Founded in 1870 in Springfield, Illinois, the Illinois Watch Company sold its first watch movement under the name Springfield Watch Company in 1872. The firm began full watch production in 1875. The inaugural model was the Stuart, followed by the Mason, the Miller, the Currier, and finally the Bunn Special, a railroad watch that would become a cornerstone of the Illinois pocket-watch lines. Most of these early pocket watches were key-wound, although stem-wound movements were also produced from 1875 and beyond. Antique Illinois pocket watches from the 1870s, especially the key-wound ones, are highly collectible today.

Most Illinois movements from before the turn of the century had at least 19 jewels, adding considerable value to consumers back then and to collectors now. One notable event in the early years of the company was the release of the first open-face movement marketed in the U.S.

As with many early American watchmakers, Illinois saw its share of financial ups and downs. In 1879, the company reorganized into the Illinois Springfield Watch Company. Then, in 1885, it changed its name to the Illinois Watch Company. In addition to its regular pocket watch lines, it also made high-end railroad-grade pocket watches. These included the Santa Fe Special, the Sangamo Special, and the Bunn Special, whose movements typically featured 24 rubies.

In 1866, Illinois added variety to the market when it released several nickel-movement pocket watches in sizes 4 and 6—these were the smallest movements ever made by an American company. These watches, which barely filled half a palm, were pivotal advances in the development of wristwatches. Illinois also produced small ladies pocket watches, some of which had cases decorated in yellow, pink, and white gold.

Unlike many of its competitors, who were kept busy by the armed forces during World War I, Illinois did not fare well during the war years. After the war, Illinois continued to make wrist and pocket watches, but financial pressures forced it to sell out to Hamilton in 1927. Hamilton continued to make watches under the Illinois name, but collectors consider the end of Illinois era to be about 1932, when Hamilton shut down the Illinois factory.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Barry S. Goldbergs Pocket Watch Collection

Barry S. Goldbergs Pocket Watch Collection

Barry Goldberg’s excellent collection of pocket watches, mostly American models from the late 1800s and early 189… [read review or visit site]

American Watch Company Web

American Watch Company Web

Tom McIntyre’s reference site on antique watches, especially those made by the American Watch Company (later know… [read review or visit site]

National Watch and Clock Museum

National Watch and Clock Museum

This virtual museum, created by the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, lets you stroll through tim… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Illinois Bunn Special 21 Jewel 18s Scarce Hunting Case 2-tone Pocket Watch MvtIllinois Bunn Special161 21 Jewel 60 Hour Dial!! Elinvar On Balance Bridge!Vintage 1883 Illinois 18 Size Gold Filled Open Face Transition Pocket Watch Runs1905 16s Illinois 21 Jewel Model 5 Sangamo Railroad Watch No Reserve!Illinois 23 Jewel Sangamo Special Stiff Bow Model, Railroad Grade Pocket Watch16s Illinois Pocket Watch Illinois Salesman Pocket Watch Case Illinois Bunn Special Railroad Case Flying J Dial 16s, 23j, 60 Hour PerfectIllinois Autocrat 17 Jewel 12 Size Gold Filled Pocket WatchAntique Illinois Transition Key Wind 18s Pocket Watch. Beautiful Hunter's CaseTotal Collector Dead Accurate Illinois 18s 2-tone Bunn Special 21j 6p Beauty Rr!Amazing Private Label 16s 17 Jewel Illinois Getty G/f Hunter Case Pocket WatchPristine Dead Accurate Running Illinois "bunn Special" 16s 23j 60-hr Rr Gr GotrrSuper Fine Running Dead Accurate Illinois Bunn Special 161a Type Iii Elinvar Rr!Mirror-mint Illinois "bunn Special" First Model 16s 10k Ygf Rr Case Wear-free!!!Illinois Washington Army & Navy 21 Jewel 16 Size Rare Railroad Pocket Watch1929 Illinois 21j Bunn Special 60 Hour Model 14 Railroad Pocket Watch Seth Thomas 18 Size 15j 2-tone Pontiac Illinois Private Label Pocket WatchAntique Illinois Pocket Watch 18s 17 Jewel Year 1914 Gold Filled Case No ReserveMint Cond Illinois Bunn Special "first Model" 16s 10k Rose Gf 161 161a 161e 163!Illinois Bunn Special Gold Filled Open Face Railroad Pocket WatchIllinois Bunn Special 21j Size 16 C.1920 Open Face Manual Wind Pocket Watch NrIllinois Watch Co. 21 Jewel "bunn Special" 10k Gold Filled Railroad Pocket WatchAntique Hamilton Pocket Watch 21j 3/4 Plate Of Ls Sw, 992 Illinois Bunn CaseVintage Gold Plated Record Pocket Watch, Illinois Watch Case Elgin.Illinois 18 Size 17 Jewel 2-tone Open Face Gold Filled Pocket WatchIllinois Bunn Special 21j Size 16 C.1923 Open Face Manual Wind Pocket Watch NrUnusual Gold Plated Box Hinge Hunter Pocket Watch By Illinois Watch Co C1891Illinois Bunn 19 Jewel Motor Barrel, Railroad Grade Pocket WatchIllinois 45.5mm 18s 17j Bunn Open Face Leverset Movement No ReserveColumbus 18 Size 11 Jewel Harvard Illinois Private Label Pocket WatchIllinois 60 Hour Bunn Special 21 Jewels, Very Good Condition, No ReserveGents 1921 Illinois "santa Fe Special" 21j Lever Set 16s Pocket Watch In Gf CaseIllinois Bunn Special 23 Jewels 16 Size Pocket WatchIllinois Railroad Sangamo 16s 21j Pocket Watch. Runs Keeps Time.Ripping And Running Early Illinois 18s 11j Model 2 Transitional Hunter + Dial!Illinois Santa Fe Special 21j Size 12 C.1926 Oval Case Manual Wind Pocket WatchVintage Illinois Autoicrat Gf Pocket Watch WorksNear Mint Illinois 16s "red Ball" Ds Enamel Dress-rr Dial Models 7-15 Choice!!Gents 1920 Illinois "burlington" 21j Lever Set 14k Strata 25 Yr 16s Pocket WatchLarge Lot Antique Vintage Pocket Watches For Parts Scrap Elgin Illinois DefianceAntique Illinois Bunn Special Pocket Watch - 10k Gold Filled - Railroad TrainVintage Jewelry Store Advertising Illinois Pocket Watch 16s Display Case Vintage Illinois Bunn Special 10k Gold Filled Open Face Pocket Watch Waltham 17jP 1198.  illinois 16 Size 17 J Sidewinder Pocket Watch In A Display Case, PrivatCollectible Near Mint Illinois "blindman" Arrows-out 16s Ds En Dial Bunn Sangamo18's Illinois Open Face Pocket Watch 17 Jewels Silveroid Moon Case Good RunnerFull Hunter Rolled Gold Pocket Watch. Made In Usa - Approx 1913. Some Wear.Flawlessly Beautiful Blindman Illinois 18s Ds Enamel Bunn Special Lincoln Ms 4&6Vintage Jewelry Store Advertising Illinois Pocket Watch 16s Display Case Pocket Watch Dial Illinois A.lincoln Size 16s1923 Illinois Roosevelt Santa Fe 21 Jewel 15 Sz 10 K Gold Filled Pocket WatcPocket Watch Illinois 17j 16s 14k Filled Hunter Rare 1919 Runs Model 41922 Illinois Pocket Watch 17 Jewels, Grade 405. Lot 63Museum Grade Dead Accurate Strong Running Illinois 16s 19j 3p Dress-trolley Rr!Vintage Illinois Pocket Watch 21 Jewel, 18s, Bunn Special Runs , Railroad GradeBeautiful 1894 Multicolor Gold Hunting Case Illinois Pocket Watch!Illinois 16 Size Bunn Special Pocket Watch. 116yVintage South Bend 21 Jewels Rr Grade Pocket Watch - 10k Gf Case - RunningC.1900 Antique Illinois Hunting Case Ornate Pocket Watch - Excellent Cond.1919 Illinois Pocket Watch 17 Jewels, Grade 304, Model 7. Lot 66