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!

Waltham Part 2

This is part 2 of a 2 part post, with a lot of pictures. Find part 1 here!

The 4th wheel carries the second hand on an this, extra long pivot that sticks out on the dial side. This one was broken off.
Here's a replacement 4th wheel, with the broken one, and the box of unidentified 4th wheels I was lucky enough to find it in. The 4th wheel carries the seconds hand. As the photo shows, the long shaft that sticks up through the dial for the hand was broken off.

I have found over the years that rust damage is often not as bad as it looks. Except in extreme instances, rust does not damage gold, brass and nickle plated parts. They can clean up quite well.
It took a lot of work to get the balance assembly into shape, but is worked out well in the end.
 Moving on to the case, there are more problems. In addition to rust, the stem was broken off, and the crown gone. Here is the old stem and the one I plan to replace it with. It is not exactly right. No surprise there, stems are all over the map and almost always have to be customized to fit.

This photo is the sleeve, the old stem and the new stem. These parts go into the neck of the case. The important thing is that the part of the stem that the sleeve snaps over when the crown is pulled out is in the same place relative to the end of the square part (left end). The different lengths of the thicker round part, just following the square part, is not important as this is not a hunter case.

The main thing I can tell right way is that the threaded end of the candidate part is too long.

 In addition to the stem being too long, the hole in the crown I want to use is too small. This tool holds the crown firmly so different threads can be tapped straight in. This set also comes with drills, but in this case, the fit is close so the tap alone will do the job.

I rarely have to do this, but when I do having the right tool makes a huge difference.
This multi-tipped wench is used to adjust the depth of the sleeve in the neck of the case.

The stem snaps into the sleeve from the inward end, and the sleeve is then screwed into the neck of the case using a special wrench with ends for various types of sleeves.

Note the shiny steel were I shortened the threaded end of the stem.
The stem snaps in and out in the sleeve. To get the watch to go into setting and winding mode correctly, the overall depth of the sleeve can be adjusted in and out so that in is in enough for winding, and out is out enough for setting.
On this one, the replacement crown can not go down enough to snap into setting. The inner post in the crown is too thick and touch the top of the sleeve.
In the lathe the inner part of the crown can be cut down shorter. So there is room for the crown to snap down into setting mode. There is another special tool for this to hold the crown.

This is a slow process because it has to be cut and tested over and over. It is critical not to remove too much material - you can't put it back.

In this photo, the inside/underside of the crown is visible, clamped in a holder that fits the lathe. This holder comes as a set of several different sized outer pieces for different sized crowns.

Moving on to the bow, these two pliers are tools for opening and closing bows on pocket watch cases. They are needed for installing, removing or tightening that ring on top of the watch case.
The case this watch has is in not the best condition as we've seen, but it is a very unusual type. It is a swing-out, where the stem is part of the hinged movement holder - I have seen this a couple of times. But there is also an extra hinged dust cover, on the movement ring. There are many types of pocketwatch cases, but I have never seen exactly this design. It is one heavy case!
 Here are some before and after images of the repaired dial.

Finding suitable hands that can be adjusted to fit is always a challenge.

Here is this complicated watch case again. Note the heavy inside dust cover.

Waltham Part 1, Rust

This watch had a lot of problems, starting with significant rust issues.

The movement is an American Waltham 18 size, 15 jewels, 1883 model.

The rust was so bad on this one that it interfered with disassembly. Parts had to be removed slowly after using various methods to break up the rust.

A lot of careful hand cleaning was required, but almost all these parts were recovered and used.

There are a lot of photos, and a lot to say about this one so I am posting it in two parts. This is part 1. Find part 2 here!

Hampden Diadem

New Arrival...

New Arrival

A 12 size Waltham in for repair...

Emil Geist

This watch is a Swiss made Emil Geist private label. Emil Geist was a jeweler in St. Paul, Minnesota for decades. I have seen Geist private labels made by Elgin, but the exact maker of this on is unknown to me. It is a Swiss movement, with several interesting features.

First, the mainspring barrel has a Geneva Stop. This nifty little invention limits the number of turns the arbor can make when winding the watch.

I have some other examples of this mechanism here.

The hairspring stud is held by a clamp.
Here is the hairspring stud in place on the balance cock.

Most Hamilton pocketwatches share this design feature.

The minute wheel, under the dial, has its own bridge, just holding it.
The dial is held by two screws that actually thread straight down into the dial feet. Very unusual... And it would be hard to repair if anything were to break.

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