Elgin Watches

Do you have an old Elgin National Watch Company watch you are curious about? The Elgin History Museum’s volunteers can help. We specialize in Elgin timepieces made between 1867 and the mid-1960s. Whether your watch is a family heirloom, or a collectible object, we can provide information that will enrich your enjoyment of it. You can pay for your watch research in two ways, either through the mail or through our online store.

Download our watch research brochure.

What our research can provide:

  • Important details about the watch, such as the age, size, grade, number of jewels, how many were made, and an interpretation of the decorative and styling features.
  • A brief history of the Elgin National Watch Company and watch making in America. We can show you where your watch fits into the big picture of time keeping.
  • Information about the watch case manufacturer. Case makers worked with the watch factory to create the look customers wanted. The history of the case industry is a fascinating part of your watch’s story.
  • Tips on getting appraisals and understanding the monetary, as well as the historical value of the watch.
  • Information on how old-time mechanical watches operate, complete with a representative parts diagram.

 

What we need from you:

  • Serial number from the watch’s movement. This is different from the serial number on the case. If you cannot find the movement’s serial number, or do not know how to open the case, you can ask a jeweler for help. Be careful not to damage the watch trying to open the case.
  • Brief description, or photo, of the watch. Make sure your images sent contain an image of the dial.
  • List any numbers, words or markings on the watch movement.
  • List any words or symbols on the case.

Keep In Mind

1. We do NOT provide appraisals of the watch’s value. However, we can provide you with information that will help you understand the historical context of your watch and which may be helpful to an appraiser.

2. We do NOT repair or purchase watches.

3. The original Elgin National Watch Company went out of business in 1967. When the company failed, its assets were merged into a new firm known as Elgin National Industries. The new company was in the engineering and construction business and all watch making operations were ended. However, rights to the Elgin name are licensed to importers who used it to label foreign-made watches. The M.Z. Berger Company currently uses the Elgin name in this manner. Neither M. Z. Berger, nor Elgin National Industries, has parts or information on watches manufactured by the original Elgin National Watch Company.

4. Our services cover mechanical Elgin watches made through the mid-1960s. In short, if it has a battery, we cannot help you with it.


Mailing Instructions

To request research through the mail please send the materials requested above along with a check or money order for $15.00, payable to Elgin Area Historical Society(covers research time and return postage) to the museum’s address . Be sure to provide your return address and contact information so we can send information we discover or ask questions about the watch if necessary.