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  1. #1

    Default Atlas Watch Company -Chicago

    Why is it so hard to find information on the Atlas watch Company out of Chicago?

  2. #2

    Default Atlas Watch Company -Chicago (By: jcpenny)

    Why is it so hard to find information on the Atlas watch Company out of Chicago?

  3. #3
    Registered user. Greg Davis's Avatar
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    Nov 2000
    Washington state

    Default Atlas Watch Company -Chicago (By: jcpenny)

    Because it was a sub-brand of Elgin of Illinois. They just used the Atlas name because they were embarassed to be offering such a low-quality watch.

    - Greg

  4. #4

    Default Atlas Watch Company -Chicago (By: jcpenny)

    Well...this might be right. I don't know for sure, but perhaps the "Atlas" marked Elgins don't fit this description, though others might.

    I've been researching these cheap Elgin grades (and don't ask me why I'm researching them - I have no idea. It's a sickness, I reckon). They are listed as grades 177, 178 and 179, and are 6 and 18 size, 7 jewel watches, with an uncut & uncompensated balance. A number of these carried the "Atlas" name, as well as 4 other names - Acme, Atlas, America, Sun-Dial and Solar. I haven't yet nailed down all of them, and as Greg notes some may be in-house Elgins that the company didn't want to associate their name with, but the story may be a little different for Atlas. Here's why -

    First, I have identified an "Atlas Watch and Jewelry Co." in an old Chicago city directory from just after the turn of the century. However, I still need to confirm that they were in business during the time that these watches were made (late 1890s). Second, there are a boatload of "Atlas" marked watches made by New York Standard (also low-end, 7j movements), which are pretty easily found by doing a quick search on ebay or picking through junk pile at a mart. Third, there are also low grade "Atlas" named movements that were made by the US Watch Co. (one of which is pictured on page 16 of Greg Frauenhoff's neat pamplet on the "History and Products of the United States Watch Co." that he published last year).

    So, while I haven't made a firm conclusion, at this point I'm thinking that it's unlikely that the "Atlas" name is simply a line of Elgin watches that they didn't want to put their own name on. Instead, I'm thinking that it's an advertising gimmick by a jobber/retailer to give the appearance of a "real" watch company, or just a retailer using a high-falutin' sounding name to push affordable, low end jeweled watches.

    I think similar stories can be told for the "America" and "Solar" lines, but that's just a hunch at this point as I have less info marshalled for those. I still don't know about the other two names, but if I were a betting man, I'd go to the $2 window and put it on "Sun-Dial" as the best candidate for the one of these grades that Elgin didn't want to associate their name with.

    But I'm still researching, so this is all just preliminary, at best. I'd certainly be interested in what others think about this (as well as any other info, SNs, etc. that folks may have and be willing to share on this).


  5. #5
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    Default Atlas Watch Company -Chicago (By: jcpenny)


    Is this any use in your research?


    NAWCC #159012

  6. #6

    Default Atlas Watch Company -Chicago (By: jcpenny)

    Yep - thanks! This falls into one of the mixed-name runs, which seems more typical of the later runs - earlier runs appear to be of a single name, while later ones aren't. This particular one is a mix of Sun-Dial and Atlas.


  7. #7

    Default Re: Atlas Watch Company -Chicago (By: John F)

    Not sure if this helps (or hurts) your research. My better half was just handed down a 6 size PW marked "Atlas Watch Co" on the dial in very nice condition. The movement is a 15 jewel grade 295 Elgin dating from 1904 in a 14k hunter case and pendant wind & set. I have no reason to doubt (given what i know of the family history) that it is not original. I'll post a couple of pics when i have an opportunity.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Atlas Watch Company -Chicago (By: MINI)

    I like the "jobber/retailer" theory...
    A couple of years ago I bought an "Acme" off ebay and all the seller could tell me was that it "looks like a New York Standard".
    I also have an old keywind "Acme" sold by H Samuel of Manchester (still a High Street jewellers chain) and it contained a decent Swiss movement.
    I see the same name has now surfaced again on a Taz (Tazmanian Devil) "Railroad Rail Engineer" battery-powered pocket watch. With marginal minute dial and a picture of a steam train, no less.
    It's almost as if the makers all grew up together watching the same Roadrunner & Wile E Coyote cartoons and decided to call their watches "Acme" just to be ironic...

  9. #9

    Default Re: Atlas Watch Company -Chicago (By: topspin)

    Pics as promised. As such, i dont agree with Greg's assertion that these were 'low quality watches'.

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  10. #10

    Default Re: Atlas Watch Company -Chicago (By: MINI)

    Mikey, Take a look at the balance wheel. All Atlas watches I have seen have a solid, uncut, uncompensated balance wheel. This is one big hallmark of a lower quality watch. Also, yours is the highest jewel count Atlas that I have seen in nearly 60 years of collecting. Most all I have seen are 7J.


  11. #11
    Registered User Jerry Treiman's Avatar
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    Los Angeles, CA

    Default Re: Atlas Watch Company -Chicago (By: Tom Huber)

    If you look at Mikey's watch you will see that it is not an Atlas movement ... it is marked Elgin. I can't explain the Atlas dial.
    Jerry Treiman, NAWCC member since 1971
    Charter member of Pocket Horology Chapter 174

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Atlas Watch Company -Chicago (By: jcpenny)

    Atlas watch 7172330. Just wanted to post for John F's research.

    My grandmother had 4 pocket watches she left my dad. This Atlas belonged to her brother and that is all I know about it. Eventually I inherited them. My dad had all four serviced and all ran when I got them.

    As you can see the balance is cut in this Atlas. I pulled the balance assembly and there are no markings on the balance arms, thus no way to determine if original or a replacement sometimes in its past. My dad got the watches in 1960 and had them serviced soon after as he wanted to wear his dad's. If the balance was replaced it was done in 1960 or before.
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  13. #13
    Registered user. Squite's Avatar
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    Default Re: Atlas Watch Company -Chicago (By: luvsthetick)

    According to Mikrolisk Elgin owned the 'Atlas Watch Co.' and just 'Atlas' trademarks in the US until 1964. There were a few Swiss companies that owned the name overseas in that time.

  14. #14
    Registered User richiec's Avatar
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    Default Re: Atlas Watch Company -Chicago (By: Squite)

    that atlas is an Elgin 7 jewel, 18s made about 1897 and could have had any one of 4 markings of which Atlas was one.

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