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S. August Abbott
S. August Abbott, BusinessOwner, Buy/Sell/Appraise
Category: Antiques
Satisfied Customers: 7626
Experience:  Buy & Sell Antiques, Collectibles for more than 30 years
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Whats the value of an antique Elgin 14k gold watch?

Resolved Question:

What is the value of an antique 14k gold Elgin watch? The serial number is(###) ###-#### AWC Company mint condition.

Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Antiques
Expert:  S. August Abbott replied 5 years ago.

There is something not quite right with the info.

Let's tackle this first things first:

Where is this serial number taken from (the watch works or the case)?

Are you seeing AWC somewhere on the watch itself or the case?

Where do you see the word "Elgin"?

Finally, where do you see "14k" and do you also see anything similar to "guaranteed for 20 years" somewhere on the case?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

AWC is on the case. On front face and watch movement back plate.

The 14k is on the watch case with hallmarks. The hallmarks are like a masons cross on a shield with the numbers 6250.

Expert:  S. August Abbott replied 5 years ago.

Where is the word "Elgin"?

Do you have the serial number off the actual watch works?
It sounds like a very nice watch. In your family for a long time?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Elgin is on the front face plate and on the back where you can see the watch movement Elgin National watch company. The the numbers are(###) ###-#### Yes it has been in my family for over a hundred years.

Expert:  S. August Abbott replied 5 years ago.

OK, according to the serial number off the works of the watch this dates back to 1886-87.

Elgin Watch Co./Elgin National Watch Co.‭ ‬pocket watches was founded in‭ ‬1864‭ ‬in Elgin,‭ ‬Illinois.‭ ‬Their first watch‭ (‬#101‭) ‬a size‭ ‬18‭ ‬B was an expensive,‭ ‬$115‭ ‬watch in‭ ‬1867‭ (‬yes,‭ ‬it took three years from the company‭’‬s founding to first production‭)‬.‭

This watch sold in the late‭ ‬1980‭’‬s for‭ ‬$12,000.‭ Unfortunately,‭ ‬that‭’‬s about the most any Elgin would ever command. Elgin was the largest watch maker in the United States, having made no less than 55 million watches.

Elgin had some top quality and costly time pieces in their day,‭ ‬but for the most part they didn‭’‬t concentrate as much on quality as they did quantity.‭ ‬They were responsible for about half of all watches made in the U.S.

These watches are often what starts collectors out since they‭’‬re not just easy to afford,‭ ‬but easy to find parts to.‭ ‬If a watch doesn‭’‬t work,‭ ‬there‭’‬s nearly always a need for some part of it to aid in rebuilding another Elgin.‭ ‬So whether the watch is sold as a working collectible or parted out,‭ ‬Elgin‭’‬s are usually sought after.

Now, the more complicated part of this is the AWC you're seeing on the case. That is indicative of "American Watch Co" or American Waltham (Watch) Co" which was as different from Elgin as it gets.

I would suspect that if AWC isn't an engraving of some sort to indicate ownership or perhaps a company that awarded the watch for a retirement - that the Elgin has been re-cased. This is sometimes seen when an owner finds themselves in a better financial position and decide to upgrade their case.

Given that you're also seeing "14k" on the case I'd have this evaluated and authenticated by a jeweler, if for nothing else than to get an accurate gram weight which we obviously can't do online (weight without the watch works)

So, values: If this were a typical Elgin of the period, mid-range in jeweling and let's say a 'gold filled' case more usual to the original watch (you'd see the words 'guaranteed for 20 years' somewhere) it would price at about $250-400.

You should add about $1,000 to those values once the case is confirmed solid gold and weighed. Perhaps even more depending on weight. All in all, a very nice heritage.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

We took the watch to a jeweler and they said it was worth $10,000 and we were just wondering what it is about?

Expert:  S. August Abbott replied 5 years ago.

If a reliable jeweler valued it that high then it has to be for the gold value in the case. As pointed out earlier, we can't authenticate gold or weigh it online so adding "at least $1,000" is a starting point assuming it isn't a very heavyweight gold, which Elgin's usually aren't.

Also, you might have an 'insurance appraisal' or 'replacement value' figure which is often 2 or 3x's higher than the actual value that the item would get if you were to sell in auction or to a collector or even to a jeweler that has an 'estate' case.

Since the most any Elgin has warranted (that I know of) in the last 100 years is $12,000 for the very first watch and highest quality watch Elgin ever made --- yours would be history making at $10,000 Very very nice watch!

You are truly lucky

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