Back in 2012 when I originally posted 'What $10 Will Get You', I stopped at the point where the movement was cleaned and running well, but the dial was badly pitted and discolored, and there was no crystal. I put the watch in my "Needs Band And/Or Crystal" drawer, not sure of what to do about the barely readable dial.
Fast forward to December, 2015. In the intervening time, I discovered the model number in the 1939 Elgin Catalog It's an 1843, part of Elgin's "Cavalier" series.
In 1939, Elgin's Men's watches were divided into a number of different series, from the 21 Jewel Lord Elgin series, introduced in 1937, to the 7j Crusader series.
Great to have a number to put with it! And to verify the dial and case are authentic, and go with a 7j movement. One often finds watches with non-authentic dials, or hotrodded, with higher grade movements, or just plain Frankenized - put together from a number of different watches. This one, though, was authentic.
At least once a day, I check the Elgin Wrist Watch listings on Ebay. One day in December 2015, more than 3 years after I put the 1843 in the drawer and largely forgot about it, I saw a listing for a similar watch, but with a vastly better dial and hands. It was listed as nonrunning, "This watch looks great and the balance swings freely, but will not kick over." I set a snipe, and won it for $20.50.
When it arrived, I found that the 526 movement was wound up tight, and the balance swung freely. Looking down past the balance, though, I noted that as the balance swung, the pallet didn't move. Looking in from the side I realized there was no roller jewel. So, I stole the hands and dial, and put them on my movement. I used the bezel from the new watch with the caseback and movement of the old watch. The pigskin strap the seller had installed is a perfect match for the original strap in the catalog pic!
I also noted a problem with the winding. It 'skipped' a lot, as if something in the winding mechanism was slipping back with spring tension. A few years ago, I'd picked up a treasure trove of 8/0 parts on Ebay. Screws, wheels, springs, even jewels.
I replaced the Bevel Pinion and Crown Wheel with new parts, and now it winds perfectly!
So now my 1843 is back in service. It ended up being a bit more than $10, but I also have an almost-complete 1843, which I may still restore - though redialing it would probably cost more than I've spent altogether so far!
It's also worth noting that my total expenditure so far - $30.51 - is only $5.51 more than the original price of $25. However, adjusted for inflation, that would be $426.29 in 2015 money! This is why I feel like vintage watches, especially the less sought-after brands like Elgin, are such a good value!