Finding Old Parts

It is not always easy to find old parts for pocket watches. There were a lot of Elgin watches produced so for those of us who like those, then we have a much better chance of trying to find parts. More so than many other of the rarer pocket watch brands.

Now the best way of getting parts is to buy up old watches that are no longer working. Collectors like myself want to buy watches that are working. Those simply will have a higher value. A working watch with any type of literature or a story behind it, will always be worth far more than a watch that no longer works.


Now that said if you can buy a watch that just needs a simple repair, then to be honest you can find a few gems. recently at an auction I picked up 5 old watches, and none of them worked, for under $75. They were a mix and match of different brands.

The reason I bought them though was simple. They looked good but had been neglected and they were all in tact. Thankfully no-one had tried to clean them, so they had a dated and antique look to them.

The good news for me was there was only one other bidder in the auction room and he was not that aggressive in his bidding so I got them for only $15 each. Now I don’t do what I would term full blown repairs but I can tinker a little. With many old watches there is quite often not a great deal wrong with them.

One of the ones that I got was an Elgin so that was my first interest of course. When I investigated it, my diagnosis (not always right) was that the mainspring had been over wound and needed replaced. And so I went looking for parts.

Always keep an eye out for listed items at auctions. Many times you will pick up some real bargains especially in house clearance auctions where there are not many antique bidders around.

Elgin Watch Parts Website

There is also a very good website known as Elgin Parts which you can find by clicking here. It is run by a chap called Clint and when you go there, you can simply search in a number of different ways. He wrote a web site that lists every part (well almost) that Elgin made by Grade.

You key in the Grade of your watch and it displays all the parts (utilizing Elgin’s part numbers) for that grade. You can then key in the part number and displays all the grades and location where that part is used. This allows you to use parts from other grades – knowing that they will work from your parts movements.

eBay for Elgin Parts

This is as good a place to start as any as long as you know what you are looking for in general terms. When you go there you will find plenty of Elgin parts for sale, including stems, faces, movements, glass and all the necessary bits and pieces.

I think what I like best though is that you can pick up any number of really cheap Elgin watches and when I see those I buy them just for the parts. Not all Elgins are worth a great deal of money, so if you can pick up something like a Grade 94 for a few dollars, then that is what I do.

I recently bought a 1927 Elgin for $17 and all it needed was a stem. I had one of those so was an easy fix for me. It did need a little bit of a clean up but that was also quick to do.

That watch is now worth about $80 not that I would sell it, but it was a great buy for me.

I would of course offer a word of caution. Some people on eBay do misrepresent what they are selling. This is not done intentionally of course and more down to a lack of understanding of what they are actually selling. The good thing about eBay is you can ask the seller a number of questions to make sure that you are getting exactly what you want.

Over time you get to know the sellers who have the right type of product parts.

Yard Sales & Markets

This is a bit of a hit and miss to be honest. I would never go to yard sales to specifically hunt out old pocket watches. My wife and I like to go to these just for a bit of a browse around and see what we can pick up. Every now and then I get lucky. if you happen to find something then you really can get it cheap. I mean REALLY cheap.

Even if they are not in working order they are still cheap to buy for parts.

Be Sociable, Share!

3 thoughts on “Finding Old Parts

  1. I would like to know of any reliable watch repair places that are respected for their performance of product and customer service.
    I am new to vintage pocket watches, and have acquired an Elgin, Waltham and Arnex. I need some repair work done on two of
    these beautiful examples.
    Any reply would help me, Thank You for your Time.

    M.E. DeLoach

  2. I have been offered an Elgin pocked that has a closing cover. Number on rim is 5859377, BUT the inside case where the workings are has a number 1011620. The watch works well. From the chart you provided, I assume it was made no later than 1903. (1886,1882 also show 1000000 numbers. Gold filled and in good condition. Seller does watch repair and selling. Seems trustworthy. Asking $150.00 for it. Given the inside number on the case just below the works, wondering how old it really is. since I now wear braces on both hands most of the day due to carpal tunnel syndrome, wrist watch is out for me.

  3. Good afternoon I’m just starting to get involved with the research process of finding out more about pocket watches I have and value and so forth I’ve had these pocket watches for about five years now . I actually got these from an old watchmaker who passed away and I’m probably holding about 300 to 500 pieces all mixed bag of brands but I see Elgin and Waltham the most I also have a couple of Bulova . I also have some that don’t have any names on the face or on the back so I can’t really determine brand or anything. So my real question is how do I even go about this I mean it’s not like going to see someone with 1,2 or 5 pieces I’m trying to get a valuation but in doing my research it seems like a pretty overwhelming endeavor for me at least do you have any suggestions on how I can deal with this situation since at this point I myself would have to study do a lot of research just to have a good idea of what I have. I would ultimately want to sell but not sure if it’s worth the time to go through each piece or just sell of as a whole. I’m just afraid that there may be some rare piece that is sought after would hate to sell just for scrap value. Thank you in advance for your input

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.