Elgin Pocket Watch Identification

How To Identify An Elgin Pocket Watch

I have had a number of questions now asking about Elgin pocket watch identification. I am assuming the main reason for this is there are quite a lot of fake or imitation watches on the market place. Certain individuals then try to sell these off as being the genuine article.

The simplest way to identify an Elgin watch is first to understand that the Elgin production dates were between 1864 and 1964 so anything that is dated outside this range would not have been made or produced by Elgin. For the purposes of easy identification my advice is to ignore the serial number that you will find on the case.

Cases have been changed over the years and at the beginning many people bought the movement and then had a case made to fit it. The only time I ever look at a case is that once I have worked out the year the Elgin watch was made, then I try to see if the case it is in, has dates and age of a similar nature.

The simplest way to identify an Elgin pocket watch is by the serial number on the movement. If you click on the link I have just highlighted called serial number, that will take you to a serial number database for Elgin watches.  The number that is on your watch movement should match one in that number range.

If the number has been tampered with in any way I would suggest that you avoid buying it as what other reason would there be to tamper or change a number if it was in fact genuine. I have seen a lot of fake Elgin watches with the name Elgin stamped on the face of the antique or vintage watch, but when you open the actual watch, there is either no serial number at all, or someone has attempted to create one or change one.

A popular trick with these is to try and make the watch seem older than it really is and the fraudsters tend to try and remove the first digit. The earlier the number the more value the Elgin will have simply because it is older, so watch out for that particular trick as it happens more than you think.

Recognizing The Face of The Watch

All of the Elgin watches that I have ever seen that were genuine do have certain words written on the face of the watch. The earlier watches dated in the late 1800′s all had inscribed on them “Elgin Nat’l Watch Co.” This would also be inscribed on the movement. Almost all of these would have black Roman numerals against a white face.

In some of the later watches the word “ELGIN” in capital letters was on the face of the watch. In some of these the words “ELGIN NAT’L WATCH CO USA” is also inscribed on the top plate.

I have also seen Elgin watches with B.W.Raymond, one of the original founders of the company, inscribed on the top plate and on the back of the case you will find CASED AND TIMED BY ELGIN WATCH COMPANY. These are unusual though and I have only ever seen one of those.

So, in summary, if in doubt about the authenticity of an Elgin watch and you are going to be paying a lot of money for it, then always ask for proof of sale, proof of authenticity and if in doubt, then get it evaluated by an expert. Thankfully most people are very genuine in their endeavours and fraud is not a huge problem in the antique watch world.

If you follow the guide lines above it will at least help you how to identify an Elgin watch and then do your normal buying checks and gather as much information about the watch as you can.

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12 Responses to “Elgin Pocket Watch Identification”

  1. Romona says:

    I have a solid yellow gold Elgin pocket watch that has the number 9067935 in it. Please email me the value of my watch; thank you very much.

  2. wes poore says:

    sir
    just bought elgin watch
    serial # n44528–21 jewels adj 8 positions grade 571
    looks like knew—keeps great time about 28 seconds off in 24hrs—says bw raymond on the face and ELGIN below the name–what yr do u think it is? what does 571 mean thanks
    wes poore

    • Elgin Staff says:

      Congratulations on your purchase and it sounds like yo have got yourself a very nice watch. The grade number is quite similar to a product code and was originally used to record sales of a particular product. Elgin used quite a lot of grade numbers and they changed the number if they made a change to something in the actual watch movement. This was typically a change to the jewels. It sounds from this grade that you have a BW Raymond type II with 21 jewels and 8 adjustments. That is a lever set pocket watch so never try to pull the stem out. In terms of age it is 1949-1950

  3. D. Williams says:

    Good day,

    I received a vintage “Elgin Nat’l Watch Co.” pocket watch as a bequest and have just begun acquainting myself with this beautiful timepiece.

    I have found the crown to be stuck/tarnished in place (will not turn or lift) making it impossible to remove the movement for further identification.

    Can you advise me on repairing this issue? I would like to carry it for a while and cannot even wind it.

    Thank you for your time and assistance.

    Best regards,
    D. Williams

  4. D. Williams says:

    Never mind. I just found the second hinged cover under the rear face.

    And the key post for winding. Duh! I suppose if my watch came with an original key, I would have known.

    Any advice on procuring a key?

    Thanks again,
    D. Williams

  5. Anthony says:

    I have a elgin14k pocket watch serial # 9009709 USA made , I do not no the year of the watch I purchase the watch at a pawn shop he didn’t know much besides it real solded 14k gold thank you tony

  6. lori says:

    I have my great grandfathers railroad watch and do not know much about it
    3916 4
    trade 1
    warranted 1 tm
    coin silver
    the chief
    538402

    this is the information on it and inside it
    could you tell me about how old is it whats it worth how many are there
    Thanks Lori

  7. R. Gainer says:

    I have an Elgin 14k gold -15 jewel pocket watch
    serial# 17204462 ( I believe this was made in 1912/13)
    It has a Hunter case serial# 866136.
    I was wondering if you could provide more information about the Hunter’s case(manufacturer, year made)and also provide an estimated value of the watch and case.

    Thanks

    R. Gainer

  8. I have a Elgin sun timer 14 k gold filled fahys Bristol engraved pocket watch how old is it n how much is it worth if its worth anything at all its in beautiful shape.thank you if u can help

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