The Glory Days Of American Watchmaking

When he visited the World’s Fair in Philadelphia in 1876, Swiss watchmaker Jacques David was alarmed by the rapid growth of American industry. His letter to his colleagues remains famous, as it triggered a strong wave of modernisation in the Swiss industry. We take a look back at the most successful years of the Made in USA watch.

Indirectly, Swiss watchmaking owes a debt of gratitude to American industrial genius. Indeed, it was the threat of obsolescence in the face of US productivism that set in motion a major project to modernise the working structures of the Swiss watch industry at the end of the 19th century. Something similar would happen again a century later, in the face of the performance of the Japanese quartz watch…

America was built on the conquest of new territories and the advance of the railways deeper and deeper into the Wild West. Watchmakers played a major role in this undertaking by providing time measurement tools to coordinate this progress and avoid accidents in a very large country with a multitude of time zones. For the needs of the railway and the conquest of the West, American watchmakers worked hard to accelerate production, quickly moving … Continue reading...

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Elgin Watchmakers College

Established in 1920 by the Elgin National Watch Company, the Elgin National Watch Company, the Elgin Watchmaker’s College was created in response to a demand for training skilled watch craftsmen.
First to be accredited by the United Horologist Association of America and the Horologist Association of America and the Horological Institute of America, the Elgin Watchmaker’s College has long enjoyed the highest reputation for watchmaking training. Students are in close contact with the famous traditions of Elgin craftsmanship, and they enjoy the benefits of the many Elgin technical developments.
Durting World War II, the Elgin Watchmaker’s College was selected by the Ordinance Department of the United States Army to train soldiers to repair watches.
Since the cessation of histilities, the colege, working with the Veterans Administration, has trained both able-bodied and disabled veterans under the GI Bill of Rights in the art of watchmaking.
Alby directed by internationally known William H. Samelius, the students enrolled in the college enjoy a competent corps of experienced instructors, well versed in both the theory and the practical aspects of watchmaking. This policy pays off for the watchmaker.

Time from the stars

Elgin is the only Watch Company maintaining its own astronoical observatory for Continue reading...

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Elgin Elginite Hairspring

Elgin Elginite Hairspring

The Elginite hairspring is made from tested hairspring alloy developed by the Elgin Industrial Fellowship at Battelle Memorial Institute in cooperation with the Research Department of the Elgin National Watch Company. This alloy is still another product resulting from Elgin’s extensive research program instituted to provide continuous improvement in Elgin watches.

Elginite is a rustproof, temperature-compensating alloy for use with a solid balance-Hairsprings made from this alloy and used in combination with the Beryl-X balance have practically no change in rate through a wide range of temperatures. In addition to the excellent temperature compensation property, the alloy provides excellent anti-corosion and anti-magnetic properties. Secondary error ** which is troublesome in many temperature-compensating alloys is practically non-existent in Elginite. In addition to these excellent propreties governing watch performance, Elginite alloy is readily reproduceable, thus insuring a high degree of uniformity in our product as delivered to our customers. While these latter properties are of primary interest to the manufacturer, they also assure the consumer of uniformly excellent quality.

The Elginite hairspring developed after over eight years of extensive research, deisgned by competent engineers and made by Elgin’s skilled craftsmen, provides you with a hairspring of the best possible quality. … Continue reading...

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Fitting crystals in Elgin watch cases

Fitting crystals in Elgin watch cases

In order to replace a glass crystal in an Elgin watch with a genuine Elgin crystal, the jeweler and watchmaker should know the correct procedure for ordering and fitting the crystal.
For some time now all Elgin cases have had the case number stamped in the back of the case. For example:

The numerical coding (4206) located above the circular stamp “Cased and Timed by Elgin National Watch Co.” identifies the case. In all cases, except diamond set cases this numerical coding consists of four numbers. In diamond set cases, the numerical coding consists two numbers. In ordering a crystal for a watch case from your material dealer, simply refer to this numerical coding or case number and specify that the crystal is for an Elgin case.
The number (281190) located below the circular stamp “Cased and Timed by Elgin National Watch Co.” is the case manufacturers’ number and is not to be mistaken for the case number. Always remember that the case number has four digits in diamond set cases. In a few models the case number is located inside the circular stamp or in some other location, but in most models it is located above the circular … Continue reading...

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Elgin A-8, A-11, A-13 and AN-5740 Navigation Watches

Elgin A-8, A-11, A-13 and AN-5740 Navigation Watches

Navigation Watches, Types A-8, A-11, A-13, and AN-5740 are manufactured by Elgin National Watch Company, Elgin, Illinois, and supplied to the Army Air Forces.

The watch, navigation (ground speed), type A-8, is a pocket type timer for use in accurate time interval computation necessary to the successful navigation of aircraft. Its black dial, with white figures and markings, is divided into ten major sections, each of one second, and each major second is divided into tenths of a second. A minute totalizer dial is inset in the upper half portion of the dial. The full sweep second hand and totalizer hand are also white to match the dial markings.

The watch, navigation, (Hack) type A-11, is a wrist type watch with black dial, white figures and markings, white hour, minute, and full sweep second hands. Earlier models, manufacturer’s part number 1768, carried a white silver dial with black figures and markings, and black or blued hands. This watch is designed for second setting so that it may be synchronized with any master timepiece as described in section IV. One model, manufacture’s part number 1783, was furnished with a moisture-proof … Continue reading...

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A History of USA Military Wristwatches WW2

To the World War II vet this may be a Hamilton, to the Vietnam vet it’s a plastic Benrus, and to the soldiers in the sandbox it’s anything from a Marathon to a Casio G-Shock. While many of the pieces are military specified, others are commercial watches favored by fighting men and women. What is a military specified timepiece? Essentially it’s a United States Defense standard, often called a military standard and abbreviated MIL-STD, MIL-SPEC or (informally) MilSpecs. These are used to help achieve standardization objectives by the U.S. Department of Defense. Standardization helps ensure that products meet certain requirements, commonality, reliability, total cost of ownership and compatibility with logistics systems. The military has been “specifying” equipment standards for well over a century. Virtually any company can make a product that conforms to published military specifications; however, there’s a difference between military spec and military issued. A military issued product is one that has been selected and awarded a contract for manufacture by the Department of Defense and becomes a line item on a government budget. Many commercially available watches conform to MIL-SPEC and may even appear in combat, but were never procured by the government. With MIL-PRF (Military Performance … Continue reading...

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