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Studying the Backs of Metal Dials from the Elgin National Watch Company

Elgin National Watch Company Metal Dials, c.1925 (top) and c.1937 (bottom)
Pictured: Elgin National Watch Company Metal Dials, c.1925 (top) and c.1937 (bottom)

The dial back is one aspect of the pocket watch that is often overlooked. Inspecting the reverse can provide key insight into the distinct production methods used at the watch factories.

The two metal dials in the accompanying image represent products of the Elgin National Watch Company factory using different manufacturing techniques.

The top dial was manufactured in the mid-1920s and features black numerals applied directly on the surface of the dial. The reverse is flat and has a silvered finish similar to the dial front.

The bottom dial was manufactured in the mid-1930s and features raised metal numerals on the surface of the dial. The reverse is characterized by embossed areas where the numerals were pressed, and different metal composition is evident. The front of the dial is painted rather than silvered, leaving the dial vulnerable to tiny scratches marring the surface.

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