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.