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  1. #1

    Default Grandfathers Elgin Pocket Watch

    I'm trying to find more information on my Grandfathers Pocketwatch. I recently inherited it and my understanding is that it was his stepmother's father's watch. My Grandfather recently passed at 97 years old. Here are the details of the watch. It reads Elgin Natl. Watch Co., has Roman Numerals and a second hand dial at the bottom. The hands are thin with a bulge 3/4'a of the way up. The Case is very ornate and has an 8 point star on the back with a ruby? in the middle (1/3 carat approximately if real) There are flowers and leaves in between the points of the star (8 of them). The gold appears to be several tones. There is a lot of detail on the case back Front, sides, lots of scrolling. There is a raised shield on the front that appears to be for a monogram. If you open the case there is a stamp that reads Warranted 14K under that and U.S.A.SSAY under that it looks like the case mark is CW Mfg co. there is a number 139165 under that. The inside case has the same number on the inside. The Workings are labled G.M. Wheeler. on top, Elgin Ill on the bottom. Safety Pinion near the mechanics. Serial # 3933649. The inner workings are gold colored. I don't know how many jewels it is because it doesn't say. Is this watch gold or gold plated? I'm finding conflicting info. Is the ruby real? I'll never sell it, I'm just curious. Sorry for the long post, just didn't want to leave anything out. Thanks in advance for anyones help!

  2. #2
    Registered User richiec's Avatar
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    Brick, Ocean, NJ
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    Default Re: Grandfathers Elgin Pocket Watch (By: Birddogprop)

    Birddogprop, the watch is an 18 size, full plate, 13-15 jewel stem wind, lever set watch made about 1889. the movement is gilt, a very fine gold tone coating on the works. The case, based on your observations of the markings, appears to be 14K gold, would love to see a photo of the case and movement if at all possible. Only a jeweler could likely tell you if the ruby was real but if the case is real gold it is most likely a real ruby.

  3. #3

    Smile Re: Grandfathers Elgin Pocket Watch (By: richiec)

    Hi Birddogprop:

    Welcome to the NAWCC American Pocket Watch Message Board!

    The Elgin National Watch Co. was the biggest American watch company in terms of jeweled movements produced, over 50,000,000 in its approximately 100 years of building watches from 1866 to the 1960s. Wayne Schlitt has a great Web Site Devoted to Elgin Watches. Also, an early article on the company, The National Watch Company by S. W. Robinson, J. of the Franklin Institute, 1869, originally from Greg Frauenhoff's website can be viewed.

    Basic information about an Elgin watch, including its approximate date of manufacture, can be obtained from the Elgin Web Site Data Bases by using the serial number on the movement (the "works"), not the case, to look the watch up. Choose "Serial Number Lookup." Be sure to type in the serial number without any spaces or commas. If you enter a space and then "v=13" after the serial number, notes on surviving examples will be included in the ensuing report. These were as reported to Wayne, or as he found them on the internet. After you look up your watch, choose "Watch Codes" from the menu in the left-hand side of the page, that's where the abbreviations are explained. There is a lot of other good information on the site on Elgin watches and on pocket watches in general. Its well worth a couple of hours to go through different sections.

    Oldwatch.com's Elgin Production Date Table, or the Pocket Watch Site's Elgin Date Table also provide a means for determining the approximate production date. In general, we think of serial number vs. date lists - created by using the average number of watches produced over a period of years - to only be accurate within a year or two at best, and recognize that there are numerous exceptions wherein which the dates may be off as much as 3 years or more. This is not just for Elgin, but for other watch manufacturers as well.

    As richiec posted, your G.M. Wheeler grade No. 82 was built in about 1889. A brief catalog description of the movement may been seen online in the 1887 (Updated to 1889) S.F. Myers Catalog.

    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 (even then, uncased movements were furnished to the trade at least until the 1960'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.

    Note: The grade of a case is the quality of the materials and work that went into it. Each case grade was offered in many different engraved designs.

    A short history of American watch cases, within the online article "Decorative Aspects of American Horology," by Philip Poniz, can be viewed on The Antiquorum Magazine website.

    I don't have access to case manufacturers references at the moment but perhaps somebody else can identify the maker of your case.

    Please feel free to ask additional questions,
    That guy down in Georgia

  4. #4

    Default Re: Grandfathers Elgin Pocket Watch (By: Kent)

    Thank You Kent and Richiec. I will try to take some pictures tonight and post. I live in Atlanta and need to have the crystal replaced and have the front reattached with the pin. Is there a reputable jeweler that anyone knows that works on pocket watches? I noticed Kent was from Georgia. I hope others may know something about the watch. I obviously hope that it's gold even though I will continue to pass this down to my children. There seem to be conflicting information on the web regarding the warranted wording and the U.S.ASSAY wording. the 14K mark is worn but by looking at other pictures I'm 99.9% sure I can make it out now that I know what it's supposed to say. The gem looks real and the gold looks real. It is a substantial watch case. I'm looking forward to more feedback. Thanks!

  5. #5

    Smile Re: Grandfathers Elgin Pocket Watch (By: Birddogprop)

    You might consider The Escapement

    Click for info.

    Good luck,
    That guy down in Georgia

  6. #6

    Default Re: Grandfathers Elgin Pocket Watch (By: Birddogprop)

    Try Daniel Summers at http://crystalfit.com/ (678) 665-4920. He lives in Tucker and recently serviced my gread grandfather's Elgin BW Raymond for me. Very nice guy.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Grandfathers Elgin Pocket Watch (By: richiec)

    I don't know how to attach pictures here. Could I e-mail them to you? Or a quick tutorial of how to add pictures would help

  8. #8

    Smile Re: Grandfathers Elgin Pocket Watch (By: Birddogprop)

    To post an image, scroll to the top of the thread and click on "FAQ," then scroll down to "vBulletin FAQ" and click on the "How to post images" and follow the instructions. Note that there is no indication of attaching a file (picture) until you go to actually post your thread or your reply. The picture does not show up in the "Instant Reply" text box in which you've written your thread or your reply, nor does the picture appear in the "Preview." You can test your efforts in the Just Practicing and Learning Forum.
    That guy down in Georgia

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