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Elgin 571

Kent

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Whizzer:

The Elgin grade 571 hit the market in 1946. It directly followed the grade 590 "B.W. Raymond" which had replaced the grade 478 "B.W. Raymond."

Although the B.W. Raymond name doesn't appear on the first ones, (the 'U' series and the first of the 'J' series serial numbers), all the Elgin literature that Ed Ueberall and I have seen refer to the 571 as a "B.W. Raymond" watch, or the "B.W. Raymond Timemaster."

See:

"The Elgin 16-Size 571, Revisited," Ed Ueberall and Kent Singer, NAWCC Bulletin No. 303, August, 1996, pp. 484-92.

"Railroaders' Corner - The Elgin 16-Size B.W. Raymond, Part 2: The 21 and 23-Jewel Watches," Ed Ueberall and Kent Singer, NAWCC Bulletin No. 337, April, 2002, pp. 209-217.

(Back issues are available to members on loan by mail from the NAWCC Library).

Kent

That guy down in Georgia :)
 

Kent

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George:

I believe that Elgin considered the grade No. 590 to be an anomaly, a transitional design built to meet wartime conditions. As soon as the war was over, it was superseded by the value-engineered, grade No. 571. In creating the grade No. 571, Elgin didn't seem to consider the grade No. 590. Dan Anderson had once sent us a copy of an Elgin document No. 40D87-1;
"Active Listing and Description of Movements"
(revised) January 23, 1951
stamped Feb 1 1951

It lists 16-size, 47th model 21-jewel grade 571 as:
8 Adj., R.R. Lever set (Replaces 478)

It also lists:
16-size, 45th model 23-jewel grade 569 as:
8 Adj., R.R. Lever set (Replaces 540)

and:
16-size, 46th model 23-jewel grade 570 as:
8 Adj., W.I. Lever set (Replaces 494)

As far as Ed and I know, neither of these 23-jewel watches were ever built.

The grade No. 590 is identical to the grade No. 478, except for changes to use a monometalic, non-magnetic balance and hairspring. These were most likely the Elginium hairspring and Beryl-X balance, first introduced in 1941. "Both are rustproof, non-magnetic and unaffected by temperature or climatic changes." (to quote an October 1941 Elgin ad) Nevertheless, the movements were marked to indicate adjustment to temperature.

The grade No. 571 was fitted with a "rustproof Elginite hairspring" and a "Monometalic balance." (see 1950 ad, link below) these were probably improvements over the hairspring and balance furnished in the grade No. 590. Also, the grade No. 571 was adjusted to six positions (early production may have only been adjusted to five positions). So yes, the grade No. 571 is technically more advanced than the grades No. 590 and No. 478.

As to whether or not it is better built, that's probably debatable, depending upon your definition of the word "better." It was cheaper to produce in an era of practically minuscule pocket watch sales. Thus it better fit the needs of both Elgin, and the railroaders who needed inexpensive railroad grade pocket watches.

Kent

That guy down in Georgia :)

P.S. George: What's the serial number of your grade No. 590 and what case is it in?
 

Jerry Freedman

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Kent: Your discussion prompted me to take a look at my 478. It has a white metal hairspring. The balance is a golden color, and does not appear to be bi-metallic. What was Elgin using on the 478? It is a 1943 watch.
 

Kent

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Jerry:

As far as I know, the grade No. 478 balances are cut, bi-metalic balances. That's what's in my S/N 41,306,703 (one of those gold flashed movements), although it also has a white hairspring. I really don't know what it is.

Larry Treiman had a lot to say on the subject of 1940's Elgin balance material that he had written to me about six years ago when Ed and I were looking into the subject to see if there was enough for a column. Perhaps in the war effort, Elgin developed some new materials and they found their way into the grade No. 478.

If anyone else has some documentation of what this hairspring and balance material is, I'll look forward to seeing it.

Kent

That guy down in Georgia :)