Lady Elgin Pocket WAtch Restoration
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Thread: Lady Elgin Pocket WAtch Restoration

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  1. #1
    Member MuskieMan33's Avatar
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    Lady Elgin Pocket WAtch Restoration

    Hello all

    I'm relatively new to the world of watches, though I have always been interested in them thanks to my Dad. Recently I started reading about vintage pocket watches and information regarding them. I decided to take the plunge and attempt to restore one. I didn't want to start with a $100 Hamilton or Elgin so I was keeping my eyes out for something a little less expensive. I came across this old "Lady Elgin" for a good price and decided to pick it up. It was advertised as not working, which I was perfectly fine with. I figured if I couldn't fix it my first try (I didn't really expect to) I would at least learn more about how they operate and eventually get it working in the future.

    Upon inspection when I got it home I gave it a few turns on the crown to wind the spring in the barrel to see if it would work, it didn't. Then I opened the case back to inspect a little more, as I was fidgeting with it I could see the balance wheel acting like it wanted to turn. So I gave it a slight "push" with a screwdriver and I saw that it wanted to turn. It would spring to the other side then stop again, after a few rounds of this it would go for a couple rotations then stop again. I tried adding a touch of oil to the jewel that the balance staff was resting in and gave the wheel another push, it ticked for even longer this time and came to a halt. So I wound it a little more, sat and kept pushing the balance wheel when it would stop, each time running a little longer. Just another touch of oil and I watched it turn for 5 minutes.

    After this I fully wound it and let her go. After leaving it tick away for a couple hours I saw that it was still going so I set the time and walked away and would periodically check whenever I would walk past it on my desk. It ran for 24 hours and was ahead 4 minutes. I don't know about all you watch experts, but I was and still am happy about this only being +/- 4 minutes per day. For it being my attempt at a restore I was happy at how it all came together. It wasn't a difficult job and I didn't have to take it apart but I got my toes wet in the world of pocket watch restorations. I fully intend to disassemble it in the future and try my hand at cleaning the insides. I gave the case a light polish and and going to still keep track of how well it keeps time.

    Thanks for taking the time to read this and attached are a few pictures. They aren't the best quality due to lighting not being the best and not having a magnifying glass at my apartment at school.

    Regards,
    Zac

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  2. #2
    Member M.Stanton's Avatar
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    Re: Lady Elgin Pocket WAtch Restoration

    After your light polish job that watch looks pretty nice. I've always admired those ladies interchangeable pendant/bracelet watches. They are small, that one has 15 jewels, which is great, and they are pretty enough to be more than just practical.

    Excellent >$100 buy!

    P.S. - I bet with a full clean and lube that 4 minutes per day could be shaved down to seconds!
    Last edited by M.Stanton; December 8th, 2013 at 10:22.
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  3. #3
    Member AbslomRob's Avatar
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    Re: Lady Elgin Pocket WAtch Restoration

    While I admire your industriousness, I'll warn you that your attempt to "fix" it may ultimate cause more harm then good; the balance wasn't moving likely becuase the old oil in the pivots had congealed to a thick paste. Your oiling effort has "loosened" that paste enough for the balance swing more freely, but that means that the balance pinion is swinging back and forth in a a mildly abrasive paste. Given that the pinion is only slightly thicker than a piece of human hair, even a light abrasion, repeated 18,000 times an hour for however many hours you choose to run it...

    To M.Stanton; I dont' think these watches were ever meant to be worn as a bracelet; the lower "hook" is for the pin that attaches it to the wearer; the crown bow is designed to "Swivel" so that the ribbon/charm/fob attached to it can float freely. The watch is worn "upside down" so that it can be read by the wearer, and the fob makes it easier to run your hand under the watch so that you can tilt it up. This works particularly well if worn on an outer coat, allowing one to check the time easily without removing your mittens.
    Last edited by AbslomRob; December 9th, 2013 at 12:52.
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    My growing collection of "affordable" vintages: http://www.abslomrob.com

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  5. #4
    Member M.Stanton's Avatar
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    Re: Lady Elgin Pocket WAtch Restoration

    Quote Originally Posted by AbslomRob View Post
    To M.Stanton; I dont' think these watches were ever meant to be worn as a bracelet; the lower "hook" is for the pin that attaches it to the wearer; the crown bow is designed to "Swivel" so that the ribbon/charm/fob attached to it can float freely. The watch is worn "upside down" so that it can be read by the wearer, and the fob makes it easier to run your hand under the watch so that you can tilt it up. This works particularly well if worn on an outer coat, allowing one to check the time easily without removing your mittens.
    I've seen several posts about these watches with pictures of catalog pages of watches like this. Apparently the watches like this that have the 3-lobed bow were originally meant to serve as pendant/bracelet/pocket watches. There are pendant/fob watches with the same loop at the bottom that were never meant to be worn as a bracelet, but they have a regular round bow.

    The only post I've been able to find quickly via google is this one on the NAWCC forums: Grandmother's Elgin Wrist Watch

    You have to be a member of the forum to view the catalog page in post #9, but you can at least see the thumbnail. In post #12 a user explains the difference between the two bow types. It seems the OP in that thread has a ladies pocket watch with the normal round bow and a relief engraved into the back that was later modified into a bracelet watch (the relief wouldn't be very comfortable at all on a bracelet watch!). MuskieMan33's watch has a smooth back so that wearing it as a bracelet isn't uncomfortable.

    Maybe someone more familiar with these types of women's watches will pop in and let us know more.
    Last edited by M.Stanton; December 8th, 2013 at 21:22.
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  6. #5
    Member MuskieMan33's Avatar
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    Re: Lady Elgin Pocket WAtch Restoration

    M.Stanton, Thank you for the kind words! I do intend to fully disassemble, clean, and oil the piece in the future when time, funds, and tools permit.

    AbslomRob, Thank you for the wisdom. I hadn't thought about the abrasive effects of dirt and grime being detrimental to the watch, I'm still very new at this and appreciate your comment so that I can learn to think about these things. I will let the watch wind down and let it sit idly until such time that I have the tools to completely disassemble the watch so that I can give it the cleaning that it deserves. Right now there are a few screws on it that are small enough that I don't have a screw driver for.

    I appreciate your comments regarding my first attempt at caring for a watch. I think pocket watches are very similar to shaving with a straight razor. There are a few critical things that must be had, but it is largely personal preference that governs the shave as well as how a watch can be worn. Chain, no chain, vest pocket, pant pocket, pinned on, strapped on.. What ever works for the owner and his or her preferences. Thanks again, I look forward to learning more about watches and restoring and caring for them in the future.

    All the best,
    Zac

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