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 179, Sun Dial

These are "before" images, before complete disassembly and cleaning. There's a couple odd things right off the bat. One is a case screw with what seems like a not completely completed head.

The second is something weird about the post the minute wheel rides on.

This watch is an example of Elgin's "Sun Dial" make. It doesn't say Elgin anyplace on it, although its serial number falls in line with Elgin production records.

Sun Dial is one of a handful of brands Elgin used for lower cost watches. There are parts-interchangeable, mostly, with like Elgin branded watches, but the finish on these is crude.

This watch using serial n umber prefix symbols on secondary stamps that are consistent with Elgin watches.
Sun Dial, and brands like it, are sometimes lumped in with private labels. But it's really not the same thing.
This dial has some pretty bad damage near the 12:00. I patched it up. Mostly, this just helps keep it from getting worse.

This watch has a spring with a tab that sticks out. The tab is meant to be pressed in by the rim of the case when the watch is in the case. That tension makes the mechanism want to slip into setting, so when the crown is popped out, it does so.

But this movement does not fit the case well. The case edge does not press against that tab enough, so it stay in winding mode all the time. At some point in the past, someone tried to "fix" this by banging a large divot into the case body at that point, to stretch the metal inward and press the tab in. It didn't work. The tab falls below where the divot deformed pushed out the case rim.

Near where the dial was all chipped up is where that divot is. Isn't that interesting... The person that did this didn't take the movement out before whacking the case with a punch and a hammer, and severely damaged the dial.

I resolved the issue  the issue by forming a little spring out of wide steel and inserting it so as to press against the setting lever spring, right behind the tab, tucked in where it can't go anywhere.

One of the most basic rules of watchmaking - never do anything to a watch that can not be undone.

This watch really didn't set well. The trouble is that the minute wheel is too damaged. I thought I could keep it, but it's too far gone and I had to replace it (with an Elgin part from the normal line).

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