Elgin Automatic Watch

Let me ask you, do you know what’s one of the most powerful emotional triggers of innocence? Nostalgia. Elgin Automatic Watches are just that, nostalgia. Started way back in the 1860s, literally a century old. Where timepieces speak and testify of a time of simple progression. Where time was slower and the people more delightful to talk to.

If you had to gift a powerful boss, a client who’s a bit older, or even a grandfather – the chances of them experiencing nostalgia when you gift them an Elgin watch is pretty high. Nothing brings a smile to an old sailor than memories of his youth, his prowess, and his vigor than a timeless Elgin watch that speaks of the past, a true collector’s item.

What is Elgin Automatic Watch

Among watch enthusiasts, there are two movements quartz (battery-powered) and mechanical which have two calibrations, manual and automatic. An automatic watch simply takes all the hassle of manually turning (calibrating similar to a cooking timer) the tiny gears and springs found inside via kinetic energy. As the wearers move their wrists, that motion creates energy which automatically turns all the gears and springs.

Quick History of Elgin Automatic Watch

  • Elgin started in 1864
  • Started making manual pocket watches of which Elgin would go to win multiple awards for their remarkable timepieces and movements.
  • Elgin would grow in popularity throughout the U.S. and the world in the 1900s.
  • Elgin’s first mechanical (manual or automatic watches) were made in 1910, called the Lady Elgin and Lord Elgin.
  • During WW1, Elgin Watch Company would go to provide precision watch repairs during the world of which kept Elgin fiscally sound.
  • During WW2, Elgin would go on to not only provide services for the battlefield but as well as diverse timepieces that would set them apart from clocks, transistor radios, wristwatches, and many other consumer products.
  • In 1964, Elgin would cease production.
  • Today, Elgin’s timepieces are considered by many collectors, a must-have for their collection.

Elgin Watches: are they worth anything?

Today, Elgin automatic watches are in good condition for personal use. Their price range is from $50 to $300. The luxury timepieces cost more than $1,000, but prices are noticeably reasonable when compared to Swiss vintage watches or the American brands of Hamilton or Waltham. The Elgin pocket watches especially are a favorite collector’s timepiece.

In the 100 years of operation by Elgin, with its production total of around 60 million watches; that’s about 50% of total jeweled watches produced by American watch companies; in the global picture, this makes Elgin the largest American manufacturer of jeweled watches in the world. The Elgin company garnered many awards for its watches and gear movements

Elgin watches are also valued among the vintage watches because of their role in the development of American industry, the development of the railway system, initiating the mass production of watches, and their role in the war machinery that helped achieve Allied victories during the world wars. This value is especially evident in auctions. To name a few examples:

The first Elgin movement was produced in 1867, the B Raymond model named after Benjamin Raymond, one of its founders. It was a railroad-graded watch, 18-sized, a pocket watch. Its price then was $117. Its price peaked years later, when this same watch, serial number 101, was sold at an auction for $15,000, to the city of Elgin

Elgin watches are noted for their pocket watches, essentially railroad watches, high-quality, accurate; railroad conductors wore Elgin watches, with their accurate time, crucial for safety as train schedules were being coordinated on different rail systems. The railroad pocket watches by Elgin are a favorite among vintage collectors; with prices ranging from $200 to as much as $5,000, depending on the material, the model, the production year.

In 1961, Elgin produced the first wristwatch that met railroad accuracy standards, the B.W. Raymond Chronometer: Railroad wristwatch the first American-made wristwatch with approved accuracy for railroad use, composed entirely of American parts.

  • Elgin Military Ordinance Watch, A 11: Elgin manufactured military watches in World War II, following standards of A-11 production, along with other watch manufacturers as Hamilton and Bulova. The Elgin watches had the A-11 official version, according to War Department documentation.
  • The standard design of the Military Ordinance Watch: A-11, has a black or white dial, with contrasting hands. The watches were a vital factor in the Allied victory, helped them to complete contracts ahead of schedule. A quality Elgin watch dated in the middle of 1940 has a price range of $500 to $1,500, with differing prices according to the model’s time period.
  • The Elgin Lelong Lady Tiger is ornate and exotic, with a tiger engraved atop its case and a lady engraved at the case bottom. Its case is made of 14-carat yellow gold. This late-20s ladies’ watch at an auction fetched a price of $2,500.
  • Lady Elgin 23: the first lady’s wristwatch, automatic watch. It is sophisticated and elegant; comes with an oblong case that’s pointed at its ends. Geometric indexes. Made of 14 k yellow gold. The marker of Lady Elgin 23 is seen on the dial of the watch. This ladies’ watch can fetch a price as high as $950, at an auction, depending on its condition.
  • The Elgin Shockmaster: is an analog watch with a mechanical movement. It has yellow gold 10 karat fillings. It is very stylish and gentlemanly – men still wear this watch because of its timeless appeal. The Elgin Shockmaster costs $300.
  • Elgin Driver’s watch1937: by a more contemporary appeal. It has a 17 jewel movement, giving reliability to the timepiece. Its price range is from $200 to $700 or higher, depending on the number of its original parts and its condition.
  • Elgin Art Deco 1920 watch: An Art Deco style characterized a series of watches for men and women, produced in the 1920s. The watches had different movements. Each watch had special Art Deco features; the men and women who wore the watches are updated with fashion trends. The watch model, with the original movement and strap, can sell for more than $800 at an auction.
  • Elgin’s Chevron 21 Jewel 1957 Jump Hour: This is a mid-range model of Elgin men’s watches, named after the integrated V-shape in the design of the case. The watch entered the market during the period of marked decreasing sales in the 1950s. Elgin was then experimenting with novel features. Its novel feature was the jumping hour feature, which attracted many watch buyers. Elgin’s Chevron Jump Hour has a 21 jewel movement. The price of this vintage watch is in the range of $675.

Elgin Watches: How Much For a Timepiece?

The appraisal of the value of an Elgin watch depends on basic elements, such as the material of the watch, the year when it was produced, the specific model of the watch. For instance, the price of an Elgin pocket, railroad grade watch ranges from $200 to $5,000. An Elgin Vintage automatic watch for men, with 17 jewels costs $159 on eBay.

What Elements Make an Elgin Watch Special?

The name: Elgindespite it not being a high-end watch, due to its rarity and scarce. It can easily demand a high price.

Gold content: What is the case made of? 14 karat, 18 karats? Solid gold cases give a baseline of value for the watch; with the inherent value of gold in the market. However, the gold content of the case is the minimum value of the watch. Further, if the case is gold-filled, it isn’t worth much. Note the content of the case, whether it contains a purity or metal, valued at a particular amount.

Size of the watch: between a 12 size and a 16 size, the 16 size has a thicker layer, thus has more gold. On the inside of the back cover of the watch, there are markings impressed: 10k or 14k or 18k. If you see any of these markings, it is a gold pocket watch.

Quality: the movement of the watch, serial number, a model number linked to the Elgin database, design of the watch. Check out similar models sold at E Bay; you can base your price on this information.

Verifying originals: correct serial number, correct model, correct style, certificates, sales receipts that point to the authenticity of the watch, that it is the original. These give the watch value a higher percentage, by 25 % to as much as 50%, depending on how rare the watch model is. If the watch is rare, its value as such is higher than its gold content. For example, of the 1,000 produced, how many survived?

You can also talk to other Elgin watch owners on the website forums.

It’s noteworthy that a mere 10 percent of Elgin watches sold were made of solid gold.

How do I identify my watch to be a true Elgin watch?

Elgin Watch Company produced its first Elgin watch in 1864 – the last in 1968

Examine the Watch Cover: there is an inscription that gives the Elgin watch style, this inscription is in the cover or at the back of the watch. You can research at the Elgin Online database, look for the Elgin watch names, abbreviations commonly inscribed on Elgin watches. Watch names are on the watch dial, such as the Lady Elgin 23 name is seen on the dial of the automatic watch. All the Elgin watches have the word “Elgin” marked on the watch dial; up until the latter part of 1960, when a few models had the Elgin logo “E” instead. If the watch does not have “Elgin”, a name, or an abbreviation inscribed on it, its authenticity is questionable.

Carefully Check Out the Watch:

The early Elgin timepieces are railroad graded watches, with a diameter of 1.8 inches, described as 18-size. A railroad graded watch was approved and bought by a railroad entity, to be used by its conductors

  • Watches made after 1869 have a diameter of 0.5 inches, i.e. 10-size

The early models are key wind. A watch key was used to wind the watch, to set the time. The person opened the case back; put the key over the winding wheel, to turn the watch hands. If the watch seller says the watch is an early Elgin model, but it has no key-wind features or 18-size, it is not an Elgin watch.

If it is a Lord Elgin watch that’s being offered, count the jewel movements: it should have a gold backplate and 21 jewel movements. The Lord Elgin watch, produced during the 1950s, was a high-end wristwatch.

Serial Numbers on the Gear Movement

Open the watch’s case back; check the serial number on the movement. Research the serial number on Elgin’s Online database with its lists of Elgin serial numbers, for verifying authenticity. If the serial number on the movement of the watch has no match in the list of Elgin serial numbers, watch authenticity is under question. Note that the serial number is in the movement, showing the manufacturing date and giving the value of your watch. The watch movements of Elgin are sequentially numbered. A limitation is that Elgin stopped including serial numbers in the watch movement by 1956.

The serial number on the case is different and belongs to the case manufacturer. The majority of American watches were sold separately from their watch case, until 1920. People bought their watch in jewelry stores, separately from the watch case.

How much is a Lord Elgin watch worth?

A Lord Elgin is a classic dress men’s watch; it is elegant and refined in style.

A Lord Elgin watch has 21-jewel movements. This watch comes with a case that’s gold plated and has leather straps.

It is worn for formal evening events and business conferences. The case comes in different shapes: rectangular, circular, square. Each Lord Elgin model is unique, with no matching models that are the same. This is a marked advantage for collectors, who can have a unique collection of purely Lord Elgin watches, with no two models that are the same.

Take Lord Elgin 626: it has a hunter case movement producing 18,000 beats every hour; with an elegant strap and case. In their peak days, these yellow gold-filled watches were indeed popular. The model contains a lot of gold through the timepiece and is a very reliable and accurate timepiece. It is a unique timepiece by itself

If you’re a novice in vintage watch collection or a fresh vintage watch enthusiast, you can access Lord Elgin watches. The price of the 1947 Lord Elgin watch begins at $200 or higher

Insights into the price range of a Lord Elgin watch:

  • At an auction, at Heritage Auctions, 2010 December:
  • Lord Elgin Wristwatch, Commemorative 18karat
  • Price estimated at $3,000 to $4,000
  • Price realized: $2,390
  • At the Morphy Auctions, 2013 November:
  • Lord Elgin 14karat gold, Ladies Watch
  • Price estimated at $500 to $800
  • Price realized: $840
  • At Auctionata US, 2015 January
  • Lord Elgin Wristwatch Vintage circa1950
  • Price estimated at $320 to $400
  • Price realized: $384
  • At the Auction Gallery, Crescent City, 2016 February
  • Lord Elgin Wristwatch, 14karat Yellow Gold
  • Price estimated at $300 to $500
  • Price realized: $300

Elgin: When They Stop Making Watches?

The last years of business by Elgin were in the latter part of the 1950s onto the middle of the 1960s. Production of Elgin watches in the US was reduced, after the world wars. Swiss watch imports flooded the US market. Switzerland was neutral and therefore its watch manufacturing industry continued during the war. The American watch manufacturers stopped watch production during the war, to contribute to the war industry efforts.

This affected production, especially with the increasing dominance of Swiss watches in the American market. The company started to import movements of Swiss watches; these were finished, then labeled as Elgin products. The assembly work was located in Elgin, South Carolina.

Jeweled watches were now replaced by quartz watches that were battery-operated. The Elgin National Watch Company stopped production by 1966.

Elgin Automatic Watches

Elgin in 1 word is nostalgia; A true classic. A timeless piece. Perfect for a true collector. It’s not just the craftsmanship that makes an Elgin watch so valuable but the century behind it, from its humble and simpler beginnings to a world war, to a diverse line of timeless pieces.

Elgin’s rarity, its bespoken exclusivity make it the perfect gift for your loved ones, a powerful boss, or a much older gentleman or lady whose taste and decorum can only be conquered by a special emotion called nostalgia. Nostalgia is something money cannot simply buy, it must be presented. Given. Offered. It’s what makes Elgin special. Simple elegance. Simple times. Simpler joys in life.

There’s no mistaking an Elgin timepiece to a true collector, it’s a must-have, a treasure to be passed down to loved ones. If you manage to find one, keep it. Guard it or give Elgin to someone you know will treasure its simple elegance. A time where everything felt slower and intimate, reliving memories of simplicity, of young adventures, and of youth.

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