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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 6

Here's a typical example of Elgin's grade 6. It's a large 18 size movement, 7 jewels, made about 1885.
This is the old English style tangential pallet escapement. The pallet action is tangential to the escape wheel. These were soon superseded by the Swiss style lever with perpendicular action.


Th replace a broken balance staff, the lathe is used to cut away the hub of a broken staff. It gets nearly all cut away, then the remaining bit is knocked off with the staking set, leaving a tiny washer of steel.

A broken staff is a very common item of repair. The hardened steel pivots of the staff are brittle and break on a sharp shock, such as when a watch is dropped.

The balance is riveted to the new staff, then on testing the balance, without the roller table and the hairspring. I also found the pivots on the new staff needed to be reduced a little and the ended shaped. This isn't unusual, even with correct vintage parts made at the long gone factory.


I have written here before about how older American pocketwatches are built for just one case screw. Opposite the case screw position, there is a pin in the edge of the movement that goes in a hole in the inside rim of old style cases. For whatever reason, this pin is frequently missing and has to be replace in order for the movement to sit securely.

This watch is such an early style movement. However it is in a later style case; a case designed for two case screws. Unfortunately, rather than drill a hole in the inside edge of the case, someone filed down the pin so it would not be in the way. As a result the movement is held in by the stem and one screw only.

Fortunately it fits pretty snugly.

You never know what you will find in a watch.  They are all different, all individuals. "Creative repairs" are one of my favorite topics on this blog. More "creative repairs" here!






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