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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.

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.

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Elgin Grade 75, With Before Images

Here are a few "before" photos I took while disassembling this next watch. This isn't the worst I've seen, but I would say it is well in need of cleaning.




Here we see the Swiss style, perpendicular, pallet. This escapement design is style by far the most common in mechanical watches today.
The upper plate has a very wide opening for the barrel. Installing it is no trouble at all.
The secondary serial number stamps are prefixed with an 'E' like symbol.



This watch case had a problem that makes for a chance to show how a typical stem-setting case works.

Most American watches use a "negative setting" system. The default position is for setting mode, but a sleeve-like spring in the neck of the case allows the stem to "snap" inward and be held in winding mode. The snapping is entirely a function of the case.

On this one, the sleeve was too weak and worn and it was possible, without taking care, to pull the stem all the way out of the neck. None of the parts are broken, just too worn. The sleeve and stem can be tricky to replace. One advantage of the negative setting system is that cases are more or less interchangeable. These interface parts are often custom made or altered to fit a given case/movement combination. Luckily, I found a sleeve that is the same part, but much less worn. This will work a lot better. It's lucky because this sleeve is unusually large. It's an odd type.

By the way, "positive setting" mechanisms are usually found on Swiss, and modern, watches. On these the snapping mechanism, and the stem, are part of the watch movement and the case just has a plain tube out the the crown. The default mode on a positive setting keyless works is winding.




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