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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hey guys !

I pulled an all night'er finishing the restoration on this INCREDIBLY RARE WWI Elgin Trench Watch last night!

This is a 1918 14k SOLID GOLD WWI Elgin "Black Star Dial" Trench Watch ! ! ! !

You simply do NOT see many 14k solid gold American Trench Watches floating around, most have unfortunately been melted down for the gold value.

This is the ONLY case of it's kind that I've seen!

The case weighs 12.6 grams without the movement installed, this is VERY heavy for a 14k solid gold trench watch case!

I've only had one other 14k solid gold American Trench Watch, it was made by the IWCCo and looked nothing like this one.

The case was made by the Keystone Watch Case Company and it's double hinged.

The bezel and case back are both hinged!

It has the VERY DESIRABLE 16mm wide lug diameter ! ! !

Plus, it still has the original 14k solid gold factory crown ! ! ! ! !

The case is in EXCELLENT condition, the hinged bezel and case back only open up to 90 degrees, just as they should and have NOT been bent open any further.

Size 3/0s, 15 jewels, grade 464, serial number 21018228.

This was the BEST size 3/0s movement that Elgin produced in 1918.

New mainspring, new glass crystal, original re-lumed hands, new inner sleeve, new 16mm Pigskin strap.

Enamel "Black Star Dial", 48 stars, white Arabic numerals, sunken sub-second, signed ELGIN USA inside of the Eagle Crest.

1918 date stamp on the back side of the dial.

This Elgin is simply SUBLIME ! ! ! ! ! !

This is probably the finest Elgin that I've ever had on my wrist!

Hard to believe that this Elgin is 95 years old ! ! ! !

























And now for the WRIST SHOT ! ! ! !

Nothing else in the world shines like SOLID GOLD ! ! ! ! !


 

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Stan...

You have put so many watches on this forum, it is impossible to count!
But THIS one will go down in History as on of the most insane ones yet.

I don't know where to begin?!?

First of all folks, what you are looking at is SO incredibly scarce (I have never seen another)
The fact that it is a 14K American trench makes it a VERY special watch.
Also top of the line movement... a General perhaps?!?
This HAD to be for someone very special, a very high ranking officer...
This was NOT your average Doughboy watch for sure.

The DOUBLE hinge is crazy and from the condition of it, you can tell that this
officer was not banging this around in the dirt.

What an awesome find my friend and some VERY lucky collector
will have it some day... CONGRATS on a fine job!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Thanks guys!

Agreed, a very special watch and pretty insane.

This one sets the bar for all others!

Definetly not a Doughboy's watch for sure.

I've seen a double hinge on a European George Stockwell case before but NEVER on an American made 14k solid gold case.

The GS was rather flimsey and very thin, it only weighed around 8 grams.

This Keystone case weighs 12.6 grams and is VERY STOUT, it was made to last for generations!

I have restored pretty close to 1,000 American watches from this era now and I can say without any hesitation that this one ranks in the TOP 3 of all time ! ! ! ! ! !
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
What are those Roman Numerals under the bezel when you flip it up?
Great question Jeff!

The case serial number is stamped into the inside of the case back, the Roman numerals under the bezel are suppose to match those stamped numbers.

Lets you know if the case is all original.

The stamped numbers and the Roman numerals match up on this case, it's all original.
 

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What are those Roman Numerals under the bezel when you flip it up?
Great question Jeff!
The case serial number is stamped into the inside of the case back, the Roman numerals under the bezel are suppose to match those stamped numbers.
Lets you know if the case is all original.
The stamped numbers and the Roman numerals match up on this case, it's all original.
Great eye Jeff... as Stan notes these Romans should match the caseback.

In the case of many manufacturers, there are 3 (or 4) roman numerals etched (by hand)
in the inside of the bezel and they SHOULD match the LAST 3 (or 4) digits of the
numbers on the caseback other cases include the last 4 digits in the "Middle"
section of the case.
Many folks use the term "Triple Signed" to note matches in these.
This is especially important when a case is 2 Tone. When a true match
of the numbers is there, you know someone hasn't swapped YGF with WGF
bezels and backs to make something that didn't come from the factory
that way.

Stan's example here is totally original... even the Darn Crown, WOW.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The crown Greg, the crown ! ! ! !

Absolutely UNBELIEVABLE that this case still has the original 14k solid gold crown.

You would think that the threads would have been stripped after 95 years but they are not!

Nice and tight.

The color match is PERFECT ! ! !

Definitely makes the watch worth more $$$$$$.

I've been wearing this watch all day (obviously) and I have lost count how many times I have looked at it ! ! !

It's has to be well over 100 times by now.......................
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I still have about 40 days before I have to turn in the final copy of my book "Elgin Trench Watches of the Great War" to my publisher.

The book got a little bit bigger today!

I gave this very special Elgin a full two page write up, with pictures of course!

The book is up to 217 pages now, quite large considering that I'm only covering 5 years of Elgin Wrist Watches.

The book is essentially done I'm just being critical of my own work at this point.

I've been holding back a lot of juicy information for the past several months and putting it in the book rather than on the forum.

I think that you guys will like what I have put together.

I hope it will be a good read!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
This will probably help you guys get a better grip on this size 3/0s 14k solid gold Keystone case.

I put the case on a scale before any work had begun, as you can see it weighs 12.6 grams of 14k solid gold (with the crystal)



Now, here is a size 3/0s 14k solid gold case made by the Illinois Watch Case Company.

As you can see it weighs in at 10.2 grams (with the crystal)



(A 26mm glass crystal weighs 1.4 grams)

The Keystone 14k case weighs 23.5% more than the Illinois 14k case ! ! !
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Now, here are the two 14k SOLID GOLD Elgins next to each other!

On the left is the 14k 1918 "Black Star Dial" Elgin Trench Watch with 15 jewels, size 3/0s.

And on the right is the 14k 1915 "RED XII" Elgin Trench Watch with 17 jewels, size 3/0s.



The 1918 Elgin with 15 jewels.



The 1915 Elgin with 17 jewels.

Now, out of the 2 million size 3/0s movements that Elgin produced only 500 of them were made with 17 jewels, so only 1/4 of 1% of them had 17 jewels.

It has a solid gold center wheel, solid gold raised jewel chatons and solid gold screws on the balance wheel.



1918 Elgin, 15 jewels.



1915 Elgin, 17 jewels. (also has a 14k solid gold buckle)





NOW, which one would you rather own if you had to choose between them ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

The 1918 14k "Black Star Dial" Elgin Trench Watch ?

OR

The 1915 14k "RED XII" Elgin Trench Watch ?


The "Black Star Dial" definitely has the "COOLNESS" factor, it is simply stunning!

The "RED XII" has one of the rarest American movements EVER manufactured!


Your answers should be VERY interesting ! ! ! ! !
 

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Wow...

What a TOUGH choice Stan!

I am a sucker for the Black Pershing Dial, but the movement rarity and that "Made in the USA" dial
on the other one is INCREDIBLE as well...

I will have to call this a toss up for now!

Too hard to call:thumbup:
 

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That is so hard to choose!!! I think I'd have to go with the Black Star because it is just so cool! I love the white dial, but I keep going back to stare at the black star.

I'll take both if you're ever considering giving them to someone whose name rhymes with clef!
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
I KNOW ! ! !

What a HARD decision ! ! ! !

This one honestly might be too close to call................


The 1915 "RED XII" Elgin Trench Watch with 17 jewels will be on loan to the Elgin Area Historical Society Museum in Elgin, Illinois for the Elgin National Watch Company Exhibit for the next year starting this week.

So, it is going home for a visit after 98 years!

The museum just revamped the Elgin National Watch Company Exhibit and they needed something special so I chose the 1915 Elgin with 17 jewels!

A watch like this should be on display for all to enjoy (at least for one year).
 

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literustyfan,
You have so many nice posts on this forum and others about these types of Elgin watches. It was a great education that I felt confidant to give a run at a white star dial (metal). This one was in a sterling Illinois case that I thought was all original with appropriate patina on the dial and case. Unfortunately, being second-highest bidder doesn't get you anything. I do however feel that I have a new wealth of knowledge thanks to you. I'll take it as my consolation prize and will apply it to the next time I see one worth chasing. I appreciate that you took the time to post on your great restorations with all the information to boot. Even pointing out a scammer to avoid.

If I lost that auction to you then I lost to a worthy opponent.

Cheers!
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Jack,

That one that ended yesterday was nice.

Sterling silver, semi-hermetic case with spring bar lugs by Illinois from 1917 is quite uncommon especially with the deep well bezel design.

My final bid on that one was about $30.00 short of taking it home.
 
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