This watch is big (18 size) and heavy! You better wear suspenders if ya carry it in your pocket! The case is coin silver (900 parts silver out of 1000. Sterling is 925 parts out of a 1000) and it has that mellow sheen just like sterling! This watch, made circa 1905, has a key wind and set movement. It has 15 jewels and runs great! The Elgin factory must have been an interesting place to work. I knew several of the "watch finishers" that worked there and their stories are quite interesting. One of them is a man who helped us technically when we first opened the doors of Father Time Antiques back in 1979. He told me that he started working at Elgin at the lowest position in the factory and his job was to sweep-up the various department floors and run parts whenever needed. Through the years he became more valuable to the factory as he learned at the elbow of fellow workers and also at the Elgin Watchmakers College. He worked in the Dial room, the Hairspring room,and virtually all the other departments until he became proficient and had achieved the ultimate technical position of "watch finisher". The "watch finisher" was the man who first gave life to the watch by placing the balance assembly into the watch and winding it for the first time. This man needed to have intimate knowledge of all the other operations in the factory in order to correct any problems that he might encounter once the watch started to tick or if, in fact, it didn't start to tick. This was a position of achievement and pride and carried a higher salary with it as a mark of technical accomplishment. He told me that during the depression when Elgin made some of their movements with a gold finish that he and his co-workers laughingly referred to the practice as the "Gold Standard", because Elgin had reduced their salaries by half to weather the storm of the economic downturn.
In later years I heard from some residents of Elgin that once the factory was slated for demolition (in 1965) there was a time when you could purchase 55 gallon drums of parts for their watches for $5.00 each. Another resident told me that the effluvial pipes that emptied waste water from the factory were harvested by some enterprising folks that knew that these pipes carried the waste from the plating and case rooms where many precious metals were used! The pipes, it seems, were like clogged arteries...clogged with gold! I can only imagine what these scrap pipes would bring at today's gold spot prices. One of the employees brought a home movie in 8mm to one of the local watch shows to show me the dynamiting of the iconic Elgin Watch Factory Clock Tower. He had the film in a hand-crank viewer and you could view the tower collapsing, and then, by cranking it backwards, see it re-assemble out of the rubble. It was both sad and interesting as this was the final blow to the once powerful Elgin edifice. There is, however, a physical remnant of the Elgin legacy and that is the Elgin National Watch Company Observatory. It stands to this day at 312 Watch Street in Elgin, Illinois just two blocks from the site of the factory. Our ability to keep time is based on our position in the universe and to determine that position you need a telescope and a way to determine the position of the stars relative to a fixed point on earth. The telescope that was erected in the Observatory had eleven vertical wires that were internal to the lens and when a celestial body was observed to cross one of the wires the astronomer would press a button that would send a signal to one of the Sidereal Clocks, Number 220, in the Observatory. The time thus determined would then be compared to the time on Sidereal clock Number 224 and the results were compared and then published in the American Ephemeris and Nautical Almanac. By this method accuracy could be determined to within 1/100 of a second. These results were relayed to the factory by an audible signal that would allow workers to accurately set their watches. Additionally this signal was sent to radio stations in later years where a listener might hear the phrase "at the tone the time will be". The announcer would state the time and then the tone would sound indicating the exact second of its passing. Elgin was quite proud of their observatory and adopted the tag line "ELGIN TAKES TIME FROM THE STARS AND PUTS IT IN YOUR POCKET"
Now you can own one of their really interesting watches that we have fully restored so that you can hand it down in your family.