Antique and Vintage Elgin Wristwatches

Perhaps better known for its pocket watches than wristwatches, the Elgin National Watch Company began in August 1864 as the National Watch Company. The National Watch Company produced its first watch—the B.W. Raymond—in April 1867, and it was immediately successful. Its main manufacturing plant was located in Elgin, Illinois.

At a special stockholders’ meeting in May 1874, the company decided to change its name to the Elgin National Watch Company, and “Elgin” has stuck since. By the late 1880s, Elgin employed about 2,300 workers and produced about 1,200 movements per day.

The company released its first wristwatches—the Lord Elgin and the Lady Elgin—in 1910, years earlier than most other American watch companies. In 1912, Elgin produced a convertible wristwatch for women. Thanks to its removable straps, this popular design could be “converted” from a wristwatch to a pocket watch, or it could be worn on a necklace.

With World War I, Elgin received a government contract with the U.S. Army—the company trained 350 employees to make precision watch repairs on the battlefield. This contract helped keep Elgin fiscally sound during the war.

Elgin also helped with the war effort during World War II, this time producing military watches, chronometers for the Navy, instruments for planes, and more. These endeavors set Elgin on a path of diversification that continued after the war, as the company produced transistor radios, clocks, and other consumer products, including more wristwatches.

At the time, the most stringent test of a watch’s accuracy was whether or not railroad companies would allow their employees to wear it—inaccuracies of just a few seconds could cause a catastrophic collision. For decades, only pocket watches were accurate enough (trust and tradition were also factors) to be allowed on trains, but Elgin produced a wristwatch that met railroad standards in 1961: the B. W. Raymond Railroad Wrist Chronometer. Elgin was not the first wristwatch manufacturer to accomplish this feat—that honor belongs to Ball—but it was the first railroad wristwatch to be made in America with entirely American parts.

In 1951, Elgin produced its 50 millionth watch movement, a testament to the longevity and productivity of the company, but the firm’s days were numbered and production ceased in 1964.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

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

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Mens 1951 Elgin Deluxe Prong Spear Case Fancy Dial 10k Gf 17j Retro Modern WatchLord Elgin Vintage Circa 1948 21 Jewels Model 680 14k Gf Wrist Watch (#175)Mens Mint 1960 Lord Elgin 23 Jewel 10k Solid Gold Durabalance 6 Adj. Retro WatchWwii Elgin Military Ordinance Department Wrist Watch Estate Find NrVintage Elgin Shockmaster Men's Wristwatch 17 Jewels All Stainless Steel RunsVintage Large Antique Wwii World War Ii Military Elgin Mens Watch ... NrElgin Watch Co. Military Type A-17a Navigation W/ Hack Setting Wrist Watch #1781942 Elgin 14k Solid Yellow Gold Two Tone Dial Stepped Lugs Men’s Vintage WatchWw2 Elgin Military Sub Second Watch With Nos CaseElgin Trench Nice!!Rare,elgin Military 24 Hours Watch Day & Night Dial With Nos CaseUnusual Vintage Men's Elgin 17j Watch 14k Gold Filled Case Very Clean Runs Lord Elgin Vintage 21 Jewels "schockmaster" Gold Flex Band Wrist Watch (#189)Lucien Piccard, Omega, Elgin, Tissot, Stauer Men's 14k Gold Watches Rare Mens Lord Elgin Vintage Wristwatch With 'fancy' Case And Dial, From 1953Men's Vintage Wrist Watch Lot 21pc Longines, Elgin, Benrus, Illinois + As Shown1927 Elgin Art Deco Cushion Case Engraved Men's Vintage Watch, Lord Elgin Vintage Circa 1950s 21 Jewels 14k Gp Speidel Band Wrist Watch (#183)Elgin Vintage 14k Solid Gold 17 Jewels Black Leather Band Wrist Watch (#182)Lord Elgin Vintage 23 Jewels Model 730 6 Adj's Tan Leather Band Wrist Watch #147Vintage 1970's Lord Elgin Aquamaster Automatic Watch Great Condition RunsLord Elgin Vintage 21 Jewels Yellow Gold & Diamond 4 Adj's Wrist Watch (#184)Vintage Elgin B.w. Raymond 21 Jewel Rail Road Approved No ReserveVintage Lady Elgin 14k Solid Gold Wristwatch - 19 JewelsLot Of 16 Vintage Mens Wrist Watches For Parts Or Repair Watch Bulova Elgin MoreVintage Elgin 333 Automatic Masonic Dial Band Gold Tone Men's Dress WatchLady Elgin 14k White Gold WatchLord Elgin Vintage Circa 1952 21 Jewels Model 680 14k Gf Wrist Watch (#190)Vintage 14k Gf Lord Elgin 670 Curved Case Solid Lugs Mechanical Watch MensElgin Ww1 Trench Watch Hermetic CaseOld 21 Jewel Lord Elgin Men's Wristwatch 1940's 14 Kt Gold Filled Watch Works Vintage Mens Lord Elgin 21j Wrist Watch Caliber 680 ~ Works And Looks Great Very Clean Lord Elgin Men Wrist Watch W/ Date Runs 14k Solid Yellow Gold #742-4Lot Of 7 Vintage Lady's Wristwatches Elgin, Gruen, Hampden For Parts-repair1944 Lord Elgin 559 21 Jewel Watch. 14k Gold Filled Case. Running. No Reserve. Antique Lot Of 7 Elgin Wrist Watches. Gold-filledLord Elgin Vintage 21 Jewels Model 559 14k Gold Flex Band Wrist Watch (#191)Vintage Elgin Mens Watch Pre-owned Automatic - Used But Runs GreatLord Elgin Vintage 21 Jewels "black/golden Knight" Black Band Wrist Watch (#192)Vintage Mens Windup Watch Repair Parts Lot Elgin Natl Pocket Timex Benrus AvalonMint Dual Face Dual Time Elgin Wrist Watch1938 Lord Elgin Men's Wristwatch 8/0 Size 21 Jewels 14k Gold Filled Case RunsVintage Elgin Men's Self Winding Wristwatch Running Gr8Scarce 1955 Elgin Gents Ref. 6852 Classic Round 27j Automatic Clean Dial Ufix!Vintage 1950's Men's Elgin Hidden Lug 19 Jewel Gold Filled Watch Neat Band Runs1927 Elgin Men's Wristwatch 6/0 Size 15 Jewels 14k Solid Gold For RepairAntique Lot Of 6 Elgin Wrist Watches. Lord Elgin. Gold-filled40s Elgin Shockmaster Automatic, Big Fancy Lugs, Runs, VgcVintage Women's Watches Lot Of 11 - Elgin Omega Grumen Hamilton Wittnauer OrganaElgin Vintage Stainless Steel 17 Jewels Gold Color Flex Band Wrist Watch (#185)Elgin Wrist Watch Man's 15 Jewel 1940's Vtg 554 Wind UpAll Original Beautiful Elgin Solar Power Gold Titanium Day_date Diver Watch Lord Elgin Vintage 23 Jewels Model 730 6 Adj's Ss Black Wrist Watch (#179)Vintage Lord Elgin Round Thick Lugs Case Mens Ss Manual Wind Watch $1Elgin Fg9051 Men's Gold-plated Oversized Glitz Crystal Accented Cross Watch12 Ladies Vintage Wrist Watches Elgin, Bulova, Gf Seiko Some RunningElgin Men's Skeleton Stainless Steel Automatic Watch Fg8030 Art Deco Elgin 14k Gold Filled 15j Ladies Wind-up Wristwatch For RepairMen's Vintage Elgin 15 Jewel Wristwatch. .....12404Wristwatch Lord Elgin 23 J Cal 775 6 Adj 10 K Gold Filled Usa