How to Open an Elgin Pocket Watch

Elgin pocket watches are not only beautiful and valuable timepieces, but they also hold a special place in history. Whether you’ve inherited an Elgin pocket watch or stumbled upon one at an antique store, knowing how to open it properly is essential to preserve its beauty and functionality. In this guide, we’ll take you through a step-by-step process on how to open an Elgin pocket watch safely and without causing any damage.

Open an Elgin Pocket Watch

Elgin pocket watches have been cherished by watch enthusiasts for decades, and for a good reason. Their intricate design and precise craftsmanship make them both an excellent timekeeping instrument and a valuable collectible. However, to fully appreciate the inner workings of these timepieces, you need to learn how to open them properly. Follow the steps below to do just that.

Gather the Necessary Tools

Before you begin, make sure you have the following tools:

  • A small screwdriver
  • A flat, blunt object (e.g., a popsicle stick or your fingernail)

Prepare Your Workspace

Before attempting to open an Elgin pocket watch, it’s essential to create a suitable workspace. Choose a flat and smooth surface where you can work comfortably and without distractions. Lay a soft cloth or microfiber towel on the surface to protect the watch from scratches and damages during the process.

Identify the Watch Face

Hold the Elgin pocket watch between your thumb and forefinger, with the face of the watch facing up. Take a moment to familiarize yourself with the various parts of the watch, including the crown, dial, hands, and the body of the watch.

Unscrew the Face

Some Elgin pocket watches have a screw-on face. To open such watches, use a screwdriver or turn the face gently counterclockwise until it becomes loose. If your watch has a snap-on face, you can skip this step and proceed to the next one.

Locate the Hinge

On the top of the watch, just above the 12 on the dial, you’ll find a small hinge that holds the watch together. This hinge is essential for opening the pocket watch without causing any damage.

Release the Hinge Pin

To release the hinge pin, gently pull the knob located on the hinge upwards. This action will disengage the pin, allowing the watch to open smoothly.

Insert a Blunt Object

Below the 6 on the watch’s dial, you’ll notice a small slot. To open the watch further, insert a flat, blunt object like a fingernail or a popsicle stick into the slot. Slowly slide the object in until it hits the solid back of the groove.

Pop the Face Open

Once the object is in place, turn it slightly to create leverage. With a gentle push, the entire face of the watch will pop open, revealing the intricate mechanisms within.

Remove the Watch Face

As you lift the face up toward the location where the knob used to be, it will slip under the hinge that holds it down. Continue lifting until the face comes off the watch completely.


Congratulations! You have successfully opened your Elgin pocket watch. Remember to handle the watch with care and avoid touching the delicate internal components. After you’ve finished admiring the intricate details, gently close the watch by following the steps in reverse order. If you are unsure about any step, consult a professional watchmaker for assistance.


Are Elgin pocket watches valuable?

Yes, Elgin pocket watches are highly valuable, especially if they are well-preserved and in good working condition. Some models can fetch significant prices in the collector’s market.

How can I tell the age of my Elgin pocket watch?

To determine the age of your Elgin pocket watch, locate the serial number on the movement and consult an Elgin pocket watch serial number database or an expert watch appraiser.

Can I open an Elgin pocket watch without any tools?

If your Elgin pocket watch has a snap-on face, you can open it without any tools by following the steps outlined in this guide. However, watches with screw-on faces may require a suitable screwdriver.

Should I clean the interior of my Elgin pocket watch while it’s open?

Cleaning the interior of an Elgin pocket watch requires expertise and specialized tools. It is recommended to leave such tasks to professional watchmakers to avoid potential damage.

Where can I find more information about Elgin pocket watches?

For more detailed information and illustrations on Elgin pocket watches, you can refer to reputable watchmaking books, online watch forums, or watch enthusiast websites.

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