Elgin Watch Company
Elgin Watch Company 1905
The Elgin Watch Company started off as the National Watch Company of Chicago, IL. Incorporated in August 1864 with a capital of $100,00. The company was incorporarted by Philo Carpenter, Howard Z. Culver, Benjamin W. Raymond (remember this name), George M. Wheeler, Thomas S. Dickerson, Edward H. Williams and W. Robbins.
Within a few weeks after incorporation, some representatives from the Waltham Watch company came for a visit.Through a very cleaver business move, the new owners where able to lure seven key employees away from Waltham. Later to be known as the "Seven Stars". The Waltham emplyees were offered a salary of $5,000a year for five years, a $5000 bonus and one acre of land. The Seven Stars were both Machinists and watchmakers. Giving the National Watch Company a huge edge in the watch making industry. One of the key employees hired from the Waltham Watch Company was Charles S. Moseley. Moseley had been the watch business since 1852 and was very knowledgeable. He became Elgin's first factory superintendent.
At the time National Watch Company of Chicago was being formed, United states, not so united at the time had been at war with itself (Civil War 1861-1865)for nearly three years. The owners were informed if they wanted the company located in Elgin, they would have to donate 35 acres of land and the town would have to put up $25,000. The owners ran into an an issue, the location they wanted to build the factory on was a farm whos owners where away serving in the war. The onwers refused to sell the land unless the entire 71 acres were purchased. Four local businessman purchased the land for $3,550 and donated the 35 acres to the town of Elgin.
In April of 1865, the company was re-organized with a capitol of $500,000. The first officers were:
- Benjamin W. Raymond, President
- Philo Carpenter, Vice President
- Thomas S. Dickerson, Treasurer
- George M. Wheeler, Secretary
In 1866 the first phase of the factory was completed and on April 1, 1867 the first movement was delivered. The movement was named in honor of Benjamin W. Raymond. It was an 18 size, key wind, and full plate, with quick train and straight-line escapement. The first watches took over six months to produce. The first watch sold for $115 and had a serial number of 101. This identical watch, serial number 101, was sold at auction in New York in 1988 for $12,000.
In 1874, the company officially changed their name to the Elgin National Watch Company, and that name remained until they stopped producing watches in the early '60's. Elgin became the worlds largest manufacturer of pocket watches. Elgin did not product the highest quality watches. Majority of the watches produced were 7 and 11 jeweled watches. Elgin did produce some high-end 21 and 23 jeweled Railroad watches. It is believed Elgin did not produce repeater or chronograph watches. They did produce an up-down watch.
Elgin did a great job keeping records on movement serial numbers. Below is a table to help determine the year the watches movement. The serial number is found on the watch movement, not on the case. If you like to get more details about your elgin watch, we recommend visiting: