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!

Job Number 170004

This watch is a Waltham 6 size, 7 jewel, Seaside model 1873-6, made 1888-1889. It is lever-set and extensive work has been done to get it into the case it's in.

It also has some pretty bad rust issues. Here are some "before" images to start with.

The mainspring is broken in several places.

Rust has spread to the pallet fork, and more. In my experience though, this sort of thing is not as bad as it looks. It should clean up.

 After some initial cleaning, we can evaluate were the real problems are. A lot of what looks bad in a watch, when it comes to rust, is really quite loose and comes right off. Some of it is also just staining, which will also come of. Much of a vintage watch movement is brass, gold, or nickle plated. Rust does not seriously damage those materials, except in the most extreme cases.

For many steel parts I'll be going over them with a little piece of emery paper, folded to be able to reach into corners, and the parts will be usable. The escape wheel is totaled though.

But although the escape wheel is gone, the others will be OK I think. A quick trip to the lathe helps with cleaning and polishing to get the small amount of corrosion gone.

Fitting this movement into the case was tricky. It's one of these types with no snap in/out mechanism in the neck of the case, but rather a screw that holds the stem in. It's in fair shape, but only barely aligns. There is a pin in the case edge opposite that has a matching hole in the inside case rim, and a couple small cut-outs to allow for the setting lever; one for the lever and a smaller one for a spot were the other end of the lever sticks out just a little when it's retracted. It's all been very carefully fit, and it all barely works out.
Here is how the case has been adjusted to allow for the setting lever.
The watch has an unusual thick, snap on, front bezel. A notch has been made to access the lever without removing the front. This makes it even harder to set.
Now to test the rate for a few days... I'm not looking for anything spectacular on this one, but it runs.

See all the images for this project here:

Job Number 170008

This watch had 2 minor issues. One was that the mainspring hook on the inside wall of the mainspring barrel was too worn down to hold the spring. And second (maybe because of the first thing) the watch had a narrower, weaker mainspring installed than it is supposed to.

View the whole album for this project here:

Also find more horological Collections here:

This movement is an example of Elgin's popular grade 315, 12 size, 15 jewels, made about 1908.

Job Number 170006

This watch is Elgin's grade 472, 16 size, 21 jewels, made about 1927.

Here is a problem with the center wheel jewel. The broken one is in the foreground and the other is the replacement.

Well replacing the balance staff was easy. I chucked the balance in the lathe and started to cut off the back hub when I noticed the balance wheel was wobbling an awful lot. I took it out and the old staff fell right out and onto the floor. Apparently it was not properly riveted to the balance wheel the last time someone did this repair. Well then, saves me some time...
The truing calipers are used to make sure the balance is flat and round.

The roller jewel turned out to be loose too. I re-seated it.

See the entire album here:
Find more Collections here:

Two New Arrivals

In for service... The smaller of these in one I serviced several years ago.

New Arrival

Just in...

This hunter case is missing a crystal. Aren't they all... I wish I could convince people of how fragile hunter cases are. The world is quickly running out of crystals.

New Arrival

New arrival... This is a Hampden Wm. McKinley model - nice, looking forward to getting this one running.

New Arrival

New arrival...

Job Number 160295

First, here are some "before" images of this watch project, an 18/0 size Elgin wristwatch. This watch actually does run. These photos show why an old watch needs to be cleaned, regardless.

Here's the mainspring winder I use for small ones. It's part of a set.

View the whole album for this project here:

Have questions about antique watches, or have one to show off? Try the Vintage Watches Community, right here:

I replaced the upper 4th wheel jewel, later, after going ahead with the initial assembly. Here's the chipped one and the replacement, with the screws.

Here are some images of the watchmakers marks on the inside of the back. One is unusually long and in a nice lettering that looks like handwriting. More about watchmakers marks here:

This watch is an Elgin grade 483, 18/0 size, 17 jewels, made about 1934

Mullen's X3-100

Mullen's X3-100
The Rust Control With A Skin

Moseley Screwdriver Sharpener

Instructions for Moseley screwdriver sharpener...

New Watches

Two "new" watches in for service...

Advance To The Future!

Advance (to the future!) Relays

Elgin National Watch Company
Burbank, California

Click "Older Posts" just above for more, or use the archive links right here.

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