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Thread: Elgin 616

  1. #1

    Default Elgin 616

    Is this a comon watch? Size 16S 17 jewel Adjusted to 5 positions 3/4 plate Pressed jewels.

    Serial number N787093 about 1950. This model mumber is not in my watch book. So looking for some information.

  2. #2

    Default Elgin 616 (RE: Don)

    Is this a comon watch? Size 16S 17 jewel Adjusted to 5 positions 3/4 plate Pressed jewels.

    Serial number N787093 about 1950. This model mumber is not in my watch book. So looking for some information.

  3. #3

    Default Elgin 616 (RE: Don)

    Don:

    Is that adjusted to five positions, or five adjustments? Its not the same thing. Is it lever-set or pendant-set?

    Kent

    [This message has been edited by Kent (edited 03-03-2002).]
    Kent
    That guy down in Georgia

  4. #4

    Default Elgin 616 (RE: Don)

    The Model 616 is one of a family of six 16-Size watches made by Elgin from the mid-?40s through the early to mod-?50s. This family of watches was Elgin?s last series of U.S.-made 16-Size watches. The models in this range are characterized by a number of shared parts and a common overall ?architecture.? They all use pressed-in jewels on the plates, an uncut balance wheel with a hairspring of an Elinvar-type alloy, and a fairly simple wide damascening pattern. They have the look of a cost-optimized design and as though they were designed for a higher level of automation (or lower level of highly skilled labor) in assemply.

    All six models in this group were cased and timed at the factory and the case should say this on the inside of the back. Half a dozen or more case styles were used in yellow gold-fill, rolled gold plate and stainless steel. In general, the lesser watches used the RGP cases although the top Model 571 was cased in this style for export to Canada ? probably to reduce duty. The stainless case also seems most commonly used on the 571 model movement. In any event, any of these cases will accommodate any of the movements (provision for the setting lever, where necessary, being the only caveat). The cases are unique to these models because the watches use a set-screw to retain the winding stem in the movement rather than in the sleeve of the case. The cases all should also have a semi-circular cut-out on the inner perimeter on the movement side. This is to clear the regulator adjustment screw which has its head on the outboard side, just the opposite of previous Elgin experience.

    All of the watches should also have single sunk dials (faux single sunk on later models, by means of a lathe cut circle around the seconds bit ? cost cutting?). On all but the very earliest of these dials, there should be a stylized ?dp? trademark to signify Elgin?s use of their ?DuraPower? mainspring, allegedly unbreakable. Two styles of dial were common on all five of the lower grades: bold boxcar Arabic numerals or Montgomery numeric dials. The top model (571 B.W. Raymond) used variations on these two schemes, but usually with the marking ?B. W. Raymond? on the dial as well. Some 24-hour dials also exist as used in Canadian applications.

    Finally, on to the details of the individual models/movements. As you will see, your Model 616 is relatively uncommon. That?s not to say anything about its value. As you discovered, they are around to be found. But as a less common model in this set, it can be difficult to find one in very good condition, particularly since many of the 616 came in the quick-to-wear rolled gold plated cases (and that still doesn?t necessarily mean that it?s valuable, just depends on who wants one).

    Model 571 B. W. Raymond 21 jewels, 8 (some marked as 9) adjustments, lever set, approximately 87,000 made. This model is the top of the food chain in this group. It was a railroad grade/railroad approved model.

    Model 572, 19 jewel, 5 adjustments, lever set, 18,000 were made.

    Model 573, 17 jewel, 5 adjustments, lever set, 51,000 made.

    Model 574, 17 jewel, 5 adjustments, pendant set, 49,000 made.

    Model 575, 15 jewel, 4 adjustments, pendant set, 57,000 made.

    Model 616 17 jewel, 6 adjustments, pendant set, 27,000 made.

    As noted, only the 21-jewel B. W. Raymond Model 571 was a true railroad grade/ railroad approved watch. I have seen some of the others advertised recently as ?streetcar conductor?s watches? or similar claims. I don?t know the validity of these claims.

    As far as the matter of adjustments is concerned, I believe that Elgin was indulging in a bit of marketing excess when they rated the watches. Thanks to the hairspring and better quality mainsprings, they were all probably inherently adjusted to temperature and isochronism. That means three possible adjustments were ?gimmies? ? isochronism and temperature (heat and cold). Few other watchmakers (apart from Waltham on the later 23-jewel Vanguards) counted such adjustments when the movements were marked. However, considering that the 571 B. W. Raymond starts with a claimed 8 or 9 adjustments, it stands to reason that the lesser models probably included the three intrinsic adjustments in the total marked on their movements. As a result, to make an apples-to-apples comparison with the markings traditionally used on other brands of watches, these models should probably be ?discounted? by 3 adjustments to yield an equivalent specification.

  5. #5

    Default Elgin 616 (RE: Don)

    Thank you Bob and Keith for you information I will need to get this watch back out and look at it closer to determine other points about it.
    From what I remenber you are right on. The informaiton and the description of the case and movemnet are what it is.
    I bought this watch becaue it is in very good condition and the price was reasonable.
    I use the priceing in watch books for a guide and this watch was not in there.I think the case may be of more value then what I spent.
    Thank you
    Don

  6. #6

    Default Elgin 616 (RE: Don)

    Bob:

    The total production of the grade 571 was well over 160,000. Take a look at the August 1996 Bulletin, pages 485 and 486.

    Kent
    Kent
    That guy down in Georgia

  7. #7

    Default Elgin 616 (RE: Don)

    Thanks for the update on the production quantities. Those in my reply came from older reference material and don't, as you suggest, account for the less well documented later production.

    On a side note, the article referenced in "Watch World" to pinpoint the introduction date of the B. W. Raymond 571 watch makes two points which seem to help clarify the issues of its launch timing and the number of adjustments.

    1) "Plans for the 571 were drawn as early as 1939 , but because of World War II a decade has passed between the initial planning and actual production."

    That makes the 1949 time period sound plausible for production; perhaps 1950 as an on sale time period.

    2) "It is a 21 jewel movement with eight adjustments -- six to position and two to temperature."

    This seems to contradict the advertisement presented in the August 1996 Bulletin and raises the question of which is a better source of reference, contemporaty advertising (with Elgin as its likely source) or Elgin's house organ. In any event, the Pugh Brother's ad in the October 1995 Bulletin is not necessarily a dealer's misrepresentation. Rather, it repeats Elgin's own contemporaneous description of adjustments.

    In any event, if one can accept "Watch World" as an accurate portrayal of Elgin's own technical description, wouldn't this suggest that all 571s were adjusted to six positions, plus the two temperature extremes? Then, by deduction, wouldn't the ninth adjustment on later 571s likely be isochronism rather than a running change upgrade to a sixth position?

    Rather than the theory of a mid-life upgrading of the 571 from five to six position adjustments, the suggestion that it was six positions all along also seems to make some sense in the context of the competition -- up to this time, I don't believe anyone had yet been so bold as to claim isochronism as one of the adjustments on movement markings.

    Finally, six position adjustments also sounds likely in light of the other grades inthis range. That is, it you deduct two temperature adjustments from the counts marked on the other movements in the line (572, 573, 574, 575, 616), you arrive at either two, three or four adjustments for position. This would make them very comparable to other watches of similar type and jewel count.

    On the other hand, it isochronism was part of the original specification and listed adjustments, it would likly have applied to all models in the grade since they shared mainsprings and relevant elements of the train. This would mean that some of the the watches had relatively unusual position adjustment specifications for their jewel count and position in the market: only one (575), two (572, 573, 574), or three (616) positions.

    This makes me believe that the original conclusion with respect to adjustments in the October 1995 Bulletin article was correct.

  8. #8
    Steve Maddox
    Guest

    Default Elgin 616 (RE: Don)

    Bob,

    I'm not sure that I understood all of what you said above, but I was under the impression that railroad standards for watches had evolved by the late 1940s to include a requirement for adjustment to 6 positions. If that's the case, surely all Elgin Grade 571 models were adjusted to six positions from the very beginning, as they were always designed and intended as railroad watches.

    As for adjustments to isochronism, those have long been employed in all sorts of high-grade watches, and many watches were so advertised for decades prior to the introduction of the Elgin 571. As just one example that comes to mind, I have an Ingersoll-Trenton 19 jewel model, which has the words "Adjusted to Five Positions, Temperature and Isochronism," written on the pillar plate, immediately below the balance. A picture of this movement can be seen in the following old topic: http://www.nawcc.org/ubb/Forum3/HTML/000747.html

    At least as early as 1930, railroad standards required watches in service to be: "?.adjusted to 5 positions, temperature and isochronism, which will rate within a variation not exceeding 6 seconds in 72 hour tests, pendant up, dial up and dial down??."


    ------------------
    Steve Maddox
    President, NAWCC Chapter #62
    North Little Rock, Arkansas

  9. #9

    Default Elgin 616 (RE: Don)

    Steve said:
    At least as early as 1930, railroad standards required watches in service to be: "?.adjusted to 5 positions, temperature and isochronism, which will rate within a variation not exceeding 6 seconds in 72 hour tests, pendant up, dial up and dial down??."[HR][HR]
    Hi Steve:

    What is your source for this statement?

    Thanks,
    Kent
    Kent
    That guy down in Georgia

  10. #10
    Steve Maddox
    Guest

    Default Elgin 616 (RE: Don)

    Kent,

    The most common source I can immediately find for that quote is in the "Railroad Watches" section of Cooksey Shugart's "Guide to Watches." The most recent edition I have is the 2000 one, and it's at the top of page 26 in that edition.

    SM

  11. #11

    Default Elgin 616 (RE: Don)

    Thanks Steve:

    Its important to note that the standard mentioned applies only the the AT&SF as adminstered by Ralph D. Montgomery, son of Henry S. Montgomery. Other railroad requirements of the 1930's, 1940's and 1950's have no mention of 6 seconds over 72 hours and three positions. They only require the 100 year-old variation of less than +/- 30 seconds per week. These railroads are:
    Albany & West Point RR Co. (GA)
    Georgia Railroad
    Delaware, Lackawana & Western (no mention of variation)
    Northern Pacific
    Union Pacific
    Chicago, Burlington & Quincy (Burlington Route)
    Western Maryland
    Deleware & Hudson

    Kent
    Kent
    That guy down in Georgia

  12. #12
    Steve Maddox
    Guest

    Default Elgin 616 (RE: Don)

    Kent -

    Thank YOU for the additional info! I didn't really mean to suggest that by 1930, ALL railroad standards required watches to be adjusted to the standards mentioned above, but perhaps to be more clear, I should have specifically said that SOME railroad standards by that time had so evolved.

    More to the point, however, I don't think it's an overstatement to say that MOST, if not ALL railroad timepiece standards by 1930, had evolved to include a requirement for isochronal adjustment, which is what Bob Sharp had mentioned immediately above. The part about "rate within a variation not exceeding 6 seconds in 72 hour tests" may have been unique to just the AT & SF, but that part wasn't specifically related to the topic, as far as I can see. I probably shouldn't have included it, but it just seemed to make a better quote that way.

    As for your remark above, "Other railroad requirements of the 1930's??.only require the 100 year-old variation of less than +/- 30 seconds per week," I'm sure you don't mean to suggest that such standards were in effect in 1830, but your comments could be taken that way.

    So to get back to the actual topic, what's your take on the points about the Elgin Grade 571 models? Were they always adjusted to 6 positions and isochronism, or did they "evolve" to that over time?

    SM

  13. #13

    Default Elgin 616 (RE: Don)

    Allow me to clarify the misunderstanding of my earlier message that is evident in the following quote from another post:

    "More to the point, however, I don't
    think it's an overstatement to say
    that MOST, if not ALL railroad
    timepiece standards by 1930, had
    evolved to include a requirement for
    isochronal adjustment, which is what
    Bob Sharp had mentioned
    immediately above. "

    Actually, that's not what I mentioned. Let me clarify the point I intended to make, in the apparent event that it was not clear enough.

    The _number_ of adjustments marked on watch movements has typically referred to position adjustments. Any reference to isochronism and temperture was usually spelled out in text, but not included in the number of adjustments. I did not mean to say or imply that isochronism was not one of the required adjustments, simply that -- until the postwar (or so) Elgin 571 and Waltham Vanguard, it was virtually unknown for the _number_ of adjustments marked on the movement to include anything but the position adjustments.

    Thus, a movement like the 992B is marked "Adj. to Temp. and 6 positions." A late model Bunn Special is stamped "Adjusted Temp. and Six Positions." The B. W. Raymonds from the era prior to the 571 say "Adjusted 5 Positions" in one location and "Temperature" in another. And a Waltham Vanguard from the 1930s indicates "6 Positions" with no mention of temperature or isochronism.

    Only in the waning years of their 16-Size railroad movement production did a few companies (Waltham and Elgin) begin to mark their movements as having 8 or 9 adjustments, apparently inclusive of temperature and isochronism. Klar?

  14. #14
    Steve Maddox
    Guest

    Default Elgin 616 (RE: Don)

    Ahhh.....Now I understand. I mentioned in my first post that I wasn't entirely certain I understood what you meant, and it's now apparent that in fact, I did not. Please accept my apology for any confusion!

    If, as you say, "Any reference to isochronism and temperature was usually spelled out in text, but not included in the number of adjustments........until the postwar [era]," and "Only in the waning years of their 16-Size railroad movement production did a few companies (Waltham and Elgin) begin to mark their movements as having 8 or 9 adjustments, apparently inclusive of temperature and isochronism," how do you explain the "8 Adjustments" Studebakers made by the South Bend watch company in the 1920s? You don't think all of those adjustments were to positions, do you?

    SM

  15. #15

    Default Elgin 616 (RE: Don)

    In response to the following question:

    "...how do you explain the
    "8 Adjustments" Studebakers
    made by the South Bend watch
    company in the 1920s?"

    I should think that my use of the quaifier "usually" is an adaquate explanation.

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