Information on watches from the Elgin National Watch Company, its history and technical details.

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Wayne's Projects

The Elgin Watch Collectors Site

This website is dedicated to helping people find out about their Elgin watches. These watches were symbols of America's emergence from an agricultural country into an industrial power. Watches are one of the few machines that were made 50 or even 150 years ago that, even today, can still be practical to use every day. Elgin's Father Time

If you are a new collector, you will find answers to many frequently asked questions (FAQs) in the Watch Help section. The What is a watch? web page is a good, short, introduction to what you need to know about mechanical watches. The Documents & Picture section to be a fun place to get an idea of what Elgin was and a glimpse into the past.

Advanced collectors will find the information in the Technical and Elgin Database sections to cover many details not found anywhere else, either on the Internet or in print. The Documents & Picture section contains many scans of many hard to find books.

I encourage everyone to join the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, it is a great organization where you can learn a lot about watches and horology in general.

There are also a couple of good message board systems where people get together and chat about watches. I can highly recommend TimeZone Vintage BBS, which discusses mostly vintage wrist watches, but also the occasional antique pocket watches.

A Quick History of the Elgin National Watch Company

Gold Trimmed Watch Elgin was founded in 1864, right as the civil war was coming to an end. The first watch Elgin made, an 18 sized B W Raymond railroad grade watch, was finished in 1867 and over the next 100 years, they went on to produce about 60 million watches. Elgin produced their first wristwatch around 1910, leading most other American watch companies by many years.

Elgin was originally called the "National Watch Company". The name never really stuck and in 1874, they changed their name to the "Elgin National Watch Company" because most of the watch trade and public were calling them "watches from Elgin". They kept that name until the late 1960s when they stopped producing watches and changed their name to the "Elgin National Industries".

Elgin was founded on the idea of mass producing high quality pocket watches using machine made, interchangeable parts. Up until around 1850, watches were made mostly by hand, which meant that if a part broke, you had to find someone with the tools and skill to make a new part. Gold Trimmed Watch Elgin realized that there was a large market for good watches that could be sold and repaired relatively cheaply using factory made replacement parts that didn't require hand adjusting.

Elgin never made the very highest quality watches in the world, nor did they make the very cheapest, but together with Waltham (aka The American Watch Company), they dominated the vast middle ground of the watch market.

Today, collecting Elgin watches is quite popular. Because Elgin produced so many watches and produced so many spare parts, they can still be easily bought and fixed, so even a 100 year old Elgin can be used, with care, on a daily basis. While mechanical watches can't compete with quartz watches for accuracy, there is something about having a watch that ticks that a quartz watch just can't replace.

Elgin Watch News

If you visit this website frequently, you may be interested in some of the things that have changed recently.

Changing ISPs30 Mar 2005

Sometime in the next week or so, I will be moving my website from one ISP to another. In theory, this should all be transparent to everyone and there should be zero downtime. If things don't go well, you might have problems connecting for a while, but rest assured that I'll try and fix any problems ASAP.

Hardware problems29 Mar 2005

The power supply on my webserver went out last night. I bought a new one, it is installed, and things appear to be working ok now. Sorry about the 12hr outage. is back19 Jan 2005

As of yesterday afternoon, the elginwatches.ORG domain started working again. It may take up to several days for everyone to see this change though. Also, there are still problems, in that I don't control the domains and as a result, things may break at any time.   *sigh*  

Something bad did happen13 Jan 2005

Well, apparently something bad did happen, despite my crossed fingers. Worse, I didn't notice it right away. I've switched things back to using elginwatches.COM but that won't help people who can't find the website to begin with. :-<

Older news can be found in the archive.

Alternative main pages:   Elgin Wristwatch Elgin Wristwatches Elgin Pocketwatch Eglin Pocketwatches

While I'm not an expert, I believe the information on this page is correct. Please send suggestions and corrections to the webmaster.
This web site runs on 100% Open Source Software. This web page was last changed on 07/24/2004 at 14:55:55.