We estimate to be close to 100 years old. It belong to my husband grandmother and he is 71. Numeric, and has a little blue jewel on the winder.
His grandmother, never been exhibited, we just kept it because of the family. We once went to a pawnshop about 15 years ago and the guy said he would give us 75 dollars for it so we got suspicious about the real value.
Thank you for sending in this lovely wrist watch to mearto.com for an appraisal. I shall try to help you with that today.
Lady’s, Art Deco, 14K gold-filled, pendant wound and set, cocktail wrist watch with a gold-filled link filigree bracelet, Made by the Elgin Watch Company, circa 1920s.
Belonged to the client’s husband’s grandmother.
Case: Size is not provided, but approximated to be 25mm x 28mm. This is a two leaf, 14k white gold-filled tonneau-shaped case with convex sides and tonneau -shaped bezel, both finely chaste with solid foliate designs. There are ‘wire’-lugs attached to a flexible white gold filled formal or cocktail bracelet with open filigree work in geometric form. The approximate circumference of the inner bracelet is approximated to be 6 inches. The snap open back cover of the watch is 14k white gold-filled metal while the winding crown has a dark blue cabochon inset into the gilt fluted winding crown. The back cover carries the inscription, “Ruth” and has an embossed design, also in a tonneau shape including foliate forms with the two ends showing parts of a rosette. The inside of the cover is not shown. The bracelet seems to be signed, Windsor” (only partly visible) and a patent date in the 1920s (partially legible).
Dial: A round silvered dial with enameled breguet type Arabic hours, closed minute ring, satiné silvered subsidiary seconds dial @6 with steel Art Deco ‘Solid Mirabile’ hands and the upper dial signed ‘Elgin’.
Movement: Not shown but likely a mechanical, manually wound, subsidiary small seconds, split three quarter nickel plate movement, made with either 7/15/17/19 jewels and signed and numbered by Elgin. Most likely series of Elgin movement is the family of 400 calibers made by the company during the late 19-teens and through the 1920s.
Case – appears to be in very fine excellent condition. I suspect that the blue cabochon winding crown is a later addition to this watch and in the 1920s Elgin did not generally use such a crown.
Dial – fair condition with moderate to severe paint flaking and silver oxide forming on the dial from years of contact with the air to form silver oxide.
Movement – Not evaluated but assumed genuine, original to this case and perhaps functional with a cleaning or overhaul.
Bracelet remains in very good condition.
Overall - good
https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/49280814_vintage-art-deco-ladies-elgin-wristwatch-c-1920-ornate (SOLD IN 2016 FOR $60)
https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/91261432_elgin-ladies-14k-yellow-gold-art-deco-watch-c1922 (watch case is 14k gold and it sold in 2020 for $160)
https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/64115972_awesome-c1924-ladies-art-deco-elgin (very much like your example in 14k white gold-filled case with filigree work sold in 2018 for $170)
Elgin History: The Elgin National Watch Company was founded in 1864 in Elgin, Illinois as the National Watch Company. In 1874 the name was changed to the Elgin National Watch Company. Between 1864 and sometime in the 1960s, Elgin manufactured tens of millions of pocket and wrist watches. The Elgin National Watch Company was for a time, one of the largest industrial concerns in the world. Elgin pocket watches from the early years are particularly interesting because of the methods and philosophy of the Elgin company. Elgin used what were at the time quite advanced tools, techniques and labor practices to achieve a very high-quality product, in high volumes, at a relatively affordable price. Elgin watches were created using mechanized, repeatable processes, organized quality control and standardized, interchangeable, parts. These things are all common practices in industry today, but not so at that time. The result was a product of high quality made in large quantities that dwarfed that of Elgin's competitors. Prior to Elgin's time, watches were made completely by hand, frequently by a single craftsman, from start to finish. Repairs could only be completed on such watches by someone with sufficient skill to fabricate replacement parts, from scratch, from raw material. Elgin watches on the other hand, were mass manufactured and highly standardized. Spare parts were provided by Elgin that were drop-in replacements for the originals. Elgin was extremely successful with this strategy. In fact, the company introduced more than half the watches made in America from 1920-1928. An Elgin advertisement in 1928 claimed that there were more than 14,418 retail jewelers in the United States and all but 12 carried Elgin.
The man who offered you $75 was making a reasonable fair market value offer, assuming the watch is not 14K solid gold. He left himself room to make a small profit which of course he is entitled to. As pretty as these antique ladies’ watches are they never seem to bring great value on the open market. If your example, which I have assumed to be white gold filled (only since you did not tell me it was solid gold), was in perfect excellent shape it would sell today in the $150-$175 range. The dial truly hurts the value since it would have to be repainted and is not worth cost of doing that. If the watch were solid 14k gold it might bring $200-$250 today. The band during these art deco years was usually not solid gold but gold filled, especially if that is what the watch case was made of. As is, the lovely looking Art deco piece has a fair market value of $75-$90. I enjoyed doing this appraisal for you and wish it were worth a good deal more, but I am simply the messenger here. Thank you for choosing mearto.com. for this appraisal.