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 Solid 10k Yellow Gold Man's Extended Flexible Lug Wrist WatchClean Deco Vintage 1940's Men's Elgin Tanke Gold Filled 17j Watch Runs & StopsFantastic Mens Lord Elgin Jump Hour Watch 14k Gold FilledVintage Elgin Men's Wristwatch 17 Jewels 10k Rgp Bezel Runs W BoxVntg Ww2 Elgin Military Canteen Watch ,usn Buships All Original Repair/partsOriginal Ww2 Elgin Military Watch Type A-11Mens Nice Original 1960 Elgin 27j Automatic Usa 10k Rgp Retro Modern Watch + Box3 Vintage 1920's & 30's Men's Waltham Elgin Lay's Bulova Watches 4 Repair Vintage Art Deco Elgin Gents Watch Model 6542 Rolled Gold Wristwatch Fancy Lugs1970's Very Rare Elgin Automatic Jump Hour Chronograph TimepieceVint Lot. 5 Watches. 2 Art Deco 14k G.f. Hamilton, Elgin, Bulova Waltham. RepairVintage Large Antique Pre 1920 Art Deco Elgin Jolly Roger Mens Watch ... NrVintage Sterling Silver Vintage 1922 Men's Elgin Cushion 15 Jewel Watch RunsVinatge Hamilton Helbros Bulova Elgin Waltham Benrus Watch Lot Parts Or RepairVintage Elgin Diver Automatic Mens Watch BlackVintage Elgin 346 17 Jewel U.s. Military A-17a Automatic Self Wind Wristwatch1910 Elgin 15 Jewels Mint Dial In 14k Gold Filled Ornate Engraved Case 18s RunsElgin Type A-11 Wwii Pilot Wrist Watch A. F. U. S. Army Military Air Force CaseMen's Watch Lot Pulsar Led 501799 Seiko 5h238a09 Pulsar Y4815550 Galaxie ElginLadies Vintage Watch Lot,hamilton Elgin Gruen Solar Hallmark Bulova Nivada BulerLot Of Vintage Watch Elgin Rolex 2 Accutron Seiko Bulova Granite City SteelVintage 10k Gold Filled Elgin 643 Automatic Self Winding 17jewel Watch RunsScarce..elgin..mens Pocket Watch Wood Box, Working With Gold Case, Knife,chainAr7: Wild Lug Beefy 1950s Mens Fancy 14k Yellow Gold Fill Elgin Restored WatchVintage Mens Art Deco 10k Rolled Gold Elgin Wristwatch Watch UsaVintage Elgin Golf Ball Jump Dial /direct Read WatchElgin Natl Watch Co Men's 16 Size 15 Jewels Hi-quality Usa Pocket Watch MovemenVintage Antique Elgin Military Trench Tank Mechanical Manual Wind Watch Mens AjsVintage 1923 Elgin Ladies Wristwatch With Engraved 14k Gold Case - Working FineVintage Lord Elgin Men's Wristwatch 23 Jewels 10k Rgp Bezel For Parts-repair Huge Vintage Lot Of Near Mint Seiko Elgin An More Watches All Works Lot#8Stuns! Elgin Sportsman Gents Vint.watch.fab Case/mint Dial.orig.boxes/tag.1950'sVintage 70's Era Retro Mans 17j Elgin Direct Read Digital Wrist Watch Working NrVintage Elgin 10k Rolled Gold Plated Fancy Lug Wind Up WatchVintage Elgin 580 Us Military Oc Wwii Men's WatchElgin Vintage Mens Mechanical Dress WatchLot Of 32 Wrist Watches Elgin Casio Citizen Hand Wind & Quartz For Parts/repair16s Heavy Men's Elgin 14k Gold Antique Pocket Watch 121g Total Wt ** Near Mint**Vintage 1951 Lord Elgin Wristwatch, 14k Gf, 21j, Grade 626, Works Great!Vintage Estate 14k Gold Lady Elgin 650 Wristwatch 19 Jewels 15.4gVintage Men's Elgin 687 Shockmaster Watch 10k Rolled Gold Plate Works Vintage Elgin Military U.s.m.c 15 Jewel WristwatchElgin Military Watch Ord DeptVintage Lord Elgin 1938 21j 14k Gold Filled Cal 538 Curved Case WatchSuperb Elgin Wristwatch Year 1952 Lord Elgin 670 21 Jewels 14k Gold Filled CaseMen's Elgin Semi Automatic Watch Fg7080 Black Band Round Case, Diamond Cut H9Vtg Military Wristwatch Wwii Jenco Elgin Ord Corps + Armitron Quartz Sports X3Luxurious 1955 Lord Elgin 21j Adjusted Ref. 4633 14k Ygf Hourglass Pinched CaseVintage Elgin & Elgin Sportsman Watch Lot Manual Wind & Automatic 4 RunningVintage Elgin Military Wristwatch 7 Jewels RunsVinatge Elgin Deluxe 624 Mens Wrist Watch For Parts Or Repair 17jElgin 539 A-11 Ww 2 Hack Military Watch For Parts Or Repair No Reserve Elgin Rare Aged Stunning Watch Vintage Branded Movement Caliber 15j Enamel DialVintage Elgin De Luxe 10k Gold Filled Manual Wind 25mm X 25mm Wrist WatchVtg Lord Elgin United States Steel Uss Mens WatchVintage Lord Elgin Aquamaster Men's Wrist Watch Mid ModernHuge Lot Of Vintage Watch Parts Art Deco Equity Elgin Stratford KnickerbockerVintage Deco Ladies Watch Lot 8 Hamilton Benrus Bulova Elgin Repair PartsHuge Vintage & Modern Watch Lot Parts Repair Wittnauer Elgin Gf Bulova Disney Vintage 14 Karet Gold Fill Lord Elgin Mens Watch