Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Elgin Military Pocket Watch - Size 16, 9 Jewels

I'm in the process of expanding my collection of silver and/or silverode American pocket watches for my brother's upcoming wedding. This is the latest acquisition for the big day - an unusual open face Elgin with a black dial and surprisingly chunky painted hands.

The serial number 41,773,881 dates the watch to 1942 (thanks to http://www.pocketwatchsite.com/elginserials.html).

The overall aesthetics of the watch (style, case markings, production date) lead me to suspect this was produced for military purposes.

This belief is reinforced once I opened up the back of the watch and started disassembling the movement. The first thing I noticed was that the movement did not use removable bushings on the third and fourth wheels (bushings are a cheaper alternative to friction or chatoned jewels). The bushings are cut into the bridge, which is a very cheap and non-serviceable solution. More expensive movements would have jewels set in chatons which make servicing easier and which protect the integrity of the bridge/plate. The next best solution would be to have friction jewels and then bushings, which can be removed and replaced as they wear out or fail.

Removing the bridge over the gear train shows the cheapness of the movement a little clearer - the obverse of the movement shows a little clearer that the bushings in fact cannot be removed.


Removing the pinions also reveals that the fourth wheel has a damaged lower bushing. I've never seen this type of damage before, and I can only speculate as to how it occurred: possible by misalignment of the pinion and applying a sharp force to the bridge - the problem with this theory is that the force required to damage the bushing like that would most certainly destroy the pivot. Since there is no damage to the lower pivot on the fourth wheel, I suppose that I really have no idea as to how the previous owner managed this.... Ultimately, the damage doesn't greatly affect the performance of the watch, and there does not appear to be excessive wear on the pivot.

UPDATE: A fellow watch enthusiast suggested that this damage may be the result of the previous owner trying to punch out the bushing, not realizing that they are cut into the plate, instead of friction-fit. I think this is a plausible explanation.

The (mostly) disassembled movement:

For a cheap mid-20th century movement, I was surprised to find what is a beautiful balance - a blued hairspring with an overcoil, combined with compensating weights.

Cleaned, oiled, regulated - works perfectly.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this info. My grandfather just passed and I have his old watch that is the same as this. I know he carried it during ww2 d day etc and I too believe it must have been issued to him by the marines or at least purchased by him from the military. There is a number on the case like yours but starting A10 but can't find any info on it. Although it may not be an expensive watch this one made in 1943 is now 70 years old and still works perfectly keeping accurate time with no maintenence as far as I know. I will treasure it as I remember my grandad and what be did in the war. God bless Dennis Normansell Radio Operator P Troop 41 RM commando. 1925-2013