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WatchCollectors.Org

Elgin Watch Company

Elgin Factory 1905
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.

Charles S. Moseley 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:

  • Charles S. MoseleyBenjamin 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: http://elginwatches.org/database.



Elgin Watch Company Serial Numbers

Date S/N Date S/N Date S/N Date S/N Date S/N
1867 (Dec) 9,000 1885 (5/28) 1,855,001 1903 (5/15) 10,000,000 1921 (7/6) 24,321,001 1939 38,200,000
1868 (11/20) 25,001 1886 (8/4) 2,000,000 1904 (4/4) 11,000,000 1922 25,100,000 1940 39,100,000
1869 (5/20) 40,001 1887 2,500,000 1905 (10/6) 12,000,000 1923 26,050,000 1941 40,200,000
1870 (8/24) 50,001 1888 (6/20) 3,000,000 1906 12,500,000 1924 27,000,000 1942 41,100,000
1871 (9/8) 185,001 1889 3,500,000 1907 (4/4) 13,000,000 1925 (7/14) 28,421,001 1943 42,200,000
1872 (12/20) 201,001 1890 (8/16) 4,000,000 1908 13,500,000 1926 29,100,000 1944 42,600,000
1873 325,000 1891 (3/26) 4,449,001 1909 (2/9) 14,000,000 1927 30,050,000 1945 43,200,000
1874 (8/28) 400,001 1892 4,600,000 1910 (4/2) 15,000,000 1928 (1/11) 31,599,001 1946 44,000,000
1875 430,000 1893 (7/1) 5,000,000 1911 (7/11) 16,000,000 1929 32,000,000 1947 45,000,000
1876 480,000 1894 5,500,000 1912 (11/6) 17,000,000 1930 (July) 32,599,001 1948 46,000,000
1877 520,000 1895 (11/26) 6,000,000 1913 (4/14) 17,339,001 1931 33,000,000 1949 47,000,000
1878 570,000 1896 6,500,000 1914 18,000,000 1932 33,700,000 1950 48,000,000
1879 (2/8) 625,001 1897 (10/28) 7,000,000 1915 (2/11) 18,587,001 1933 34,558,001 1951 (9/7) 50,000,000
1880 750,000 1898 (5/14) 7,494,000 1916 19,000,000 1934 35,000,000 1952 52,000,000
1881 900,000 1899 (1/18) 8,000,000 1917 (6/27) 20,031,001 1935 35,650,000 1953 53,500,000
1882 1,000,000 1900 (11/14) 9,000,000 1918 21,000,000 1936 36,200,000 1954 54,000,000
1883 1,250,000 1901 9,300,000 1919 22,000,000 1937 (7/24) 36,978,001 1955 54,500,000
1884 1,500,000 1902 9,600,000 1920 23,000,000 1938 37,900,000 1956 55,000,000

In the 1930s, Elgin began using a letter prefix to replace the "millions" digits on their serial numbers. If your Elgin watch starts with a letter, refer to the table below.

Letter Millions Digits
X 38 or 39
C, E, T or Y 42
L 43
U 44
J 45
V 46
H 47
N 48
F 49
S 50
R 51
P 52
K 53
I 54



Show Serial Numbers