Elgin 760

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  1. #1
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    Elgin 760

    I just got an Elgin 760 last week. It is all stainless steel and near mint condition. I have never even seen one of these before this one. I did think its cool to have American Made on the dial. You don't see that anymore. My question is how good are these in terms of quality compared to other automatics? Also how collectible are they? I paid $150.00 for it. Is that a fair price? I posted a couple of pictures of the Lord Elgin and some of my other watches. I look forward to your responses. thanks in advance.
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  2. #2
    Member lysanderxiii's Avatar
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    Re: Elgin 760

    The winding system of the 760 and 761 are interesting, in that they are two speed, as the mainspring gets wound and the tension increases, the winding mechanism is capable of "down shifting" to maintain efficiency. No one else ever used such a system to my knowledge.

    From what I have seen, they are comparable to other automatics of that era. But, they not as nice as the earlier Elgin handwinds.
    Parit enim conversatio contemptum; raritas conciliat admirationem.- Lucius Apuleius
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    Re: Elgin 760

    In your opinion what earlier Elgin movement should I look for? Thanks for the help.

  4. #4
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    Re: Elgin 760

    I am not sure what other Elgin you should look for but this one ought to do you for a while! It is actually the only American rotor automatic wrist watch movement ever designed (Elgin actually also had an earlier bumper wind movement, no other American maker ever made automatic movements). In addition, you have the double winding speed, a free sprung balance with a novel fine adjustment directly on the balance wheel plus overall excellent quality to rival any of the Elgin manual movements - what more do you want?!

    Hartmut Richter

  5. #5
    Vintage/PilMil/MKII Moderator JohnF's Avatar
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    Re: Elgin 760

    Hi -

    First of all, welcome to the forum! Hope we can help you out here...

    The Elgin 760s are indeed a special caliber. You can read about them here.

    I also posted this a while ago on the Elgin 760.

    It has a free-sprung balance, which eliminates the need for regulator pins. The balance is then fine-tuned by changing the inertial mass of the balance, which is a vastly more elegant way of fine-tuning the balance than changing the length of the spring (which is how this is done in normal movements).

    Lysanderxiii is also right: it has a unique winding mechanism. I described it in that post I linked to thus:

    The second unque aspect of this movement is the winding mechanism, which is more than slightly outrageous for its time. First of all, it is bidirectional, but doesn't use any sprung clutches, which were at that point notoriously hard to maintain. That in itself isn't bad, but Elgin also provided two different winding ratios and adjusted them automatically during the winding process of the mainspring!

    Both manual and automatic winding were integrated to reduce part count: the directional clutches were attached directly to the rotor. There are two pinions on the rotor post, stacked on top of each other, with one spinning freely clockwise, the other counter-clockwise, both locking in the opposite direction. In each of these clutches are three jewels (total six): as the rotor turns in one direction, the cylindrical jewels in one clutch bind, causing the pinion to turn; moving in the other direction, the jewels release, but the other pinion binds. Given that there is no point friction in the winding system and that surface friction between jewel and metal is minimal, the winding system didn't need lubrication, and given hardened surfaces of the metal, there was no wear. Seriously intelligent and cool.

    Now, there is a serious downside to watches with this movement: servicing them. Not so much the actual servicing, but the spare parts. Bluntly, the balance wheel, hairspring and any part of the winding mechanism are rather hard to find. Not a nightmare, but nonetheless hard to find.

    I've got 4 of these right now, as well as another 6 movements in various states of disrepair just for the parts.

    Here are some quick-and-dirty shots of these four Elgins. I've promised to do an actual disassembly of the movement, but that has to wait for a free weekend after I do my taxes...

    Here is number 1:



    It's the one I wear fairly often. Mounted on a new 18mm leather strap. This was recently serviced by the seller (the watchmaker marked the service as 0709 on the inside of the case back). Keeps rather good time, gained around 90 seconds over 21 days.

    This is number 2:



    This one needs some work: the hands do not set nicely and there is some damage to one of the gears. Was acquired knowing that because of the rather nice cosmetic shape.

    This is number 3:



    This is the really odd one: some fool watchmaker put a crystal on this one several sizes too large, and then cemented it on! Movement and dial are great, it's a gold case, but the insanity of that crystal preclude wearing it right now. Have to get a new crystal and work out how to remove the old one without damaging anything: I think the watchmaker used superglue, as I couldn't budge it using gentle pressure. It is literally glued on! Bleagh.

    and here is two shots of number 4:



    and



    This one I got, despite the rather desperate state of the crystal, because the black-faced dials are rather rare and the stretch band has that calendar built in!

    Eeeb knows these, I had them with me when we met up in November...

    JohnF
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    Re: Elgin 760

    The quick answer on the other Elgins to look for would be the 730, 750, or 770. Be aware that the later 760's can self destruct due to cost saving shortcuts. Make sure that you keep your 760 serviced to prevent this. Lysanderxiii has pictures of mine that illustrate this. If the watch has been serviced you got a good deal, if it needs service, you got a fair deal.

  7. #7
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    Re: Elgin 760

    Superglue dissolves in Naptha, doesn't it? Otherwise, it might have been set using UV-cured cement...not sure how to dissolve that.
    My growing collection of "affordable" vintages: http://www.abslomrob.com

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    Re: Elgin 760

    Great information from everyone. I really appreciate the help.

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    Re: Elgin 760

    Pardon my unearthing this old thread, but I just got myself one of these interesting watches.



    Same model as your Number 2, though perhaps not as clean.

    But I wanted to mention something about one of your other 760s.

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnF View Post
    This is number 3:



    This is the really odd one: some fool watchmaker put a crystal on this one several sizes too large, and then cemented it on! Movement and dial are great, it's a gold case, but the insanity of that crystal preclude wearing it right now. Have to get a new crystal and work out how to remove the old one without damaging anything: I think the watchmaker used superglue, as I couldn't budge it using gentle pressure. It is literally glued on! Bleagh.


    I wonder if maybe that one is one of Elgin's 'Horizon Look' models. (I just obtained an old service manual, and Section 14.0, dating to February 1958 (Aw - I was three months old!) describes them as being fitted with 'wraparound' crystals. The crystal actually extends all the way to the outside edge of the bezel. It's supposed to be cemented in place:




    I think maybe it's SUPPOSE TO BE like that. Looking carefully at some of the Lord Elgins on Ebay, I've found a couple others I'm pretty certain are of that type. I'm not sure I like it, but it sure is different!

  10. #10
    Vintage/PilMil/MKII Moderator JohnF's Avatar
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    Re: Elgin 760

    Hi -

    Great repair manual!!!

    It's not so much that the crystal is cemented, but more that it's plainly the wrong crystal. The watchmaker fitted a crystal with a lip to it (like the top illustration, but fitted it as if it were the lower illustration, if that makes sense). But thanks for reminding me that I need to have it worked on!

    JohnF
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