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Watch Regulators

The regulator on a watch is a device that can change the rate that the watch will run. It is normally found above the balance wheel, often on top of the balance cock. By moving the regulator toward the "fast" or "advance" setting, the watch will run quicker and will either gain time or stop losing as much time. The opposite is true if you move it toward the "slow" or "retard" setting.

A "micrometric regulator" is one that can be precisely adjusted to a very fine degree. Generally there is some sort of screw, nut or wheel that you can make large turns on that will force the regulator to move a very small amount in the correct direction.

Elgin used several different kinds of regulators over the years. The following table list them and the codes that Online Elgin Database uses. Unfortunately, several of these terms were coded into the database before I understood what they meant, so they are somewhat misleading.

Code Example Meaning
f The regulator can be freely moved back and forth.. Used primarily on lower grade watches and on most wrist watches.
e The standard "Elgin style" micrometric regulator. The regulator is held in place by a "spool" shaped nut that is threaded on a curved rod. Precise adjustments can be made by turning the nut.
r The "railroad patent regulator". This is very similar to the standard "Elgin style" regulator, except that it has a spring under the balance cock that holds the regulator to one side of the regulator nut. The spring makes adjusting even more accurate. You have to look very closely to notice the difference between this regulator and a normal "Elgin Style" regulator both in these example pictures and on actual watches.

Calling this a Railroad patent regulator is probably wrong, but at the time I was coding the Online Elgin Database, I thought it was the appropriate name.

o The "old style regulator". This is found on some early 16s watches before the standard "Elgin" style came out. it has a screw on the balance cock that can force the regulator in one direction only. Like the railroad patent regulator, this is probably a misnomer.
b The "J-shaped" (aka "Swan-neck" or "whip") regulator has a 'J' shaped spring on top of the balance cock and a screw to move the regulator back and forth. This style of regulator gets its name by the shape of the spring. The first Elgin watches to use this style of spring were the Ball Elgins, however this style is not specific to Ball watches nor was it first used by Ball.

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 10/04/2002 at 00:42:26.