WWII American Elgin Army Ordnance Wrist Watch
WWII American Elgin Army Ordnance Wrist Watch - Manufactured by Elgin National Watch Company of Elgin, Illinois, with a ruby-jeweled movement, functional, weighing 31 grams with the strap on, for enlisted men and officers. The maker's name "ELGIN" appears below the twelve position, ornate black hour and minute hands, each minute position marked with black rules, plus large, luminous Arabic numbers at each five minute position. The six position is substituted with an inset second hand clock with an ornate black second hand. The case is nickel-plated brass, the back of which is marked "ORD. DEPT / U.S.A. / OF - 487534", the appropriate Ordnance Department markings, and comes with a reeded ball finial stem. It measures 34.2 mm x 37.5 mm x 11.2 mm, with its original olive green two-piece strap stitched to the case pins. Yellowing evident on the face, light contact on the body and glass from active use, light soiling on the strap, very fine. Footnote: Today's military wristwatches are, in effect, disposable. Their specifications state that they are made to be discarded when they stop running. However, sixty years ago, when WWII was raging, much more was expected from a timepiece. Resources weren't as available, technology was relatively simple and no one could afford to throw anything away. Watches had to be sturdy enough to stand up to the grueling salt, heat and humidity of the Pacific Theater, as well as the numbing cold of the European Campaign. American watch houses ceased civilian production during these years and devoted themselves to producing timing instruments for the war. Elgin, then the largest watch manufacturer in the world, produced bomb timers and fuses, aircraft and tank watches, ship's chronometers, pocket and wristwatches. These watches were issue, meaning the only way they made it back home was on the arms of officers and "borrowed" in field packs and ruck-sacks. Most were crushed or buried overseas to keep the market in the United States from being flooded with watches, which would have ruined American watch manufacturers already starved for civilian business. These surviving examples are valuable, not only because they're so scarce, but because they were worn on the wrists of valiant soldiers. The Elgin National Watch Company, most commonly known as just the Elgin Watch Company, was a major American watch maker from 1864 until its closure in 1968. The company sold watches under the names, Elgin, Lord Elgin, and Lady Elgin. For nearly one hundred years, the company's manufacturing complex in Elgin, Illinois was the largest site dedicated to watchmaking in the world.