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Elgin pocket watches

Updated on September 14, 2014

Elgin Pocket Watch

Elgin pocket watches are a thing of beauty and craftmanship that can be collected for fun, as an investment or can be worn everyday as a practical watch. I love these watches and think they are well worth taking a bit of time to investigate.Elgin has been around for a long time for a good reason. Their watches are of the highest quality and accuracy and they are very collectable as they continue to rise in value year on year. As the company is no longer in operation its likely that they will become more and more scarce and the values will go up and up and its much better than putting your money in a bank at the current low interest rates. There are very few other watches that are as collectable or as nice.

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Elgin pocket watches are a great collectible item

Elgin pocket watch

A joy to own

The Elgin Watch Company has been making watches since 1864 and they have made nearly 60 million watches. To be going this long in business is very telling and is testament to the quality and popularity of their watches.In my opinion the secret of the Elgin pocket watch is that it is a piece of art which can be collected as well as a watch can be worn everyday.

Originally the company was called the National Watch. The first watch they produced was a size 18 model. This watch set the standard in reliability and accuracy which was maintained since.

Elgin watches are treasured by collectors and are traded worldwide on a daily basis

The factory closed its doors in 1964 after 100 years on trading and moved into heavy engineering and construction. This was a massive change in direction but things change and companies need to be making money if they are to continue in business. I believe it was a huge loss to the industry but in life things change.

You will often find Elgin watches on ebay and on line auctions and these start around £40 or so. There are also many companies out there who can restore and mend the Elgin watch if you do buy one that needs some care.

You will need to be very careful when making any purchased as some are more valuable than others and this is usually based on age and rarity. One of the best ways to get an idea of value is from the serial number. You should be able to get a rough idea from this before you get carried away and pay too much for one. I like to get an idea but always buy with my heart and not my head, which is silly but I am more a lover of the product than a serious collector who wants to make a profit.

To find out the true value of your Elgin watch you need to find the serial number which you will find on the actual movement of the watch. From this you will be able to find the age, quality and grade and this information is invaluable especially if you are trying to find its true value.

It is common sense that the watch will be worth more if it is in good condition and is working. Don't ever try to fiddle with a broken watch or try to fix it yourself.

Even a faulty watch can have considerable value, but an amateur attempt to do a repair can ruin the watch completely. Make sure you go to a watch specialist who will know exactly what to do and it will not cost as much as you may think.

For more detailed info you can visit our site All about Elgin which has loads more info on values, serial numbers ec.

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Cleaning your watch

So many people get this wrong that I thought I would do an article on the best way how to clean a pocket watch. If you own an Elgin pocket watch then by looking after it, which only tales a short time every month, you will certainly preserve and increase its value. In the perfect world and if you have the money then bring this to a professional and get it done properly. If you are unsure what to do then this should always be the recommended course of action. Doing it yourself will of course save you money, but if you get it wrong then it could cost you money in the long term and you sure don't want that. You should expect to pay anything between $100-250 for a proper clean and maintenance. A professional should be able to do this in an hour providing they don't have to replace any jewels etc. If they do, they should contact you as that will cost quite a bit more. For me it just depends on the value of the watch and if you can afford the luxury of having a professional looking after your watch.

How To Clean A Pocket Watch - Basic Cleaning

Any manual watch should of course be wound up once a day but not too tightly. Never over wind a watch especially an antique watch as that will cause it damage. Wipe the case with a lint free cloth and do the same on the glass to remove any finger prints. There is no need to apply any type of cleaning fluid for this process. A little bit of elbow grease is all that is required. All of this takes only a few minutes each day and is well worth doing. It also just happens to be free.

Advanced Cleaning

Unless you know what you are doing then take it to a professional. If you are confident you can do this yourself or if it is not valuable enough to warrant the charges then you can do this yourself. For more advanced cleaning and depending on your experience it could take around 1-2 hours to get this done.If you have an owner's manual then somewhere inside this it will give you instructions on how to care for the watch and you should follow these rules to the letter. Don't whatever you do start taking the thing apart and trusting that you can re-build it. I have rescued and saved many watches which have been taken apart by well meaning DIY amateurs. If you have not got a manual or the right tools then you will need them or go to a professional.

I probably should emphasise that if you have an Elgin watch that has a good value then only ever go to someone who knows Elgin well. I do my own cleaning and minor repairs but I would never work on anyone else's watch. If I mess up my own I can live with that but causing a problem with a watch belonging to someone else would be a nightmare.

How To Clean A Pocket Watch - The Tools

You do need certain tools and equipment to do this right and yes it will cost you some initial money so I guess it depends how often you are going to use them and also on the collection size and value of your watches. I would recommend that you do an advanced cleaning and oiling at least annually. Some say two years but that is too big a gap for me. I have around 40 Elgin watches now and I do one every week so having the right tools is essential for me. The video below is pretty decent so worth a quick look.


Attempting to find the value of your Elgin pocket watch is not an easy thing to determine as there are quite a number of things to understand, and there are also a large number of variables that can impact on the value such as condition or working parts. The single most important factor when you are trying to determine the value is to locate the serial number that is on the inner movement of your watch. Once you have this important number then you can find the date when the watch was made.

Please don't use the serial number on the case of the Elgin watch as this holds no relevance and only the one on the movement is of any significance. Many people make this initial mistake and then struggle to determine the watch's true age and potential value. Just remember that the serial number we require can be found on what is often referred to as the workings of the watch or the actual movement. Once you have this then make a careful note of this by writing it down. From this one number we are able to find the age, grade and quality of the Elgin watch that you have.

A general rule of thumb here is that the lower the serial number is then the older and more valuable the watch actually is. This is not strictly true in all cases but it is a good guide for placing original values and estimates. There are other determining factors for the evaluation of your watch but as a general guiding principle the older the better.

Understanding The Serial Number

Before the 1930s Elgin used a number as its identification method. However as they continued to produce these time pieces they introduced a lettering system around the 1930′s. Elgin put these letters in front of their serial numbers and it is very important to understand these.

If your watch has a serial number beginning with a letter, then you will have to determine the million's digits to get to the full Elgin Pocket Watch serial number. Thankfully that is not that difficult to do.

Letter Millions Digits

C,E,T,Y 42

X 38 or 39

L 43

U 44

J 45

V 46

H 47

N 48

F 49

S 50

R 51

P 52

K 53

I 54

Elgin pocket watches

Reassembly of a pocket watch

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    • profile image

      julieannbrady 5 years ago

      My father's father was a watchmaker from Eastern Europe. I love classic pocket watches!

    • Bestbuyguide profile image

      Bestbuyguide 5 years ago

      Amazing Lens this, I want to see it in the top 100, so will do my bit by sharing x

    • endamclarnon profile image

      Enda McLarnon 5 years ago from Belfast, Ireland

      I am a big collector of Elgin watches and I have found some new and interesting stuff here that I didn't know. Very good lens

    • MEDerby profile image

      MEDerby 5 years ago

      Lovely lens. My Grandfather had an Elgin pocket watch.

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      bert1234 5 years ago

      Gorgeous watches, i wish i hadf a few of them

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      Andy-Po 5 years ago

      Beautiful timepieces. I have a few old watches and clocks.