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Blog Comments

  1. GeneJockey's Avatar
    Another note on your particular 543 - it's from the first year of the Durapower era. Prior to the L-prefix watches, the dial carried only the Star logo. After L series, only the 'dp' logo. That year only, it got both.
  2. pmwas's Avatar
    I happen to have one of these LE (movement only, sadly). I admit the finish is similar (due to lack of damaskeening), butit seems more shiny than the 543. More 'glossy'. The 543 has a matte finish with mirror polished sides. Very nice, BTW (both of them )
  3. GeneJockey's Avatar
    The interesting thing about the finish - brushed bright nickel, rather than damaskeened, is that it reflects the finish used on the 12s 21j 450 Lord Elgin movement. While the 479, 452 G.M. Wheeler, and 451 Lord Elgin movements all had straight-line damaskeening, with mirror-polished/swirled ratchet wheel, the 450 has a brushed finish and the ratchet and crown wheels also brushed.

    I think it was supposed to be more refined, less ostentatious, since Elgin did fancy damaskeening on even their movements. Note that the Hulburd similarly has a satin finish.

    The 17j 542, introduced a the same time as the 543, initially had straight-line damaskeening, but within a year or so had s similar brushed finish to the 543.
  4. kinsler33's Avatar
    Thank you for this. I'd forgotten what the later watches looked like. Genuine 1940's, indeed, just like me.

    And I was wondering how you'd go about making a new regulator screw. Answer: carefully, I guess.

    Mark Kinsler
  5. pmwas's Avatar
    That's an interesting thing - there are cap jewel settings, but no cap jewels. From the very begining of USWCo's existance, some grades would have cap jewels, some just the settings and some were not milled for the settings at all. Certain grades would have cap jewels or just settings depending on the time they were made. In this watch, they are plain decoration only, but surely they are beautiful.
  6. MrRoundel's Avatar
    Having it running is a good thing, especially with the US Watch Co./Marion balance. I'd love to have one of the higher grade models with the cap-jewels like that. My only Marion is an Edwin Rollo, which is nice but relatively plain in finish. Good luck.
  7. pmwas's Avatar
    The beautiful times when Elgins were super cheap here in Poland are long gone anyway
    As for the ratchet - in an autowind watch the main ratchet is NEVER 'functional', believe me. If the auto winder works, the ratchet does not lock - unless you remove the auto winder. A fully operational bi-dir winder is sort of self-locking and would work without any ratchet at all, while a uni-dir always needs a 'small' ratchet in the autowinder, whether it has the 'big' one or not.
  8. GeneJockey's Avatar
    If you keep telling everyone how cool Elgins are, people will start collecting them and we won't be able to afford them!

    On breakages in the winding mechanism, in my experience the two most common are the lower 2nd autowind pivot, and teeth on the winding wheel on the rocker plate. My thinking is that both of these are because the click is not acting on the ratchet wheel directly, but rather 3 gears down the chain - the idler, the 2nd autowind wheel and the 1st autowind wheel.
  9. pmwas's Avatar
    Thanks! Looks like I'm not alone here!
    It always puzzled me how much underappreciated the movement is. The Russians keep boasting about their (lower quality btw) flat Poljot almost as if it was the world's greatest watchmaking achievement ever, and the truly remarkable Elgin 760 remains non-interesting and non-collectable and seriously undervalued
  10. Dante Sudilovsky's Avatar
    Thank you for your great writeup on the 760/761! I just recently got into these models and have utmost respect for the design. They have problems, but I think it's just incredible the amount of innovative design which went into these movements even as Elgin was nearing its deathbed. Say what you will, but I think this may be Elgin's greatest technological achievement.
  11. rstl99's Avatar
    There's a distinction made in Rees between the fusee maker, (at #4 in the frame maker's list), and the fusee cutter, (at #18 in the finisher's list). Cutting a verge escape wheel is rather more complex and demanding than flat wheels, so it could well be logical that these were made by a different specialist.
    Other crafts not in these lists include the intriguingly named "secret springer" and the "boxer-in".
    Secret spring is the 'proper' old name for the spring in a hunter watch case that pop the front open. So a 'Secret Springer' either made those or he made some other springs but kept it hush-hush
    Boxer-in may have had something to do with case making or fitting too, since the box was the original term for the inner case of a pair case watch.
    Yes, the boxer-in seemed to overlap with the motion-maker, but it was the person who ran in the winding pinion and fitted the button and set hands piece in keyless work. The secret springer also checked the work of the jointer. These old terms are sometimes confusing! I do still refer to the inner case as the "box" when writing up assessments.
  12. rstl99's Avatar
    Rich Newman provided this separate list, from:

    Rees’s Clocks Watches and Chronometers, (1819-1820)

    "The best watch-movements are made at Prescot, in Lancashire, by persons called movement-makers, who furnish the movement complete to the London watchmakers. The following is a list of the principal workmen employed in manufacturing a movement, previously to its coming into the hands of the London watch-maker.
    1. The frame-maker, who makes the frame; that is to say, the two plates, the bar, and the potance.
    2. The pillar-maker, who turns the pillars, and makes the stud for the stop-work.
    3. The cock-maker, who makes the cock and the stopwork.
    4. The barrel and fusee-maker, who makes the barrel, great wheel, fusee, and their component parts.
    5. The going fuzee-maker, who makes the going fusee, (the means by which the watch is kept going while winding up,) when made use of.
    6. The centre-wheel and pinion maker, who makes the same.
    7. The small pinion-maker, who makes it of wire, previously drawn by another workman, called pinion-wire; the third and forth wheels, and escapement wheel-pinion; and in the case of repeaters, the pinions of the repeating train of wheels: these are all finished in the engine.
    8. The small wheel-maker, who makes the third and forth wheels, and the wheels of the repeating train for repeating movements, and rivets them to their pinions.
    9. The wheel-cutter, who cuts the wheels.
    10. The verge-maker, who makes the verve of vertical watches.
    11. The movement finisher, who turns the wheels of a proper size previously to their being cut, forwards them to and receives them from the wheel-cutters, examines all the parts as they are made, to see that they are as they should be; and finally completes the movement, and puts it together.
    12. The balance-maker, who makes the balance of steel or brass.
    Note. – The brass balance is preferred to the steel balance by some watch-makers, in consequence of the latter being subject to the influence of magnetism: but others prefer the steel to the brass balance, in consequence of the latter being more influenced by variation of temperature than the former.
    13. The pinion wire-drawer, who prepares the pinion wire; this, however, may be considered as only a branch of the trade of wire-drawing.
    The plates and wheels are now all made out of rolled brass; but formerly, when it was to be had, they were made of Dutch brass, it being considered preferable to the English.
    The movement, in the state in which it is sent to the watch-maker, consists of the frame, composed of two plates, connected together by four or five pillars, as the case may be, which pillars are riveted to one of the plates, called the pillar-plate; the wheels, consisting of the great wheel attached to the fusee, the second or centre wheel, the third and fourth wheels, the fusee and barrel, potance and stop-work, which latter are attached to the upper plate, (so called in contra-distinction to the pillar-plate,) but the potance screwed to it is between the plates; and lastly, the cock screwed to the outside of the upper plate.

    The following is a list of workmen to complete a watch from the state in which the movement is received from the country:
    1. The slide-maker who makes the slide.
    2. The jeweller, who jewels the cock and potance, and, in a more forward state of the watch, any other holes that are required to be jeweled.
    3. The motion-maker, who makes the brass edge; and, after the case is made, joints and locks the watch into the case, and makes the motion-wheels and pinions.
    4. The wheel-cutter, who cuts the motion-wheels for the motion-maker.
    5. The cap-maker, who makes the cap.
    6. The dial-plate-maker, who makes the dial.
    7. The painter, who paints the dial.
    8. The case-maker, who makes the case.
    9. The joint-finisher., who finished the joint of the case.
    10. The pendant-maker., who makes the pendant.
    11. The engraver, who engraves the name of the watch-maker on the upper plate; and also engraves the cock and slide, or index, as the case may be.
    12. The piercer, who pierces the cock and slides for the engraver, and afterwards engraves them.
    13. The escapement-maker, who makes the horizontal, duplex, or detached escapements; but the escapement of a vertical watch is made by the finisher.
    14. The spring-maker, who makes the main-spring.
    15. The chain-maker, who makes the chain.
    16. The finisher, who complets the watch, and makes the pendulum-spring, and adjusts it.
    17. The gilder, who gilds the watch.
    18. The fuzee cutter, who cuts the fuzee to receive the chain and also balance-wheel of the vertical escapement.
    19. The hand-maker, who makes the hands.
    20. The glass-maker, who makes the glass.
    21. To these must be added the pendulum-spring wire-drawer, who draws the wire for the pendulum-springs, which is almost a distinct trade.

    … The principal London watch-makers order the movements, as above described, of the movement-makers of Prescot, who make them according to the calipers they receive from each maker with their orders. But the ordinary description of movements may be purchased at most of the watch-tool shops in London; one of the chief of which is Fenn’s, No 105, Newgate-street, where every description of clock and watch-maker’s tools and engines may also be procured at moderate prices."
  13. Vance Johnson's Avatar
    No, there is nothing holding the gear on. I've been using penetrating oil for a couple of days now, but I hadn't thought of also using heat. I'll try both.

    Thanks for your response.

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Gift
    Is it held secure by something difficult to see?

    Can applying heat with a soldering iron or heat gun expand the part enough to break it free?
    I have managed to get frozen parts of motors free by liberal use of penetrating oil and rapid gentle tapping.
  14. Robert Gift's Avatar
    Is it held secure by something difficult to see?

    Can applying heat with a soldering iron or heat gun expand the part enough to break it free?
    I have managed to get frozen parts of motors free by liberal use of penetrating oil and rapid gentle tapping.
  15. kinsler33's Avatar
    Your inquiry would probably yield better results if posted in the 'clock repair' section of the NAWCC Forum, but in any event you'll want to post some photographs. I think I know which clock this is, and I was able to solve that problem, but it's been about two years now and I don't recall just what I did. Violence wasn't required, and I have vague memories of a weird clip or pin somewhere, but at my advanced age things get fuzzy.

    M Kinsler
  16. Roy Horrorlogic's Avatar
    As someone with minimal abilities in the discipline, I am immensely impressed by anyone who can accomplish this sort of renovation. With boxes full of pieces of all kinds accumulated but untouched over several decades... well, you can imagine.
  17. Mike Phelan's Avatar
    Half a century ago, when I repaired watches for colleagues and pals, I came across many Ingersoll pocket watches; they were quite similar to this one, like a scaled-down alarm clock.
    I thought they were quite an ingenious design as well as being made down to a price. Then there were the Timex wristwatches, made on quite similar lines.

    Oddly, at auctions in UK these fetch as much as 19th C watches with verge escapements and fusees that cost a small fortune when new.