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Star Watch Case Co.

The Star Watch Case Co. began in Elgin, IL in 1897. Moving to Ludington, MI in 1905, Star was making watch cases until April 30, 1982.

Star Watch Case Co.: A Brief History

Information about the Star Watch Case Co. can be found in the book, History of the American Watch Case, (see References, below). Otto A. Starke and Fred Herman founded the company in Elgin, IL in 1897. The company moved to Ludington, MI in 1905, where they eventually employed about 150 people.

Until WWI, only pocket watch cases were made. Afterwards, wrist watch cases were added to the line. The company continued to make watch cases until at least the mid-1970's. Cases were solid gold, gold filled, rolled gold plate, sterling silver and eventually, chrome plated.

Star Trade Marks

Star used several trade marks on its cases. One of these was a dual-headed eagle, the other is an outline of a star. Both are identified as Star trade marks in an October 1941 ad. And, both appear in the back of this case (posted by DaveyG). The dual-headed eagle trade mark was used at least as early as 1906. In later years, the outline of the star was used alone (posted by John Flahive).

The Wachter Safety Bow

In 1907, the Wachter Manufacturing Co. begain advertising it's Patented Bow System, claiming patent dates in 1890 and 1905. However, a trade journal, reporting upon newly issued patents, carried a short notice referring to Wachter's bow system (although not by name). The notice was entitled "A New Ball-Bearing Pendant Bow." A few years later, Star must have licensed the Wachter system, as a 1913 Star ad boasts of using a safety bow which is clearly labeled "Wachter Patent."

Case Grades

The above mentioned book lists these Star watch case grades:

Case GradeCase Material
"Star" Pre-1924Gold-Filled, guaranteed for 20 years as late as November 1906, 25 years by April 1909
"Star" Post-192310K & 14K Gold-Filled
DefianceGold-Filled, guaranteed for 10 years around 1906; decades later, chrome plated base metal
StellarGold-Filled case, guaranteed for 10 years prior to 1924, 10K Rolled Gold Plate thereafter.
MajesticGold-Filled, guaranteed for 5 years
"18Kt. Gold Filled" (posted by John Flahive)18K Gold Filled case
ScepterGold-Filled or Rolled Gold Plate case
Sterling (posted by aaldo)925/1000 Fine Silver case
ExcellenceSilver case
Emperor QualityChrome plated base metal case

See the Case Material Encyclopedia article for an explanation of the terms.


The following books, and NAWCC Bulletin back-issues, are available to members on loan by mail from the NAWCC Lending Library, using the Lending Library Form. Back issues of the NAWCC Bulletin are also available online to NAWCC members who are currently logged in.


History of the American Watch Case, Warren H. Niebling, Whitmore Publishing, Philadelphia, PA, 1971.


"The Star Watch Case Co., Jack Linahan, NAWCC Bulletin, No. 360, February, 2006, pp. 4-9.

"A Pictorial View of American Watchcase Factories," Andrew H. Dervan, NAWCC Watch & Clock Bulletin No. 396, March/April 2012, pp. 182-183.
Categories: Category Watch case makers

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Current Discussion: Main discussion

  1. kent

    kent Registered User
    Gibbs Literary Award NAWCC Fellow NAWCC Silver Member

    Aug 26, 2000
    Moving material to the NAWCC Message Board.
  2. kent

    kent Registered User
    Gibbs Literary Award NAWCC Fellow NAWCC Silver Member

    Aug 26, 2000
    Adding material posted by 4thdimension
  3. kent

    kent Registered User
    Gibbs Literary Award NAWCC Fellow NAWCC Silver Member

    Aug 26, 2000
    Adding more material
  4. Hi Kent, I was wondering if you could help me. I am looking for info on the supply dates of Star watch cases to the manufacturers of military watches, in particular those used for the type A17 and A17-A, that were manufactured some time in the early 1950's.This info could help in dating when production started. Waltham, Bulova and Elgin made these watches, and the stainless steel cases were passivated.There is some confusion over relative production times, as no official documents have come to light as yet.Please message me if you can help.Thanks, Bob.