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Discussion Starter #1
I have an Elgin pocket watch. Inside the back case cover is the number 8682687 and some hand scribed info under the number "E=1482" and also hand scribed is "7835 BR" - I don't know if the hand scribes are someone's repair notes, or from the factory. There is also a round stamp on the back case cover from "Philedelphia Watch Case Co. Gauranteed Twenty Years".

The movement has a few markings. It says "Elgin Natl Watch Co. U.S.A."
The movement number stamped on is 20599980. It also says "Double Roller" & "17 Jewels".

The Dial simply has the name "ELGIN" printed below 12 o'clock. It has a hour and minute hand and a small seconds dial (like a small chrono dial) at the 6 o'clock position. There is no lid over the dial, just the glass cover. The numbers are normal Arabic style.

Thanks for any information you can help with!
 

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Hi -

If you google on "Elgin serial number" it will take you to this site. Google can be your friend... :)

Here is what they say:

Search Results For "20599980"

Serial Number SN Range Quanty Name Year grade size code jewels Adj/reg/etc.
-------------- -------- ------ ---- ---- ----- ---- ------ ------ ------------
20599980 20599001 4000 1917 345 12s o3n3p 17j e


grade total runs first yr last yr class size code jewels Adj/name
----- ----- ----- -------- ------- ----- ---- ------ ------ ----------
345 730900 201 1904 1932 114 12s o3n3p 17j


Class 114: 12s OF 3/4 pend model 3
303 2215000 made 7j
304 13000 made 15j
311 171000 made 7j gilded
315 1033900 made 15j
345 730900 made 17j
364 16700 made 15j gilded
384 177900 made 17j Adj
394 5000 made 7j gilded 1950 MC says "12x16s" dial/hands
396 4400 made 15j gilded 1950 MC says "12x16s" dial/hands
997 2000 made 17j A4P Marked TRN. two tone really a G=345
998 4000 made 17j A4P Marked STR or ELT. really a G=345 "Star burst" damaskeening

So: Made in 1917, 17 jewels, model 345, one of 730,900 made. It is an open-face watch (i.e. the case doesn't close), with a three-quarter plate movement, with nickel damascening (which is the really cool engraving you see on the movement), and is set by pulling out the pendant, wound by turning the pushed-in pendant. This particular grade was made between 1904 and 1932, and this one was made in batch #4000. It's classed as a type three, which were medium quality 12s watch calibres.

Hope that helps! Pictures are always welcome... :)

And thanks for stopping by...
JohnF
 

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JohnF has given a precise identification for you. I'll add a few comments of a historical/fashion nature.
Your watch is quite typical of what a businessman would have purchased and worn in 1917. Nice movement, and a smaller, lighter more fashionable watch than the monster 18S pocket watches of the 1890s.
The pocket watch slowly underwent a "downsizing" from the early 1900s to the 1930s. This trend continued through the 1930s and 1940s in wristwatches and then reversed itself in the 1950s, until today guys are going around wearing huge pieces on their wrists. Some of these like the Unitas 6497 and 7498 are former pocket watches in their own right.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Guys, thank you so much for the help and great context! I tried googling, but maybe search too specific as I didn't find the info too easily, so thanks again!

What would be the value of this apparently common watch? <50, 100-200, >200??

I don't plan on selling it. It is not in the best condition. Mechanically it is great and pretty accurate - winds and works well. The face is a bit aged / dirty even under the glass with some slight black paint flaked off a couple of numbers ( most dirt / flaking is at the bottom of the watch). It was given to me by my grandfather figure neighbor who I grew up across the street from. We used to ride bikes together a lot and he was a great, and interesting man. My parents took care of him when he finally could not anymore and I will always remember him and am glad to have this bit of his history.
 

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Value is tough to estimate at the best of times, and impossible without a picture. In any event, it's clear to me that it'll cost more to have your watch cleaned and serviced than it is worth on the market. My reasoning goes like this:
(1) Your description leads me to conclude the watch is likely in average condition. It hasn't been serviced for a while in all likelihood.
(2) As JohnF pointed out over 700,000 of these watches were made. It may be old but it's not rare.
(3) It's not railroad grade which is what most collectors are interested in.
(4) It's a smaller 12S model and the collectors really like the classic 16S or the wonderful antique 18S for display. Not many wear 'em these days so the bigger the better.

Now having said this, the watch appears to have significant sentimental value and it would be a tribute to your old friend to get it running well. You should not wind and run it without a proper servicing as it'll just destroy itself due to lack of lubrication. If it's working now it's a prime candidate for restoration. If you wind and run it dry for a year or so it won't be.
If it's any consolation, I paid 3X what one of my pocket watches is worth to restore it. It belonged to my grandfather who died in 1935. How many more watches will I get of his?
 
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