What happened to the Illinois, Waltham & Elgin Watch Companies?

A brief history of 3 dominant American watchmakers.  The Illinois, Waltham & Elgin Watch Companies.

The Illinois Springfield Watch Company

was established December 23, 1870 by John C. Adams.  Illinois’s first company directors were John Stuart, William Miller, John Williams, John Bunn, George Black, Dr. George Pasfield and John Bunn.  About 1890, Jacob Bunn Jr. ran the company until his death in 1926.  Bunn is the name used for their most famous railroad watch, the Illinois “Bunn Special“.  Other watch models were also named after Stuart and Miller.

The Illinois Springfield Watch Company

Point of interest: John T. Stuart was a Springfield lawyer and former law partner of President Abraham Lincoln.

The first movements were produced in 1872.  Approximately 10,000 movements were manufactured by the end of the year.  The company did not achieve full production until 1875.  “Stuart” was the first watch model made, followed in order by the “Mason,” Bunn,” “Miller,” and finally the “Currier”.  The early Illinois models were key-wound and key-set and are very collectible.  Illinois later produced an extensive line of extremely fine and accurate Railroad-grade pocket watches like the “Sangamo Special,” “Bunn Special” and “Santa Fe Special”.

In 1878-79, due to financial difficulties, the company was reorganized and the name changed to the Illinois Springfield Watch Company.  By 1885 the company name was changed again to the Illinois Watch Company.

What happened to the company?  The Illinois Watch Company was purchased by Hamilton Watch Company in 1927.  They continued to produce Illinois watches under Hamilton management until 1932 (the year the last actual Illinois watch was made).  Hamilton continued producing Illinois watches in the Hamilton factory until 1939.

What happened to the building?  Part of the original building still stands and modern structures have expanded it.  The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency is currently operating from the building.

Is there more information?  If you are interested in the Illinois Watch Company history, you can view the video “Illinois Watch Factory Film” produced by The United States Department of the Interior.  This is available to those who are enrolled in the entire Tick Tock Productions Online School.

The Waltham Watch Company

is also known as the American Waltham Watch Co. and the American Watch Co. They produced about 40 million watches, clocks, speedometers, compasses, time fuses, and other precision instruments between 1850 and 1957.  The original Waltham Watch Company was focused on the standardization and interchangeability of parts in order to build high quality watches.

Point of interest: It is said that Henry Ford was inspired to build the Ford Motor Company after a visit to the original Waltham Watch Factory.

In 1850, at Roxbury, Massachusetts, David Davis, Edward Howard, and Aaron Lufkin Dennison formed the company that would later become the Waltham Watch Company. Based upon the experience of earlier failed attempts, Howard and Dennison eventually perfected and patented their precision watch making machines, creating what has been called the American System of Watch Manufacturing.

The Waltham Watch Company

Points of interest: President Abraham Lincoln was given a Waltham Model 1857 pocket watch serial number 67613 when he gave the Gettysburg Address in 1863.

Waltham’s company’s historic manufacturing facilities in Waltham, Massachusetts have been preserved as the American Waltham Watch Company Historic District.  Waltham Watch Company Facebook page.

What happened to the building? It is still standing? The building has been converted into apartment lofts. Waltham Watch Company Lofts

Is there more information? If you are interested in the Waltham Watch Company history, you can read the following books online or download to your computer: “History of the American Waltham Watch Company” 1904 by Henry G. Abbott. “Catalogue of Waltham Watch Material” 1909. These are available to those who are enrolled in the entire Tick Tock Productions School.

The Elgin National Watch Company

also known as Elgin Watch Company of Chicago, Illinois, was a major US watch maker from 1864 to closure in 1966.  The company sold watches under the names Elgin, Lord Elgin, and Lady Elgin.

For nearly 100 years the company’s manufacturing complex in Elgin, Illinois was the largest site dedicated to watchmaking in the world.

The Elgin National Watch Company

Elgin National Watch company was first incorporated in August 1864 as the National Watch Company, in Chicago, Illinois.

In September of 1864 the founders visited the Waltham Watch Company in Waltham, Massachusetts, and successfully convinced seven of Waltham’s makers to come to work for their new company.  They were nicknamed the Seven Stars.

Elgin a growing city about 30 miles northwest of Chicago, was chosen as the factory site.  As part of the transaction, the city was asked to donate 35 acres of land for construction of the factory.  A former farm was selected, however the owners refused to sell the property unless the city purchased their entire 71 acres for $3,550.  Four Elgin businessmen agreed to purchase the property and then donated the required 35 acres to the watch company.

The company was re-organized in April 1865 and the factory was completed in 1866.  The first movement was produced in 1867, was named the B.W. Raymond in honor of one of the founders, Benjamin W. Raymond.  The watch was an 18 size, full plate design. In 1869, the National Watch Company won “Best Watches, Illinois Manufacture” at the 17th Annual Illinois State Fair, for which it won a silver medal.  The company then changed its name to the Elgin National Watch Company in 1874, as the Elgin name had come into common usage for their watches.

What happened to the building?  It was demolished in 1966. A shopping center now resides on the property.

Is there more information?

Further reading is available in the Tick Tock Productions Online School: “The Watch Factories of America Past and Present” 1888 by Henry G. Abbott, and 46 other titles related to watches.  These are available to those who are enrolled in the entire Tick Tock Productions Online School.

Pocket watch database search

Students have all the clock and watch repair courses are available online and are all viewable on the new Tick Tock Productions Online School.   Additionally, there is an online library consisting of over 85 classic and rare watch and clock repair books with more watch and clock videos.



Tick Tock Productions Online School

Tick Tock Productions site: Tick Tock Productions

5 Celebrity Auction Blockbuster Watches

5 Celebrity Auction Blockbuster Watches

Watches that belonged to celebrities can have a dramatic outcome at world renowned auction houses like Christie’s, Antiquorum, Heritage Auctions and untitledGuernsey’s. The blockbuster bidding can go well beyond initial auction estimates. A watch having once belonged to a famous person can add a strong value to the provenance. Below are the auction results of some famous watches owned by celebrities of the present and the past.

John F. Kennedy was given this gold Omega wristwatch in 1960. Kennedy wore it to his presidential inauguration in January of 1961. On December 16, 2005 the Omega Museum acquired it at auction for $350,000. It was auctioned by Guernsey’s in New York. This watch was part of The Robert White Collection. It is the world’s largest privately owned collection of JFK’s life.


clockrepairElvis Presley once owned this 1960 black dialed Omega Constellation Calendar. It was auctioned by Antiquorum of New York on June 12, 2012 for the final hammer price of $52,500. The auction pre-sale estimate was a range of 10,000 to $20,000. The watch is an automatic chronometer movement in a steel case with rose gold plating. It is a piece of rock and roll history. The watch came from a private collection belonging to Charlie Hodge who was a close friend of Elvis Presley. Elvis gave the watch to Hodge while still in the army after Hodge expressed admiration for the watch.






clockrepair1Joe DiMaggio, the baseball hall of famer, once owned this Bulova Accutron. It is a water resistant, stainless steel case with an electronic movement. It was sold on April 10, 2013 at Antiquorum. It was accompanied by a certificate signed by DiMaggio’s granddaughters verifying the provenance. The watch was part of the auction “Important Modern & Vintage Timepieces”. The initial pre-sale estimate was $4000. It sold for $20,625. The watch appeared to be unworn.






clockrepair2Babe Ruth’s world-series Gruen Pocket Watch. Before the major league baseball players were awarded world-series rings for winning the world-series, the teams would celebrate their win by giving their players a commemorative watch. In 1923, the New York Yankees beat the New York Giants in 6 games to win the first world-series. The most treasured of these watches is the one owned by the New York Yankee Babe Ruth. His watch is a Gruen Verithin 1923 world-series championship pocket watch made of 14 carat gold. It was auctioned by Heritage Auctions on February 22, 2014. The final hammer price was $717,000.





clockrepair3Albert Einstein once owned a Longines wristwatch. It is a tonneau-shaped 14 carat gold watch. On October 16, 2008 Antiquorum auctioned the 1930 Longines watch owned by the famous scientist. The backside shows an etching featuring Einstein’s name, Los Angeles and the date of 1931. The auction estimate was $35,000. The final hammer price went for $596,000. This is a record for the highest selling Longines watch.




Do you want to learn more about watch repair? Enroll in our free online watch course here.

The watch repair course is the light version of courses “Introduction to Watch Repair” and “The Watch Repair Course”. The course in this enrollment is called “Watch Repair Basics”. The full courses “Introduction to Watch Repair” and “The Watch Repair Course” consists of 5.5 hours of training on video plus a course manual. You will receive the 19 page full course outline in pdf format. You can print or download the outline to your computer.

Your “Watch Repair Basics” course will consist of 6 video modules along with a series of emails which will have content teaching you various watch repair topics. There will be links to the videos from the emails. Most of the emails contain a video link. The email content along with the videos is what you will receive for this course.



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Fun Clock Phone Apps

I want to thank you for being a student and horology enthusiast. It really does mean a lot to me. As a horology instructor, connecting with my students is my number 1 priority – so feel free to email me back at [email protected] or through my website if you ever need to get in touch.

Phone apps

There are some free smart phone screen live wallpapers and a phone apps for the horology enthusiast. Most of these versions are free. There are paid versions that provide more features. I am not endorsing any of these apps or wallpapers and I have not tested them. They appear to be from a reliable source as they are directly from the Google Play Store and iTunes websites. I am only providing useful information that may be of interest to you. The iPhone app below does not have a free version. The links below will take you to the apps and live wallpapers. Some offer a video that demonstrate the app in action. You can read about them and decide if it is for you.

Clicking on the pictures below which will take you to the Google Play Store to view these applications.


Pendulum Clock LWP


Watch Gears Live Free Wallpaper


Brass Gears Clock


The app above uses the phone microphone to capture the audible ticks of the clocks escapement and pendulum. It determines the beats per minute and the rate of error in seconds per day fast or slow. This one is not free. It will cost you $9.99

ClockMaster Clock Time Regulation


This one is very elegant. It has very a fluid movement. The link to this app will provide a demonstration video show the operation of this phone app.

Gold Clock Live


Pocket Watch 3D

The above pocket watch app is a 3D application which moves in a fluid fashion on the surface   of your phone. Clicking on the link will take you to the application site that has a video showing   the application in action.

Best wishes,


Tick Tock Productions

P.S. If you know of someone who may be interested in clock or watch repair, please send them the following link: www.ticktockpro.com/free.htm (Copy and paste the link to an email)


The history of the words clock and watch Part 1

The word “clock” was likely derived from the Middle Dutch word “clocke.” An etymology and word origin list from Rice University states that the word “clocke” was used to describe the noise making bell in the church tower and is defined as a bell clock.Learn clock and watch repair

From the description in the definition, the bell in the Dutch church towers made a lower “bong” type of sound instead of the high pitched clang sound that is most commonly associated with church tower bells. The word “clocke” was formulated before clocks with faces emerged. The description states that later a “newfangled timekeeper” with a rounded face and hands was added to the church tower.

“Clocke” was the original word, but when the English imported the timepieces, they shortened the name to “clock.” Differences in the English and Dutch language affecting this issue were that the Dutch language had one word that meant both “bell” and “clock,” while the English language developed two separate words. One English word meant “clock” and one meant “bell,” to not cause confusion between the two and provide a distinction between a ringing bell and a clock with a face.

In the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word “clock” originated in the late 14th century. This time line matches with the above reference because clocks in this era were not the typical face clocks that displayed the time, featuring a face and hands.

The Anderson Institute reports that during the 14th century, the clocks used then are now referred to as turret clocks. Turret clocks were devices powered by a verge escapement, weights and chains. The bell clock was then placed in the bell tower to chime the passing hours. The chains had to be wound and would often lose balance, resulting in the hours being tolled late or early; these clocks were not very accurate.

One of the oldest surviving turret clocks exists today in England and dates to 1386. Located in the Salisbury Cathedral, this clock only tolls the hours. See the picture of the clock movement to the right. In clock history, these beginning devices were the predecessor of larger wall clocks with faces that had similar functions and structure.

The word “clocke” also had influence from words in other foreign languages.

That concludes are part 1 – part 2 will be coming out next week.

Thanks for taking the time to read our articles and we hope you enjoy our information  Learning clock or watch repair.

The Facts About Clock and Watch Collecting and Repair

There are many sources for antique clocks and watches. Each source provides its’ own range of quality and price when shopping for antique clocks and watches.

  • Antique shops: What you see is what you get. Generally, these are sold “as is”. Quality and condition can be below average with high prices. Often Watch Repairthe age and price of a clock or watch can be exaggerated by the seller with the hope that a naive buyer will take the bait. I personally know of a person who paid $4000 for a $600 clock. An astute collector will usually avoid these shops. In a rare instance there may be a diamond among the rough. Most antique shop owners have a very good idea regarding the value of their inventory.
  • Antique auctions: Generally the quality can be the same or superior to antique shops. It depends greatly on the auction house and the source of the auctions’ inventory. You are more likely to pay a fair price and have a better chance in finding something special. I like buying at auction, but auctions can vary widely in type and quality of merchandise. To find auctions in your area, search the following site: http://www.auctionzip.com/
  • Estate sales: You never know what you may discover. Sometimes it can be a once in a life time find.See the picture to the right of a large 3 weight Vienna Grand Sonnerie Regulator by the Viennese clockmaker Adolf Weinberger. This is my best estate sale find to date.

Usually the clocks or watches are fair to average. Prices can be reasonable to high. If the estate sale is professionally arranged, prices can be high. Often there is a 20% or higher discount on everything remaining the second day of the sale. Chances are that the best items are already sold on the first day. If is a private or family arranged estate sale, prices can be very reasonable. You can find estate sales in your area by searching the following link: https://www.estatesales.net/

  • Clock and watch collectors: Collectors of antique clocks and watches have the best clocks or watches with regard to condition and selection. I have found their prices to be very reasonable. The hard part is finding collectors willing to part with their clocks or watches. You can find collectors at NAWCC (National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors) conventions and local chapters.
  • Antique clock and watch collector associations: NAWCC http://nawcc.org/ , AWCI http://www.awci.com/ and BHI http://bhi.co.uk/ are the largest organizations for clock and watch enthusiasts. Everyone from the casual collector to professional horologists can be found in these associations. Many of these associations have fairs, regional and national conventions. Many antique clocks, watches and collectors can be found at these events. A great opportunity to find and buy antique clocks and watches.
  • The least likely place to find antique clocks and watches are at garage sales. There was a time many years ago that you might have found something at a garage sale, but not much anymore.

The popularity of antique clocks and watches has grown tremendously over the last couple of decades. There are many reasons. Some think it is due to an aging population that has an appreciation for nostalgia, history, art, culture and a fascination for the past. People appreciate the design, craftsmanship and engineering that went into clock or watch making. Many clocks and watches are heirlooms passed down by generations that have so much sentimental value. Why have a non- working watch, or clock on the mantle or wall? Would it not be wonderful to have it run again as it once did for your parents, grandparents or other older present or departed elder family members?

Do you want to learn more about clock repair? Enroll in our free online clock course here.

Do you want to learn more about watch repair? Enroll in our free online watch course here.

Antique clock and watch repair services today are in high demand. There are thousands of antique clocks and watches waiting to be repaired. Almost anyone can learn with proper instruction. Many people repair clocks or watches as a hobby, maintain their collection and there are others that have a part time or full time business of repairing watches or clocks.


If you know of someone who may be interested in watch or clock repair, please share this post.