This new feature, along with affordable interchangeable movements, helped Elgin give Waltham a run for its money in the mid-range market. In an experimental move, in 1909, it even built an observatory at the main plant to set its watches by celestial movement. After the war, wristwatches became the norm, but some consumers still wanted famous pocket watch lines like Elgin’s Father Time, which was popular during both World Wars; the Veritas, made with as many as 23 jewels; and the Lord Elgin, a high-end model produced through the ’50s and featuring gold backplates and 21-jewel movements.Many watch companies felt the strain of wartime thriftiness during the World War I. Like many other designs in the 1920s and early ’30s, Elgin watches embraced Art Deco.Perhaps better known for its pocket watches than wristwatches, the Elgin National Watch Company began in August 1864 as the National Watch Company.The National Watch Company produced its first watch—the B. Raymond—in April 1867, and it was immediately successful.Beginning of a dialog window, including tabbed navigation to register an account or sign in to an existing account.Both registration and sign in support using Google and Facebook accounts. The rich history of the Elgin National Watch Company (originally the National Watch Co.) began in August 1864 when a group of investors traveled to Waltham, Massachusetts, home of the Waltham Watch Company.
National’s first watch, its original workhorse, was introduced in 1867. Like all National watches, the movement was sold without a case—customers would have a jeweler or watch repairman complete that task. All of these early models were key-wound and most came in the railroad-standard 18-size.
Its main manufacturing plant was located in Elgin, Illinois.
At a special stockholders’ meeting in May 1874, the company decided to change its name to the Elgin National Watch Company, and “Elgin” has stuck since.
Known for their accuracy, the timepieces were in such high demand they were marketed as railroad grade. Following the success of Waltham Watches ladies’ model, the "Lady Elgin" was released in 1869.
While other watches of the era were affected by changes in temperature, the B. Raymond was accurate in varying climates, a vital feature for a person working on traveling trains. The 10-size watch was a hit, and helped put Elgin into competition with Waltham for the middle-priced watch market.