My Unicorn, A Previously Undescribed Elgin Grade

Discussion in 'Wrist Watches' started by GeneJockey, Dec 7, 2019.

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  1. GeneJockey

    GeneJockey Registered User
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    I have been collecting Elgin watches for nearly a decade. Early in my collecting, I THOUGHT I saw a watch on Ebay, one of the Bumper Automatics, with '605' on it, instead of 607 or 618. But I was still learning about Elgin and my focus was the wrist watches of the late 50s and early 60s - Elgin's last years producing men's watch movements in America. So, I let it go. I didn't even snag any screen caps of it.

    Not long after that, I became interested in the Elgin Bumpers, and found that the only ones I could discover were the 607 and 618. Searching for the 605 produced nothing. Every database I could find had no information, apart from there were supposedly 3 runs of them totalling 34,000 watches. I became unsure I'd ever even really seen that one 605 I THOUGHT I'd seen. Was it actually a 607 and I just imagined it? "Elgin 605" has been one of my saved searches on Ebay for years, but it kept serving up items completely unrelated to the Elgin Bumper Automatic I thought I'd seen.

    Last year, a friend (diveboy) obtained a number of parts from uncompleted Elgin movements including a number of Train Bridges stamped "ELGIN 605 USA". The serial numbers were in the second, V-prefix run, which would have been 1947-48. Never built. BUT, they were the same shape as the Train Bridge on a 607 or 618! There was our confirmation that the 605 DID exist and it was a Bumper Automatic!

    Last month, my years of fruitless Ebay queries for "Elgin 605" finally paid off! There it was, a complete watch! And the seller included a number of pictures, too!

    IMG_2566.JPG

    IMG_2570.JPG

    I quietly set a massive (for me) snipe and waited. And won! for far less than I'd expected!

    In the process of taking it down for servicing, I did a full analysis of it, compared to the 607/618, on my Elgin blog.

    The key finding is that the 605 used a concentric 4th Wheel to provide directly driven center seconds, but an OFFSET Center Wheel, with a completely separate hollow Center Pinion driven by the Barrel teeth. The 607/618 use stacked Center and 4th Wheels. As a consequence, the 605 is about 0.5mm thinner than the 607/618. Also, somewhat maddeningly, there are very few common parts between the 605 and the other Bumpers.

    It's now rebuilt, running, with a new crystal and strap!

    IMG_2629.JPG

    But I don't think I'll wear it much - the absence of spares means any broken part will be difficult or impossible to replace.
     
  2. Chris Radek

    Chris Radek Registered User
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    Wow thanks for doing the complete write-up and explanation of the unusual train. What do you think explains the weird spot under the oscillating weight where it looks like something else was attached? It looks like something had two locating pins and two screws, and it's not there anymore...?

    I also notice the dial doesn't quite fit the case. It really does seem like some kind of experimental prototype.
     
  3. GeneJockey

    GeneJockey Registered User
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    Here's the 605 with my stable of Elgin Bumpers... IMG_2638.JPG
     
  4. Rick Hufnagel

    Rick Hufnagel Just Rick!
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    Awesome! Congrats sir!
     
  5. GeneJockey

    GeneJockey Registered User
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    I have no idea what was to go there. If you look at the picture of the unbuilt 605 Train Bridges on my blog post, you'll note that they don't have those holes drilled, though they do have part of the same area milled out a bit. The Bumpers are, as far as I can tell, the ONLY Elgins with directly driven center seconds It occurred to me that they might have had some provision for a drag spring? Or maybe they had a completely different winding module that attached there?

    Yes, the dial is apparently a cut-down version of the one you see in the 6801, the leftmost of the 4 'regular' Bumper Automatics in the picture I posted later. The 605's dial is about 1.5mm smaller in diameter, but the print is the same, right down to the quartering and directional brushing.
     
  6. GeneJockey

    GeneJockey Registered User
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    Oh, yeah - and since it predates the 607 by about 3 years, the 605 would be the first self-winding wristwatch produced by an American watch company.

    Not marketed, though, so I suppose it gets an asterisk....
     
  7. diveboy

    diveboy Registered User
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    it exists, many were produced, its listed in the factory movement listing, in my book, that means it needs no asterisk.
     
  8. pmwas

    pmwas Registered User

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    Lovely :) great find :)
     

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