Elgin Pocket Watch Identification

How To Identify An Elgin Pocket Watch

elgin pocket watch serial numbersI 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 it doesn’t then something is most certainly amiss.

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. Either way no collector will touch it with a barge pole and its value will be negligible. Your only hope after that is that there is actual gold, and you would get a very good rate for scrap gold today.

A popular trick with these is to try and make the watch seem older than it really is. 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. Recently this was discovered at an auction I attended and the owners withdrew the watch from sale.

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. If you can find anything like pictures or dockets that can support the authenticity of the watch, then collectors and buyers will be much more interested.

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30 thoughts on “Elgin Pocket Watch Identification

  1. 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. 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

    • 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. 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. 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. 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. 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

    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

      • I have a old pocket watch from my great grandmother. Dated back to 1895 I believe. It’s case is beautiful and is 14k. The serio number inside of the case on the movements are 6536599. Could you please tell me anything about this watch. Thank you, Janet P.S It’s said Elgin on face of watch.

  7. 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.


    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

  9. I have a Elgin Pocket Watch serial # 2497591 and am trying to figure out what a value to put on it to sale. It is in great condition everything is functional still. If someone could give me some info that would be great. Thanks, Josh

  10. Hi, we have uncovered my great grandfathers pocket watch with a leather strap #2673103. There is no maker on the dial but Elgin was found internally. The dial is very fancy with scroll numerals. I have a photo!

  11. I have my grandmother’s 1912, 14K gold Elgin pendant watch SN17187507 approximately 1 3/8″ in diameter and am passing on to my granddaughter for graduation. Would like to pass on the history of this Elgin watch and value. Can you help?

  12. Greetings,
    I have recently purchased at auction, an Elgin 18s watch serial number 290429, with GM Wheeler on it. The serial number dates to 1873, but was wondering if it was legit. The movement has all the things a watch should have being an Elgin watch, but the movement is in mint condition. Is that possible being 142 years old?
    Thanks for your time,

  13. I have an ELGIN pocket watch – serial no: 40463776 with SEVEN JEWELS with CASE AND TIMED BY ELGIN NATIONAL WATCH CO stamped on the inside of the outer case. It has a BLACK FACE with WHITE NUMBERS. It has ELGIN on the face in capitals.
    Can you tell me any history/date/value of this piece please?

    • Christina, it sounds like a nice watch..Dated somewhere between 1941-1946…the value I can never offer as I would need to see the watch.

  14. I have an Elgin pocket watch with chain. Serial 25315178, condition looks very good but wanted to take it to be cleaned properly and work. Do they have any value?

  15. My watch’s serial # is 5175800, I looked it up and it doesn’t resemble. it says that it is a grade 105 but the inside and the wind-up part resemble a grade 108. I don’t know if the watch is wrong or the website, but it also has a bird on a tree for the back.

  16. I have a Waltham white gold pocket watch,,,,,, serial number 287387 that was my Dad’s / Would like to know the history

  17. I have an Elgin Pocket Watch Watch that has been in the family for many years. The gold case opens in front and back with a serial number #1843850 on the inside of the front and back cover. The case is engraved with a bird and florals. Can I get any information on this Watch?

  18. Hi. I have a gold Elgin pocket watch serial number 11963210 and that was found on the movement. Any information you could give me on it would be appreciated

  19. I have a Elgin/ medora open face watch. I’m confused. On the face it says Medora. Inside the case and inside on the back( working parts) of the watch ,it says Elgin, serial number inside on the rim of the face and inside on the back and inside on the case the serial numbers all match…3164080( no letters) 17 jewels, 3 adjustments, 14 k gold filled. I’m confused by the face saying Medora on the front,but in the back on the working parts it says Elgin ??? The backing inside( the case says..Elgin giant, watch case co.,14k gold filled, 25 years, Double stock,and has the serial number 3164080…..on the watch guts it has the serial number( same as above) says 17 jewels,3 adjustments, and says Medora ,wc, swiss…..sorry for the noval, does this case not belong with the guts of the watch/ the working parts ??? The case and the watch frint and back all have the same serial number. . In confused.lol.bthanks for any help you can give me.

  20. Hello
    I have got pocket Elgin with ‘open face’ and serial number 8693808 with 17 jewels. Machinery number is 11878685. In the inside I can also see hand-engraved info…something like ‘ J5931’ and ‘3613/08 R’. Clock belongs earlier to my grandfather who worked in U.S.A, Crystal Falls, Michigan about 1902-1908. If you can inform me how old this Elgin is…manufactured in 1899? Any idea about the value…I’m not selling it but it would be nice to know anyway 🙂
    Thanks a lot from your feedback.
    Mr Mauri Ollinen

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