I’ve been inspired by El_ULY’s posts, so here’s our family heirloom Elgin pocket watch! This model was made from 1904-1933, with this one being made in 1905.
The original crystal is missing and in its place is a strangely foggy replacement which none of us know the explanation for. However, the watch still works and keeps time accurately. Elgin was a pretty innovative company during its 100-year history from 1864 to 1964, being one of the few true American watchmakers and one of the first to adopt mass-production techniques. Pocket watches used to all be individually hand-made, which meant that if a part broke you had to take it to a specialist to have a custom replacement part made and fitted by hand. As a result, buying and repairing watches was quite expensive. Although Elgin watches were still assembled by hand, their mass-produced mechanical components made them more affordable and easier to fix while still being good quality.
This does mean, however, that Elgin watches were produced in relatively high numbers, so their values aren’t as high compared to other antique watches. So with the few little scratches on the case and the foggy crystal, our pocket watch probably isn’t a valuable collectors’ item or anything like that.
But it’s still a 115-year-old antique pocket watch in good working condition, which makes it seriously cool IMO. And what makes it even cooler is that the case has some really cool engraved pictures on it which I haven’t seen on any other Elgin watch, making it a bit more unique.
The best part, though, is that it came with a note listing all the theories about how my great-grandpa originally obtained the watch and why the crystal is fogged. The most interesting one is that a mysterious stranger brought it to him around 1960something and asked him to fix it and replace the crystal. My great-grandpa was an inventor and had done plenty of stuff like this before, so I could see him doing something like this. The story goes that he used a piece of a bottle to make a replacement crystal, but then he tried to clean it using the wrong cleaning solution, which resulted in the crystal fogging up. When the stranger returned and saw the fogged-up crystal, he was furious and CURSED my great-grandpa with a speech impediment! Supposedly, this is why he spoke with a lisp later in life. But the stranger left the watch behind, and it became a family heirloom. My dad has it currently, and someday it will be mine. It may not be all that valuable, but I like it :)