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.

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Elgin Grade 471, An 8-Day Clock

This is Elgin's grade 471. It is a 37 size movement (yes, 37!) with 7 jewels, made about 1923. It was used in 8-day clocks.

This movement is about 2 inches across. It's almost too big for me to work with, given the tools I have. The train though, is a variation of their 16 size movements, and a few of the parts are in common. This one needed a balance staff for example, and it takes factory part number 861, "new style", which is a staff used is many later 16 size grades.
These movements were used in car clocks and in military applications.

The design includes a creative and unique feature; it has two mainsprings. It will even run if one spring breaks.

For years I have been telling people that Elgin never made clocks as such.  They made instruments for military applications, and car clocks, where were really normal 16 size pocketwatch movements with crude finishes. Late in the history of the company, they sold some travel alarm clocks and other items using imported movements, not made in the American factory.

And along comes this obviously rare example, made about 1923...

As we can see, it's clearly an early clock, probably for the bedside. The stem is at the bottom as it would be on a car clock of that time. The large square dial with luminous hands and markers, marked Elgin, and rather nice nickle plated case indicate that this was indeed made and sold as a clock. It's not something done by a dealer or jeweler. Did Elgin actually make this case at the Elgin Illinois factory? It would certainly seem so.

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