So you have an Elgin or you've seen and Elgin and would really love to know its name or model number ? let the good times roll....

Elgin didn't start casing watches at the factory until 1925, up till then, they sold movements uncased to jewelers (known as jobbers) to case up into any case designed to fit the movement, so there really isn't a true Elgin wristwatch before then.

After 1925, You will find factory models with the case back being stamped "CASED AND TIMED BY THE ELGIN NATIONAL WATCH CO" but there are exceptions to this as well, this continued until about 1969ish. 

Before 1952/54ish, very few models were issued a name, most had a style number and while Elgin had up to 300 models on sale a year, most of these were the same core model with options (some models were avaliable in filled, yellow gold, white gold, green gold, plain bezel, engraved bezel as an example) in the later years Elgin would still designate different styel numbers for different strap combos but this was a little more sane in the practice with them sharing the model number.

around 1953, Elgin started using a 4 digit case number, this was stamped on the inside of the case back as shown here


Some of the case makers had already used 4-5 digit numbers that look the same and can cause confusion, Elgin also re-used the 4 digit case numbers later on just keep you on your toes.

In 1962 Elgin simplified the identification process by introducing the "Case Components Book". By using the 4 digit case back number, its possible to identify the hands, crown, gasket and crystal required for your model (this book of couse doesn't provide model names). The Case Components Book is extremely scarce to find in paper print. We do have a copy and are integrating it with the watch catalog database.

Elgin used the case back model numbers during the 1950s & 1960s but at some point went back to model numbers that don't match the case back numbers in their sales catalog.