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 315

This is an Elgin grade I see a lot of, grade 315, 12 size, 15 jewels, made about 1931.
This watch movement runs well now, but when it first arrived there was an issue of not being able to wind it. The crown just turned and turned. Usually, this is a broken mainspring, or the winding mode is not engaging at all for some reason. This one was a surprise though.

The crown threads onto the stem, and the crown in this case was totally stripped. Oddly, the crown did not just fall off, but the threads could not tighten, so it never really turned the stem. There wasn't actually a problem with the mainspring, or the movement generally. Even the stem is fine, it's just the crown.

I found a similar crown as a replacement.

There was one more issues though. The watch snapped too easily into setting mode. The fingers of the sleeve in the neck of the case grip the stem too weakly. Unfortunately, the top of the sleeve has been so hopelessly mangled that I don't think I can get it out without destroying it completely. At first I left it the way it was rather than risk damage to the inside of the neck of the case.

It wound fine, with a little inward pressure on the crown. I think a prior "repair" mangled the top of the sleeve trying to screw it in deeper, so the watch would go more securely into winding mode.

 After sitting for a bit, the winding problem started really bugging me.

The stem, or winding arbor, (part of the case, in the neck) just did not stick into the watch movement far enough, with the crown snapped in, to quite secure the watch in winding mode. Many watches are like this. A slight inward pressure on the crown while winding did the job. It was minor in this instance... But it should be better.

Normally, one would adjust the sleeve so that the stem as a whole sits a little further down in the neck of the case. But like I said the sleeve in this watch is hopelessly chewed up. It's a mess in there. That's a shame because the case over all is in great shape. I didn't even want to try to remove and replace the sleeve because I was afraid the threads in the neck of the case were too messed up too, and a new sleeve wouldn't secure.

The solution was to locate a stem that was the same, but had a hair longer square end - the end that goes in the watch. I found one, but the threaded end was too long. It was cut down and new threads added with the screw plate. Quick job, and it's all set.
 The screw plate...

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