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The Elgin Watch Company also known as the Elgin National Watch Company was the largest American watch manufacturer in terms of total production volume. In fact, Elgin produced approximately one-half of the total number of better-quality pocket watches manufactured in the United States. This makes Elgin one of the most commonly collected vintage watches since there are still so many examples available at reasonable prices. The Elgin National Watch Company was founded in in Elgin, Illinois as the National Watch Company, and some of the organizers were later to become the some of the biggest names in the American watch industry: J. Adams, P.

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They never made any battery-powered, quartz watches. If you have a recently-purchased, modern Elgin watch, please see our Modern Elgin Watch page for more information.

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Be sure to use the serial number on the movement the works of the watch. Do not use the serial number from the watch case.

Watch Serial Number Information

Click here for an explanation and example of how to use our serial number tables. Need help finding the serial number on your watch?

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Click here for instructions on how to identify and open most common case types. In the s, Elgin began using a single-letter prefix to replace the "millions" digits on their serial numbers. So if your Elgin watch has a serial number starting with a letter, you must determine the millions digits from the table below in order to determine the full serial number.

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Please contact us if you have any questions about the repair of your Elgin watch. Goddard Gruen Hamilton Hampden E. The Elgin National Watch Company.

The clock tower at the Elgin National Watch Company.

Limitations of this identification method Elgin stopped including serial numbers on their movements around While we may be able to establish the date the movement was manufactured, it does not tell us when the watch was assembled.

Sometimes movements sat on the shelf for years before being inserted into a case and put into distribution. In other cases, a movement may have been replaced in the intervening years. There is no way to correlate movements to particular cases.

These watches are typical of the "Deco" style of the teens and 20's. The Elgin and Hamilton were dated by serial number, while the Gruen was dated by an inscription on the back. The "New Haven" was dated by looking at the style of the watch. It looks very similar to the styly of the others. Therefore I . For Elgin watches, case serial numbers on solid gold watches will usually be only 10or less of the serial number on the movement. So, if someone is selling a watch as solid gold, and it has a movement serial number of, say, 3, and it has a case serial number of 1, a red flag should go up in your mind and you should be even more. This database is the most complete and accurate records of Elgin watches that I know of. That said, I know of errors in it, and I know that it isn't complete. If there are any discrepancies, verify the serial number. If the serial number is correct please let me know about the problem by emailing me. How to Open a Watch Case.

It is easy to take an interest in vintage watches. One of the challenges you will quickly discover, however, is that definitive information about older watches is often hard to find. Information resources are scattered among numerous sites and the quality of that information often varies widely. While there are organizations that concern themselves with vintage watches and horology in general, their primary focus is not on developing research resources for particular watch brands.

Elgin Watch News

As a result, the burden has fallen to collectors. We share here some of the resources we have discovered over the years.

Elgin Watch Appraisal

Use the links below to find more information about each of the brands. Subscribe for ates Enter your email address to subscribe to this site and receive notifications of new listings by email. The company grew out of a hobby, albeit a rather obsessively serious hobby.

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I began by collecting pre-WWII Hamiltons, but my attention soon shifted to the wider field of firms that were competing with Hamilton, particularly Elgin, Bulova and Gruen. Product Tags 7 jewel 10K gold filled 10K rolled gold plate 14K gold filled 15 jewel 17 jewel 21 jewel 22 jewel s s s s art deco money clip recently serviced round square tank tonneau yellow gold. Guide Elgin I.

Elgin National Watch Company In the spring of half a dozen ambitious Chicago businessmen decided that if Massachusetts could build a factory that built watches - Illinois could, too. Harper's magazine summed their sentiment perfectly: "It was the genuine, audacious, self-reliant Western spirit.". The Elgin National Watch Company was founded in in Elgin, Illinois as the National Watch Company, and some of the organizers were later to become the some of the biggest names in the American watch industry: J. C. Adams, P. S. Bartlett, D. G. Currier, Otis Hoyt, and Charles H. Mason, with financial backing from former Chicago Mayor Benjamin W. Raymond.

Here are samples of the styles that each decade offered. The 's. Note the thick hands, engraved patterns and bold design of all of these watches. These watches are typical of the "Deco" style of the teens and 20's. The Elgin and Hamilton were dated by serial number, while the Gruen was dated by an inscription on the back.

Dating elgin watches

The "New Haven" was dated by looking at the style of the watch. It looks very similar to the styly of the others. Therefore I think it is from the 's. In the 's there was a style change from highly engraved cases to smoother cleaner lines. Notice that the watches from the early 's still have engraved cases. By the late 's mens watches were more masculine.

Thin tank watches became fashionable. This was made possible by the advent of square movements.

Until then all movements were round, limiting the designs. The Bulova and Hamilton stepped cases shown here on the left are a perfect example of this.

Men were preferring tank watches, however only round movements were available, therefore the case was stepped to accomodate the movement and make the watch APPEAR to be square. First battery operated watch! The 's watch styles were very similar to the styles of the 30's.

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With only a few suttle changes. The lines were fairly rigid and angular.

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