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!
motor barrel is a unique feature. It turns the inner part or the barrel, independent of the arbor, which is jeweled.
railroad grade watches. It's always a pleasure to see them in good condition.
Jacob Bachtold - Grand Central Terminal Clockmaster
As the minion of the law of time, Jake makes a daily tour of inspection, Mondays through Saturdays, to all the principal seventy-five clocks of the Terminal which lay down the law to would-be train-catchers. The tour also takes him behind the scenes into the offices of the railroad operating departments where clocks govern the dispatching of trains and crews. Jake makes this tour with his own prized pocket watch in hand, covering the almost three miles in an hour, including short stops for minor adjustments to erring timepieces.
Jake is a mild-mannered man with a shaggy mane of sparse white hair and blue eyes peering through thick lensed glasses, a casualty of his profession. At 68, his right hand shakes just a slight bit now and is the reason that he has given up repairing watches at home in spare hours.
Jake checks the Master Clock several times a day, for this clock above all others must be always on the second. Once an hour it automatically sets every other electric clock in the Terminal and is set itself by a wire from Western Union twice a day. It is this clock which all train schedules must obey.
The Park Avenue clock gets Jake's careful attention twice a week. He reaches this clock by climbing several ladders to a platform where he keeps tools and oil for this special job. which consists in cleaning and oiling the great mechanism and leaning out windows in the clock to tighten screws and clean the stained glass face.
The golden four-faced clock Jake keeps especially accurate because it is the arbiter of many a possible argument between a late commuter and a gateman who has just slammed shut a train gate. When a frustrated commuter begins to wind up about shutting the gate early, the gateman merely has to point to the golden clock. Its graceful form framed in highly-polished brass, this famous clock carries a prestige and authority which is never questioned.
Jake is married and lives in Brooklyn. He arrives at work sharp at 8:15 a. m. and begins his day immediately he steps from the subway by glancing critically at the clock above the stairs from the East Side IRT.
1,500 Year-Old Ring
Aleric could not write. When it came to signing state papers, he made his royal impression with the ring. Sometimes this ring settled matters of life and death. Its seal was an undisputed authority.
This symbol of power is valued at $2,000, and is one of many antique jewels from all over the world in the famous Sabine collection. Marshall Field & Co., Chicago recently had it on display.
Sabine (a woman) toured 35 countries to get gems for her collection. She inherited the collector's instinct and some of the rare jewels from her father. Included in her collection is a Russian enamel watch, with rock crystal front and back, about 250 years old; an 18th century diamond spray, which shivers because it is set on springs; poison rings of the Borgias; Persian slave bracelets; and early American heirloom pieces. All pieces are wearable and individually are valued at from $35 to $5,400.
Nuremberg: Town of Inventions
Nuremberg was a "first" in many contrivances, such as the clarinet, gun locks, air guns, toys, and it was there that the first optician's shop was opened the late 15th century.
Messrs. Goering, Hess, Von Ribbentrop, Ley, Rosenberg, etc., won't be accorded rousing ovations when they visit Nuremberg; nor will they hear the tolling of church-bells. They will see a town shattered by the relentless B-29 bombings. And as quickly as seconds turn to minutes, justice eventually catches up with Time, ironically enough, where Time-recording first saw the light of day!
When the pitch of night is darkest,
And I'm lying in my bed;
While I'm dozing there's a rumbling,
But the source is not my head!
Up I raise my weary body
To investigate the knock;
Soon enough my ears unravel
Tiny gremlins in my clock!
Presently the gremlins vanish
And the clock once more is sane;
Just as I go back to dreaming
All those pests come back again!
Turning on their raucous pounding
Now my head feels like a rock;
Oh, for just a night of slumber
Minus Gremlins in my clock!
-- Malcolm Hyatt
Here is a good look at the complete train.
Is The Jeweler's Job A Strain On The Eye?
GOOD ILLUMINATION AND EYE TROUBLES OF JEWELERS AND WATCHMAKERS
There is no doubt that continuous use of good illumination is of primary importance in this connection -to the single jeweler as well as to the efficiency of a whole store or plant. The advantages to industry of good illumination are, according to the Illuminating Engineering Society: (l) Greater accuracy of workmanship, resulting in the improved quality of the product with less spoilage and less re-work; (2) Increased production and decreased costs; (3) The better utilization of floor space;
(4) Greater ease of seeing especially among older employees, thus making the more efficient; (5) Less eyestrain among the employees; (6) Improved morale among the employees resulting in a decreased labor turnover; (7) More easily maintained cleanliness and neatness in the whole plant, and (8) Greater safety.
HEADACHE AND GLASSES
Not only the eyes are suffering from poor vision and continuous strain on the eyes. A jeweler suffered for many months from headache in the late afternoon which bothered him remarkably and rec-::uced his efficiency. He made all sorts of trouble responsible for those unpleasant headaches such as a previous sinus trouble, insufficient sleep, fatigue and exhaustion. No treatment was of any avail. Finally an eye doctor found out that the jeweler had developed a medium degree of nearsightedness. Correct glasses were prescribed for him and the headaches ceased immediately and forever. Nearsightedness may produce headache as well as dizziness, nausea, the feeling of pressure in the head.
Well fitted concave glasses make disappear all the troubles which originate from nearsightedness. A nearsighted jeweler whose glasses are too weak is working with the upper part of his body bent forward. He looks through the rims of his glasses in order to see more clearly-instead through the center as he is supposed to do. The degree of nearsightedness and of other troubles of vision is determined by the optic strength of the lenses which are needed to correct it. The degree of concavity or convexity to which the lenses are ground is expressed in Diopters. The lenses scatter or gather the rays of light which fall upon the eyes so that the correct spot on the retina is reached by them and a sharp image of the object is projected upon it.
Usually between the ages 40 to 45 years old sight (presbyopia) begins to appear. This change is actually a normal development due chiefly to the loss of elasticity of the lens of the eye. A jeweler of some 42 or 45 years of age who had always had an excellent eyesight may note one day that now he must push his work (or his head) farther and farther away in order to gain exact vision. Much can be done to give relief and assistance to those aging eyes. Different glasses may be needed for working at close range and reading-and for seeing in distance. In such cases either two different pairs of glasses are used; or the jeweler uses glasses the upper part of which is ground for distance while the lower part is ground for objects at close range.
If the condition be uncorrected, the presbyopic jeweler may suffer from pain in the eyes, fatigue, lacrymation (shedding tears), dimness of vision, recurrent headaches. Many of these valuable and highly skilled older workers can continue to perform efficiently if he has the proper glasses - or if the simple means of assisting the eyes with good illumination is adopted.
ILLUMINATION FOR JEWELRY AND WATCH MANUFACTURING
Workers with old sight prefer involuntarily the kind of illumination which is particularly strong. They do this instinctively because bright light produces a contraction of the pupils, and this improves the vision temporarily. But proper illumination is of highest value for every working person.
The Illuminating Engineering Society has recommended certain minimum standards of illumination for industrial interiors. The figures of their table refer to the general lighting or lighting throughout the total area involved as measured on a horizontal plane 30 inches above the floor.
The recommended figures in this table are for jewelry and watch manufacturing: Illumination levels above 100 foot candles. To provide illumination of this order, a combination of at least 20 foot candles of general lighting plus specialized supplementary lighting is necessary. The design and installation of the combination systems must not only provide a sufficient amount of light but also must provide the proper direction of light, diffusion, eye protection, and insofar as possible must eliminate direct and reflected glare as well as objectionable shadows.
Proper lighting and strong illumination are factors which help greatly to avoid eyestrain, and that is important to prevent additional eye troubles to those already existing especially with jewelers and watchmakers who have to discriminate extreme fine details for long periods of time. Improper lighting shortens the duration of all normal seeing. The same holds true· for flickering light which is disturbing to eyes which are fixed on fine details. In every bright light tinted or dark glasses are desirable. Sunlight and artificial light glaring into the eyes or reflected from such bright surfaces as glossy paper and table tops and walls are harmful to the eyes.
Glare interferes with clear vision, and tends to injure the eye.
OTHER EYE TROUBLES
The contrast of nearsightedness is farsightedness. Farsighted eyes cannot see the objects near at hand without giving considerable extra work to the muscles of accommodation in the eye. This often results In eyestrain and headache, but the condition can also be corrected by properly fitted glasses.
Another common disorder of vision that can be corrected in practically the same way as near-or farsightedness, is astigmatism. A jeweler or watchmaker with astigmatic eyes is well able to work provided he has the proper glasses. Astigmatism is produced by an abnormal rotation of the axis of the eye to the side. Vision in such cases is blurred at close range as well as at distance. Other complaints of the astigmatic worker are headache and eyestrain. Lenses which are ground correspondingly, are of value in such cases too.
There are some methods of treatment which try to exercise the e~e muscles and strengthen the eyes III this way. Whatever the success or the supposed success of those methods, there is no doubt that any person afflicted with nearsightedness, astigmatism, old sight and similar troubles of vision has to wear glasses if he wants to do his work in the most efficient manner. But the proper care can prevent unnecessary strain on the eyes and prevent unpleasant eye troubles successfully.
This watch did wind and tick. These images show why it is critical to get a watch cleaned before running it however. This grim contains grit and dirt that will wear away and moving parts and cause serious damage in short order.
Rockford Watch Company Model 2. It is 18 size and 15 jewels, made about 1879.
transitional" design. These are fairly rare.
I own a lot of watches, of all sorts, mostly antiques. I love them, but for everyday use around the house, travel and outdoor activities, I really need something else.
Around about 1992 or 3 I wanted to get a wristwatch that I could use for those outdoor activities and trips that I wouldn't have to worry about damaging. I selected a Timex Expedition model, a fairly no-frills quartz, with an alarm and the Indiglo back-light feature.
This watch proved to an extremely good choice!
I used this watch for years as an occasional daily wear, and hiking, camping, and travel. It got muddy, wet, dusty and banged around in all manner of ways. These things are built like tanks! There is hardly a mark on it. Its solid construction is really remarkable, and better in my opinion than other rugged watches costing significantly more money.
The strap completely wore out about 5 years ago. I managed to buy an original Timex replacement from a source that specializes in factory straps for older watches. And I don't think I have changed the battery more than three times. Also as an aside, at that time during my strap search I encountered this very watch listed on a website as vintage and "retro"! Now I know I'm old...
But anyway, the watch is very easy to use. The rotating bezel, for example, is the control for setting the alarm, and also doubles as a way to set the time. This nice design touch keeps the number of buttons down. And the backlight is just right for dark hotel rooms, and when camping.
When I grabbed the watch for a recent trip though, trouble. It was not working. There are problems with the buttons. I suspect the last time I used it, it may have gotten a little salt water in there (it doesn't take much!), and now the buttons randomly short and the battery was near death. Maybe there's even corrosion on the movement, I have not opened it to see.
Could I fix it? Maybe... But Timex Expedition series watches start on Amazon at about $35. So I picked out would seemed to be a rough equivalent in the current line up, and two days later, here it is!
The new version is also clearly very durable. It is mostly a dense plastic, not metal, but it does seem like it can take a beating.
The bezel is real. It rotates, both directions, which is nice too.
The watch is light, easy to read. I like the pale color of the dial. It also has that Timex Indiglo feature I like. The nylon strap is simple, but comfortable. For $35, this watch will definitely do the job when I don't want to wear a watch I'd worry about getting damp, dropped, run over bashed into something.
It won't win any style contests, but it is $35 well spent!
Speaking of everyday watches, the one I mostly use is also a bargain. I am of course, given a choice, a fan of automatics over quartz movements. So for a bit more than the Timex, you can pick up any of several styles of the Seiko 5.
These watches are a fantastic bargain! They feature a good quality automatic movement, most have display backs and Seiko's Hardlex crystals. Yet the Seiko 5 line costs a small fraction of what you'd expect to pay for a watch with those features.
Again, I have a small complaint... The crown on the basic models is a bit small making it tricky to use. But that's OK. Overall these are really good, solid, reliable automatics for the money. I even tuned mine up a bit and the accuracy is pretty respectable. And again, you don't have to worry about bashing it into a doorway or something.
Check out the whole Seiko 5 automatic line. There's something in every style, at a remarkable value price. It's easy to buy more than one, guilt free!
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- Elgin Grade 540
- Elgin Grade 240
- Jacob Bachtold - Grand Central Terminal Clockmaste...
- 1,500 Year-Old Ring
- Elgin Grade 336
- Nuremberg: Town of Inventions
- Elgin Grade 303
- Is The Jeweler's Job A Strain On The Eye?
- Rockford Transitional Model 2
- Timex Expedition Series
- Elgin Grade 286
- Elgin Grade 95
- New Arrival
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- Elgin Grade 315
- New Arrivals
- Elgin Grade 13
- Elgin Grade 81
- $50,000 Worth of Time Clocks
- Elgin Grade 313
- Elgin Grade 81
- New Arrival
- Elgin Grade 386
- Elgin Grade 240
- New Arival
- Hamilton 925, Anton Molle
- Elgin Grade 97
- Elgin Grade 7, Counting the Train
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- Electric Clock-Motors - Caution
- Elgin Grade 233
- Elgin Grade 311
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- American Waltham 1899 Model
- Another Elgin Grade 540
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