Elgin Pocket Watch Appraisal

I have received many requests to value watches on this website, and honestly that is an impossible thing to achieve, so instead I have created an Elgin pocket watch appraisal article for you to read.  Placing any type of value on an Elgin watch just can’t be done with any degree of accuracy or confidence.  The best experts in the world would not attempt this unless they had the actual watch in their hand and their trusty eye-glass with them.

As I said earlier what I can do is to explain how to do an appraisal of your antique watch.  Hopefully this will at least help and guide you along the way but please be advised that if you want an accurate value then you need to take it to an expert and you will need an auction or real value quote and a quote for insurance purposes.  The one for insurance purposes will typically have a higher value as it should cover the real cost of replacement.

Elgin Pocket Watch Appraisal Explained

All genuine Elgin watches will have two serial numbers, one on the case and one on the movement.  The only one in terms of value that you should look at and write down is the serial number on the actual movement. When you have that then click on this table to get the year the watch was made.  You now know the year which is always important in terms of value.  Now as a sense check only I would next go to eBay or other shopping sites online and see if there are similar watches for sale and get indicative prices. Please be aware many people on auction sites always over value their watches so this should only ever be used as a guide. By now you should have some sense of value and hopefully you it is at the higher end of the value chain. This is a good starting point in your initial Elgin pocket watch appraisal.

For genuine collectors like me the only thing and the only details I am interested in are those of the movement.  Many people believe that the case is the most important thing and when advertising focus on that.  For real collectors this is useful information but we are much more interested in the movement.

Once I know those details then the next thing I want to know is does it run, does it keep time and how accurate it is. After that in terms of value I would like to know do you have the original box, a bill of sale or any letters that tell a story about the watch. I am also a bit of a case fan and that is usually the first thing you see and catches my attention.

It is however pretty meaningless when you are doing the actual valuation. Just pray that some person hasn’t tried to clean the case with the wrong cleaning agent.

If you have done this type of appraisal then you are very close to ascertaining a truer value.  The general information captured above will quickly lead to an initial idea of value.  Almost every single person I have ever met who has come across an Elgin over estimates its value.  I don’t want to be a kill joy but you should be aware that in reality the huge majority of antique pocket watches have a value of around $50-75 and not the many hundreds the finder thinks it is worth. Sorry for the reality check but always better to think on the low side and maybe be pleasantly surprised.

Elgin Pocket Watch Appraisal – General Value Considerations

Although not always true in the vast majority of cases the older the watch the more valuable it will be. If you have the original box, bill of sale or associated information then this will always add value. Then you should consider the condition of the watch.  In particular look at three things during your appraisal:

  • Movement – It should be original with no replacement pieces ideally. Look for wear and tear as a well looked after watch is always more valuable than one with worn down parts.  Does the movement work and does it keep good time?
  • Dial – Look for cracks, fading of the dial face or discolouring.  With dial faces get a strong magnifying glass and look very closely for hairline cracks or stressed areas.
  • Case – Again with the case look for scratches, chips, dents and general condition.  What is the case made of? Inscriptions will likely reduce value unless for someone famous.
Think of today’s market place.  There are watches you can buy for a few dollars and all the way through to many thousands of dollars.  Like us human beings not all watches are created equal and it was the same when Elgin was producing pocket watches in the 1900s.  All movements are set on jewels with the bog standard being 7 jewels.  The more jewels the movement is set on then the smoother the watch will run and as such generally speaking the more valuable it will be.
For Elgin specifically the term railroad grade is significant. If you have read my Elgin history post then you will understand that these  Elgin watches were first designed for the railroads. Making sure trains ran on time was important and so this grade is better than a standard grade and as such will be more valuable.
The final part of your appraisal is to understand that some watches may be stamped with a five position adjustment.  These are adjustments that are designed to keep the watch very accurate depending on temperature, face up or down and crown up or down.  For value purposes an adjustment watch has more value.

By now you should have gathered a lot of important information about your watch.  My strong suggestion is that you write all this information down and take it with you if you consider the watch is going to hold significant value.  It will help make the valuation easier and more importantly stop you from getting ripped off.  I hope you have found this Elgin pocket watch appraisal of some value.
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12 Responses to “Elgin Pocket Watch Appraisal”

  1. Leon de Jager says:

    I have a Elgin pocket watch with serial number 4395017, what is it worth. Still in working condition.

  2. Frank says:

    Enda,

    Than you for an outstanding go by on Elgin watches. I’ve been able to pinpoint the year as circa 1918, movement reads 15J and I believe it’s a lady’s watch since info on Elgin tells me it’s a 16s. One thing that’s got me stumped that maybe you could help with is the case. I can see no markings of any kind that tell me the gold content. There’s only a serial number 8818674 and something similar to a christian cross in a circle. Which I’m assuming might identify the maker. There’s also the standard “guaranteed 20 years ” stamp. I’ve compared this to others on ebay and it doesn’t appear to be very valuable however the listings on ebay give the gold content. 10K or 14K, etc. How can I determine the gold content of the case? I just curious as you have said the movement is really the key. Thank you.

    Regards,
    Frank

  3. I have an Elgin Pocket watch as well that is also in working condition. The serial number is 272856.

  4. Winnie G says:

    Value of elgin Pocket watch 422xxxxx serial number 21 jewell 5 position railroad name on works BW Raymond.

  5. Marcia Morgan says:

    I have three Elgin pocket watches and I would like to know the value. All are yellow gold, the two small ones (ladies) are rose gold.
    Elgin serial 6856549 men’s
    Elgin serial 435473 ladies
    Elgin 359788 ladies

    Thank you.

  6. Vicki Rishling says:

    I am looking for an estimated value of an Elgin pocket watch E456570.15 jewels, good condition on outside…

  7. Laurie says:

    My grandfather repaired antique clocks and watches in CT. I have an Elgin pocket watch with serial #: 6537672. It is 14K gold with 3 diamonds and hand engraved in flower pattern. It is in very good condition and I am interested in the approximate value.

    • Enda says:

      Hi Laurie,
      Unfortunately I can never give estimated values as I do this for a hobby and not as any type of expert. The only way to get a real value is to take it to an expert.

      The watch you have sounds very beautiful. Is the serial number quoted the one on the inside movement? If so the date your watch was made is 1896 and so quite old and would have a good value and worth finding out about. Is it still in working order?

  8. Patrick Scott says:

    I have an Elgin hunter style #7079927…looking at your web site it seems that this is from the 1897 run through 1898…the case is double sided gold, with stars, lots of filigree, a single star on the face side and a double star on the movement side with circular stars circling the case in two rows…the exterior is very clean, very little ware, almost mint on ware is on the back case snap. The smooth back on the movement outside has a slight scratch where I assume someone used a pocket knife to open the case gaining access to the movement…the works is in very lovely condition keeping time almost equal to my satellite driven Citizen Eco Drive WR 200 Pilots watch, which is one of the most accurate time pieces I’ve ever owned and it’s a hundred years the Elgin’s junion.

    I you have time I’d like a general idea of the watches value…although it’s not for sale…

    I also own a Watham pocket watch from my grandfather who was an Engineer..it is silver with a Missouri Pacific style logo on the rear, and is missing it’s second hand..have yet to open it movement’s backing plate. I know it’s from the early ’30′s as it was my Grandfather watch he needed to make engineer after passing all his tests…a fellow that did not finish the 6th grade yet was able to become an engineer.

    Thanks,

    Patrick

    • Enda says:

      Patrick, it sounds like you have a beautiful watch. Sadly it is impossible for me to value however if it is still working then the value will be increased. I am also glad to know that you are not selling it but you should get a valuation done for insurance purposes as my guess is that this is a valuable watch.

  9. jesse says:

    i have a pocket watch with the # 32923493 on the action trying to find value it works great and looks great nothing wrong with it. from what I found it is a 1928? but that’s all I know other than its a elgin can you help? thanks

  10. Ashley says:

    Hi, I was given a Elgin ladies pocket watch. 14k gold hunters case. 15 jewels and it works great still in very good condition. I do not have the box or any reciepts just stories. It belonged to my great grandmothers grandmother. it has been in portsmouth va until she left it to me when she passed. I know that it is worth a decent amount and have had offers however I dont know how to find a good buyer, one being someone who will truly enjoy this watch and take care of it.
    Any suggestions on how to find someone who will not just scrap it?

    thanks

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