Can y'all help me with this Elgin?

Discussion in 'American Pocket Watches' started by Mikie T, Nov 7, 2018.

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  1. Mikie T

    Mikie T Registered User

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    Hello All.....
    I have been absent for a while. I hope everyone has been doing well.
    I won this one on the bay yesterday and I am trying to figure out exactly what it is.
    The SN listed in the description is 322011....
    Well, when I look the SN up I see this.....

    Serial Number SN Range Quanty Name Year grade size code jewels Adj/reg/etc.
    -------------- -------- ------ ---- ---- ----- ---- ------ ------ ------------
    322011 322001 1000 BWR 1875 69* 18s hfg1k 15j U-A ?

    # marked "None" according to 1896 MC

    *** dial probably should be marked "Elgin Nat'l Watch Co" not "National Watch Co" ***

    (*) notes on grade 69: Marked: BWR or None. first 18s grade
    first HC style first key setting first 15 jewel
    first ? regulator

    # are there really unmarked mvts? # REG_FREE or REG_ELGIN?

    SO..... does the above say that this particular movement is noted in the records to be in the "NONE" category?
    The seller pics are poor at best.
    dial.jpg movement.jpg

    I do see "Elgin National Watch Co." on the movement, so that fits...... and I can see a few of the serial numbers clear enough to think the seller posted the SN correctly.
    The balance cock has the higher grade decoration. There appears to be NOTHING on the barrel bridge. The jewel count looks to be at least 11......

    From all of this and what you can sort of see in the pics..... is this a BWR movements that has no BWR markings?

    I have tried every possible SN combination I can think of and I can't get anything else close to what this movement appears to be.

    What do you Elgin guys think?
    Thanks for your help.
    Mike
     
  2. GeneJockey

    GeneJockey Registered User
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    What you have there appears to be a non-BWR Grade 69. They seem to be considerably scarcer than Grade 69s marked "BW Raymond"

    Although later materials catalogs conflated the Model 1 BWRs and the Grade 69, the earlier catalogs did not. They show separate runs of key wind BWRs and key wind Grade 69s. The Grade 69s were mostly marked BWR, but not all. If it's really 322011, then it's from the second run of Grade 69s. What the early catalogs call a BW Raymond, and Grade 69 are VERY, VERY SIMILAR, such that AFAIK all their parts are interchangeable (to the extent that any parts are interchangeable on these early watches), but they are not QUITE identical. It's subtle, but you can easily tell the difference once you've seen it.

    What I find confusing is this: Elgin started making Grade 69s while they were still making the original BWRs. And most if not all the Grade 69s I've seen on Ebay are marked as BWR. Why, if they were sold as BW Raymonds, did Elgin bother making Grade 69? And why did they make them AT THE SAME TIME they were still making the original keywind BWRs?

    And why, after a hiatus of 500,000 watches, during which the only BW Raymonds they made were stem wind/lever set, did they make two runs of the key wind/key set Grade 69?
     
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  3. GeneJockey

    GeneJockey Registered User
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    BTW, as luck would have it, I just happen to be carrying my Grade 69, serial number 865305, from the next to last run.
    IMG_0961.JPG IMG_0960.JPG
     
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  4. Bila

    Bila Registered User
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    Maybe for another market, such as the English, a lot of the American watches sent to the English Market that I have seen are un-named grades:???:
     
  5. GeneJockey

    GeneJockey Registered User
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    I identified Grade 69s from all the runs on Ebay, and they were all marked BW Raymond. And IIRC, all from the US.

    Yeah, Elgin did a number of oddball watches for the export market, that don't seem to fit with their domestic product line.
     
  6. Bila

    Bila Registered User
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    It would be good to see an advertisement with regard to price these both wholesaled for, to see the price differential between the two.
     
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  7. GeneJockey

    GeneJockey Registered User
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    I snapped a pic of my BW Raymond #129194, and Grade 69 #865305. Up close, there are a number of detail differences.
    • First, the serial number on the BWR is on the barrel bridge. On the Grade 69 it's on the upper plate.
    • The settings for the 4th and 3rd wheel jewels are larger on the BWR, and so are the jewels.
    • The pairs of jewel setting screws on these wheels line up with the balance center on the BWR, and with the Center wheel on the Grade 69.
    • The regulators are different, but genuine BWRs were available with both kinds.
    • The wavy vs straight cut barrel bridge is not relevant - I've seen a BWR from the last run (377001 - 378000) with wavy bridge, BUT the serial number is still on the barrel bridge. All the Grade 69's I've seen have the wavy bridge.

    IMG_0965.JPG
     
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  8. Mikie T

    Mikie T Registered User

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    I don't want to be argumentative.... (just trying to understand)

    Why would your watch movement you are referring to simply as the "grade 69" still have BW Raymond on the plate?
    ( I guess some do and some don't)

    Is it that the "official" BW Raymond movement was considered a "railroad grade" watch and the "grade 69" was not? (i.e., fit, finish, adjustments)

    AND... the only way to tell the difference between and "official" BW Raymond and a grade 69 is by looking at the movement to see the differences you have pointed out.?

    YES.... and as Bila pointed out... was there a price differential between these 2 watches?

    Mike
     
  9. Mikie T

    Mikie T Registered User

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    SO..... these 2 - GR 69's are really different movements.

    I suppose they should have ACTUALLY been classified as 2 different grades. Jewel settings are different, barrel bridge is different.

    I know Elgin did some crazy things without explanation but still.......
    Your GR 69 with a BW Raymond signature on the top plate that is NOT REALLY a BW Raymond movement.

    Confusing....... But, maybe that was the original point.

    Mike
     
  10. Greg Frauenhoff

    Greg Frauenhoff Registered User
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    January 1884:

    img393.jpg
     
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  11. TimeAntiquarian

    TimeAntiquarian Registered User
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    As mentioned above, the earlier Elgin serial lists differentiate between the “Raymond” and the nameless Grade 69, marked “Elgin Nat’l. Watch Co.” The numbered classification was a result of future simplification for material catalogs.

    Your watch was produced within the second of four nameless Grade 69 runs.

    The estimated total production of the (nameless) Grade 69 is less than 4,000.

    259001-260000 [1,000]
    323000-322001 [1,000]
    865001-866000 [1,000] (Mixed "B.W. Raymond" and "Elgin Nat'l. Watch Co.)
    897001-898000 [1,000] (Mixed "B.W. Raymond" and "Elgin Nat'l. Watch Co.)

    It is important to understand that Elgin did not group the original Keywind Raymond into the “Grade 69” classification until much later. At the time, these were considered two grades: “B.W. Raymond” and the nameless “B.W. Raymond.”
     
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  12. Kent

    Kent Registered User
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    Probably because they were committed to producing "nameless" movements to protect their dealers from discounters (to whom Elgin was selling large numbers of movements). The serial number vs. grade lists were considered to be confidential - not available to the public. Without the serial number vs. grade lists, you couldn't be sure that the grade No. 69 you bought from a discounter was the same as a B.W. Raymond (or even that it was a grade No. 69 - discounters were not necessarily the most honest of sales outlets).

    1894_Jun_Nameless.jpg
     
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  13. Mikie T

    Mikie T Registered User

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    WOW.... excellent information!
    Thanks so much!

    Mike
     
  14. GeneJockey

    GeneJockey Registered User
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    #14 GeneJockey, Nov 8, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2018
    Just to clarify, from Schlitt's EB logs, and from my own observations, MOST of the movements in those runs seem to be marked "BW Raymond". Schlitt found Grade 69s marked B.W. Raymond from every run. So, "nameless", but marked BW Raymond.

    Right now on Ebay, there's a Grade 69 marked BWR from the first run (259666), AND a genuine BWR from the next block of serial numbers (260524). 259666 has a wavy barrel bridge, 260524 has straight cut.

    The other oddity is that when Elgin began making stemwind/lever set BW Raymonds, they listed them as BWRs in the serial list, and they look like the keywind BWRs (large jewels and settings, screws aligned with balance center). When they started making Grade 70s, they look like the Grade 69.

    So, Elgin was making BWRs in key and stem wind AT THE SAME TIME as they were making the keywind Grade 69s, AND the stemwind Grade 70s, which were mostly marked BW Raymond. And apparently selling them all at the same price, if I read Greg's post correctly.
     
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  15. GeneJockey

    GeneJockey Registered User
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    Or, more accurately, the BWR IS a different movement from the Grade 69. Instead of thinking of them as both "Grade 69" because the 1950 serial number list seems to say so, think of it as telling you which parts will fit, thus the BWR and the Grade 69, though different movements, both take Grade 69 parts.

    Welcome to Elgin, where you can rely on the unexpected!
     
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  16. Mikie T

    Mikie T Registered User

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    I see.....
    SO.... there is a BW Raymond grade and a Grade 69 that might be marked BW Raymond. Parts will exchange....hmmmmmmmmm.
    Even though some of the grade 69's have "BW Raymond" on the top plate, they are NOT BW Raymond GRADE.
    Nice move Elgin.... a marketing ploy.
     
  17. GeneJockey

    GeneJockey Registered User
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    I suspect that they realized sometime around 1871 that if they stuck with just names for the grades, they'd end up having to name them after random people like the guy who delivered coal the the factory, or keep reusing the same names over and over for each successive version, and eventually two movements of the same grade would have not a single part in common.
     
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  18. GeneJockey

    GeneJockey Registered User
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    Also worth noting that after they started numbering grades instead of naming them, they pretty much created a new grade number when they made even slight changes, so that by the mid 20th Century, between 1938 and 1956, they had made 4 different series of the 15/0 oblong wrist watch movements, based on relatively small changes between series.
     
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  19. pmwas

    pmwas Registered User
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    Lovely thread :)
    What amazed me most is the difference in prices of Raymond and Taylor grades - I expected they would be closer...
     
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  20. Keith R...

    Keith R... Registered User
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    I agree with Paul.

    Keith R...

    100_2650 (800x600).jpg 100_3134 (800x600).jpg
     
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  21. Kent

    Kent Registered User
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    Here an explanation taken from the "Elgin Watch Co." Encyclopedia article:

    Grade Numbers and Names
    The watch grades of Elgin movements, like those from other manufacturers, are the identification of the level of quality to which they are finished. This can get confusing because Elgin assigned a grade number to a movement of a specific size, jeweling and finish. If the same basic movement design underwent a change, such as replacing a conventional, bimetalic balance with a monometalic, temperature immune balance, a different grade number would be assigned.

    Then, Elgin assigned a name to a whole range of movements (and grade numbers) of various sizes and jeweling, but finished to the same level of quality. Thus, there were B.W. Raymond grade movements of different watch models in 16-size having 17, 19, 21 and 23 jewels and in 18-size, full-plate 15 or 17 jewel, or 3/4-plate 17, 19 or 21 jewel. Each size and jeweling combination was built in a group of movements, having different grade numbers, as changes were made over the years.

    To confuse the matter further, movements of the same grade number, and even from the same run, might be given a different grade name, such as Father Time or Veritas, or not given a name at all, just being marked with the grade number; or not even that, only being marked "Elgin Nat'l Watch Co." All of this only makes sense to marketing people. Just how different were the different grades of what seemed like the same movement? Well, a study of the available information would help, especially in examining the descriptions and pricing in the ads and catalogs. For example, comparing the description of the 18-size, 21-jewel Veritas grade No. 239 with that of the 18-size, 21-jewel Father Time grade No. 367 on page 2E of the 1917 Oskamp-Nolting Catalog (a jobbers' catalog) and especially the $10.00 difference in the list prices, there seems like there should be a significant difference. However, this may be misleading, as is shown by a look at the Elgin Master Records, "Grade 367 Notes." The first three items mentioned, which differentiate the No. 367 from the No. 239, are:
    That's the whole difference! Eight years earlier than that 1917 catalog, the difference in pricing of a factory-cased watch between the two in this 1909 Ad is $5.00. This was more than a day's pay for the average factory worker in 1914.

    1909_Jul_21_49_Dial.jpg
     
  22. Mikie T

    Mikie T Registered User

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    WOW... so much smoke and mirrors.
    Very interesting indeed! Thanks for digging that up Kent!
    Mike
     
  23. GeneJockey

    GeneJockey Registered User
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    A number of the early keywinds have faux features, too, like the 11j models with jewels only in the upper plate where you could see 'em. Some of those had fake jewel settings, i.e. the jewels were rubbed in, not set, but the plate had a circle scribed into it that LOOKED like a setting, plus two completely useless screws (GM Wheeler, WH Ferry). Still others had bimetallic balances that LOOK LIKE a compensating balance, but aren't cut, so they don't compensate for temp at all (MD Ogden, Chas. Fargo).

    I hate to think that my favorite company engaged in such chicanery, but they did!
     
  24. pmwas

    pmwas Registered User
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    At this point almost everyone did. I have a feeling this was just a way to decorate the movement to make it look better. Like damaskeening - completely useless, but made the movement look better. If it's 'morally' OK... one has to decide himself...

    As for the uncut bimetallic balance - it's something I don't get and I never got a good answer why would anyone make such. Notice that in Swiss watches of the time there seem to be more uncut bimetallic balances than cut. I just can't figure out why...
     
  25. Keith R...

    Keith R... Registered User
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    Probably Kent would be the best to explain cut vs uncut regarding temperature
    compensation. I think the climate in North America may perhaps have driven
    the cut compensated bi metalic balance wheel in the watches made in the US.

    Most of my English watches up to 1867 have solid gold wheels. I could be wrong
    though.

    Keith R...
     
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  26. pmwas

    pmwas Registered User
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    No, in fact I guess it was just the manufacturing technology that allowed making cut compensation balances quite cheaply. I wondered why American 7j watches of early 20th Century had cut balance wheels and Breguet hairsprings and I think it was just easier to make just one type of balance wheel on a manufacturing line one after another. They were made of brass covered steel and I guess it was not much cheaper to make it of uncovered steel or to make it of brass and plate it. And if a watch with monimetallic balance was to be considered inferior, the 'profit' could be disputable ;)

    Just my thought, though...
     
  27. GeneJockey

    GeneJockey Registered User
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    Well, a balance with weighted screws would have been easier to poise, using 19th Century technology, than a solid balance. Plus you can add or subtract weight from the balance to put the regulator in the center of its range, instead of having to re-pin the hairspring at the stud. So, that's an argument for an uncut balance with screws, but why bimetallic? What I don't know, since I'm not a watchmaker, is whether simply cutting the balance without doing any adjustment will give you better temperature compensation than uncut.

    I DO know that my solid balance 'National Watch Company' Elgin keywinders run significantly slower in my pocket than on the bench, so they're regulated to run a little fast at room temp. The difference is a couple minutes a day.
     
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  28. GeneJockey

    GeneJockey Registered User
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    Not just the balance, though. The balance cock is different between flat hairspring watches and those with Breguet hairsprings - closer to center on the latter - so you only have to make one style of balance cock.
     
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  29. Kent

    Kent Registered User
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    I'm not sure that I'm "the best to explain cut vs uncut regarding temperature compensation," but I'll give it a try. First, it would be helpful to read (or reread) the "Watch Adjustment" Encyclopedia article, or at least the first four sections: Unadjusted, Adjustment, Temperature Compensated Balance (wheel) and Adjustment to Temperature.

    Afterwards, it should be obvious that an uncut (solid) balance has no ability to compensate for the change of strength of the hairspring with respect to temperature; whereas even watches having bimetallic compensated (cut) balances provide some compensation for changing temperatures, even if unadjusted.

    Note that this doesn't apply to the 1930s+ monometalic balances used with Elinvar Extra hairsprings (and similar metals from competing watch manufacturers). The whole point of using such metals is that they are relatively immune to temperature changes within the ranges in our environment. And, they have the additional property of being relatively immune to magnetism as well.

    Regarding the thought, "the climate in North America may perhaps have driven the cut compensated bi metalic (sic) balance wheel in the watches made in the US." I don't think that the annual temperature range in the U.S. is very different from that in Europe, which was a huge market for the watch factories of England and Switzerland (home to the largest of the European watch manufacturing centers). I don't know, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the bimetallic compensated (cut) balance was developed there first.


    The short answer is plain fakery.

    To elaborate, these are seen on Swiss Fake watches. They're meant to deceive; to appear that the watch is adjusted when in fact it isn't; even if the movement is marked "Adjusted." There are even sophisticated fakes on which the bimetallic balance rims are cut part way through (from the top - of course) so as to appear that the watch has a temperature compensated balance when it actually doesn't.

    One tip-off that should one to inspect a watch more closely if if it has a micrometric (patent) regulation that bears the marking, "Adjusted." These are frequently seen on Swiss fakes.
     
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  30. Mikie T

    Mikie T Registered User

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    Just for the record, now that I have this watch in hand...
    The serial number is indeed 322011......GR69, 15Jewel, 1875 according to Mr. Schlitt's website.

    And here is a better picture of the movement showing the SN.
    322011 GR69 1875 15j RR.JPG

    Mike

    (needs a good cleaning too)
     
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