WatchUSeek Watch Forums banner

1 - 18 of 18 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
54 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all, it's been a very long while.

I thought I'd share something interesting with you all.

The watch is a 1918 Grade 291 16S 7J Elgin, which my grandfather carried up until the early 1950's when it "broke on him", and the watch was neglected and left sitting for over half a century with a broken staff, broken pinions, missing cannon pinion and hour wheel, worn dial with broken feet, among other significant issues.



Half a century later, we've brought a significant piece, a precious family heirloom, back to life. Not much is known about the watch, but because my grandfather was born 2 years before the manufacture of the piece, we've implied that the watch originally belonged to my great grandfather, and was probably passed down to him at a later time.

To aid the restoration process, I purchased a working Grade 291 donor movement, which I used to swap parts that I needed, including:

  • Cannon Pinion
  • Hour Wheel
  • Fourth Wheel: (Pinion was broken off for the second hand to sit on)
  • Pallet Jewels - originals re-glued (When the watch was wound, the train would slip and run without engaging the pallet fork or balance wheel - found that both pallet jewels were loose)
  • Balance wheel and upper/lower jewels
Here she is, fully restored to running order and keeping excellent time, after spending a week at my watchmaker's for re-shellacking of the pallet jewels, shortening the fourth wheel pinion, and a general cleaning.



 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,447 Posts
Congrats on a superb looking watch!

Its even nicer knowing the family connection and the fact you've 'saved it,

Congrats again and I hope its still being passed down through the family in another 100 years!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
977 Posts
WOW, great before and after, Nice job
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
54 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks a lot for your comments! As for the original dial, all three feet were broken off, and it turns out that the numeral font was not original to the dial - it was refinished at one point in its life and somewhat crudely. I found that the replacement dial I gave the watch would probably have been the factory correct dial, looking at the font of "E L G I N" and the placement of the subdial.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,743 Posts
Awesome job.:-!:-!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,355 Posts
Congratulations! Well done!

One question for you, do you think it is the original case or was it re-cased. I ask because stylistically the case looks late 1920s or later. Note the short pendant.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
54 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Many thanks. |>

The case should be original to the movement - Illinois W. C. Co. Spartan cases were around in 1918, I'm sure, but it could have been re-cased early on. I would believe that the case is original to the watch since Illinois Watch Case Co. was located in the same city as Elgin Natl. Watch Co. in Elgin, Illinois, and the two companies would many a time work together to pair new movements to new cases for retail. As far as my family knows, in the early 1940's, the movement was seen in this exact case. Of course, I had to obtain a new crystal and transplant a new sleeve, crown, and stem for the original case.

On the other hand, I tend to have a habit (a somewhat good one I hope) of hoarding things that I like or have special meaning to me and never letting them go. I would highly doubt that I will sell any watch in my collection during my lifetime. As they say, "Once a part of ya, always a part of ya." I'll be more than glad to pass this piece along with all my others down the generations to come - with the guarantee that they will take good care of these pieces and do the same as I have done.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,504 Posts
The case should be original to the movement - Illinois W. C. Co. Spartan cases were around in 1918, I'm sure, but it could have been re-cased early on. I would believe that the case is original to the watch since Illinois Watch Case Co. was located in the same city as Elgin Natl. Watch Co. in Elgin, Illinois, and the two companies would many a time work together to pair new movements to new cases for retail.
As Ron suggested, the case is late 1920ies or later, this design with the very short pendant only started to appear in the mid twenties. And the "Spartan" model was only introduced late twenties. So it has been changed during the lifetime of the watch. Which was a common thing to happen to a watch: The original case could have been worn or damaged, or the original owner might have wanted a more contemporary case design without having to buy a brand new watch. By the way, when this watch was new in 1918 it was sold as movement only, the customer would be able to choose from any kind of case he desired, the watchmaker would then assemble the movement and case within minutes.

Illinois Watch Case Co did not work well together with Elgin Watch Co. In fact, Elgin Watch Co sued Illinois Watch Case Co in 1898 (Illinois Watch Case Co was called Elgin Watch Case Co after moving to Elgin IL in 1891, but changed back to Illinois Watch Case Co in 1893) for using the name Elgin extensively in their advertisements, making it seem that the watch case company was related to Elgin Watch Co.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
54 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
Erik,

I remember now the conflicts between Elgin Natl. Watch Co. and Elgin Watch Case Co. and the lawsuit that followed. I would agree that the case is a 1920's-esque design, but I would have thought that the style would have caught on in the late 10's to become more popular in the 1920's. I have seen earlier Spartan cases of a more 1900's~1910's design, so I assumed that this case may have been an early example of the "new style".

The original dial raises some questions too - all the late 10's Grade 291 Elgins I have seen have enamel dials. Mine had a metal dial, which seems more 1920's in design. The replacement dial I purchased (and is on the watch) came from a 1924 Grade 291 movement. Perhaps when the watch was re-cased early in its life, it got a new dial as well.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,504 Posts
Steve, the case is without doubt late twenties or later. This style with the very short pendant had yet not been invented before the twenties, and the Spartan model only came later. And you are right about the dial. The movement as it came from Elgin in 1918 would have had an enamel dial. Most likely the dial would have been changed to a metal dial at the same time as the case was changed.

Now all this is very much fine, as these were modifications your grandfather made to his watch while he was the owner. This makes it a customized watch, and for you, his descendant, it means you have inherited a watch that he particularly arranged to have been made into his liking. Can't be better than that.
 
1 - 18 of 18 Posts
Top