Elgin National Watch Co. pocket watch


New Member
Feb 19, 2012
I have this beautiful watch I got from my grandfather years ago and was looking for more information about it. It belonged to his brother who was supposed to have worked for the railroad before goign off to fight in world war 2. I understand that it is from about 1880-1885 but was wondering where the ceramic face plate came from as it does not look like any other watch I have seen from this time period.

DSC05241.jpg DSC05240.jpg DSC05242.jpg

I checked the case number and they all match. The red glow you see on the gold movement is the reflection of light from my camera as it took the picture.

doug sinclair

Registered User
Aug 27, 2000
Calgary, Alberta

Please supply the serial number off the "works" and we'll be able to tell you more. I doubt that this 7-jewel Elgin would have passed railroad inspection. The "dial" may or may not be original to the watch, but it is not an uncommon dial.

Paul Sullivan

NAWCC Member
Jan 15, 2011
Hi mallenhall,

The following information came from the Elgin site:

Serial Number 5363571
Grade: 73
Named for: None
Description: Grade 73, 18 size, 7 jewels, made about 1894.
Open faced movement. Pendent wind and set. Full plate.

Link: http://elgintime.dyndns-home.com:8080/elgintime/SnumLookup?SN=5363571

This is a fairly low grade open faced 18s watch. The dial face looks to be an Elgin single sunk with script similar to an 18s Elgin G.M. Wheeler I have. The one odd thing is the additional script after "Co.". Although your grandfather's brother worked for the railroad this would not be his "working watch" as it is not a RR grade movement, which required at least 17 jewels, 5 adjustments (this was labeled on the movement) and to be lever set. Yours is 7 jewels, pendant set, and unadjusted. Does the watch run and keep time?




Gibbs Literary Award
NAWCC Fellow
NAWCC Silver Member
Aug 26, 2000
Hi mallenhall:

Please add my welcome to that of the others.

In addition to the good information alreaady posted:

Checking the references listed in the Elgin Watch Co. Encyclopedia article, the gilt-plate, grade No. 73 was a modest, but very popular movement, with 659,000 having been built between about 1887 and 1899. You can see a very brief description, along with the original list price (in Canadian dollars) and where the grade No. 73 fit in Elgin's line of 18-size watches, on page 19 of an M.C. Eppenstein & Co. Pocket Price List, undated - but appears to be early 1890s, courtesy of the Internet Archive and the Winterthur Library (located by Richard Beauchamp).

Your watch case is nickel and was made by the Philadelphia Watch Case Co.

I can see by the position of the Pocket Watch Regulator that you should have the watch serviced before running it very much, unless you know that it has been cleaned and oiled within the last few years. 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, it is a wise idea to write out as much as you know about the family member to whom the watch originally belonged. 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,

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