[Elgin home]

Elgin Databases


Wayne's Projects

Names Related to Elgin Watches

This is a list of the names that are somehow related to Elgin Watches. Most of these names appear on various grades of Elgin watches.

Name Abbrev Comments
Acme ACMSee Sun-Dial
Advance ADV 
Age AGE 
Atlas ATLSee Sun-Dial
America AMRSee Sun-Dial
Thomas M. AveryAVR 2nd President of Elgin National Watch Company.
Gail Borden GB Gail Borden opened one of his condensed milk plants in Elgin in 1865. Yes, Gail is a he. Yes, this is the company with "Elsie the cow" as a mascot. Gail Borden was a stock holder in the watch factory, but never lived in Elgin. His second wife once lived in Elgin and her description of the green fox valley led Gail to choose it as the site for his plant.
California WatchCAL 
Chief CHF 
Howard Z. CulverHZC On 1884 board
Deluxe DLX This name wasn't ever placed on the movements, just the dials. This, of course, means correct identification of this name isn't reliable due to dial switching, redialing, and movement switching.
Dexter St DEX There is indeed, a Dexter Street in Elgin. Simon Newton Dexter was the brother-in-law of B. W. Raymond. In 1838, after Mr. Raymond had made many investments in Elgin, he convinced Mr. Dexter to buy part of James Gifford's original land claim for the city of Elgin. Later, when the watch company was being founded, Mr. Raymond maneuvered the town into buying Mr. Dexter's land at a high price as their part in securing the watch company in Elgin.
Elite ELT See Strand. Not as common as Strand, but has the same damaskeening and found in the same run.
Father TimeFT The Father Time figure was used by the Elgin National Watch Company from around 1871 when it appeared in an Elgin Almanac through at least the 1930's. Elgin management, and probably many other people, referred to the people who worked at Elgin as "members of Father Time's Family". Elgin placed the Father Time image on many different items as well as using the Father Time name for a line of railroad grade watches.

The traditional Father Time figure carried an hour glass to represent the flow of time. In Elgin's version, Father Time has dropped the hour glass and replaced it with the Elgin watch.

The US Patent and Trademark off says that the first use of Father Time was 12/31/1871.

Charles (Chas) FargoFGO On 1884 board
J.V. Farwell FAR According to article on the Great Chicago Fire John, along with his brother Charles B., started the "oldest dry goods firm in Chicago"
William H. Ferry FRY Chicago investor?

In the NAWCC bulletin #148 vol 14/6 Oct 1970 on page 666, Henry Fried says that W.H. Ferry was a director of the company from 1868 to 1874 and he died in 1880.

Charles H. Hulburd HUL 3rd president of Elgin
Inter-Ocean INT 
Lady Elgin LDY This is the name that Elgin put on their very first "lady's" watch, so the name seems obvious and natural.

However in 1860, eight years before the first Lady Elgin was introduced, there was a very famous ship wreck of the steam ship "The Lady Elgin". The pre-civil war tragedy, which cost 300 lives, happened near Chicago where the Elgin headquarters were located.. The passengers were mostly members of a pro-Union militia, their families and guests. There were many political ramifications from this wreck, and it resulted in a popular song, "Lost on the Lady Elgin". Considering the fame, it seems unlikely that the folks in the very pro-union city of Elgin weren't at least aware of this, and it is possible that they may have used this name on purpose.

A good write up on this can be found here.

The US Patent and Trademark off says that the first use of Lady Elgin was 12/11/1870.

Lady Raymond LDR 
Matthew (Mat) Laflin LAF An original director and investor
Leader LED 
George P. Lord  first business manager.
Lord Elgin LE While Elgin did have a high muckity-muck with the last name of "Lord" who worked for them, it is not clear that the Lord Elgin line was named after him. G.P. Lord retired(?) in 1876, some thirty years before the first "Lord Elgin" watch was created. It would have been hard for the folks at the watch factory to forget about the Lord family, as they were very active in the Elgin community and donated a large park to the city. However, it seems equally likely that the "Lord Elgin" name was as a play off the "Lord Elgin" that stole, er, uh, moved the marble friezes/statues from the Greek Parthenon to England.

Also, at around this same time, Elgin seems to have switched to "made up" names like "Veritas", "Father Time" and "Overland". On the other hand, they also resurrected the "Frances Rubie" name and created the "Lady Raymond" name in this same general timeframe.

The US Patent and Trademark off says that the first use of Lord Elgin was 11/15/1904.

Lord Elgin Series LES Watches in the "Lord Elgin Series" weren't actually marked on the movement, nor the dial. The name was just a marketing term.
M. D. Ogden OGD Chicago investor?
Overland OVR 
Benjamin Wright Raymond BWR 1st president of Elgin

The B.W. Raymond name was used from the very start right up to the end for Elgin's Railroad grade watches. It is frequently said that "all BWRs were railroad grade at the time they were made", however I think there were a few exceptions to this. In particular, the 12s BWRs probably were never accepted in railroad use and possibly some of the later hunter case movements never were either.

The US Patent and Trademark off says that the first use of B.W.Raymond was 01/01/1866, which is strangely enough, is exactly one year before the first watch was produced.

Frances Rubie FR 
Joseph T. Ryerson RYR An original director
Senior 17 S17 
Solar SOLSee Sun-Dial
Standard STD 
Strand STR It isn't clear if this is really an "official" Elgin name, or if it is some sort of Jeweler's custom name. However, they do show up more often than other jeweler's names, they are more highly adjusted than is normal for the grade and the usually have different/nicer damaskeening.
Sun Dial SUN From around 1897 to 1899, Elgin made three grades of watches that they didn't sell under their own name, or so it appears. One was the G=177, a 6s hunter case watch, one was the G=178, an 18s hunter case watch, and the last was the G=179, an 18s open face watch. They were all very low quality (7 jewels, unadjusted watches) and it appears that most of them had "fake" compensated balances. That is, the balance wheel was made to look like a bi-metallic temperature compensating balance, but it wasn't, but they were solid brass.

What Elgin lacked in quality in these watches, they made up for in quantity. Almost a half million of these watches were produced. Considering the quality, it is understandable why Elgin didn't sell these under their own name. While these watches are by far the worst watches that Elgin produced, they were still better than the "dollar watches" that started to sell in great numbers around this time and there were better than the low end Swiss watches, which usually had cylinder escapements.

These watches were sold under the "Sun-Dial", "Atlas", "Acme", "America" and "Solar" names. Usually these were marked as such on both the movement and the dial. Sometimes the movement did mention "Elgin", but not "Elgin National Watch Co.".

I get the impression that Solar Watch Co and the Atlas Watch Co were trying to be "real" watch companies, even though they resold other peoples movements, much like the Ball Watch company was a "real" watch company. It appears that Solar sold watches made by both Elgin and New York Standard, while Atlas sold watches made by Elgin and United States Watch Co. Sun-Dial and Acme may have just been names that Elgin used so they could dump cheap junk onto the market.

Henry H. Taylor TAY An original director
Transit TRN It isn't clear if this is really an "official" Elgin name, or if it is some sort of Jeweler's custom name. They are fairly rare, they are more highly adjusted than is normal for the grade and they have two-tone damaskeening.
Veritas VERVeritas means "truth" in Latin.
George M. Wheeler GMW An original director
149 149 
150 150 
181 181 
270 270 
274 274 
280 280 
333 333 This "name" was marked on several different grades of Ball-Elgin watches. (I'm not sure if it was marked on all of the grades though.)
348 348 
349 349Strangely enough, this number is marked on more than just grade 349 movements. While grade 349 is a full plate model, this name has also been seen on the 3/4 plate grades of 239 and 390.

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 01/10/2003 at 08:12:34.