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    

Rare Vintage Elgin Oversized Art Deco Mens Chased Wrist Watch Enameled BezelStunning 1950s Lord Elgin 21 Jewel Caliber 713 Charcoal Dial Mens Watch!!Elgin Military Watch *a.f.u.s. Army Type A-11Vintage Elgin Men's Wristwatch 7 Jewels 10k Rgp Bezel Runs Men's 1950's Lord Elgin. Flared Case. 21 Jewels. Gold-filled. No ReserveLow # 1890 Elgin Grade G.m.wheeler 15 Jewels Pocket Watch Mint Dial - 18s - RunsVintage Lord Elgin 23j 6 Adj Cal 750 Gents Wrist Watch Cleaned & ServicedLadies Vintage Watch Lot,elgin Bulova Benrus Buren Chronometer Pendant WittnauerVintage Elgin Watch Bumper Automatic Fancy Coin Edge Case 1950'sElgin Military Black /white Day & Night 24 Hours Watch With Original Case #2Elgin Military Black /white Day & Night 24 Hours Watch With Original Case Low # 1879 Elgin The Age Grade M.d Ogden In Scene Engraved Case - Size 18 - RunsVintage Rose Gold Plated Lord Elgin Watch Circa 1940's Running Lord Elgin 14k Gold Marked Fancy Lugs And 23j Running Wrist Watch1919 Elgin Pocket Watch 17j Mint Dial In 10k Roller Gold Plate Case Size 12 RunsAntique Lord Elgin 14k Gf Men's Mechanical Wind Wrist Watch W/second Hand Runs NVintage Elgin Men's Wristwatch 17j Fancy Starburst Dial 10k Gf Self WindingVintage 10k Gf Elgin 714 19 Jewel Art Deco Flared Lugs Watch +boxVintage Mens Elgin Art Deco Gold Wrist Watch W Gold Filled Band And Box 17 JewelVintage Mens Elgin 17 Jewel Watch.mclean Truck Lines Safe Driving Award WatchVintage Elgin 17 Jewel Shockmaster Mens Wrist Watch Cal 715 RunningVintage Elgin 673 Wrist Watch 17 Jewel Usa (runs) R-460183Elgin Military Black /white 24 Hours Center Second Watch With Original Case Vintage Elgin Deco 554 Wrist Watch 15 Jewel Usa (runs)Rare Aged 1887 Branded Beautiful Elgin Pocket Watch Movement Gold-plated Case 11 Vintage Watch Lot Longines Bulova Elgin Hamilton Benrus Old Elgin Watch Display And Stock CertificateA Vintage Bulova 10kt R G P. Case Mens Gold Watch & Elgin National Watch Vintage 14k Gf Lord Elgin 21 J. Mens Curvex Watch 670. No ReserveVintage Lady Elgin Ladies 6306k 14k Gold Filled Wrist Watch 19 Jewels W BoxesVintage Elgin Wristwatch 5 Watch Lot - Parts Or RepairVintage Ladies Watch Lot Of 8 Gruen Bulova Elgin Benrus 4 RunningLot Of Over 50 Watch Movements And Dials Lord Elgin Bulova Benrus Hamilton ++Elgin Men's $135 Gold-tone Ss Dress Watch, Black Dial, Diamond Markers! Fm486Vintage Art Deco Ladies Elgin Diamond Watch *loaded W/diamonds*Antique Working Early Elgin 10k Gold Filled Women's Watch Serial 49387061940s Elgin Men's Vintage 15 Jewel 554 Wrist Watch, To FixElgin Men's Watch(does Run)Vtg 24 Swiss Ladies Mens Watches Grab Bag Caravelle Bulova Timex Elgin AccutronVintage Art Deco Elgin Mechanical Watch 14k Gold Filled Fancy Stone Case Ticks! Elgin Fg8079 Men's Black Oversized Rectangle White Stone Rectangle Analog WatchVintage Lot Of 2 Mens Elgin Maual Wind Watches Running Round Art DecoElgin Deluxe Vintage Men's Watch 10k Gold Filled CaseWomen's Vintage Elgin Dress Watch. Hand-winding Stamped 14k White GoldElgin 2035 Men's Gold Tone Watch Fd545-017 WristwatchHuge Lot- Elgin Wristwatch Movements- 0 Size, 3/0 Size, 6/0 Size, 10/0 Size N/rVintage Women's Elgin Diamond Quartz Watch Goldtone1943 World War Ii Elgin Deluxe Mens Original Vintage Watch - Serviced20 Pc Watch Lot;citizen,seiko,elgin,anne Klein Ii,armitron Now,gruen Embassy,+++Vintage Elgin Mens Dress Analog Wristwatch Quartz Day Date Fc400 6m55 EucVintage Elgin Watch Sportsman 17 Jewels Sub Seconds 1960'sEstate Gold Tone Elgin Japan Quartz Wrist Watch Leather Strap Band NiceElgin Quartz Watch – Leopards On Band – Two-tone – Analog – Ladies - CatDatejust Rolex Elgin Diamond Sergio Valente Geneva Lot Of 5 Woman's Watch Elgin Men Quartz Dress Watch Fg8002Elgin Gold Plated Mens WatchMen's Elgin Silver And Goldtone Watch - Fm811-0401925 Elgin 6/0 Size 7 Jewels Movement, Dial Good Balance 4 Parts/fix T19 N/rHtf 1955 Lord Elgin Caliber 750 23 Jewels Six Adjustments W/ Dial & Hands N/rElgin Black/gold Two Tone Ion Plated Men's Date Watch Quartz Near Mint Dress