elgin watches. But it is by the serial number of the exact movement, not the grade. The reason for this is that there are many instances where the part was changed during Elgin's production run of a grade, and some ranges of the serial numbers assigned to that grade use some different part.
You can look up a movement serial number here.
In the "Links" section there is an entry for parts. The resulting look up will give you much of the key part numbers for this watch.
If you do not know a serial number, you can look up an Elgin grade number here. On this page there are usually, but not always, links for specific serial numbers of known watches of that grade, and from there you can get to the parts section. Look in the "watches serviced by Jeff Sexton" or the "Notes" section for known private label watches. If there's no links available, you can still get to a representative movement. Click on any year in the "Production History" list. The next page has the specific serial number ranges, and these are clickable. It will take you to a page for the first number in that range.
This will get you to a representative movement, but again, keep in mind that the parts can vary by specific serial number.
But there are other issues. For example, if you find another grade that seems to take the same balance complete, it does not mean that you can be sure that a given balance complete will work in your watch. For one thing balance staffs from Elgin typically come in three pivot sizes. That has to match the holes sizes in the balance jewels you have. And there are often other "Q/A" issues. Elgin's replacement part system was extremely advanced, and they did a great job. But these are far from "drop in" parts just the same. Replacement parts often have to "fit" even if they are the "correct" original factory part - particularly balance staffs. I probably adjust a staff maybe one out of four times I replace one.
I have also seen many watches were other things have been altered to use a balance other than what the specs say it is supposed to have. They can even have come out of the factory that way. This can get really messy.
Thirdly, and especially regarding a broken balance staff, the broken part of the pivot is likely still inside there someplace. That tiny bit of hard steel is more than enough to cause other problems, stop the watch and even damage something else. The movement must be completely disassembled and cleaned to get it out.
Lastly, regardless of what trouble a movement has, a watch that has not been serviced in decades should be. Running a watch without cleaning is just like running a car without changing the oil. It may well "run fine", until it stops and damage is already done.
- Elgin Grade 102 - Dirty
- I Heard...
- New arrivals...
- Briefly... Searching for Watches
- Elgin Grade 239
- Letting Down A Mainspring
- Elgin Grade 194
- Checks Recieved
- Elgin Grade 478
- A Set Mainspring
- Elgin Grade 62
- Advice To Young Jewelers
- Elgin Grade 74
- Old Ratchet Wheels and Old Repairs
- The Venturesome Fool!
- Unusual Clock
- A Tickless Clock
- Elgin Grade 454
- Serial Number Database Update
- Elgin Grade 542
- Elgin Grade 222
- Is Your Watch Railroad Grade?
- Watches I have Known
- FAQ - Will Part XYZ Work in My Watch?
- Mystery Watch
- Waterproof Watch Is Here To Stay
- Crawford Watches
- Miscellaneous Technical Subjects
- Signage from the Elgin Watch Factory
- Elgin Grade 478
- General Watch Company
- Elgin Grade 303
- Yet Another Photo Stream!
- Elgin Grade 83
- Elgin Grade 208
- Two Unfinished Elgin Movements
- Year End Blog Wrap Up
- Elgin Grade 345
- Waltham 1879 Model
- Attendance at Meeting, 1933
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