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    

Antique Illinois 14k Solid Gold 16s Bunn Special 21 Jewel Rail Road Pocket WatchIllinois Watch Co Bunn Special Usa 16 Size 21 Jewels Pocket Watch Movement 1924Illinois Watch Co Springfield Usa 18 Size 17 Jewels Pocket Watch Movement - 1898Illinois 50mm Silverode "sangamo" Pocket Watch W/ 21 Ruby JewelsIllinois Gold Filled Fancy Case-running Pocket Watch 19 Jewels16 S 23 Jewel Illinois Intersate Chronometer Pocket Watch Hunter 20 Year Gf CaseIllinois Sangamo Special, 17s, 23j, Model 13, Pocketwatch, 60 Hour MovementAntique Illinois Pocket Watch 18s Gold Filled 17 Jewel 1902 Bunn Gf Runs Nr Gdas1887 Illinois 4 Railroader Key/stem Wind Canadian Dial Pocket Watch Skeleton Antique Illinois 60 Hour 16s Bunn Special 21 Jewel Rail Road Pocket Watch. 192718s Illinois 17 Jewels Rr Pocket Watch - Runs Stunning 1910 Grade 174 Illinois 23 Jewel Getty Model Hunting Case PocketwatchAntique Illinios Watch Co. 1912 Pocket Watch Running Watchmakers Estate Illinois 18s 17j Of Ls Pocket Watch Movement W/ Good StaffFine 18s 21 Jewels Illinois Bunn Special Rr Watch With Double RollerIllinois Bunn Double Roller, 19 Jewel, Size 18, Adj. 5 Position Pocket Watch1921 Illinois Bunn Special Railroad 21j 6 Adj. Pocket Watch 20y Case 4 RepairIllinois Pocket Watch/ Hunter CaseAntique Illinois Bunn Special 16s High Grade 21 Jewel Pocket Watch. Runs!Bulk Deal Lot Of 3 18s Pocket Watch Movements - Elgin - Elgin - Illinois Fancy Art Deco Style Illinois "spartan" 16s Dress-rr Case Base Metal Sb&b SturdyIllinois A Lincoln 19j Pocket Watch Movement No ReserveIllinois 18s Private Label 17 Jewel Hunter Case Ls Pocket WatchAntique Illinois Pocket Watch 21 Jewel Sangamo Sz 18 W Heavy 8 Kt Watch ChainAntique Illinois 17 Jewel Gold Filled In Running Condition 1923 16sizeRare Sears Roebuck Illinois 6s 15j Gf Hunters Case Pocket Watch 12s Illinois Burlington 21 Jewels Pocket Watch Movement RunsAntique Illinois 60 Hour 16s Bunn Special 21 Jewel Rail Road Pocket Watch. 1927Antique Tavannes Illinois Hunter Case Gold Filled Running Pocket Watch 7 JewelsA Very Rare And Hard To Find 18s, 15 Jewel, Illinois Watch Co "black Dial"Illinois Illini Extra 21 Jewel 13 Size High Grade Pocket Watch MvtAntique Illinois 16s Bunn Special 21 Jewel Rail Road Pocket Watch. 1924. Illinois Santa Fe Special 21j Pocket Watch Runs Vg Cond Unusual Dial FaceIllinois Pocket 4 Size Watch U.s. Assay Solid Gold Hunter Case RunningIllinois A Lincoln 21 Jewel 16 Size Getty Model Railroad Pocket Watch2 Illinois Railroad Pocket Watch Movements Lever Set 16s Adjusted ; Blued HandsAntique Illinois Watch Company Open Face Pocket Watch Nickle Silver Lot # 141 Antique Illinois Watch Co. Non-running Large Pocket Watch Key WindIllinois Texas Special 16 Size 17 Jewel Pocket Watch MvtIllinois - 21 Jewel - Model 3 - 14k Gold Filled Case - Signed Movement $1.no Res1917 Illinois Pocket Watch Model 7 Grade 204 Only 1,000 Made!!!Nice Illinois 17 Jewel Pocket Watch 18 Size1918 Illinois Pocket Watch Model 9 Grade 706 17 Jewels Illinois (grade: 2 1/2-s) 18s 15j Movement With Nice Dial Running!Bulk Deal Lot Of 6 Pocket Watch Movements - 12s - Illinois, Elgin And MoreSrvcd. W/chain~55mm~1909 Illinois Rr Gd.59 Md.6~18s~15j~14k Gf Fancy Case WatchRare 19j Illinois Burlington Special Chicago Railroad 16sz Movement Pocket Watch19 Jewel, Illinois Burlington,16s, Ls,gf Hunter Case,runs Perfectly, SteampunkVintage Illinois Sterling 17j Open Face Pocket Watch Parts Or Repair Not RunningElgin 12 S Gold Filled 17 Jewel Pocket Watch 1924 14k Gold Filled Illinois Case1908 Illinois Pocket Watch 0 Size 11 Jewels Gold Filled Hunter Case For RepairIllinois Pocket Watch 21 Jewels Model 9 Bunn Special1912 Illinois Glassback Display Case Antique Pocket Watch.illinois Case.runs.17jVintage Gold Filled Pocket Watches,pinnacle 7j 10 Yr,illinois Roosevelt 19 Jewel Illinois Bunn Special 16s Porcelain Dial Burlington Watch Co Illinois Size 12s 21 Jewel Pocket Watch 1925 - SteampunkIllinois (grade: 405 "r.r. Dispatcher Special") 12 17j Adjusted Movement RunningAntique Illinios 21 Jewels Pocket Watch From Watch Makers Estate Illinois 18 Size 15 Jewel Open Face Pocket Watch MvtAntique Illinois Bunn Special 16s High Grade 21 Jewel Pocket Watch. Runs!