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Elgin’s Safety Barrel Patent by George Hunter

George Hunter, Superintendent of the Elgin National Watch Company, received a patent for his safety barrel design on December 28, 1897. At the time, Elgin was falling behind Waltham in innovation as Waltham had already been fitting movements with safety barrels for several years.

Diagram from U.S. Patent #596408

According to the patent documentation, Hunter’s design aimed “to enable the main wheel and spring-barrel to be journaled effectively, so as to increase their efficiency and durability; and to such end said invention consists in the construction of said parts and in the means employed for journaling the same, substantially as and for the purpose hereinafter specified.”

The 12-Size “Model 1898” grades were the first production movements to receive the new safety barrel at the Elgin factory, followed by the new 0-Size grades in 1899.

In March 1901, the company introduced the “Veritas Model,” designed for railroad service and fitted with the new safety barrel.

The new design also removed the necessity for a safety pinion on the center wheel while providing a more robust winding system.

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