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Recently purchased a 1945 Lord Elgin that is a mechanical style. The back of case is clear so I can see the mechanism and the mechanism seems to be in good repair. Also, the seller said he had it checked by a jeweler before selling.

When I received the watch it was completely unwound. So, I set the time and then wound the watch completely. Nothing. After fiddling with it for a bit I decided to shake/twist it like an automatic. Eureka! Now the watch seems to be working perfectly. I set the time and will look at it periodically over next 24 hours to see how well it is keeping time.

The watch is not an automatic. When winding the crown it tightens and reaches a point where it cannot be wound anymore. So, my question is, is it normal to have to shake/twist a mechanical watch of this vintage to get it started? Or is there likely a mechanical issue?

Thanks
 

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Yes, some movements can require a bit of a nudge, but reluctance to start running is often a sign that a movement needs servicing. You don't advise if you know when it was last serviced. Most vintage watches acquired must be considered to require a servicing, sometimes even if described as recently serviced as that may or may not be true, or the servicing may not have been competent. That's where the hidden significant cost of vintage collecting comes in. If the timekeeping is poor, or varies, or the power reserve is significantly short that would be supporting clues that it needs a service.

"...checked by a jeweler" is pretty meaningless on it's own. It could mean he looked at it and said, "Yep, that's a watch all right" :) In fact unless a recent servicing was specified all it likely means is that the watch is capable of running. Just HOW well it will run is another thing.

By the way, both manual winds and automatics are "mechanical" watches.

There were lots of very nice Lord Elgins produced - I hope you enjoy the watch.
 

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Didn't know they made clear case backs back then. Do you have any pictures.
 

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Hi there,

"...checked by a jeweler" is pretty meaningless on it's own. It could mean he looked at it and said, "Yep, that's a watch all right" :)
Haha, he also could have said, "it's a ruin, kick it into the bay asap."

If ever I read such statement, I tend to leave the watch to somebody else. The same applies for the statement "recently serviced", if it is not accompanied by an according warranty and a return privilege. My personal statistics comfirm that "recently service" means worse than untouched average, and a worn out movement dunked in oil is the best one can expect.

Regards, Roland Ranfft
 

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My tissot with a plastic movement also requires a bit of a shake to run but thats because it probably has not been serviced for the past 30+ years. Barring that, it runs real fine and keeps time almost as accurately as my Tag quartz Aquaracer that i use for the daily beating.


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AFAIK, no Lord Elgins had glass backs. In 1945 Elgin made Lord Elgin pocket and wrist watches, but you haven't specified which yours is. Pictures are always welcome!

Regarding why you'd have to shake it to start it, it sounds like it may be out of beat. in a watch that's in beat, the balance is properly set up so that a slight winding will start it running. If the balance is not set up just right, it will not receive any impulse as the watch is wound, so it will not start. In that case, giving it a gentle rotation in the flat will get the balance going, and once it's going it can receive impulses from the pallet, which keeps it going.

In addition to starting up when wound, being in beat is also better for performance, including running at the same rate in all positions. It's an easy fix for a watchmaker, they'll generally do it as part of servicing anyway.

Regarding 'looked at by a jeweler' - yeah, that doesn't mean much. Pretty much every watch I've gotten, no matter what the seller says about 'runs great' or 'recently serviced' has needed service. There are degrees of 'running' - in some, the balance just barely turns, but the watch does tick. In others, the watch actually DOES run great. In all cases, though, the oil was dry.
 
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