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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.

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Do You Know

From The American Horologist and Jeweler magazine, February, 1942

Do You Know


A synchronous clock is one that is equipped with an electric motor, the speed of the motor being controlled from the power station. The speed of the generators at the power station is in turn controlled by a master clock.

Fungus that is found growing on the stumps of dead trees, when dried is tougher and will hold articles better than cork for many grinding or polishing operations. Fungus is a semi-circular form of growth often growing to a 10 or 12 inch projection. The white underside of the formation is used.

Ferguson of England in 1765 built a curious clock showing the time of high and low tide, also the state of the water at any time of the day. The clock also showed the phases of the moon.

The earliest lathe for cutting threads was made in France about 1740. Another early lathe was built  by Henry Mandslay of England, 1797. The lathe had a lead screw and changed gears to drive the lead screw. Fundamental principles of the first lathe are used today in our modern lathes. Early American lathes, 1800 to 1830, had wooden beds and iron ways. The first iron bed lathe made in America came from New Haven I Connecticut, 1850.'"


When reading text books on horology written by English authors, "Red Stuff" is often referred to as a grinding or polishing agent. It is used with oil for polishing brass or steel. It comes in four grades: clinker for surfacing steel after hardening, coarse is used for polishing Steel and brass, followed by a medium grade for steel that is to be blued, and the fine grade for the steel that is to have a high polish. The polishing is done with iron and bell metal slips for train and balance pivots and for flat surface work, the polishing is accomplished on tin laps.

"Red Stuff" is the nickname for Sesquioxide of iron or crystals of sulfate of iron. Crystals of sulfate of iron are subjected to great heat and then ground and graded into polishing powders of various degrees of fineness. The more calcined part is of a bluish purple color, coarser and harder than the less calcined, the finest of which is! a scarlet hue. Clock makers use the bluish purple under the name of "Croecus" and the scarlet is known as rouge and is used for polishing silver plate, watch cases, etc.

Paul Viet of Bloise is credited with being the first enameler of watch dials in 1635.

It may surprise many jewelers that have the impression most of the diamonds mined are used for gem jewelry. Statistics tell us that 65% of all diamonds mined are used for mechanical purposes such as diamond drills, diamond turning tools, diamond dust for grinding and polishing, dies for drawing fine wire. Diamonds used for mechanical purpose are black and the average cost of a diamond turning tool is $50.00.

To quickly remove any kind of lacquer, use one-half pound potash lye to one gallon boiling water.

The Horological Institute of America at it's annual meeting in 1931 passed the following resolution:
That. whereas the question has arisen as to what constitutes adequate cleaning of watches. Be it understood that the watch must be taken apart entirely and each separate part cleaned thoroughly, all pivot holes cleaned out with pegwood to conform with the requirements of the Examining Board of Certification of Watchmakers and using any watch cleaning solutions, the rinsing should be done with whatever is recommended by the maker of the solution and in no other way! 


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