Unknown Year High Quality Elgin Pocketwatch
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    Unknown Year High Quality Elgin Pocketwatch

    The newest member of my watch family has a mysterious serial number that I cant seem to figure out. Check out the serial and tell me what you think....



    The serial, per the lookup, should be for an 1883 10 size 11-15 jewel HC watch marked Lady Elgin. None of that seems to fit this watch in any way. The serial is as it is in the pic. No trick of the light or other issue with the actual picture. The number has no faint characters before or after the number. The movement could be a grade 236 but I am having issues finding any pics of a 236 though. The time period for this kind of watch has to be post 1899. The case does Support this as the pat date is 1917.





    The dial is original and the style also supports the age of the movement and case as well does the style of the hands.



    Any thoughts on the serial?

    I guess I should also mention that the watch was surprisingly fitted with a mustache lever escapement.
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    Re: Unknown Year High Quality Elgin Pocketwatch

    The watch looks to be 1915-1925. A serial number of 16 million would be from approx. 1911. I checked my Elgin book and looked up 16,205,12x and came up with a Grade 373, but that's a hunter case movement which your watch isn't. A puzzlement?

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    Re: Unknown Year High Quality Elgin Pocketwatch

    The style looks somewhat art-decoish to me. So 1920s...?
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    Re: Unknown Year High Quality Elgin Pocketwatch

    Quote Originally Posted by RON in PA View Post
    The watch looks to be 1915-1925. A serial number of 16 million would be from approx. 1911. I checked my Elgin book and looked up 16,205,12x and came up with a Grade 373, but that's a hunter case movement which your watch isn't. A puzzlement?
    I fully agree with the time period you think it is as well. Dial and case are right for that time. The straight line pattern goes along with that too as that was when many RR watches were going to a line pattern too.

    I did try playing with adding a number to the end and the beginning but the results never ended up being this model. A 16 million serial would place it 6 years before the Pat date of the case and that would only be if this was the first case to roll off production and case this movement. Even if the movement sat for a time before casing we are looking 8 years or more in this situation.

    The movement is a hunter. If it had seconds they would be at 3. But the issue with it being a grade 373 is that grade is a 16 size Father Time. The serial would end up putting this watches production in the middle of them.

    I did find that the watch looks like a grade 237 which is open face and the corresponding hunter would be a 236. The issue with that is the fact that only 2000 of the 236 were made and their serials are nothing like this one.



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    Re: Unknown Year High Quality Elgin Pocketwatch

    Quote Originally Posted by Shangas View Post
    The style looks somewhat art-decoish to me. So 1920s...?
    My thoughts too. There is a reference on line I will have to dig up from I think the NAWCC forum where there was talk of a mustache lever on a 10/12 size Elgin. It was mentioned though that most were before 1909. Confusing little watch

    I found this thread but it is not the one I was looking for. Does show one of the similar high grade 12 size Elgin watches.

    http://ihc185.infopop.cc/eve/forums/...1/m/7541099601

    Some watches have a serial on the base plate....not this one.


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    Last edited by thoth; December 12th, 2015 at 15:22.
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    Re: Unknown Year High Quality Elgin Pocketwatch

    It's likely a grade 190, 23j, hunter, made in 1911, which matches your S/N if there's a digit missing. 1911 S/Ns were in the 16,000,000 range. The earliest ones were in the 7

    I know it says 21j, but the motor barrel is jeweled, in addition to the balance, pallet, and escape wheel being cap-jeweled, so that's 23.

    The Grade 190 run in the 16 million range, however, is between 16,341,001 and 16,342,000.

    The serial number makes no sense in Elgin's numbering, so maybe it's a one-off made by an Elgin worker? A prototype? No way of knowing.
    Last edited by GeneJockey; December 12th, 2015 at 21:18.
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    Re: Unknown Year High Quality Elgin Pocketwatch

    You are a Elgin wizard of this stuff!! I could not figure where the missing digit could be to make it work for the 190 but it does make sense that this watch does have the same damaskeening as the 1911 grade 190 LE. Here I was thinking it was a grade 236 because it was a 21j 12s HC of a similar nature.

    As to the serial, I was trying to break it down to see if it could have any other meaning. 16 being the millions mark but the other numbers indicate a month date and year. Like 20/5/12 But that falls to a date after the last grade 190. The 12 could indicate the size but that leaves the 205. I did find it interesting that the main plate has no number.
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    Re: Unknown Year High Quality Elgin Pocketwatch

    There are known runs of Elgins that were blocked out for "special" watches. The one I know of is 375,000-376,000, but I wouldn't be surprised if there were others.

    Doug is correct that the correct jewel count is actually 23, at least based on your photos, which is one inconsistency.

    The DMK pattern is also inconsistent with the grade 190.

    There's enough "off" in this watch that I'd suspect strongly it's an employee watch. It's certainly a very interesting a nice example!
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    Re: Unknown Year High Quality Elgin Pocketwatch

    I never thought of employees building their own watches. Kind of reminds me of the Jonny Cash song "One Piece at a Time". Did the employees have the option to just make their own watches? Heck, cap every pivot if you could! It may not look like a 190 but there is a pic of a 194 LE with the same DMK.
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    Re: Unknown Year High Quality Elgin Pocketwatch

    Quote Originally Posted by thoth View Post
    I never thought of employees building their own watches. Kind of reminds me of the Jonny Cash song "One Piece at a Time". Did the employees have the option to just make their own watches? Heck, cap every pivot if you could! It may not look like a 190 but there is a pic of a 194 LE with the same DMK.
    I know that at Waltham, employees could purchase the material at cost and use the factory machinery after hours. The practice was not only allowed, but encouraged. I suspect many other watch companies had similar systems in place.

    I've seen upgrades as simple as custom engraving to some really spectacular upgrades. A friend has an 1883 model signed "22 Diamond and Ruby Jewels" with a custom dmk and is indeed a 22 jewel watch. It's significantly upgraded from the grade of the original material. It also (presumably) bears the name of the person to whom it belonged.
    Member National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors
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