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4,530 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Here is the Fantastic Illinois "Sangamon"

Fred Friedberg, in his wonderful Illinois book states that Illinois never made a Stainless
Steel watch and all of the ones you see marked this way are not the real deal...
BUT there is one Steel Watch that breaks the rule... The Sangamon.

This watch is quite difficult to find and the dial is like finding a needle in a haystack!

The 2 piece Keystone case is marked Model #875
and is made of the nearly impossible to destroy, "Sangamo Steel"

This watch is nearly identical in shape to the YGF Urbana and shares the incredibly rare dial.

FJF Notes;
Time period: Moderne
Year produced 1934
Price when New: $25.00
Price Today: $605 to $1150+
Movement: 807/15J


Measures 39mm X 22mm

RJ007 Notes:
If you find one in the wild, grab it, They are extremely difficult to find,
especially with the correct me.
Not a very big watch, sleek on the wrist, very classic look.
The Hunt for this one is a good one!



2,038 Posts
That dial is VERY clean ! ! ! !

What is Sangamo Steel ? ? ? ?

Higher carbon content or something ? ? ? ?

VERY nice watch Greg, (as usual) ! ! !
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4,530 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Sangamo and Sangamon

Interesting stuff and a very good question.
There was a discussion on the NAWCC some time back and here are some of the highlights:

what is the dignificance of Sangamo watch movementes?

Sangamo was the name Illinois used on their top of the line production16 size movements. They made a few special higher grade items than these but Sangamo and Sangamo Specials were the top of the line in production.
(Dr. Jon)

"At about the turn of the twentieth century, the popular notion held that “Sangamo” was the root word and “Sangamon” a variant. In 1898, when the Sangamo Electric Co. was formed, Jacob Bunn chose the name “Sangamo”, stating that “Sangamon” was the incorrect form and that he had it “on the most reliable information” that “Sangamo” was the name of the chief of the Illini tribe of Indians living in this area (Springfield, IL) when the first whites came in 1815. "

Some overview of the use of the "Sangamo" name among Illinois watches ...

- The earliest use of the name I have heard of is on a 16 size grade 179 movement from about 1896-1897 that is signed "The Sangamo".

- The "Sangamo" grade was then produced between about 1897 and 1913. These were 16 size watches made in the model 4 and 5 design (single visible winding wheel, known as the "Getty" model). Total production for the Sangamo grade is shown in Russ Snyder's Illinois database as 33721. Across this total production about 70% are 21 jewel, about 30% are 23 jewel, less than 1% in 25 jewel, and a single example is recorded in 19 jewel. Also across the total production about 80% of the Sangamo are open face and about 20% are hunting case. Sangamo signed cases for these watches do exist but are scarce and I have seen these among some later 23 jewel movements.

- The "Sangamo Special" grade was produced between about 1913 and 1926. These were made in the newer Illinois models ... earliest as 16 size watches made in the model 8 and 9 design (two visible winding wheels), next as 16 and then 17 size model 10 (adding a jeweled motor barrel), and last as 17 size model 13 (adding a 60 hour mainspring). The model 8 and 9 Sangamo Special were produced in open face and hunting case variants of 19, 21, and 23 jewel ... but all of the later model Sangamo Special are 23 jewel open face watches. Total production for the Sangamo Special grade is shown in Russ Snyder's Illinois database as 30270. Across this production about 86% were 23 jewel, about 9.5% were 21 jewel, and about 4.5% were 19 jewel. Also across the total production a little over 99% of the Sangamo Special are open face and less than 1% were hunting case watches. Sangamo Special signed cases are common to the model 10 and 13 watches.

- There is an Illinois wristwatch model known as the "Sangamon", and I believe the inner back of the case of this watch is marked "Sangamo Steel". I have seen this same "Sangamo Steel" case marking also in the case lids of a few late thin model 12 size Illinois pocketwatches.
(Fred Hanson)

Sangamon is a river in Illinois that's 250 miles long, and is also a county in Illinois.
(Sheila Gilbert)

I think it most likely that it was a popular name in the area and the marketing people felt that it worked well.
There were also clocks with the Sangamo name that incorporated escapements from Illinois. The clocks were early mains powered electric rewind clocks that were more reliable than mains power was.
(Tom McIntyre)

37 Posts
Having done a lot of electronics work back in the late '50s and early '60s, I'll have to say I knew of Sangamo as a brand of capacitors long before I ever heard of an Illinois watch. My first Illinois was a 60-hour Sangamo Special, and it took me a long time to figure out why that name sounded familiar.
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