Found in Junk Heap - FrankenHelbros or authentic military Helbros? Elgin case????
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  1. #1
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    Confused Found in Junk Heap - FrankenHelbros or authentic military Helbros? Elgin case????

    and don't ask what I was doing in a junk heap :)

    I am a very new lady collector, I just started getting into vintage watches, they are so amazing...

    so anyway this thing was literally in a pile of trash that was going to get thrown out. I think it's that black dial military WW2 Helbros, right? isn't that an orginal radium dial???

    the thing that confuses the heck out of me is that the case is signed "Elgin"???? At first I just thought well it's in the wrong case, but it seems to fit in there so very well.... ??? anyone have any thoughts?

    Movement is marked Helbros "820"

    Also, how would I go about getting a new stem and crown? How do you order something like that for something so old? I know how to replace stems, but I have no idea where / how one orders those. Please help!!
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    Re: Found in Junk Heap - FrankenHelbros or authentic military Helbros? Elgin case????

    Not a problem for a good watchmaker, check one out.

  3. #3
    Member Horological_Dino's Avatar
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    Re: Found in Junk Heap - FrankenHelbros or authentic military Helbros? Elgin case????

    Recently i have gotten to collecting vintage Longines and on ebay a few days back, i found a military longines with an Elgin case as well. I think there might be some connections there? I passed on the piece though because j thought it looked a little dubious


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    Re: Found in Junk Heap - FrankenHelbros or authentic military Helbros? Elgin case????

    Welcome to the forum, nice watch

    Matt


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    Re: Found in Junk Heap - FrankenHelbros or authentic military Helbros? Elgin case????

    Hard to tell much from your photos, which are kind of small. I suspect that someone might have changed the back at some point, impossible to say. But the movement doesn't look like the Helbros 820 on the Ranfft database. Just can't see what it is, so if you can post larger pictures (just stay under 300 kb, but change the image dimensions to something a bit more useful like 1200 px wide. Nice looking though…

    Once 'we' establish what it is, then I'm sure we can sort out a stem for you. It would help if you can add your geographic location to your profile, BTW, as help can be tailored to more local sources.
    Last edited by Habitant; August 2nd, 2015 at 11:46.
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    Re: Found in Junk Heap - FrankenHelbros or authentic military Helbros? Elgin case????

    I am a very new lady collector
    The one line that I liked best!

    I was going to add a line about my collecting "Ladies" for over 50 years, but their all my ex's, and I certainly wouldn't call them "Ladies"!!!
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    Re: Found in Junk Heap - FrankenHelbros or authentic military Helbros? Elgin case????

    Quote Originally Posted by simpletreasures View Post
    The one line that I liked best!

    I was going to add a line about my collecting "Ladies" for over 50 years, but their all my ex's, and I certainly wouldn't call them "Ladies"!!!
    Haha, well, most of the men I've collected (aside from hubby) ended up on the junk heap too... :)

    Right, I'm attempting to post 1200px photos this time.

    as for the stem, ok, well I'm not such a newb as all that. I have taken down and broken a movement or two (nothing good, just junk), and even put one or two back together again that ticked. But I'm not going to take apart this movement or even dip it in naptha, no way. I'm too old and my eyesight is going. Wish I knew where to get a watch serviced for a reasonable price, but I suppose everyone wishes that.

    Anyway I can change a stem without losing the setting wheel or perpetrating other disasters... the thing I can't do is cut a stem to size, mainly because I don't have the right tool to cut through the metal and am too lazy to go down to hardware store... but ordering parts... don't have a clue how you do that, I'm sure there are elaborate systems in place etc.

    Horological_Dino: I actually found a thread last night on this very forum with pretty much my exact watch (except the movement in that thread features an 820B movement, and mine just say "820" - (or 620, hard to tell). Anyway that watch has the same dial etc... BUT... what you might find interesting is that in the thread they start talking about the history of the Helbros watch co., and it turns out, according to a different thread, that at one point Elgin was owned by.... Helbros (or vice versa, or something)!! so maybe Elgin was making cases with Helbros movements in them, and maybe during the war they cased a Longines in an Elgin case??? who knows? Anyway it's not like I have a lot invested in the watch, I just like it. The balance looks great and I'd love to get a stem and see if it ticks... and I'd really like to identify the thing if possible.

    Matt, thanks for the welcome. It is a nice little watch, though I need to polish the case.... is that case chrome plated on stainless steel?

    Habitant, I live right in the middle of new york city, in manhattan proper... I think we have DRS jewelry downtown here that may sell watch parts, I'm not sure.

    so here's a link to the thread about what looks like to be my same watch: https://forums.watchuseek.com/f11/hel...0b-555419.html

    and a link to a discussion about the history of Helbros, where they talk abut Elgin being a division of Helbros at one point, or something like that: https://forums.watchuseek.com/f11/sho...os-295220.html

    so what do people think? is this the wrong back for this case? or did Elgin case Helbros movments? Is this movement the Helvetia 820B? Why is my movement not marked with the B? Any ideas?????

    THANKS! Thanks so much for helping me out...
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  9. #8
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    Re: Found in Junk Heap - FrankenHelbros or authentic military Helbros? Elgin case????

    Can't really speak to the Helbros/Elgin connection frankly, all I know about Helbros is that they focused on more affordable watches, were based in NYC for a time and that they did make military watches as well. That said, the case looks like chrome plating over brass- not much you can do with that as polishing will remove the finish. If you're in Manhattan, I'd recommend checking out timepieces repair in the W. Village- its an older Polish lady and her sister- they're great for little repairs like this in my experience. There's also Central Watch and a place (whose name escapes me) on the east side- 2nd ave and mid 50's, across from Manattan Arts & Antiques gallery.
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  10. #9
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    Re: Found in Junk Heap - FrankenHelbros or authentic military Helbros? Elgin case????

    Well, Elgin didn't use swiss movements in their "military" watches, and I don't think they made military watches after WW2 other then the A17 (which this isn't). You watch has an Helbros import code on the balance, which I doubt it would if it had been imported by Elgin. I wouldn't make too much of the fact that the movement "fits"; most watch movements are roughly the same size specifically so that they can be placed into a variety of cases.
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    Re: Found in Junk Heap - FrankenHelbros or authentic military Helbros? Elgin case????

    As Rob says, the case could be simply some sort of swap out at some point, hard to tell. The case is chrome plated over base metal, typical for the time. In this case, I think that the base metal is probably brass.

    As to finding a new stem, my go-to guy is a company in the Netherlands, who seem able to come up with most stems for a reasonable-ish price. They are http://www.windingstems.com You may will find something closer to home or on eBay, but these guys seem to be a one-top shop for 99% of what I've ever looked for. The crown would likely have been an acorn shape, which you can find around with some hunting; I don't think it would have been signed, at least I've never seen signed Helbros crowns (but sure enough someone will come along and tell me otherwise…)

    A very sweet looking watch, right up my street, looks-wise. I don't know for sure what the movement is, as you can see the bridges are different shapes to those shown on the Ranfft DB. But in these things, the telling detail is always the shape of the setting lever, which you can only see if you take off the dial. The shape of the setting lever is kind of the fingerprint of a watch, the bridges can be quite different shapes, depending on the production run and so on, but the setting lever tends to stay the same.

    The main difference between 820 and 820B seems to be the physical size of the movement, 820 is 10.5''', whereas 820B is 11.5''', by the way. If you want to fit a new stem, it's a certainty that you will need to cut off some of the length, and so I think you will need to buy yourself a good pair of cutting pliers such as these shown. You'd be unlikely to find something as suitable in a general hardware store, so look at a jewellery materials supply store (or watch materials house, such as Otto Frei or McCaw).

    There's a good thread on this forum about how to cut a stem to the correct length (as I recall, good advice given by AbslomRob as to best method), so I won't go on, but suffice to say it is highly likely that you will need to cut any stem you get.
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    Last edited by Habitant; August 4th, 2015 at 00:38.

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