Hopefully you already own an Elgin pocket watch. Perhaps you are considering purchasing one? In many cases people have been left these old antique watches by their parents or grand parents. If so, then you will enjoy reading about these fantastic pieces of American history.
The really good news is that Elgin has now ceased trading as a company. That means none of these watches will ever be made again. Although it is always sad to see the demise of any business, it does mean that you actually own an antique Elgin and one that will over time only ever increase in value. That always makes me smile. The average pocket watch in these recessional times has dropped in value from a few years ago.
That said, they can still be worth a considerable amount of money if you have the right one. It is however a bit of a waiting game. Like any product in the market place watches are also subject to supply and demand issues and how much disposable income people have available.
Elgin Pocket Watch General Information
When times are good then people will have more money to spend. They will start to buy these types of vintage Elgin watches. However during recessions or as supply gets too big then the value will drop slightly. Yet again the good news is that it will come up again. There are many collectors of Elgin time pieces. That means there is usually a steady enough demand and they are looking for the unique piece rather than a huge profit.
The majority of people searching online for information about Elgin have either found one or perhaps have been left one in a will. They want to know more about it, especially the value. I have done a few articles on here about appraising these and how best to determine their value. If you search for those you will find them on the sidebar. There is also a direct link to them further down this page.
The Elgin Pocket Watch Company
The Elgin Watch Company was founded in 1864 and has produced almost 60 million watches. That single fact alone bears testament to the longevity and creativity of their company. There is little question that these wonderful time pieces have a high degree of quality and workmanship. For me the uniqueness of an Elgin pocket watch is that it can form part of a highly valued collection and at the same time be worn everyday.
When initially founded Elgin was known as the National Watch Company. They owed much of its funding to a former Chicago Mayor called Benjamin W. Raymond. The very first pocket watch they produced was a classic size 18. Like many that were to follow this pocket watch was known for a high degree of time keeping accuracy and for its unique and wonderful style.
Elgin also offered a wide range of designs for both wrist and pocket watches. It is true that nowadays the Elgin is much sought after by collectors. For me the Elgin pocket watch and pendant watch offer a great contrast in style. I am mainly interested in these watches as they have a sense of history to me.
The history element for me is almost more intriguing that the watch itself. As a young boy I spent many Saturday afternoons glued to my seat at the cinema watching those old cowboy films of how the West was won. The rail roads played a major part in that of course and I used to be fascinated by those foremen who would produce the pocket watch.
Clearly the pocket watch had been designed for various types of railroad worker and it still fascinates me today. I did back then have a huge desire to own an Elgin pocket watch and I have been fortunate enough to become a collector of these over the years.
Elgin did of course go to make wrist watches that could be worn on the hand and many of those still exist today. I have never had a great interest in those though as it is the fascination of the pocket watch that has always captured my imagination.
The factory did close down in 1964 and would have been in existence then for 100 years. They stopped making their watches then and moved on to do bigger and heavier engineering construction tasks. For me that is a huge loss but I guess time simply moves on, even for a watch. In essence the Elgin production dates were from 1864-1964, almost 100 years of trading.
Elgin Pocket Watch Identification
The question I am most often asked by owners of these watches is how much is my pocket watch actually worth. I watch many auctions on eBay for any Elgin pocket watch that is for sale. You can pick these up for $40 and above. I have also seen and bought these at garage sales, car boot sales, public auctions, storage unit sales, house clearance sales and just about anywhere there is a possibility of finding an antique.
The prices will vary a lot and you need to do your research before making a purchase. The best thing to do is to make sure they are working as that will be essential to a collector.
In many cases the pocket watches have ceased to function but there are many companies out there who can restore and repair these. Trying to understand the value of your pocket watch, or if you are considering making a purchase, it is so important to understand some key criteria.
Like any antique watch some are more valuable than others. One example is the Elgin Gold watches and the key element in understanding this is age and uniqueness. It is pretty obvious to state this but you can check easily from the serial number and get a decent estimate before making any bids online.
I would always recommend doing this. For me I bid simply on how much I like the look of the timepiece. The attractiveness of a piece from a collector’s view point is usually the first gut reaction when making a purchase. This is especially true if you plan on starting or adding to a collection.
Value of Your Elgin Pocket Watch
To find out the true value of your watch you need to find the serial number which you will find on the actual movement of the watch. Then there is a serial look up table which you can find by clicking on the link above on serial numbers and this will help you find the year your watch was made.
You may see a serial number on the actual case but please ignore this for any valuation purposes. The only one that is important from a value perspective is the number on the inside movement. This is a link to a full description of how to value your Elgin watch. There is also a short video below that gives you the basics of what to look for when seeking an evaluation.
Dating Your Elgin Watch
From the watch movement serial number 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.
The Elgin pocket watch value is also increased if it is in good working order. Without sounding rude please never tamper with it yourself. Even if the timepiece isn’t working, it still can have considerable value. However if you attempt to fix this yourself without the necessary knowledge you can reduce the value of your precious item in an instant. Please take it to a watch specialist who will know exactly what to do and it will not cost as much as you may think.
I would not be a classic collector in the true sense of making money. I collect items and antiques that I like and I never really have the intention of selling them. That said many of the great bargains I have picked up at a car boot sale.
I once managed to pick up a fantastic watch for only $10 and its true value was just over $250. Always keep an eye out especially at country fairs as there is always a bargain waiting to be had. This is especially true if you are looking for a good quality Elgin at the right price.
Many people ask me about the value of Elgin cases. The majority of these were called filled cases in that they were made with what is called filled gold. This was simply two layers of rolled gold covering a brass interior to make it look like gold. Some real ones were made though and they would be worth considerably more.
Elgin also made a number of watches for a lady primarily to wear as jewelry. These are also a very collectible range of watches. In my opinion they still make a great collection even today and worth investing in. If you are lucky enough to come across one of these at a sensible price then take advantage of that, as these do tend to grow in value.
How To Open An Elgin Pocket Watch
I have been asked by quite a few people now how to go about opening your watch. As you can imagine there are quite a few different types and they all open slightly differently. Some of them you simply turn the gold outer frame and they will then screw apart. I would avoid this as it will only allow dust in. It will be necessary though if you are trying to work on it.
Most Elgin watches open by pressing down on a small indent on the top left of the watch and the case will click open. I have included a video below that shows a gentleman opening three different watches.
There is a lot to know about these older watches and although pocket watches may now seem antiquated, they still can have considerable value. These were made at a time when watches were not affordable to the general public. Only men and women of considerable wealth could even consider owning one of these.
It was companies like Waltham and Elgin who introduced mass production and automation. By creating standard sized parts, and then producing them on machines, the cost of physical labour dropped massively. That also meant the prices dropped and suddenly anyone who wanted a watch could have a good chance of obtaining one.
It was revolutionary in its time. They maintained high standards as well as accuracy was vital to the business world at that time. The railroads especially played a huge part in this drive for accuracy. The Elgin National Watch company certainly played a major part in this huge production of good quality watches.
Sadly it was eventually to be low price competitors from other countries that was to bring about the demise of the company as well. Cheap labour from other poorly paid countries could produce even cheaper watches and Elgin simply did not change their production methods. That in turn meant that they could simply not survive. Still they certainly left a great legacy behind and many of us love and cherish these wonderful timepieces.
I will always be looking for and producing as much content as I can find about these. If you have any questions or would like to make a comment please feel free to do just that. I don’t always answer straight away but will do my best to get back to you as soon as I can.
I have also done some articles on pocket watches generally and especially how to clean, maintain and repair them. At one stage late on in the company Elgin also started to import watches from Switzerland. They became known as Swiss Elgins and you can read about those by clicking here.
Elgin Watch Repair
Many people have asked me about getting one that has stopped working repaired. Rather than try to cover that off right here, I have done a full detailed article on that, which you can read by clicking here.
Please feel free to browse through the other articles on the site and I hope you find the information we have provided here on the Elgin pocket watch useful and informative.