Elgin Watch Lines
Over the years, Elgin produced a lot of lines of watches, we will attempt to document what those lines were, how they changed over time and their active peroids (based on retail advertisements and factory documents). Some lines lasted a long time, others like a shooting star, some never released outside of the factory.
Introduced at the end of 1938, These ladies semi-baguette models consisted of a 15 jewel movement and the initial line had 14 models.
Avigo line was introduced in 1929 to meet the Air Corps specification of only having 4 numerals on the dial to avoid confusion when reading it. Aircraft gauges and optics were also released under the Avigo line. So far we have no hard facts on what "AVIGO" stands for, only best guesses.
Introduced in 1930 catalog, these watches were designed for the young man on the college campus.
This is the 100th anniversary line that was designed in 1962 for the 100th year of the company in 1964. It never was released to market. If you want to collect rare Elgin wristwatches, this is the rarest line, even rarer than the Electronic line.
Introduced in 1956, Elgin's exciting new "Direct Reading Watches", you read moving numbers instead of moving hands. This line consisted of three models across the Elgin and Lord Elgin line.
Drops of Gold
Introduced in 1964, a short lived ladies solid gold line, the selling point was these watches were 14K gold but cost no more than a 10K gold watch.
The Electronic line was introduced to the market in 1961 after many years of refinement. There was a very small number of models (as opposed to examples) made at the factory and only one model (Lord Elgin Electronic - which only had 15 jewels as opposed to the minimum 21 jewels for the Lord Elgin line) placed on retail sale. The Electronic line was removed from sale at the end of 1963.
Elgin De Luxe
Introduced at the end of 1938, the Elgin De Luxe line was another name that had been previously used on individual models (both wristwatches and pocket watches) before Elgin had started casing at the factory. The initial line consisted of 26 models and all having 17 jewel movements.
Elgin introduced a budget line of 17 jewels in 1964. This line was priced from $14.95 to $19.95. Most models sighted have been signed "Eltra" on the dial with one being signed "Elgin/Eltra".
The horizon line was released in 1957 and stayed on the market until 1963. This line featured a new wrap-around crystal technology developed by Elgin. The crystals extend to the edge of the bezel giving the appearance that the crystal wraps-around. The line featured both men’s and ladies watches, Thin-Thins and the complete mystery dial line. Of further interest, LIP of France also released models using Elgin's wrap-around technology.
Following the introduction of the Parisienne line for woman, Elgin introduced a new 4/0 size line cased in Chromium plated nickel and white or green gold filled cases. The named in it the Legionnaire in recognition of the watches required during the Great War and the doughboys who were quick to adopt the poilu's way of wearing his timepiece upon his wrist.
Lily of the Valley
What is believed to be the first example of "series" merchandising in the jeweled watch industry, in which a pattern is used to identify a group of timepieces designed on the same basic lines, has been undertaken by Elgin in its "Lily of the Valley" series being introduced in March 1951. The 19 jewel Lady Elgin diamond models are included in the series; ranging in price from a two-diamond timepiece at $125 to a sixteen-diamond timepiece at $275. These timepieces were supplied with the custom box which had a green lining on the inside with "Lily of the Valley" printed.
There had been several pocket watch models under the name of Lord Elgin (even the Hulburd Grade 446 was known as Lord Elgin early on). In 1929 Elgin released “the new Lord Elgin” which was a square cut two tone case. This was most likely the first wristwatch to be named Lord Elgin but not stamped. In 1936 Elgin released a new 21 Jewel line for their premium men’s wristwatches. This line was known as “Lord Elgin” and would remain the premium men’s line till the close of the company. The only Lord Elgin model to not have more than 21 jewels was the Lord Elgin Electronic which had a 15 jewel count.
Introduced in 1928, these ladies models took America by surprise. With the colorful enamel, modernistic designs, Elgin really had the initiative over the rest of the watch factories. These watches were release before the great depression took hold and stayed on sale till 1933. Elgin's own words "Suddenly and without warning, the style wave swept in. Changed the whole American scene, Sketched a totally new picture… in the lines and contour of fashion. Watches couldn’t just be good… they had to be good-looking as well. Chic. Fashionable. So ELGIN deliberately set out on a program of style. We embarked for Paris first, Retained the world’s greatest style authorities…. Lucien Lelong, and Callot Soeurs, Agnes, Premet, Jenny, and all the other internationally famous designers who have given women’s clothes and accessories the glorious smartness they have today. Established permanent Paris headquarters with M. Reynaldo Luza, artist and authority in command."
Introduced in 1955, these models were the worlds smallest watches (according to Elgin) at the time. These watches were all ladies models and to prove how small they were, Elgin would commonly display them being passed through a wedding band.
Launched in 1959, this line consisted of 17 jewel movements of mostly imported movements. The range also included the unique sportman cufflinks. Sportsman models were on sale until 1974 and features included waterproof, shock resistance and luminous dial.
Introduced in 1959, this 17 jewel line was the ladies partner to the mens Sportsman line. Featuring domestic 17 jewel movements.
Originally introduced as the “Thinline” line in 1959, it was renamed to Thin-Thin shortly after its release. A possible cause of this rename is Hamilton’s “Thinline” line but no evidence has been identified as yet. The Thin-Thins were 27 and 30 jewel automatics and the last of Elgin’s domestically designed and made self-winding models. The 30 jewel Thin-Thin line was classed as Lord Elgin and two models were also released with Horizon styling crystals.
Town & Country
Introduced in 1954, the Town & Country line was feature packed (shockproof, waterproof, self-winding and nite-glo) smaller and thinner and high styling (check out the lancers, townsman).