What is Pw_elgin?
Pw_elgin is a program that can search a database of Elgin Serial
Numbers and print out information about watches that it finds
This database is now online and you can access it directly
The Elgin Serial Number database was created by scanning and OCR'ing
the 1950 serial number list. Then I had to go through and clean up
the list by hand, changing 'O's to '0's, 'S's to '5', etc. Then I
wrote some code to do a bunch of sanity checks on the data (serial
number runs should increase and not overlap, high grade numbers should
appear early, etc.) Then I verified the runs that I found with the
runs that Dennis Booth typed in by hand and resolved all discrepancies
between the two databases. Next I compared the production totals by
grade with the list created by John Miller in Roy Ehrhardt's "Elgin
Watch Company" book. Next I typed in by hand which runs are marked
with which name out of the 1896 material catalog. Finally, I have
been checking the database against watches that I've seen on the net
and adding information as I can find it.
The Elgin Grade Number database was typed in completely by hand from
I believe this database is the most accurate Elgin serial number
list available anywhere, either computerized or on paper. As I
I have found a fair number of errors in Elgin's own serial number
I also believe that this database is the most complete serial number
list available anywhere, either computerized or on paper. I have many
runs recorded after the 1950 material catalog ends.
I have used the portions of the Elgin Master Records that I have
in order to make this database more complete and more accurate. For
example, only the master records tell you which serial numbers are
grade 277. The master records tell you what all runs are actually
grade 348's and which grade 164's are labelled Father Time. This is
information that is now public and can be used by anyone.
How to get pw_elgin and the databases
The source code and pre-built executables for Linux can be found
The source should build on just about any Linux/Unix box with
minor tweaks to the Makefile. The static binary was compiled on
my Debian 2.2 Linux box, so it should probably work on most
versions of Linux. I've had reports that the binary also works
on NetBSD under the linux emulator.
The documentation is really poor right now, but I've been
putting off releasing this code and database for too long, so I
decided to just put it out here. Please bear with me as I try
to get this into a more usable shape.
If you don't have Linux or another version of Unix, you may be
able to get some use out of the raw databases. There is both a
Elgin Serial Number database, and a
Elgin Grade Number database that
you can view.
|Current stable version:
|| Updated: 05/24/00
If you have questions or comments about this, please
Older versions of Pw_elgin
You can find older versions of pw_elgin in the
download directory. Most of these
versions won't work with Ebay, but they may be of historical
value. The most current version can always be found at