Elgin pocket watches are some of the best watches every made. I’m lucky enough to receive a lot of pocket watches in, for restoration, repairs, and cosmetic work. It is an honor for me to work on these, and I get to meet so many wonderful people. I want to talk to you about this one, a youtube subscriber sent to me, that needed some love and some parts to repair it and get it working. This 16 size Elgin came in with a few issues and I’ll break them down for you here.
Here is what I found wrong with this watch…
- Missing Crystal
- Two broken Balance Jewels (Both were Hole Jewels)
- Worn Mainspring
- Bent Minute Hand
- Missing the Second Hand
- Damage to the dial, that sadly, we can’t fix
- Dirty bearings and pinions
Replacing the missing or broken items on this watch is not that difficult. I have thousands of pocket watch crystals in stock that I use for repairs. If you don’t have access to your own stock, you can still buy them new from watch supply shops.
The missing second hand was a bit more difficult. I have a stock of New Old Stock (NOS) parts from Elgin, Waltham and Hamilton. This makes it easy for me to find the parts I need. Keep in mind, you may have to go on the hunt to places like a watch supplier or even ebay to find parts you need.
The two broken balance jewels I took from a stock of watch movements that I’ve collected for years. I was lucky to find three spare watch movements of this same model that I had in my parts stash. The broken balance jewels would have been a lot more difficult to replace or even find if I didn’t have those.
The mainspring for this watch is still available. There are a few companies that still make these, and you can get them online. I have a feeling however, if the economy gets bad, like it did 13 years ago, some of these suppliers will, as some did then, close up shop.
The Damage to the Dial…
The dial on this 16 size pocket watch is a bit unusual in that someone actually modified it, or damaged it to fit into a watch case that wasn’t made for the movement. While it worked, sadly, the damage to the dial will cause a serious value issue with the watch. If you were a collector, or a dealer, this watch may not be much unless the dial is replaced and the movement is put into a proper case.
However, in this instance, as in most, it doesn’t matter as I believe the watch was in this gentleman’s family for a while, and it has a lot of sentimental value. I would say that about half of the watches I restore and repair are and have been with the same family for more than 60 years or more… I find that to be a really wonderful thing.
Elgin Pocket Watches…
Elgin was one of the worlds best and most popular watch manufacturers in the world right up to the late 1930s. They, along with a lot of American Watch Manufacturers produced a wide variety of watches, in quality, budget friendly, and railroad grades.
I would say that this 16 size Elgin would have been a slightly better than average watch at the time that it was made and sold to is proud owner. While not a Railroad grade pocket watch, this watch is far better than the low cost budget watches produced at the time also. From what I can find, this watch would have cost about $59.00 at the time it was made, lets say, about 100 years ago. when we adjust for inflation, it would be sold at todays rates for about $800.00. And, considering that the watch is as old as it is, that says a lot about the quality of watches made at the time.
Elgin produced watches like this, and marketed them to, typical white collar workers at the time.
How is it running now…
So, after servicing the watch, if you watch the video, the watch is running really good for the two most important factors… One being that it is as old as it is, and the second being that it was damaged in so may ways.
As you can see by the results of the video, by simply changing or replacing a few things, you can restore a watch to almost perfect condition. This, like so many other watches of the same era, will never run perfect, like a quartz watch. There will always be some imperfection in the watch due to ware, damage or abuse that keep these from every being the world most accurate time piece, however, the results speak for themselves in this case.
The watch funning on average 2 to 8 seconds fast per day, is a fantastic achievement, and if maintained, should keep relatively good time for many years to come.