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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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Elgin Grade 22

This next watch is a bit different. It deviates from other Elgin designs in many ways. 

This is Elgin's grade 22, a 10 size, 11 jewel movement, made about 1872. it is named for Gail Borden.
 Here's a bit of a problem though...
A screw that is part of what holds the ratchet is broken off inside the barrel bridge. Sometime I can get these out by turning the broken piece. In this case though, it is tight.

Getting this clear is simpler than one might think. The part is gilded brass. The screw body is steel. Soaking this part for a couple days in a chemical solution completely devolves the steel...
 ...but leaves the bridge totally unaffected, thus clearing the hole.

The ratchet mechanism on these is quite elegant. That big round, and blued, click spring is a very rare part though.
There are interesting secondary serial number stamps on this one. There is a sort of H symbol used as a prefix.

Gail Borden invented the process of condensing milk by vacuum. He was also a major stock holder in the Elgin National Watch Company, and built a condensed milk factory in Elgin, Illinois in 1865.

This type of hunting case has hinged parts connected to the central ring that hold the movement.
Elgin's Gail Borden watches are a little smaller than the "working man's" watch styles of that time. These are were definitely marketed toward the wealthy and successful businessmen - or at least those that aspired to be so.


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