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17 jewel Elgin for service.jpg (605907 bytes)

This is a 17 jewel Elgin ready to be serviced. Click on photo for a larger image.

If you noticed the balance wheel is not in this photo that is because they are cleaned in a separate process.

The following is the process all of my pocket watches go through before listing for sale.*

  1. Each watch is inspected on arrival to be sure it is as represented to me before purchase.
  2. Each watch is completely disassembled in preparation for servicing. This is everything except the jewels, which are no removed unless damaged or symptoms indicate a jewel problem 
  3. Step 1 of service is a pre cleaning in an ultrasonic bath of L & R ammoniated cleaning solution. In a commercial grade ultrasonic machine.
  4. Step 2 is a second ultrasonic bath in L & R rinsing solution. In a commercial grade ultrasonic machine.
  5. Step 3 is a third ultrasonic bath in L & R ammoniated cleaning solution in a L & R SweepzoneŽ Ultrasonic machine.
  6. Step 4 is a forth ultrasonic bath in L & L rinse solution  in a L & R SweepzoneŽ Ultrasonic machine.
  7. Step 5 is a fifth ultrasonic bath in a L & R SweepzoneŽ Ultrasonic machine with L & R rinse solution treated with one step watch lubricant.
  8. Step 6 is drying in a commercial drying box.
  9. Step 7 is the watch is reassembled with all pivots & hole Jewels lubricated with synthetic watch oil. This includes the mainspring that had the barrel opened and cleaned during the above described procedures.
  10. Step 8 the hairspring is cleaned in one dip solvent then attached to the balance cock and installed in the movement.
  11. Step 9 the reassembled movement is passed through a coil style demagnetizer.
  12. Step 10 the watch is checked for timing, amplitude and beat on a timing machine and adjustments made if needed.
  13. Step 11 relates to the case. All covers are checked for ease of operation, cases with bad covers are discarded.
  14. Step 12 the case is polished by machine.
  15. Step 13 the case is cleaned, this is a time consuming difficult process which includes hand cleaning with a very strong cleaner, an ultrasonic bath in a special cleaning solvent then detailed cleaning with a solvent and Q-tips and finally for gold and gold filled cases cleaning in an ionic machine.
  16. Step 14 a new beveled glass or new old stock crystal is installed in the bezel using ultra violet setting cement.
  17. Step 15 the dial is inspected, when the dial condition is good enough or when a porcelain enamel dial is not available the dial is cleaned in a special process we developed here, chips are repaired with real solid enamel that is melted into place. Whenever a dial cannot be made to look near perfect to the naked eye it is replaced with an old stock porcelain enamel dial, unless that dial is not available. All dial flaws that we see are fully disclosed in the listing. We replace nearly 100% of crystals and about 50% of dials. We never use melamine dials unless requested to do so.
  18. Step 16 the fully assembled watch is wound and set and checked against an atomic clock for up to 48 hours.
  19. * Usually does not apply to consigned watches.
  20. Prices: Go Here

Cases are an important component of the pocket watch, describing them is very subjective so I avoid that, but I do not use cases that have bad covers or excessive wear. I have boxes full of these case to prove that. This is what I do with every case.

 1. Remove the crystal from the bezel
 2. Machine polish with a hard wheel
 3. Machine polish with a soft wheel
 4. Clean with detergent
 5. Ultrasonic clean with solvent
 6. Ultrasonic clean with a special precious metal cleaner.
 7. Steam clean crown area and bezel
 8. Ionic clean in a special cleaner and tarnish prevention (gold, gold filled or RGP only)
 9. Final cleaning and checking case, especially the bezel area where the new crystal will install, with solvent and a Q-tip
10. Install new glass crystal with ultraviolet setting crystal cement.

For complete details on service go here.

Pocket Watch Mainspring Tension Reference

Use This ruler as a guide for judging the condition of the mainspring in your pocket watch. 0 = no resistance and 6 = you can barely turn the crown.
  1. If the resistance you feel when you wind the watch is near 0 you probably have a broken mainspring or detached arbor.
  2. The resistance for a 60 hour mainspring will be in the 1 to 2 range
  3. The resistance for a 48 hour size 16 mainspring would be in a range from 2 to 5
  4. If a size 16 mainspring is near 5 and only winds a little the spring is probably set.
  5. A new alloy size 16 mainspring can be expected to be between 4 and 5 and gradually get easier with use.
  6. A size 18 mainspring will usually be between 3.5 and 6
  7. A new alloy size 18 mainspring can be close to 6 to start with but gives a full wind while a set spring will only wind a little.
  8. Other things to consider is a small crown may make it feel harder to wind than it really is.
  9. If the spring winds normally then slips, it is broken but further from the arbor.
  10. Once you have a full wind and a watch is running write down the starting time and check to see how long the watch runs, you want at the very minimum 30 hours and it is much better to be over 40.


Whenever you send watches in for repair that you intend to insure it is important that you locate your original purchase invoice or obtain an appraisal in the case of expensive watches. If you can send me good quality photos of the watch case and movement I will do the appraisal for you free of charge. The United States Postal Service will do everything it can to avoid paying insurance claims even when they loose a package. If you can not get good photos and do not have the original receipt, I will do an appraisal of your watch and send it to you before I return your watch after being repaired. We have learned the hard way that the insurance will only pay the repair cost, not the value of the watches if they loose the package and you do not have proof of value. It is deplorable but this is what they do.

We no longer can guarantee to be able to repair mechanical wristwatches that require parts because of the difficulty of finding the parts need. The owner will be responsible for a minimum bench charge of $25.00 on wristwatches that are serviced even if the watch will not run after service and cannot be repaired. We still repair quartz wrist watches. Basic service on wristwatches is $55.00.

For more details go to Repair or Restoration.




Repairs Restoration

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Repairs Restoration

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About Timing and my comments on keeping time

We use two separate timing machines in order to double check our readings.

The equipment above is what we use and how we get watches in time. The timing machine allows us to know the beat and amplitude of the balance and also shows us the the timing in +- seconds per day.

After we have made adjustments to the balance* to bring the watch into time, over 50% require this, We do a digital check for a few minutes to verify the machine reading then check the watch against the atomic clock for 48 hours. Our objective is to have the watch within a few seconds per day with the regulator centered.

Shipping can impact the timing significantly. 

* this is not simply adjusting the regulator, it may be adjusting the hairspring collet on the staff, adding or removing timing screws or timing washers and truing the balance. This process can be very labor intensive.

My descriptive terms don't really make much difference on how the watch is keeping time. I do not list any RR watch that is not better than 1 minute + or - per day at the time of listing, most are within a few seconds. Because it may be a few years before any given watch sells, I do the final adjustments at the time of sale.

Wrist watches and non railroad approved pocket watches may be a little less accurate.

I check the watches on a timing machine then check them for several day against an atomic clock, because most of these watches do not have hack movements I can be a few seconds off just setting them.

Then I have to ship the watches, to different environments both of which can result in minor adjustment having to be made after shipment.

If I sold all my watches locally I would be more comfortable being very specific about the time keeping record of any given watch.

I am not sure exactly how RR time was determined at all of the railroads, at one time we had a major railroad center here because Ludington was the home port of the Chesapeake and Ohio railroad car ferries transporting rail cars across Lake Michigan. I was told that the standard here was 15 seconds per week, meticulous records were kept on each watch and the were checked by the timekeeper every time an employee reported to work. The check was made against a clock that the timekeeper had confidence in, no one seems to know how that confidence was justified. Cases were sealed and the watch owner was not permitted to set the watch, if the seal was broken an employee was subject to discipline action up to and including discharge.

I think it is more likely that the railroads made sure that everyone on a particular set of rails was on the same time rather than the watches really keeping atomic time. Given the technology of the day it is hard to believe that anyone could be positive within these constraints.

Having said all of this many railroad watches made after the mid 1940's and some of the better models earlier than this do actually meet the standard.




Product Description Price

Repair Servicing 

Includes cleaning, oiling, parts and timing.

Basic timing is included with the service but when the balance wheel needs balance screws added or removed, timing washers added or removed or other work requiring significant time additional charges can apply.

Pocket Watches Quoted before repair, but basic servicing is $75.00

If the watch is out of beat or not close to keeping time and balance work is needed it is an additional $45.00. This takes a lot of time but would not normally be necessary on a watch you have owned for some time, more likely on a new purchase.

Wrist watch service is $35.00 + parts if necessary. 

Mainspring Replacement

This is replacing either a broken or set mainspring with a new mainspring

$40.00 with service

$50.00 without service.

Mainspring Repair

This is when the arbor has detached from the mainspring and all that is needed is to reattach it. $15.00

Balance Staff

Replacing a broken or bent staff

$55.00 for friction fit

$65 for all others

Balance jewel replacement

Changing bad or damaged balance jewels. Often needed when I staff appears to be just off from friction from a bad jewel

$40 each

Plate or bridge jewels other than balance

These jewels can be damaged from improper reassembly or shock from dropping. These jewels can be very difficult to find and removing them from other parts movement often fails, especially with pressed in jewels. $50.00 each minimum and up from there depending on the jewel.


Case cleaning, polishing, plating, dial refinish, crystal and dial replacement or repair

Quoted before repair

Wristwatch dial refinishing $50.00 and up

Crystal replacement $30.00 and up

Pocket watch dial replacement $75.00 and up.



Photos and description are available on the watch page. PayPal can be used for payment. Listed on each watch

Unclaimed Watches

Watches that are repaired and have not been paid for within 90 days of completion will be considered abandoned. 

A $10.00 per month service fee will be added to the repair cost each month once a watch is considered abandoned by us.

At our discretion, abandoned  watches will be sold with no recovery to the owner. 


We want to work with you so when an owner contacts us and advises us that they can't pay for repairs and request, in writing, that we hold a watch for them we will do so for a reasonable period of time not to exceed 180 days. But this request must be in writing and must contain a specific date when the repairs will be paid. Service fees will apply.

If a watch owner misses a promised payment day the watch is considered abandoned and will be sold..

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