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    

Elgin Military Ww2 World War 2 Type A-11 Us Af Army 2114 Wrist Watch As Is WorksVintage Large Art Deco Elgin Masterpiece - Stunning !!! Excellent Condition !!!Lord Elgin Mens 10k Gold Filled WatchAll Vintage Mens Mechanical Wrist Watch Lot..bulova,lord Elgin,benrus,hamilton1970s Vintage Elgin Direct Read Jump Hour 25 Jewel Automatic Mens Wristwatch1958 Elgin Holcomb Model Fancy Deco Dial Vintage WatchElgin Natl Watch Co Usa 16size 15jewels Cronometer Quality Pocket Watch Movement1928 Elgin Fancy Engraved Men's Large Tank Style Art Deco WatchElgin Natl Watch Co Usa 18 Size 15 Jewels Cronometer Pocket Watch Movement 18881933 Elgin Pure Art Deco Engraved Mens Vintage Watch(6) Clean Vintage Men's Bulova Gruen Wittnauer Favico Elgin Boxed Wristwatches1928 Ladies Elgin Art Deco Lucien Lelong Engraved Vintage WatchMens 1950s Lord Elgin 14k White Gold 21j Usa Genuine 17 Diamond Dial Deco WatchVintage Elgin Deco Stepped Case Mens Watch Circa 1930s Works Vintage Lord Elgin Direct Read Jump Hour 14kt Gf Mens Watch Circa 1940sWw2 Elgin Military Watch Sub Secoond With Nos Case Vintage Mens Lord Elgin 21 Jewel Cal. 713 Manual Wind Wrist Watch 14k Gf Case Elgin 19 Jewel 0 Size Scarce Top Grade Hunting Case Pocket WatchVintage Elgin Mens Watch Circa 1930s WorksVintage Lord Elgin Chevron Direct Read Jump Hour Manual Wind Watch, Works!Elgin Vintage Military Type A-ii Wristwatch W/full Ordinance Markings - Rf1982220 Watch Lot Mens Windup Watches Bulova Elgin Timex Auto Job Fix Gold Scrap VtgLot Of 2 Vintage Elgin Automatic & Gruen Precision Autowind Men's WristwatchesVintage Antique Elgin Usa Manual Wind Wrist Watch. Lord Elgin Classic 1951 Mens Dress Watch Super Clean Streamline 14k Gold Fl 21j!15 Watch Lot Mens Windup Watches Bulova Elgin Alarm Auto Job Fix Gold Scrap VtgArt Deco Elgin Solid 14k White Gold Diamonds Sapphires Fancy Ladies Watch RunsVintage. .elgin 17jewels.. S.steel Crab..incabloc..ca.1950..usaCirca 1950's Lord Elgin 670 Hand Wind 21 Jewel 14 Karat Gf Art Deco Watch E75Vintage Elgin Wwii Military 16 Jewels Mens Watch Circa 1940sCompletely Restored Rare Art Deco Elgin 18k Gold Dial Diamond Ladies WatchVintage Lord Elgin Clubman Watch Vintage Elgin Wwii Military Ord Corps Usa Grade 554 Mens Watch Circa 1940sVintage 1937 Men's Elgin 10k Gold Filled Tanke Watch Beautiful Cond Fully Signed1928 Gents Elgin Cushion Case Watch Serviced14 Used Watches Disney, Timex, Seiko, Rolex, Pulsar, Elgin, Gucci, & MoreVintage Mens Watch Lot, Bulova , Elgin ,gruen , Hamilton Mechanical Wristwatches3 Vintage Watches Raleigh Sterling Silver Case Bulova & Elgin Deco LotRare Vintage Black Face Lord Elgin Clubman WatchVintage 1933 Elgin Chased Enameled Art Deco 7j Mens Gold F. Watch Runs GreatVintage Lord Elgin 23 Jewel 724 Men’s "working" Wrist Watch 14k Gold Filled”Vintage Lot Of 2 Men's Watches 10k Gold Filled Gruen Curvex & Elgin Not Running14k Gf Lord Elgin Clubsman Ca.670 21j Black Enamel Bezel* Honeycomb Crosshairs Vintage Lord Elgin Men's Wrist Watch 1950 Running!!!!C1947 14k Gf Lord Elgin 21 Jewel Grade 559 Just Services Runs Great Size 15/0 Vintage Lord Elgin Wristwatch Movement WorkingAmizing Vintage 1950s Lord Elgin "spider" 21j *serviced* 10k Gold F. Mens WatchMen's Vintage Elgin Art Deco & Military Style Watches For Parts/repairThree Vintage Wrist Watches-longines, ElginWw2 Elgin Military Watch Day/night DialVintage Elgin Ladies Open Escapement Fancy Dial Pendant Pocket Watch#27: Mens Antique 1914 Elgin Wrist WatchPristine Vintage 1934 Elgin Star Art Deco 17j *serviced* 10k Gold F. Mens WatchVintage Elgin Deluxe Art Deco Ladies Womens Watch14k Gold Filled Unique WorkingMens14k Solid Gold Elgin Presentation Watch "fisher Body Division" No Reserve!!!Vintage Elgin Nickel 3/0 1920's Watch Illiniois Case CushionVintage Lord Elgin Black Dress WatchWwii Elgin A.f. U.s. Army Type A-11 Watch8 Vintage And Antique Women's Watch Lot. Nr Elgin Bulova Wittnauer Watham Timex!12 Vintage Ladies Watch Lot- Caravelle, Bulova, Hamilton, Elgin, Helbros - Parts