Sunday, January 31, 2016

What $10 Will Get You - Epilogue

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!