Shugart, Engle and Gilbert's Complete Watches book
These are the "problems" that I know of in the book
Complete Price Guide To Watches
by Cooksey Shugart, Tom Engle and
Richard E Gilbert the 1999 Edition, here after referred to as
Actually, I am not certain that these are all really problems,
they may simply be things that I don't understand. If anyone can
clarify this stuff, I would be grateful. Also, this list is not
complete, I know that I've noticed other minor stuff before I
started writing up this list.
While I list a large number of problems, I still think that this book
is an invaluable source of information. I can find problems with the
Elgin section of the book, but this is one of the first books I turn to
when looking for information about watches in other areas.
Starting on page 16 and going for about 10 pages, there is a lot
of information about Railroad watches. Unfortunately, much of it
is either incomplete, inaccurate or misleading. Worse, the
information in this book is so widely used, that what most
dealers and collectors consider a "railroad" watch is based more
on this book than on reality.
An example of just one of the many inconsistencies is on page 19
where there is the claim that "By the mid 1890s hunter cases were
being turned down as well as pendant set. Watches meeting
approval then include Waltham, 18s, 1892 model; Elgin 7th model;
and Hamilton, 17j, open face, lever set." Unfortunately, Elgin's
7th model 18s watch wasn't introduced until almost 1900.
To counter the incorrect impressions by reading the "Complete
Watches" book, Kent Singer, one of the foremost experts on
Railroad watches has written an article entitled
Just What Is A Railroad Watch?.
This article covers American Railroad standards from around 1850
until 1960 and spells such myths as Railroad watches couldn't be
hunter case watches or pendant set.
- The first Father Time is said to be 2,300,001, but I don't think it
was anywhere near that early. In that serial number would date to
ca 1886, however the Elgin 1896 Material Catalog makes no mention of
the Father Time name, and the 1904 Material Catalog makes references
to only grades that were produced after 1895. It is likely that
those grades didn't originally care the Father Time name, and the
first Father Times were produced between 1896 and 1904.
- The first 16s double roller is said to be a G=156 SN10,249,901,
however the 1950 Material Catalog says that the 16s G=162 SN8497301
has a double roller.
- The serial numbers and production date table looks "wrong".
- It starts with "1867 -- 10,000". Does this mean that there were
10,000 watches produced by the *end* of 1867? If so, then most of
the rest of the list is "off by one" year compared to most of the
other lists I've seen.
- The jump in production from "1870 -- 50,001" to "1871 -- 185,001"
doesn't make much sense. This would mean that Elgin produced more
than three times as many watches in one year as they had in the
previous 4 years combined. Then in 1872, Shugart's says they
produced only 16,000, almost a factor of 10 few watches produced
- In 1874, Elgin changed their name from the "National Watch
Company" to the "Elgin National Watch Company", at which point
they changed how they labelled their dials. The highest watch
that I've seen with a National dial is SN266233, which leads me to
believe that the 1875 production figure should be somewhere around
300,000 not 430,000 as listed in Shugart's.
- There are several other lists of production figures that I've seen
for Elgin and while none of them agree 100%, they seem to be much
more consistent than Shugart's.
Shugart's claim that the "C,E,T & Y" serial number prefix should
be considered in the 42,000,000 range seems wrong. This doesn't
match the order listed in Elgin's serial number book, but it does
give "believable" production totals. Right before WWII, Elgin was
making very few watches, but as soon as the war started, Elgin
started producing lots of watches for the military. They also
produced special timers, aircraft/tank clocks, and timed bomb
- At the bottom of the page, there is a note that says the G=571 was
introduced in 1950. However, there are runs of G=571 going back to
the 'U' letter series of 1946. Either the G=571 was introduced
earlier, or the serial number letters are off by a long ways.
- The first 6s watch is said to be 570,001, but that is a 18s G=82.
My records say the first SN is 510,001 G=64
- There is no mention of the nameless 20j grade 149 and 150 watches.
- There are listings for Father Time watches with only 17 jewels,
both in open face and hunter case variations. I strongly suspect that
no such watches exist or, if they do, they are very rare.
- There is a listing for Father Time watches with 20 jewels, both in
open face and hunter case variations. While I think these are more
likely to exist than the 17j Father Times, I also suspect that no such
watches exist. If they do exist, I don't believe there can be more
than around 1,000 of each variation and it is more likely that only a
- There is a "Veritas, 23j, G#94, Wind Indicator, "Free Sprung", OF"
listed, but G=94 is a 6s 11j watch. Maybe they mean G=494...?
- Under the "nameless" grade list, there is an entry that says
"No. 345, 19j, GJS, 2-tone, HC", but a grade 345 Elgin is a (very)
common size 12 open face watch with only 17 jewels. Also, the only
19 jewel size 18 watch that I can find in Elgin's documentation is
the grade 240 BWRaymond.
I think this may be a confused combination of two of the different
two-tone movements that Elgin made. First there is G=411 which is a
18s 21j open face watch which appear to be always a two-tone.
Secondly, there is a few G=345's that are marked "Transit" that are
12s 17j open face watches that appear to be two-tone. It is my
understanding that these "Transit" watches were cased in hunter
cases with a leather strap. Elgin made a few other two-tone's,
such as at least one G=313.
- There is a picture of a 17s watch made for Kennedy & Co that is
listed as having SN199,076 but the picture looks like it should be
SN499,076 which makes a lot more sense.
- The first watch description on this page says "Convertible Model,
21J=G#72 & G#91, 3/4, NI ...... $200 $250 $350", but the next three
lines list these grades again for a factor of 10 more. I think this
line is bogus.
- There are listings for Father Time watches with only 17 jewels. I
strongly suspect that no such watches exist or, if they do, they are
- There is a picture of a BWRaymond, SN17,822,991 which
is listed as a grade 350. According to the Elgin Material Catalogs
that I have, this is actually a grade 372. The other info that is
listed is correct for a grade 372, but a grade 350 is a (very rare)
- There is a Lord Elgin, grade 351 SN12,718,340 that has a note "This
watch came from the first run of Lord Elgins." On page 182, there
is also shown a Lord Elgin 3 finger bridge, but the serial number is
only 10,249,819! How can the the one with the higher serial number
be "from the first run of Lord Elgins"?
- There is a listing of "Veritas, 21j, 3F brg, GJS, G#360", but G=360
isn't a three finger bridge. There is also a listing further down
for G=360 with no mention of 3F bridge. I suppose it is possible
that Elgin manufactured some of these as 3F bridge, they have done
- There are listings for grades G=72 and G=91 under the "models with
no names" section, but the prices are different than what is listed
on page 180.
I have received information about several other things that may be in
error in the "Complete Guide" book. As I am fairly ignorant in areas
other than Elgin watches, I can only say that these corrections sound
- Starting on page 196, there are pictures of Elgin movements and
short description to help people identify their watches.
Unfortunately this section seems to confuse a great deal of
people and they end up thinking their watches are something
that they aren't.
In particular the first grade that used a particular model of
movement is listed, but, due to how the words are phrased, people
think that any watch that that matches this picture is that
particular grade. Often the first grade of a given model is a very
high end watch and so people think low grade watches are high grade
In the introductory paragraph on this page, it is claimed that
"... you can now find your watch in the main price listing by name
or number (which is engraved on the movement)." Unfortunately, if
there isn't a name engraved on the movement, the grade number is
very rarely engraved. This paragraph appears to be copied from the
Waltham section. I don't know much about Waltham's, but I think
they probably did put either a name or a grade number on most of
The only practical way of determining the grade of an Elgin watch is
based off the "serial number/grade lists" which, probably due to its
large size, is not included in Shugart's.
From Whit Joyner:
On page 333, the Peoria Watch Co., Whit has a watch with SN 8944
(~1887) which has the top plates marked "Safety Pinion. Adjusted.
Peoria Watch Co. 15 Jewels. For Railway Service. Anti-Magnetic."
This variation is not listed in Shugart's. In particular, Shugart
lists markings of "Made For Railway Service", but not "For Railway
Service". A small difference to some, an importation variation to
Readers should add to the M. S. Smith & Co. models (page 361,
2002 edition) an 18 size 22 jewel 1/4 second sweep hand chronograph. It
seems to be Smith's usual 15 jewel Swiss "wolf's tooth" model, with
the timer works fitted on top of the top plate and the sweep hand added
to the dial (giving the watch two seconds hands).
From Jon Hanson:
Jon says "The 28 Jewel Maiden Lane Seth Thomas doesn't exist".
This one is marked with 5 stars and priced for $15,000-$25,000