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!

Grade 252

The Father Time movement is one of Elgin finest products. This one looks like it's been in a rock tumbler...

This movement is Elgin's railroad grade 252. It is a large watch, 18 size, lever-set, with 21 jewels. This example was made about 1903
The pallet fork on these is the Swiss style, perpendicular, type. This one is finely finished with beveled and polished edges. Very nice!
The threads for the screw for the balance cock were totally stripped in the top plate (brass is a soft metal, please do not torque down watch screws). The balance cock could not be held securely.

At first it looked like someone had attempted to solder on the balance cock, but I don't think the material that was on there was solder. It turned out to be very soft and it came off pretty easily - almost like a silver latex paint, but slightly firmer. Anyway, that is what was holding it together.

My Grandfather always said, you never know what you'll find when you get into a watch.

As for the screw, on other Elgin models they used a larger screw for this part. In this instance the hole in the balance cock allowed the larger screw, barely, so I was able to just re-tap the threads in the top plate to a larger size. A larger Elgin factory screw now works, and looks correct.

Next, the troubles with the balance and hairspring. As we can see here, the hairspring has a fair amount of damage.

This was after a first pass at reshaping the hairspring, and a replaced roller jewel, the balance then worked fairly well, but still required a few final touch ups.
I'm not sure a watch with these issues can ever be the same. But it is running, and is preserved for future generations to enjoy.

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