How to care for an old Elgin pocket watch?
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Thread: How to care for an old Elgin pocket watch?

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  1. #1
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    How to care for an old Elgin pocket watch?

    My Dad just passed down to me his grandfather's 1907 Elgin pocket watch. I never knew he even had such a thing so who knows how long it has sat tucked away unused. Is there a watch equivalent of a tune up? It runs when wound four or five times but I don't know what's a safe number of times to turn it so I haven't really tested it out. I don't want to sell it but just want to know how to take care of it until time to give it to my own child some day. I've never had anything but newfangled battery powered watches until now.
    Here is what it looks like:
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  2. #2
    Member Datreedude's Avatar
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    Re: How to care for an old Elgin pocket watch?

    Hello,
    That is a very nice family heirloom. What you need to do is find a watch repair person in your area, sometimes your local jeweler can point you in the right direction, and have a COA done on it, (clean, oil, adjust). You can wind these until you start to feel tension on the winding crown, but it is a good sign that it runs from just a few turns, but will only run for the amount of tension you wind it. Best of luck to you, and enjoy it with your family.
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  3. #3
    Member Eeeb's Avatar
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    Re: How to care for an old Elgin pocket watch?

    The Links and Articles subforum has a thread on finding local watchmakers. Properly maintained, the watch will probably last for another 100+ years!
    "Forever is composed of nows." - Emily Dickinson

    "The watch has to be surrounded by a history.
    You need more than just a great design. You need to create an atmosphere around the product.
    Who is the company behind it? Why are they using this material?
    People need to be able to identify the watch with themselves. It's based on emotion." - Ralph Furter

    ...that's just my opinion and I've been wrong before and will be again and might be now!

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  5. #4
    Member dom_'s Avatar
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    Re: How to care for an old Elgin pocket watch?

    When serviced you can safely wind it until it physically stops from the tension in the spring.

  6. #5
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    Re: How to care for an old Elgin pocket watch?

    Quote Originally Posted by dom_ View Post
    When serviced you can safely wind it until it physically stops from the tension in the spring.
    But until it's been serviced, don't run it anymore. Once it's serviced, it should be good for up to 10 years before the next one.

    One very important thing about the case, which is called a "hunter". When you close it, DO NOT simply snap it shut. The steel catch will wear away the gold fill of the cover, and pretty soon it won't stay closed. ALWAYS depress the crown, close the cover, and release the crown.

    When you take it to a watchmaker, have him open it and let you take a couple pictures of the movement. That will give you the serial number, and you can determine the year it was made, grade information, etc. at elginwatches.org There are other serial number databases, but for pre-1950 Elgins, that's the most complete. Elgin made many grades of watch movements, from low-cost but rugged 7 jewel watches up to high grade 21 and 23 jewel movements.

    The inside caseback will also contain information on the case material. Most likely gold filled, but possibly solid gold.

    Fantastic heirloom! I have my Great Grandfather's Waltham, which still needs hands, a new bezel and crystal, and the lifting spring replaced, but I am reluctant to send it anywhere to have that work done - it's irreplaceable!
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    Don't take life so serious, son. It ain't nohow permanent - Pogo

    My Elgin Blog...

  7. #6
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    Re: How to care for an old Elgin pocket watch?

    Quote Originally Posted by GeneJockey View Post
    But until it's been serviced, don't run it anymore. Once it's serviced, it should be good for up to 10 years before the next one.
    This cannot be stressed enough.

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