MINUS4PLUS6

Overhauling an Elgin Pocket Watch


Since completing the TimeZone courses, I have tinkered on a few watches, including manual wind Benrus wrist watches and a 7750. This was my first pocket watch overhaul and the first without using any diagrams. Fortunately, this watch has fewer than 50 parts which helped with taking the guesswork out of reassembly.

Using the Elgin database, the serial number listed on the bridge indicated the watch movement was manufactured in 1902, is a size 6s movement, 15 jewels, and grade 216, and a manufacturer code of h3n29. According to the database, the manufacturer code indicates a hunter style case (crown on side), 3/4 plate style, nickel damaskeening (the engraved swirls), and pendant set (pull the crown to set hands). The case does not have an Elgin marking, which is typical of the period. At the turn of the century, a person came into a watchmakers establishment, picked a movement, and a case and the watchmaker assembled the watch. The case has at least four watchmakers' service engravings indicating that this watch was well maintained. Be sure to click photos to see larger images.

Elgin PocketWatch Complete Here's the watch.
Elgin Hands With the movement out of the case, the dial and the hands are removed. The watch face has an enamel covering, which is slightly chipped at the 11:00 o'clock position.
Elgin Dial Side Here is the watch plate with the dial removed, and the mechanism for setting the hands.
Elgin Train The backside of the watch shows the serial number on the train-wheel bridge indicating 9766558. The balance is in good condition.
Train removed With the train wheel bridge removed, one can see train wheels and the escapement, all in good condition. Fortunately, no staffs appear to be broken, or the balance spring.
Elgin Parts Elgin Disassembled and Tools
Disassembled Reassembly
Here are all the 40+ parts disassembled in the parts tray. These items were cleaned in the ultrasonic, mainspring greased, jewels pegged with peg wood, and time for reassembly.
Keyless Works Perhaps the biggest mystery was understanding how the mechanism for setting the hands worked with the keyless works on the back side of the watch. Many watches of this period used lever that was slid out of the case to set the hands, but this model used the crown.
Elgin Keyless The grey piece would rock and either engage or disengage the center wheel to set the hands. Reassembling this item required a couple of attempts before fully understanding how the gears meshed on both the dial side, and the balance side of the watch.
Elgin Hands Installed With the watch movement reassembled, the dial and the hands were reinstalled. Pocket watch hands are much easier to install than hands on a Valijoux 7750 movement.
Viola Voila, the movement reinstalled back into the case. The watch now runs after a simple overhaul and cleaning.