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50+ year old Elgin Pocket Watch question

smokeyfan1000

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Aug 4, 2012
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ello, I'm a newbie (but oldie) here as I just registered.

I have an old ELGIN pocket watch, that belonged to my Father. It has great sentimental value to me.

It has gold plated colored case, IINM, and has a matching gold cover for the lense side, and the conductors loop & chain with white face, roman numerals, and has the "seconds clock" between 5 & 7.

I have just "rediscovered" it this week, and just wound it up to the correct time at 2:18AM this morning, as the knob used to "set the time" does not move the hands. I'm unsure if it is not working properly or if I'm just not doing something right.

So far everything else is working OK thus far, it is a tad 'fast" though.


Can anyone give me some advice as to how to set the time by using the knob? And if it is broken, is it repairable? And where can I get it repaired?

I know ELGIN went out of business in @ 1964 according to my brief,quick research tonight. So I presume any parts to repair the broken shaft/gear, or whatever mechanism is used for setting the time , are NLA?

Thanks In Advance Guys!
 

Kent

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Hi smokeyfan1000:

Welcome to the NAWCC American Pocket Watch Message Board!

Your watch is probably lever-set.

If you tell us about, and/or post pictures of, the movement and case markings, we ought to be able to lead to to information about your watch that you might not otherwise come across.

Unless you know that it has been cleaned and oiled within the last few years, you should have the watch serviced before running it very much. It may be helpful for you to read the Encyclopedia article on Watch Service and its related links, especially the one to the message board thread on the subject. The Encyclopedia article on Choosing a Pocket Watch Repair Person may be useful as well.

Having gathered and printed out information about a family watch (once we try to identify it), it is a wise idea to write out as much as you know about the family member to whom the watch originally belonged - or as far back as you can go, including (and clearly identifying) what you can guess. Then, add the names and relationships of the family members who passed it down to the current holder. Make up a booklet with this and all of the watch information and try to keep it with the watch. You might even include a CD or, better yet, a USB thumb drive with copies of the pictures or information, in addition to the printouts. Even though they may not be readable 100 years from now, some more recent descendent may transfer the files to the then current format and media. This way, the watch has real family heritage instead of it just being an old family watch, the identity and relationship of the original owner having been lost in the distant past.

Please feel free to ask about anything that isn't clear to you.

Good luck,
 

GeneJockey

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Don't assume parts are no longer available! No, they're probably not being manufactured anymore, but the there used to be many, many watchmakers in America, most of whom had large supplies of spare parts. Many collectors, and several vendors, have accumulated large stocks of spares from watchmaker's estates, so it is often straightforward to find parts for watches over 100 years old, especially from the big brands like Elgin.

Let me second all that Kent said, and especially suggest you post pictures! We can tell you a lot more from a picture than a description.
 

smokeyfan1000

Registered User
Aug 4, 2012
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Well, I'd like to post pics, but my a part in my digital camera decided to take a permanent vacation. I've been looking online trying to find one just like it. But have not found one yet, though I found some very similar, but older according to info online. I'm also have computer problems hence the late reply here.

Let me see if I can take, download, & post a pic with my cell phone
 

smokeyfan1000

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Aug 4, 2012
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Uploading from my phone might take me a while. I've never uploaded pics from my new samsung cell phone before. Soon as I figure it out, I'll post pics of the Elgin pocketwatch.

Please bare with me. I do want all the info possible about this Elgin
 
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smokeyfan1000

Registered User
Aug 4, 2012
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OK got the pics uploaded to photobucket. Might not show up, but there are very small red numbers on the outer edge of the large face number. The very small red number are "military time". hard to see them in pics. FWIW, these are not very good cell phone pictures, and I'll try to post better ones tonight.

Ok, here's my Elgin Pocket Watch. can anyone ID the age/year and Elgin's "name" for the watch?

2012-08-06110932.gif


2012-08-06110846.gif


2012-08-06110819.gif

2012-08-06110756.gif

Here's the "back side"....

2012-08-06110728.gif

And 'front side" or face side with closed cover

2012-08-06110701.gif
 

Kent

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smokeyfan1000:

While I applaud your efforts to post some pictures, and the success that you achieved, I can only repeat what I wrote in post #2
"... tell us about, and/or post pictures of, the movement and case markings ..."

The inner back can be opened in the same manner in which the outer back was opened.

Please be sure to post what is marked on the movement and the inside of the case back (you can ignore any "hand-scratched" characters in the case back, they're probably watch repairers' marks.), as your pictures do not seem as though they will be sharp enough for us to be able to read them.

Good luck,
 

smokeyfan1000

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Aug 4, 2012
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I know nothing about disassembling watches. Volvos & Harleys, yes.watches no

Any tips as to how to remove the back and inner back? Outer back appears to be hinged as front cover. however I can't open back via fingernail
 

GeneJockey

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Looking at the joint between the back and the case frame. If you look to the right of the stem (as viewed from the back), there is usually a lip or a small cutout. Insert a thin pocketknife blade in there, and gently pry, and the back should open up. There will be a similar cutout or lip in the same place on the inner caseback. If you're not confident you can do this without scratching, find a jeweler to open it for you.
 

smokeyfan1000

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Aug 4, 2012
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Thanks! It worked. This has a small lip near the stem, to open the back cover.

Just looking at the inner workings, makes me wonder how they even make/machine such small exacting sized gears and other parts. I find that amazing just in itself.

I see the following on the inside workings of it:

Elgin National Watch Co.
USA
15 jewels
11488071
Safety pinion
Fast
Slow
And it has some nice Venician style decorative engraving inside too.

And, On inside of back inner cover:

New York
Warranted
20 Years
878880

I'm going to post some pics of the "movement" (hopefully much better than the last ones) And thank you for the help thus far. It is much appreciated.
 
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Kent

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Checking the references listed in the Elgin Watch Co. Encyclopedia article (and tyo be confirmed by your pictures), Elgin movement serial number 11488071 can be seen to be a 16-size, model 6, grade No. 305, 15-jewel, hunting movement built in about 1905. This was a modest, although popular, movement of which 26,500 were built in about 1904-1905.

Your watch case is nominally gold-filled, but I don't recognize the "New York" name. This leads me to believe that it may not contain very much gold and may never had been intended to last for twenty years. On the other hand, it may be a quality case, made by a small company, which I haven't come across previously.
 

smokeyfan1000

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Aug 4, 2012
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I've done a little research and found this Elgin Watch database> http://pocketwatchdatabase.com/elginwatches/elgin_sn_intro.html

And found this serial number/year ID info > http://pocketwatchdatabase.com/elginwatches/serial_number_info.html

According to what I read, and IF I'm understanding it correctly, this info seems to imply 1903 according to my Elgin pocket watch's serial number. Is it possible this info is correct? Or am I wrong? As for the design on the case, I've seen the same "family shield" emblem in pics of other Elgins although placed lower on the front cover. And also the pattern on the rest of the case,both front & rear.

So I'm presuming it's safe to say this Elgin Pocket Watch was made somewhere in between 1903 to 1905?

Any way to determine 1903 or 1904, or 1905 specifically?

And are there any sites or info online I can reference , as to how much the watch my be worth in a dollar amount? Maybe on this forum there is a place to ask?

Not that I have any intention whatsoever about selling it, as it's a keepsake to me. But it'd be nice to know just for curiousity's sake.

I'll likely will it to another younger family member when I pass on, and it would be nice to be able to pass on it's Elgin Watch Company History, age & monetary value to them.

I have a love for things that are old and well made. For example, Just try to think of anything warranted for 20 years in this day & age.

And thank you fo the info thus far.... FWIW, I find it simply fascinating that this watch was already 30+ years old when Bonnie & Clyde, Pretty Boy Floyd , Al Copone and other gangster were perpertrating their crimes. And it was old when the 30's & 40's cars were being made.
 
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Kent

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... According to what I read, and IF I'm understanding it correctly, this info seems to imply 1903 according to my Elgin pocket watch's serial number. Is it possible this info is correct? Or am I wrong? ...
No, you've got it about right. The sources I used show a year or two later, but its all in the same neighborhood.


... As for the design on the case, I've seen the same "family shield" emblem in pics of other Elgins although placed lower on the front cover. And also the pattern on the rest of the case,both front & rear. ...
You've got to realize that the watch case wasn't made by the Elgin Watch Co. The movement wasn't put in the case at Elgin. Most likely, your ancestor picked out the movement and then picked out the case (or the other way around) and the jeweler put them together then and there. If that didn't happen, then the movement would have been put in the case at a mail-order retailer such as Sears, Roebuck, Montgomery Ward, or a smaller company.


... So I'm presuming it's safe to say this Elgin Pocket Watch was made somewhere in between 1903 to 1905? ...
You can go to the bank on it.


... Any way to determine 1903 or 1904, or 1905 specifically? ...


You could hire a medium to query your ancestor as to when he (or she, if it was a gift) bought it. Other than that, I'd lean more to 1905.


And are there any sites or info online I can reference , as to how much the watch my be worth in a dollar amount? Maybe on this forum there is a place to ask?

Not that I have any intention whatsoever about selling it, as it's a keepsake to me. But it'd be nice to know just for curiousity's sake. ...
I'm sorry to say that as it is noted in the "Ads and Value Rule" linked to at the top of this page, in the top menu bar, we permit "No Valuation in Education Forums." Should you wish, a valuation forum is available, as described in that link. As an alternative, knowing the proper description of your watch (which we have provided) you should be able to use a Google Search to find similar watches offered by internet dealers, or on eBay, and see what they are selling for. Alternately, check the value in the Complete Price Guide to Watches, No 27, C. Shugart, T. Engle and R. Gilbert, Tinderbox Press, Mount Pleasant, SC, 2007. A new edition comes out each year in January or February, so ask for the latest edition. The book is available at libraries, at most major booksellers and online at the NAWCC Gift Shop (ask about the current edition). Condition matters! Also, a solid gold case instead of a nickel or gold-filled case will make a difference as well.


... I'll likely will it to another younger family member when I pass on, and it would be nice to be able to pass on it's Elgin Watch Company History, age & monetary value to them. ...
I hope that you'll consider the suggestion up above about creating a booklet to keep with the watch. You may not know to whom it originally belonged, but you can put down that it was from your parents' family and start the details at your father.


... I have a love for things that are old and well made. For example, Just try to think of anything warranted for 20 years in this day & age. ...
Well, the Zippo lighter I bought was guaranteed for life. So was the Cross pen and pencil set I received as a gift. Both the lighter and the pen had been sent back to their respective factories when a problem arose that needed to be corrected. We collectors are used to seeing 20 year (and 25 year, and permanent) cases. As I mentioned above, your watch case may not be that high of a quality.


... And thank you fo the info thus far.... FWIW, I find it simply fascinating that this watch was already 30+ years old when Bonnie & Clyde, Pretty Boy Floyd , Al Copone and other gangster were perpertrating their crimes. And it was old when the 30's & 40's cars were being made.
Your welcome!

Yeah, we're kinda in love with them, too.

Good luck,
 

smokeyfan1000

Registered User
Aug 4, 2012
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Yep, Zippo lighters(I just sent one off to be repaired too).

But anything truly intrinsically mechanical these days isn't warranted on a time span alone. Well maybe TIMEX watches. Zippo lighters are not all that mechanical, just two basic moving parts. That's nothing compared to this Elgin.

One has to remember I'm more in the auto & motorcycle repair business. So my perspective is usually from that standpoint.

Imagine a car manufacturer warrantying the car for 20 years regardless of milage. LOL

Again Thanks!
 

Kent

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... Zippo lighters are not all that mechanical, just two basic moving parts. That's nothing compared to this Elgin. ...
The Elgin movement wasn't guaranteed for twenty years, only the case (with as few moving parts as a Zippo lighter - more than two moving parts - don't forget the hinge and the spring-loaded pusher for the flint - or a Cross pen).
 

smokeyfan1000

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Aug 4, 2012
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I did'nt know that. Thought is was the movement. What warranty did the movement originally have? Any/none
 

GeneJockey

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Regarding Elgin and guarantees, they DID offer a lifetime warranty on the Durabalance in their post-1958 wrist watches. Then again, they were out of business 10 years later, so what's a lifetime warranty mean then? ;)
 

smokeyfan1000

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Aug 4, 2012
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Also, since we've found this to be a 1903-1905 Elgin, is it a lever set, pendant set(that's in need of repair) or a pin set to set the hands to the correct time?

I notice a notch or small 'hole' in the side of the front bezel. Does this bezel pop off like the rear one, or threads on/out?

BTW, I'm still working on posting better pics for other member's reference/ID purposes
 

Kent

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It should be pendant-set.

The case was made to house a lever-set movement without having to do any alteration.

I can't remember ever seeing a watch guarantee.
 

smokeyfan1000

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Aug 4, 2012
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If it's pendant set, then that feature is boken/in need of repair. I'll have to find a good watchmaker/repairman, with spare parts/handmaking experience then, to fix it no doubt.

BTW, any good advice as to how to store the watch after I have it cleaned & oiled?

Here's (hopefully) some better pics of the movement from my cell phone, of this ELGIN......

2012-08-09152939.gif

2012-08-09183053.gif

2012-08-09183236.gif

2012-08-09183248.gif
 

Squite

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You just can't take photos that close with cell phones generally unless they have a specific close-up setting.
 

smokeyfan1000

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Aug 4, 2012
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I just popped off the face's bezel and crystal/lense ,which was replaced with a plastic/lexan? lense some time ago.

Seems I remember having that done years ago. I see no signs of it being lever set, so must be pendant set, and it must be in need of repair.

Anyone know of a trustworthy, honest watch repairman near Greensboro, or Burlinton NC area capable of repairing it?

I feel I should let someone that knows what he's doing, do he rest of the repairs/what it needs. I'm afraid I'm just going to break something.
 

Kent

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... BTW, any good advice as to how to store the watch after I have it cleaned & oiled?
...
In a soft, cloth pouch, in a dry, constant temperature location.
 

smokeyfan1000

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Aug 4, 2012
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Good, I have a black velvet Zippo lighter puch with flap that seems to fit it well I may sew something up better though.

is there anything I can do to enhance the gold finish/make it shinier, or is this not possible by cleaning means.
 

smokeyfan1000

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Aug 4, 2012
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I now have a minor question, concerning the Elgin "grade 305" how does their "grading system" work & what exactly does it signify? The higher the grade, the better the watch? or vise-versa?
 

Kent

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Is there any way to enhance the case's appearance, IE shine it up? Or best to leave it alone?
Some people polish their gold-filled cases with a jeweler's cloth. Some don't polish them at all. Since the thickness of the gold layer on your case is suspect, I'd leave it alone, as polishing it may wear through the gold to the underlying brass.


I now have a minor question, concerning the Elgin "grade 305" how does their "grading system" work & what exactly does it signify? The higher the grade, the better the watch? or vise-versa?
For Elgin, the grade numbers are just more or less in chronological order. You may find the Watch Grades Encyclopedia article helpful.
 

smokeyfan1000

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Aug 4, 2012
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I was thinking about very gently rubbing it with some Never Dull wadding to spiff it up, but , as you mention, the thickness of the gold filling is unknown.

I've emailed a couple of Watchmakers on the East Coast, about cleaning & repairing the pendant set, and I'm waiting on their reply.

I'd like to thank you Kent, for all your help and links to the information. You've been a great help to me.

I've owned this watch for @ 15+ years, and never knew much about it, let alone that it was made between 1903-1905.

It's much older than I had ever imagined. I'd always assumed it was a 1950's pocketwatch. I am truly surprised it is that old.

FWIW, If ya ever need to know info or need parts for an old Volvo, PM me. I have quite a few of the old Volvo Greenbook service manuals, and know many people with good, antique parts.

Thanks again Kent & the other members that chimed in!! All of you have really made my week!
 

Kent

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You're welcome!

If you have trouble finding someone to work on it, you might consider The Escapement
1.jpg
(Click for info.)

Good luck,
 
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