"Its just an Elgin" Collecting Pocket Watches

Discussion in 'American Pocket Watches' started by Denis Campbell, Apr 26, 2014.

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  1. Denis Campbell

    Denis Campbell Registered User

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    I was reading the forums and saw a few threads that said "it's just and elgin". As a new pocket watch collector this is a curious statement. I got into collecting American pocket watches because it represents an era in US history where we were number one, the best bar none in that field. The same one could say about 60 and 70 era muscle cars. To me this would be saying its just a Chevy, or Ford, or MoPar. While everyone has their favorites none can be excluded from what they represent.

    Did Elgin produce or swamp the market with too many mediocre pieces? Were their numbers that much different than Waltham or Hamilton? Was or is Elgin viewed as the everyday mans pocket watch? Where does this its just a Elgin attitude come from? I am just as proud to own an Elgin of this great era in time as I am a Watham, Hamilton, Hampden, Howard, Southbend, or Illinois.

    Thanks,
    Denis
     
  2. Ron DeGenaro

    Ron DeGenaro Registered User

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    My guess is that what they meant is that the watch in question was a "common" watch IE. many in circulation. I agree with you that Elgin has many fine watches. Some of the low jewel movements I have are very nice watches. Beauty is in the eye if the be-holder makes sense to me. If YOU like it then it's something to be proud of. I'm with you, I like them all!
     
  3. Kent

    Kent Registered User
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    Denis:

    The Elgin Watch Co., at approximately 50 million movements, was the most prolific of the American jeweled watch makers, beating Waltham by about 10 million watches (in rough, round numbers) and building approximately 20 million more than New York Standard. Elgin had about a ten to one ratio (or greater) over Hamilton, Illinois and Hampden; and had much greater ratios over other jeweled watch companies.

    Elgin made tens of thousands of high grade and very high grade movements. However, they also made hundreds of thousands of medium grade movements and tens of millions of good, everyday, modest, affordable movements to compete in the low end of the market.

    There are quite a number of Elgin enthusiasts and others who prize the high end Elgin watches and variations of the others. Nevertheless, collectors as a whole don't seem to get excited over the company's products. This attitude had carried over to the 18-size watches that Elgin made for the Ball Watch Co. in limited numbers. Although some of those are Ball Official RR Standard movements in 17- and 21-jewel versions, they only recently became valued as much as the Hamilton-built Ball Official RR Standard movements (if they have at all).

    Ed Ueberall and I noticed this disproportionate attitude about a decade ago when we wrote the Railroaders' Corner column "The Watch That Gets Forgotten: Elgin's Father Time," Yeah, we exaggerated the blasé attitude, but the lack of overall interest was there to begin with. We both have a considerable number of Elgin watches in our collections, and we're proud of them, but even though we go out of our way to collect data on 18-size, full-plate high grade Elgin watches, our greater interest lies in other areas.

    And, the lack of overall interest in Elgin products can be seen on this message board as well. Again, there are some heavy-duty Elgin collectors, but they're not near the majority. I haven't done so, but I'll bet that if you count the threads about Elgin watches (especially if you ignore those started by single-watch people asking about a family watch), the quantity won't come close to those about Hamilton, Waltham or Illinois.

    So yeah, I particularly like my 18-size, full-plate, Father Time railroad watch, but its just an Elgin.
     
  4. Hawk53

    Hawk53 Registered User

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    All good answers and I agree with what Kent said, but I'll add something else. I collect Westfield watches, thought by some to be "not Bulovas" even though they were owned and manufactured by Bulova. Their attitude absolutely amazes me, but I believe without this sub-brand Bulova would never have become the influential company they turned out to be. It also makes it easier to pick up very nice watches, for very little money! I also own some very nice Elgin's, Hamiltons, and a absolutely beautiful Hudson Maxim pocket watch. I say collect what you love and let others believe what they will.
     
  5. Ron DeGenaro

    Ron DeGenaro Registered User

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    To echo what Kent said, I just picked up a FATHER TIME 18s and love the sheer size of it.
     
  6. Luis Casillas

    Luis Casillas Registered User

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    #6 Luis Casillas, Apr 26, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2014
    Oh, I absolutely understand the sentiment. When I got started collecting pocket watches about two years ago, I would look through eBay listings and quickly noticed the massive number of Elgin watches for sale. It wasn't long before I started saying things like "my god, not another Elgin."

    At some point I caught myself saying that and wondered whether perhaps there were a few interesting Elgins, and whether other people's lack of interest in many of them might offer a good collection opportunity. Now I collect Elgin watches almost exclusively; sometimes I even think of selling some of my "nice" watches (e.g., Waltham contract Keystone/Howard) just so I can buy more obscure Elgins.

    I'll say a few things, a mix of objective and subjective.

    First of all, over its lifetime Elgin was the largest American producer of jeweled watches, at 50-60 million total. (Waltham I think made about 34 million, and most everybody else produced much fewer. New York Standard I understand were pretty large, but I've seen conflicting reports on their production numbers.)

    Second: Elgin made the bulk of these watches in the 20th century. From 1867 to 1900, Elgin made ±10 million watches; from 1900 to the 1960s, they made ±40. Elgin also made a much wider variety of ebauches from 1867 to 1900, whereas by the 20th century they'd gotten their groove on and the pocket watch designs were much more uniform. So yeah, in the 20th century, they did swamp the market with masses of very uniform watches. I still do sometimes go "my god, not another 20th century Elgin" :p. (Though to be fair, I say the same of most post-1880 7 and 11 jewel Elgins...)

    Third: I've found the 19th century Elgin watches much more diverse and interesting that the 20th century ones. Most of the "action" in collecting 20th century Elgins seems to be about the more expensive high grade watches made in smaller numbers (railroad watches, gimbaled ships' watches, wind indicators, the C.H. Hulburd, etc.). Whereas with a 19th century Elgin collection, I feel there are also strong opportunities of organizing a really interesting collection that focuses more on the diversity of watch designs that Elgin made:

    • The early "sharp bridge" 18 size KWKS watches (which were made in about 10 different names; second page)
    • Elgin's earliest stem wind watches
    • The failed low-end 17-size watches from the mid-1870s (particularly if you can find them in factory cases)
    • The unique designs that Elgin made for their very brief 1870s London office (almost nothing has been written about these!)
    • The Elgin convertible movement
    • Tracking down Elgin's earliest nickel watches
    • Elgin's center-seconds watches (today known as the "Doctor's watch")
    • The evolution of Elgin's winding and setting mechanisms

    Fourth: compared to Elgin, much more has been written about several other American watch companies. For Elgin it's basically Erhhardt's 1977 book (Elgin Watch Company, Identification and Price Guide) and Wayne Schlitt's excellent website. Not that there aren't lots of opportunities for research on other American watch companies, but Elgin does strike me as a bit under-researched, and given the volume of watches that they made and how they're often very affordable, as presenting a great opportunity for a collector.
     
  7. Jason K

    Jason K Registered User

    Anyone who claims to collect American pocket watches and also claims that they don't own an Elgin and won't bother buying one...I would encourage them to give it some time and realize that they are only considering collecting American pocket watches. If you're doing much of any collecting, your going to find some Elgins that you like, and some you'll acquire because you picked up about ten others in a great deal, and several Elgins happened to be a part of it.
     
  8. WatchmakerWannaBe

    WatchmakerWannaBe Registered User

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    It's just a Plymouth Furry - The same muscle car possessed by the devil himself in Stephen King's story - Christine. This is the ultimate muscle car:

    Plymouth.jpg

    There are many high grade Elgin watches that I would love to own - Like a Veritas or like this one:

    Grade 91.png
     
  9. Kevin W.

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    I have more Elgins in my collection than any other maker, and i love them all. And a few key wind Elgins as well.
     
  10. Kevin Moodie

    Kevin Moodie Registered User

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    Yup, "only" Elgins -3044 (Medium).jpg

    -3044 (Medium).jpg
     
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  11. Bill Manders

    Bill Manders Registered User

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    I agree with all of the above.
    I mean I have several high end Elgins in my collection, can't beat the H/C 149, the 150's both 20 and 21 jewel, 181's,349's, all the different grade Veritas, and Father times, I have these running just as well as any Hamilton, that I have, and I have a few. The Elgins are far better finished, from an eye candy point of view, than most hami's or others, but comparable with the Waltham 92's.
    The beauty is in the eye of the beholder, collect what appeals to you, after all it is what you like, who cares what someone else looks for.
    My collection is varied and I love them all.
    Bill
     
  12. Jason K

    Jason K Registered User

    A lot of variation in what I have as well. Elgin certainly isn't what I have most of...more Balls, Bunns, etc. probably than Elgin, but Father Time and such right in there with them.
     
  13. rrwatch

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    Just another Elgin..... Sm Elgin Ball Gr 333 21 J HC Mvt_edited&rotate.jpg Sm Elgin Ball Gr 333 21 J HC Dial.jpg

    Sm Elgin Ball Gr 333 21 J HC Mvt_edited&rotate.jpg Sm Elgin Ball Gr 333 21 J HC Dial.jpg
     
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  14. Paul Sullivan

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    I think Elgins remain one of the best watches for beginning American pocket watch collectors. One can test the waters without spending allot, and acquire a piece of of history when the U.S. dominated the world in the quality factory made watch. I agree with Luis on his comment of the looks of the low and middle grade Elgins. Although I bought a few in the beginning of my collecting I find them so ugly and plain now. It seems quite strange as I still want to get a 18s or 16s Hamilton whose plate designs varied little compared to Elgin. I still love the Elgin 16s three finger bridge, the 18s Father Time, or the 18s Veritas. Even the latter day watches like the 616, 573, 571, and 478 BWR are wonderful timekeepers.

    My 18s Veritas

    214 18s Veritas 8401426 (2).jpg

    214 18s Veritas 8401426 (14).jpg

    214 18s Veritas 8401426 (2).jpg 214 18s Veritas 8401426 (14).jpg
     
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  15. Ethan Lipsig

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  16. Kent

    Kent Registered User
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    Here's the Father Time I mentioned earlier.

    While I'm at it, here's a grade No. 150 that, by virtue of its lever-setting mechanism, may be considered to be a grade No. 277 however, the conversion of this particular movement isn't documented.

    I just love the dial signature on these.


    attachment.jpg attachment.jpg
     
  17. GeneJockey

    GeneJockey Registered User
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    #17 GeneJockey, Apr 27, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2014
    I used to collect Hamilton Railroad PWs, years ago. When my grandfather's possessions came to my Dad, we found a couple Elgin pocket watches among them. I confess to feeling disappointment that they were 'just Elgins', though I did get the best one refurbished for Dad.

    Years later, I became interested in vintage watches again, this time wrist watches, which are undeniably more convenient AND more affordable to collect! I thought I'd collect Hamiltons again, and indeed bought a few, but every one I found on Ebay had numerous bidders, and the only ones I could afford had obvious flaws. Out of curiosity, I checked the Elgin listings, and found a number of attractive watches that ended up selling for far less than similar Hamiltons.

    I started looking into Elgin. They made good products that were well thought of at the time, similarly priced to Hamiltons, and with their own style. And best of all, there weren't 10 bidders for every piece! I decided to collect Elgins instead, and I have amassed a collection of over 150 of them, including the later 10s pocket watches, and now I'm working on the later 16s pocket watches.

    There is a LOT less information out there about the later Elgin watches. Most of the databases lack information after 1950; until this year, there was ONE Elgin catalog available to view online. For any Hamilton watch, you can find the model name, what years it was produced, rarity, etc. Elgin? Good luck. It makes it more of an adventure! But if you take the time, it pays off. Twice I've picked up solid gold watches for very low prices because I knew what they were and nobody else did.

    As I got into repairing watches I found that there are lots of parts available, too, not to mention parts movements, and because Elgins bring lower prices, I was much more willing to work on them than I would be on a Hamilton.
     
  18. Kent

    Kent Registered User
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    For the purposes of this thread, that might be the significant part of the post. After all is said and done, they're just Elgins.
     
  19. mauleg

    mauleg Registered User
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    The dismissive word, "just" in this context seems to be based on commonality, perceived or otherwise. Given that some Elgins were produced in smaller numbers, such as grade 155, it could be argued that some Elgins are not all that common. Furthermore, although rarity, or scarcity is a factor, it's not the only one to be considered when determining whether or not a given timepiece is collectable. Parts availability, for one, is an incentive, rather than the converse, IMHO.
     
  20. Kent

    Kent Registered User
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    The 18-size, 21-jewel, Elgin-Ball Official RR Standard, hunting-case watch shown in post #13 is from an Elgin run for which 1,000 serial numbers were blocked out. However, it's serial number, 11959026, the 26th movement of the run, is the highest one known (to Ed and I - we'd appreciate hearing of others). Thus, as a conservative estimate, perhaps 50 of these were actually built.

    One might think that such a scarce, high-grade, unusual (being a hunter) watch, put out by Ball (whose watches are heavily collected) would have a very high collector interest (and hence value). Nevertheless, although it wasn't as cheap as the open-face version (of which 2,000 were made), it was far less than one might think, probably 'cause it is just an Elgin.
     
  21. GeneJockey

    GeneJockey Registered User
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    There is something to be said for a collection that ISN'T just another collection of Hamiltons. :D
     
  22. Jerry Treiman

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    Kent's post highlights what I think is an under-appreciated aspect of Elgin watch production. They seem to have made a practice of blocking out groups of 1,000 or more serial numbers for any particular grade run, but evidence from surviving examples indicates that for many of the lower production or high-grade pieces not all were produced. So, how many of the tens of millions of serial numbers allocated were actually used, and thus what was Elgin's true production. My own research into the C.H. Hulburd/grade 446 indicates that only a fraction of the 8,000 assigned numbers were actually finished, and that applies to each of the eight runs of 1,000. It seems that, rather than use old/lower assigned serial numbers, they would set aside a new run of 1000 for a later production run, regardless of how many they made in that run. This was in the 1920s and later and may be different from earlier production practice. For example, I have a couple of grade 194 (12-size 23-jewel) movements that show some distinctly different finish details indicating that movements from this run (7,499,001-7,500,000) were finished over a number of years.
     
  23. Greg Frauenhoff

    Greg Frauenhoff Registered User
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    I have a few Elgins in my collection. Here are a couple:

    img726.jpg

    img726.jpg
     
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  24. Luis Casillas

    Luis Casillas Registered User

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    I have been growing skeptical of the common practice of referring to these serial number blocks as "runs," at least for the 1870s Elgins that I've been researching. What is this supposed to mean in the first place? I have watches from "the same run" that have different setting mechanisms...
     
  25. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    I think the term is shorthand for a run of serial numbers, but with many companies it may also equate to a production run. It was common practice in some companies to produce a block or run of ebauches or unfinished movements, and then finish them according to demand. As I mentioned, I have Elgins from the same serial number block but with characteristics indicating a significant time gap between finishing. I have seen similar differences in Waltham movements from the same "run". The unfinished movements are sometimes referred to as being "in the gray" because of the gray appearance of an unfinished movement. I have seen such movements from Elgin, Waltham, Hamilton and Illinois. So, a "run" probably applies more to a block of ebauches for a particular model, with finishing times differing according to circumstance.

     
  26. Luis Casillas

    Luis Casillas Registered User

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    #26 Luis Casillas, Apr 27, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2017
    Yeah, I've heard that, but my concern is how well does that story hold up when you get watches from the same "run" (155,101 to 160,000) that differ this much:

    xyzzytom_206424 xyzzytom_205573

    There is also an intermediate type in this "run"; I don't have a photo of the exact watch, but this one (different grade) is similar:

    xyzzytom_219234

    As far as I can tell, Elgin sometime no later than June 1873 allocated the 5,000 serial number block 155,001 to 160,000 and the 3,000 serial number block 235,001 to 238,000 to stem winding watches. Watches from these large blocks were being sold as late as early 1878 (per jewelers' catalogs).

    I don't really see any evidence that all the watches in these blocks were started together. The plates on these watches appear to be the same as contemporary KWKS watches, but factory modified first to add stem setting, and later two closely related lever setting variants. So for all I know, they could have been started from plates that were made years apart, independently. The plates could even have been made in batches that were used for watches of different grades.

    In addition, other data suggests that stem wind watches like these were low production items at that time, made in batches much smaller than 3,000 or 5,000. Jacques David estimated in 1876 that only 10% of Elgin's sales were stem winders. Other contemporaneous "runs" (serial number blocks) of Elgin stem winders were much smaller, 100-700 watches.

    Putting these observations together, I find it more likely that 155,101-160,000 and 235,001-238,000 are not "runs," but rather large serial number blocks that were preallocated for stem wind watches that were made as multiple, separate runs in your sense.
     
  27. Denis Campbell

    Denis Campbell Registered User

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    #27 Denis Campbell, Apr 27, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2017
    Wow excellent replies and discussion. Thanks for the link to elginwatches.org tip of hat to Wayne Schlitt for all the effort. Great information. Elgin by far produced the greatest amount. So simply supply and demand explains a lot in collector sence.

    I started collecting a year ago and have 23 pocket watches.

    7 Waltham
    6 Elgin
    2 Hamilton
    2 Hampden
    1 Illinois
    1 South Bend
    1 Howard
    1 Arnex
    1 William Kennedy
    1 English Fusee

    All of the Elgins I have are beautiful movements and that is why I like them so much. Here are the Elgins I have:

    16s 241 3f bridge full hunting 12103431

    18s 316 with Fahys hunting "Warrented To wear permanently" swing out case. 13868625

    0s 324 18101501

    18s 353 19573409

    16s 372 BW Raymond 19949333

    12s 345 26311835 very nice looking white gold filled case.

    Here are pics of the 241 my fav
    xyzzytom_204689 xyzzytom_204691
     
  28. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    Denis - that is a nice start on your collecting journey. I think that Elgins can be a fun challenge because they did make so many models and grades, but there are many very interesting needles hidden in that haystack.


    Luis - I don't think we disagree at all on the facts of the production, it is just a question of what you call it. Could all of these variants have been modified at different times from a block of rough movements waiting to be finished (awaiting final milling for the setting mechanisms and final gilding)?


    But your puzzle about the variety of movement finishing from within a single block of 5,000 numbers again relates to my question. If these were finished in smaller groups at different times, is there any indication that all 5,000 numbers in this block were used?
     
  29. Luis Casillas

    Luis Casillas Registered User

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    But what I'm skeptical of is whether such large batches of rough movements would generally correspond to blocks in the serial number lists. An alternative that sounds plausible is that a one large batch of rough movements could be finished as several different grades assigned to different serial number blocks.

    Just for the sake of argument, let me draw a made up scenario. Say it's early 1874, and the company starts a batch of 5,000 rough Taylor movements. They decide to divert 10% of these to SWLS watches, and make the rest as KWKS. Using more or less realistic serial numbers (based on my data), you get something like this:

    GradeWind/setAmountStart Serial #
    TaylorKWKS4,500210,001
    TaylorSWLS500155,501


    So, would this count as one run that was finished as two different grades, or two runs of different grades made from the same batch of movements?

    Then they make a second such batch of 5,000 later in the same year, make 90% KWKS/10% SWLS again, and assign serial numbers like this:

    GradeWind/SetAmountStart Serial #
    TaylorKWKS4,500285,001
    TaylorSWLS500156,001


    Now, in this scenario, the 155,101-160,000 block was preallocated to SWLS Taylor (as I believe it was), but the watches were made over 5 years in smaller batches like in this scenario (as I suspect were). Is this one big run that was made from many batches of rough movements, one one big block of serial numbers that comprises multiple runs?

    Whatever you call it, I think the more important question still is this: how reliable is the assumption that one serial number block corresponds to one batch of rough movements? I increasingly feel that 1870s Elgins just don't obey that rule.

    Well, the first 4,000 appear to have been used, but I can't tell yet about the last 1,000. My database so far only has 7 watches in this block: 3 watches in 155,xxx, 2 in 156,xxx and 2 in 158,xxx.
     
  30. Kent

    Kent Registered User
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    It is convenient for us to think of a 'watch run' as a group of the same watch model/grade moving through the production cycle. However, more experienced collectors/researchers understand that the entirety of a 'run' wasn't necessarily produced at the same (or sequential) time. Nor were all of the run's details identical.

    There are enough factory records (from different factories) to back this up. One example for Elgin is the (so called) Master Records Notes for the grade No. 274. Not only do the notes show the different names that were marked on the movements (and not in continuous, sequential blocks), but they show detail changes within runs.

    The note that I like (three lines above the block of serial numbers) says: "Adjusted 5 Positions" stamping put on at random.
     
  31. Tom McIntyre

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    Another view of the manufacturing process is to ask what the numbers were for.

    The numbers were initially assigned to the stamped parts as assembly numbers that might or might not have digits in common with the serial numbers that appeared on finished movements. Once the trains and jewels were put in place, it was important to keep those parts together to avoid having to redo the depthing of the pivots.

    When multiple models were in production at the same time it must have been convenient to cluster the serial numbers and that was likely how blocks of serial numbers came into existence. You need a big factory for that to be useful. I do not think the phenomenon exists in English or maybe even in Swiss watches.

    In terms of dating production, or estimating production dates, I don't think the blocks have any significance. If they have any meaning it is likely that the size of the block represents the market forecast for that particular group.

    The watches themselves were often made in batches of 10 since the movement holder boxes and other material of production uses that grouping. Properties based on that clustering or clusters of such groups up to say 100 items were probably significant in terms of features and perhaps decoration.

    In the 20th century industrial engineering appeared in the 20's and 30's and led to statistics being kept on larger groups and team production targets of 1,000 watches became common. However, marketing still designated small groups of examples in a given model for promotional reasons and "prestige" items. Apart from these it becomes very difficult to assign meaning to serial numbers and, of course, they were eventually discarded when no longer useful in assembly operations.
     
  32. Kent

    Kent Registered User
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    Except, of course, they were retained for railroad watches where the serial numbers were used by time service people for movement identification and service record keeping.
     
  33. GeneJockey

    GeneJockey Registered User
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    Kent, or Tom - Do you know if any of the US-made 16s movements were produced with serial numbers? I have seen both 542 and 543 10s movements without them, but I haven't followed the later 16s movements until recently.

    Also, Kent, do you have any insight into how the railroads tracked the railroad wrist watches, since neither of the Elgin BW Raymond movements had serial numbers, nor did the Hamilton 505, AFAIK?
     
  34. Kent

    Kent Registered User
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    Gene:

    The Elgin B.W. Raymond grade No. 571 movements all had serial numbers. These can be seen below. Ed Ueberall and I also have a number of Elgin grade Nos. 572, 573 & 574 movements listed (by serial number) in our data base of reported examples of railroad watches and other interesting (to us) watches.

    As for wristwatches, I know very little about them, but I believe that, for these, there was at least a requirement that a case serial number be used if thre wasn't a movement serial number.


    attachment.jpg https://mb.nawcc.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=84921&d=1298296178&thumb=1 attachment.jpg
     
  35. GeneJockey

    GeneJockey Registered User
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    Thanks, Kent!

    I mistyped, actually. What I MEANT to ask was whether any of the 16s watches were produced WITHOUT serial numbers.

    I know from the wristwatches that Elgin continued producing the same wrist watch grades with no serial numbers after the I-prefix numbers were used up, for a year or so before replacing them with a completely new series of movements. They also produced at least some of the 10s 542 and 543 grade movements without serial numbers, so I was curious about the 16s movements.
     
  36. Nigel Harrison

    Nigel Harrison Registered User

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    #36 Nigel Harrison, Apr 28, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2014
    Being 'Just an Elgin' does allow for educated and watchful persons to pick up really nice/obscure pieces at affordable prices. I am not a big Elgin collector but I still click on them and have a good look at what some are, just in case. I will definitely buy some Veritas and Convertables in the future for my collection, when I see the right opp. For some reason I am drawn to the 17s/16s Elgins rather than the 18s pieces, but in other makers I am more drawn to the 18s pieces. I think it is due to the fact that Elgin made some really nice early 16s pieces.

    Elgins being too easily overlooked allowed me to make a recent purchase. I picked up a very overlooked 16s 7 Jewel Nickel Elgin loose movement recently that was a buy it now and near the end of it's listing time. It is quite rough and has been over-washed(frustrating ) and is not running, but the really unique thing that was overlooked by many was that the serial number was... 11000000. (11 Million)

    Since I am a bit of a serial number nut, I could not hit buy it now fast enough...and the price...it was pretty much the price of a normal random running 16s 7 jewel Elgin movement. Happy Days. Now who knows someone who can repaint movement lettering very well and affordably? As I have a few that need doing :) darn over-washers!!
     
  37. diveboy

    diveboy Registered User
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    do it your self with a enamel paint marker pen. just go over the lettering, let it change color slightly to indicate its drying and wipe it with a cloth to remove the excess. can do multiple coats in this fashion, each taking a minute.

    as to the lack of research on Elgin, I totally agree and here is my response

    http://www.elgin.watch
     
  38. Rob P.

    Rob P. Registered User

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    You'll notice that even in this thread the tendency for collectors of Elgin watches is to only look for the highest of the high end. But, the fact is, Elgin made millions more of the low end watches. Low jewel count no name movements means low interest.

    Well, not for me. I LIKE low jewel count Elgin watches. I can buy them CHEAP!!! I have several I bought for under $10. Yep, they needed work, but I can do that. Some of them needed cases. Well, I can do that too.

    These watches may not be fancy or flashy or be a "real RR watch" but they are fantastic watches. And believe me, a 15J Elgin from 1910 can keep time almost as well as a 23J BWR, Bunn Spl, or others of similar watch collector fame. For pennies in comparison.

    The only bad thing is that the other makers are getting scarce & the prices are going through the roof. Which makes people look at their 2nd & 3rd choices, gasp, and then decide to buy a cheap Elgin instead. Which is slowly driving up the price for "just an Elgin".
     
  39. Dante Sudilovsky

    Dante Sudilovsky Registered User
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    Bumping an old thread here, but I collect Elgins almost exclusively now since they are by far the most affordable and plentiful of American watches. Collecting expensive, high grade railroad pocket watches would be great, but for somebody more interested in repair above all else, Elgins are by far the best American brand. Also, I've just loved the brand since an Elgin was the first vintage watch I ever owned! On the wristwatch side of things which I mostly focus on now, Elgin might be the most interesting of the major producers (okay very much up for debate, Hamilton has some amazing stuff but well out of my price range) with 2 types of automatics, some of the finest handwind movements, and very interesting technical innovations (durabalance, Elgin Electronic, etc.). I have a particular weakness for Elgin Bumpers and Elgin 760/761 automatics (inspired by Genejockey's incredible bumper collection). Very underappreciated watches. On the other hand, Elgin hairsprings in late WW models 1940s+ tend to be incredibly (and I mean incredibly) prone to deform, tangle, etc. It's a real challenge working on these watches because of that. The amountof watches I've ruined just by looking at them (not really an exaggeration) keeps me up at night sometimes. Ah, but that's just the cost of learning.

    Also, completely anecdotal, but prices on vintage Elgin WW seem to be through the roof recently. Low and mid range 1950s models (554 and 555s) are consistently going for $50+ when I used to be able to scoop these up easily for $30 or less. Not sure whats going on, but it seems like Elgins are increasingly popular (sad for me:()
     
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  40. musicguy

    musicguy Moderator
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    Dante,

    Elgin pocket watches are some of my favorite too. My first pocket watch
    as a young person was an 18s Elgin that my dad bought for fun at an antique store
    or fair.



    Rob
     
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  41. Maximus Man

    Maximus Man Maximus Man

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    My dad's RR watch was a 16 size Father Time and I thought the movement was beautiful when I first started collecting.

    "Just another Elgin" though has a logical reason for so many low jewel watches. When most of these watches were being made most people did not need a highy precise timepiece. Seventy percent of American workers were farmers and great majority of the rest were factory workers. The sun/rooster or a whistle/horn usually could tell you the time you needed to know. Cloudy days must have been as challenging as nighttime back then. I imagine town clocks and church bells helped many until they could afford that low jewel Elgin. Most people took more pride in their hard work and family than a fancy turnip on a chain - the bigger the better when eye glasses were hard to come by and reading in dim light was wearing out a person's sight with age.

    Owning a watch only became a necessity as time went on for most Americans.
     
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  42. Kevin Neathery

    Kevin Neathery Registered User
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    My 2nd pocket watch when I was 15 was this Elgin 16s 19j BWR. It was also the first 16s I bought as my first watch was a Hamilton 910. I just got it back from repair yesterday. Had sat needing repair for over 20 years. Figured it was time to resurrect it.

    FB_IMG_1589989139236.jpg

    FB_IMG_1589989146458.jpg
     
  43. pmwas

    pmwas Registered User

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    I have a 'just Elgin'

    Kopia DSC08484.JPG

    And another...

    DSC09351.JPG

    and another...

    DSC09931.JPG
     
  44. GeneJockey

    GeneJockey Registered User
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    19,999,990? Holy smokes, what a find!! Plus it looks like the 'upside down face' model! VERY cool!!!
     
  45. pmwas

    pmwas Registered User

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  46. James J Nicholson

    James J Nicholson Registered User
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    Hi Denis, I remember seeing this post quite some time ago and I did not bother to respond. At that time it seemed as if the Elgins were viewed as entry level while everyone else was talking about their high end collections of mega buck watches.
    In my humble opinion I love my Elgins
    I have many 349 and 349 Father Time models that were passed down to me that are as accurate as my radio control Citizen Eco Drive but are eye candy to behold.let the detractors put the Elgins down, we will just continue to snatch then up at fire sale prices until the masses realize the quality and value they are passing by.
     
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  47. Jerry Treiman

    Jerry Treiman Registered User
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    FWIW - I just happened to come across my original pocket watch collection inventory, dating from when I was in high school. It included 10 watches at that point and half of them were Elgins. (The others were two Walthams, a Gruen, a Hamilton and a French fusee). 50 years later I still have the Hamilton (992), the Gruen and the fusee.

    The Elgins ranged from 0-size to 16-size, 7 jewels to 17-jewels. I enjoyed them and their differently ornamented cases and different dials. They were all “just an Elgin” and very accessible for a young collector, but they were all different and helped show me the variety of American watches. Yes, those original Elgins have long since been passed along to other young collectors but I still have about 2 dozen cased Elgins in my collection (0-size to 16-size, 7 jewels to 23 jewels, 1875 to 1925) plus numerous movements, and I still appreciate their unique place in the history of the American watch industry.
     
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  48. GeneJockey

    GeneJockey Registered User
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    I guess a lot depends on what motivates you to collect. One of the joys of collecting and studying Elgins is that you're constantly learning new things - mostly only 'new' because the general disinterest in Elgins allowed a lot of knowledge about them to die out. I love my small collection of Hamiltons, but there's not a lot new to learn there. All the paths are thoroughly trodden. With Elgin, you find the paths grown over with the weeds of time and forgetting, and you have to keep carefully searching to find them.
     
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  49. Ethan Lipsig

    Ethan Lipsig Registered User
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    No U.S. watch company made as many stylish watches as Elgin, many of which were quite expensive and high-grade. See Last Lord Elgin p.w.s, e.g., my post #10 in that thread.
     
  50. pmwas

    pmwas Registered User

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