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02-26-2004, 06:48 AM #1
1902 or earlier Elgin Double Hunter Pocket Watch
Only a small percentage of American watches (or Swiss watches for the North American market) were cased at the factories prior to the mid-1920's. Most watch companies just made movements (the "works") in industry standard sizes. The case companies made cases in those same sizes. The practice at that time was to go to a jeweler, select the quality of the movement and then pick out the desired style and quality of case. The jeweler would then fit the movement to the case in a matter of moments.
Or, watches were sold by mail-order. Large outfits such as Sears, Roebuck & Co., Montgomery Ward, or T. Eaton (in Canada), would offer the movements in a variety of cases of different design and quality in their catalogs. Smaller mail-order retailers would case the watches, typically in a 20-year gold filled case and offer it only that way, with the buyer not having a choice of cases.
The Elgin watch movement can be looked up by entering the movement serial number, 9628646, into the serial number field at
(you should copy this link and paste it in your browser address bar since directly linking to this website from the NAWCC Message Board is not possible)
In doing so, the information turns up that it is a 7-jewel watch, made in about 1901. It also shows that the watch is a 6-size watch. If this is so, than the watch would diameter of about 1-1/2 inches, making it a ladies size movement. If your watch is difference from this, please let us know.
Looking elsewhere around the above mentioned website, you can learn about watches in general, and about the history of the Elgin National Watch Co.
Bates & Bacon (B&B) started making cases in the early 1880’s in Attleboro, MA. In 1901, B&B was bought out by the Philadelphia Watch Case Co. which continued the use of the B&B name and the names of their gold-filled case grades:
Favorite, originally guaranteed for 20 years, after 1897 for 25 years
Puritan, guaranteed for 5 years
Regal, guaranteed for 10 years
Royal, originally guaranteed for 15 years, after 1897 for 20 years
Guarantees on B&B cases continued to be honored by Philadelphia, viz.: "A new case of the same grade given free of charge for any case that fails to wear the full guaranteed period, without conditions, without charge and without quibbling."
1897 and 1898 Bates & Bacon ads can be viewed at:
(again, you should copy these links and paste them in your browser address bar since directly linking to these websites from the NAWCC Message Board is not possible)
As you can see, the B&B Royal watch case is not solid gold, but is gold-filled. A large proportion of movements are housed in gold-filled cases. These cases are made of a sheet of inexpensive, "composition" metal (brass), sandwiched between two thinner sheets of gold by applying heat and pressure. During the 1930's, one process of doing this gave rise to the term, "rolled gold-plate." The gold sheet that becomes the inside of the case is much thinner than the gold sheet that becomes the outside of the case. Frequently, the purity of the gold used in the sheets, expressed in karats, is stamped inside the back of the case. Some case companies indicated the thickness of the outer layer of gold by using different trademarks for different thicknesses. Before federal regulations outlawed the practice, some case companies indicated the thickness of the outer layer by the number of years for which the case was warranted. Not all case companies were forthright about marking the cases or honoring the warranty (which is what gave rise to the federal regulations). Frequently, the color of the gold (imparted by the metal with which the gold is alloyed) is expressed in conjunction with the term, "gold-filled." Thus it is not uncommon to see terms such as "yellow gold-filled," "white gold-filled," "green gold-filled," and so forth, used in case descriptions.
That guy down in GeorgiaKent
That guy down in Georgia
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