Pocket Watch Database

Illinois Watch Case Co.

Elgin, Illinois

Illinois Watch Case Co. Image

Initial Marking: IWCCo.

Location: Elgin, Illinois

Years of Operation: 1888-1956

The Illinois Watch Case Co. was one of the largest case manufacturers in the United States. They also operated using the name Elgin Giant Watch Case Co. starting in 1910 with the original intent for sales in foreign markets.

Factory Building Status: Demolished in 2011

Identification: The Illinois Watch Case Company typically marked their cases in the following manner (exceptions may exist):

Open Face Screw Back and Bezel: Full assembly serial number stamped around the rim of the dial.

Swing-Ring: Some cases feature the assembly number scored in Roman Numerals on the ring around the movement in a variety of positions. This has been seen with the last four digits represented and the full serial number. Later cases are stamped with a full assembly serial around the rim of the dial, similar to other case styles from the company.

Hunting: Hunting cases are sometimes marked with an assembly number on the back rim of the case center, usually with the last three, four, or five digits of the case serial number. Later cases are marked with the full serial number around the back rim. On earlier cases, this mark appears next to the hinge around the 8:00 position. On later cases, this mark appears closer to the 9:00 or 10:00 position. Some cases are seen with assembly codes in a stacked-vertical layout instead of linear, especially later in production.

The primary mark is generally placed in the center of the case back with the serial number right underneath, in a slight ā€œUā€ shape. Some serial numbers on mass-produced nickel cases are seen with a straight serial layout, usually indicating single-digit stamping procedures.

Serial numbers extend to approximately 9,310,000. However, with the recycled lower serial numbers used on nickel cases, total production was likely higher than this number suggests.

The Illinois Watch Case Company was incorporated in August 1888 by Thomas Duncan, Paul Brown, and David J. Wile with a capital stock of $50,000 (some documents indiate a date of November 24, 1888). The company was headquartered in Chicago, Illinois and sustained fire damage in 1889, possibly prompting a decision to relocate the factory to Elgin, Illinois.

One of the first cases offered on the market by the new company was the "Commander."

As the new factory was being built, the company chose to rebrand as the Elgin Nation Watch Case Company. However, the Elgin National Watch Company quickly objected to the name. As a result, the company was reorganized as the Elgin Watch Case Company. This move attracted legal disputes from the Elgin National Watch Company.

By June 1890, the case factory in Elgin was put in motion with 100 workers, led by Max C. Eppenstein. By the following year, more than 200 were employed at the factory.

In April 1892, the Elgin National Watch Case Company was incorporated with a capital stock of $250,000, hoping to establish rights to the tradename.

In December 1892, Judge Horton decided that the case company could not use the Elgin name. As a result, the company readopted the previous company name, the Illinois Watch Case Company.

Despite the name change, the company continued to use "Elgin" in product names, advertising case grades like "Elgin Pride," "Elgin Commander," "Elgin Giant," and "Elgin Tiger."

In 1895, the company ventured into the new bicycle trend by organizing the Elgin Cycle Company, and part of the case factory was utilized to manufacture bicycles.

The legal complaints from the Elgin National Watch Company continued in an attempt to protect the "Elgin" name. In March 1898, Judge Showalter decided that the Illinois Watch Case Company could no longer use the word "Elgin" to promote their products.

Shortly after, in September 1898, President Thomas W. Duncan resigned his position at the Illinois Watch Case Company.

In 1898, the company organized subsidiary - The Elgin American Manufacturing Company - to manufacture vainty cases, cigarette cases, lockets, and other small jewelry items.

In 1901, the company introduced its Nubian case, advertised as the only gunmetal watch case on the market. The company also expanded by creating a line of fancy solid gold cases and purchasing the Rockford Watch Company.

In 1910, the "Elgin Giant Watch Case Company" was organized to facilitate sales of cases for the Illinois Watch Case Company in foreign markets. While the "Elgin Giant" grade had existed previously and was continued after this point, any case marked "Elgin Giant Watch Case Co." was produced after 1910.

Around 1912, the name "Elgin Giant Watch Case Company" began to appear in some American advertisements and industry publications, usually promoting solid gold cases. This company name was utilized in addition to the Illinois Watch Case Company name, as evidenced by the 1924 notice published by various case companies agreeing not to mark cases with guarantees.

In the late 1910s and 1920s, the "Elgin Giant Watch Case Company" name was utilized more frequently for fancier cases in the Illinois product line, presumably abandoning the original intention to use the name exclusively in foreign markets.

In 1955, the Illinois Watch Case Company decided to exapnd into additional jewelry products. The following year, the company reorganized as Elgin American Inc., and the Illinois Watch Case Company became a division of the parent company with the intent to close out the case manufacturing operation.

In 1957, the company liquidated the remaining case tools and machinery at auction.

Case Grades

Note: This chart is not intended to be a comprehensive list of grades. Some grades changed traits over time and other grades may not be listed. This chart will be improved as additional information is studied.

Image Name Case Material Gold Content Gurantee Source Catalogs Trademarked
Watch Case Marking for Illinois Watch Case Co. 10K RGP: I10K Rolled Golled Plate Illinois Watch Case Co. 10K RGP Rolled Gold Plate 10K 1925CPS
10YR Gold-Filled 10-Year 1916LCM
Watch Case Marking for Illinois Watch Case Co. 14K: 14K Gold 14K 1902MF, 1902ACB, 1903ACB, 1903FDW, 1913FDW, 1915ACB, 1916LCM
20YR Gold-Filled 20-Year 1915ACB, 1916LCM
25YR Gold-Filled 25-Year 1906SRC, 1913FDW, 1915ACB, 1916LCM
Adonis Mar 8, 1910
Watch Case Marking for Illinois Watch Case Co. Alaska Metal: Alaska Metal Alaska Metal Nickel Alloy
Arrow Base Metal
Watch Case Marking for Illinois Watch Case Co. Base Metal: Illinois Watch Case Co. Base Metal Base Metal
Bona Fide Gold-Filled 20-Year
Watch Case Marking for Illinois Watch Case Co. Congress: Congress Gold-Filled 25-Year
Watch Case Marking for Illinois Watch Case Co. Elgin Commander 14K/20YR: Elgin Commander 14K/20YR Gold-Filled 14K 20-Year 1891RR, 1893MCE, 1896MF Feb 18, 1890
Watch Case Marking for Illinois Watch Case Co. Elgin Commander 14K/25YR: Illinois Watch Case Co. Guaranteed Commander 25 Years Elgin Commander 14K/25YR Gold-Filled 14K 25-Year 1899ACB, 1900LMC, 1900BA, 1900BHIA, 1901BAC, 1902BB, 1902MF, 1902ACB, 1903ACB, 1903FDW, 1903N76, 1904LB, 1906SRC, 1912HA, 1913FDW, 1915ACB Feb 18, 1890
Watch Case Marking for Illinois Watch Case Co. Elgin Giant: Guaranteed Giant 14K 20 Years Elgin Giant Illinois Watch Case Co. Elgin U.S.A. Illinois Giant Elgin Giant Gold-Filled 14K 20-Year 1899ACB, 1900LMC, 1900BA, 1900BHIA, 1901BAC, 1902BB, 1902MF, 1903BAC, 1903N76, 1903ACB, 1903FDW, 1904BA, 1904LB, 1912HA, 1913FDW, 1915ACB Apr 3, 1894
Watch Case Marking for Illinois Watch Case Co. Elgin Giant: Guaranteed Giant 14K 20 Years Elgin Giant Illinois Watch Case Co. Elgin U.S.A. Illinois Giant Elgin Giant Gold-Filled 10K 20-Year 1891RR, 1893MCE, 1896MF, 1901OY, 1902ACB, 1906SRC Apr 3, 1894
Watch Case Marking for Illinois Watch Case Co. Elgin Pride: Illinois Watch Case Co. Elgin U.S.A. Elgin Pride Guaranteed Permanenet 25 Years Elgin Pride Gold-Filled 14K Permanent 1902BB, 1902MF, 1903N76, 1904LB, 1905FNCS, 1912HA, 1916LCM Dec 30, 1902
Watch Case Marking for Illinois Watch Case Co. Elgin Pride: Illinois Watch Case Co. Elgin U.S.A. Elgin Pride Guaranteed Permanenet 25 Years Elgin Pride Gold-Filled 14K 25-Year 1904LB, 1912HA Dec 30, 1902
Elgin Pride Gold-Filled 16K 25-Year 1893MCE Dec 30, 1902
Watch Case Marking for Illinois Watch Case Co. Elgin Tiger: Elgin Tiger Warranted Elgin Tiger Rolled Gold Plate 14K 5-Years 1899ACB, 1900BA, 1900BHIA Dec 5, 1893
Watch Case Marking for Illinois Watch Case Co. Empire: Illinois Watch Case Co. Elgin U.S.A. Guaranteed Empire 25 Years Empire Gold-Filled 25-Year 1912HA Jun 13, 1911
Watch Case Marking for Illinois Watch Case Co. Empire State: Empire State Guaranteed 20 Years Empire State Gold-Filled 20-Year
Watch Case Marking for Illinois Watch Case Co. Famous: Famous Guaranteed 14 Karat Gold Filled Famous Gold-Filled 14K 5-Years Jun 13, 1911
General Aug 23, 1910
Gold Strata Gold-Filled 14K 25-Year
Watch Case Marking for Illinois Watch Case Co. Hercules: Illinois Watch Case Co. Elgin Ill. Hercules 3 4 Hercules Silver-Filled 1902BB, 1904LB, 1912HA Sep 13, 1910
Illinois Watch Case Co. Coin Silver Coin Silver 1900BHIA, 1901OY, 1902MF, 1903N76, 1903ACB, 1903FDW
La Fleur 1902BB, 1903N76
Laclede Gold-Filled 20-Year
Liberty Aug 1, 1911
Watch Case Marking for Illinois Watch Case Co. Monitor: Monitor Rolled Gold Plate 5-Years 1901OY, 1902BB, 1903N76, 1903FDW, 1905FNCS, 1912HA
Watch Case Marking for Illinois Watch Case Co. Napoleon: Illinois Watch Case Co. Elgin U.S.A. Napoleon 14K 14 K Napoleon Gold-Filled 14K 10-Year 1899ACB, 1900LMC, 1900BA, 1902ACB, 1903N76, 1903ACB, 1903FDW, 1911WJJ, 1912WJJ Jul 26, 1910
Watch Case Marking for Illinois Watch Case Co. Napoleon: Illinois Watch Case Co. Elgin U.S.A. Napoleon 14K 14 K Napoleon Rolled Gold Plate 14K 10-Year 1900BHIA, 1901OY, 1902BB, 1904LB, 1905FNCS, 1912HA, 1915ACB Jul 26, 1910
Watch Case Marking for Illinois Watch Case Co. Nickel: Illinois Watch Case Co. Nicekl Elgin U.S.A. in Circle Nickel Nickel Alloy 1902BB, 1904LB, 1912HA, 1913FDW, 1915ACB
Watch Case Marking for Illinois Watch Case Co. Nickel Silver: Illinois Watch Case Co. Nickel Silver Nickel Silver Nickel Alloy 1902ACB
Watch Case Marking for Illinois Watch Case Co. Nubian: Gun Metal Nubian Gun Metal 25-Year 1901OY, 1902BB, 1902MF, 1902ACB, 1903N76, 1903ACB, 1903FDW, 1912HA
Peerless Gold-Filled 14K 20-Year
Permanent Gold-Filled Permanent 1916LCM
Watch Case Marking for Illinois Watch Case Co. Plymouth: Plymouth Perfect Warranted Plymouth Gold-Filled 10K 20-Year 1906SRC
Plymouth Gold-Filled 14K Permanent 1906SRC
Watch Case Marking for Illinois Watch Case Co. Ramona: Illinois Watch Case Co. Elgin U.S.A. Guaranteed Ramona 20 Years Double Stock Ramona Gold-Filled 20-Year Feb 4, 1919
Watch Case Marking for Illinois Watch Case Co. Reliance: Reliance Gold-Filled 10-Year
RGP Rolled Gold Plate 10-Year 1915ACB
Rival Gold-Filled 20-Year Aug 29, 1911
Watch Case Marking for Illinois Watch Case Co. Royal Golden: Royal Golden Composition 1893MCE Feb 7, 1893
Rupublic Aug 29, 1911
Sears Roebuck Label Gold-Filled
Watch Case Marking for Illinois Watch Case Co. Sears Roebuck Label: Sears Roebuck Label Nickel Alloy
Select Nickel Alloy
Watch Case Marking for Illinois Watch Case Co. Spartan: Illinois Watch Case Co. Spartan Spartan Base Metal
Watch Case Marking for Illinois Watch Case Co. Sterling: Illinois Watch Case Co. Elgin Ill. Sterling Silver United States Assay 925/1000 Fine Illinois W.C.Co. Elgin Sterling Sterling Silver 1902ACB, 1902BB, 1903N76, 1903ACB, 1903FDW, 1904LB, 1906SRC, 1912HA, 1913FDW, 1916LCM
Watch Case Marking for Illinois Watch Case Co. Supreme: Supreme I.W.C.Co. Illinois Watch Case Co. Elgin U.S.A. Guaranteed 10 Years in Circle Supreme Supreme Gold-Filled 10K 10-Year 1903N76, 1903ACB, 1903FDW, 1905FNCS, 1912HA, 1915ACB, 1916LCM
The "Russell" Model Gold-Filled
Watch Case Marking for Illinois Watch Case Co. The Winner: The Winner Horse Racehorse Guaranteed 20 Years The Winner Gold-Filled 10K 20-Year 1902BB, 1903N76, 1903ACB, 1903FDW, 1904LB, 1912HA, 1913FDW, 1915ACB Sep 27, 1910
Watch Case Marking for Illinois Watch Case Co. Tivoli: Illinois Watch Case Co. Elgin Tivoli Gold-Filled 14K Guaranteed Tivoli Gold-Filled 14K 10-Year 1923ON
Watch Case Marking for Illinois Watch Case Co. Tornado: Tornado I.W.C.Co. Tornado Electro-Plated None 1899ACB, 1900LMC, 1900BHIA, 1903N76 Aug 1, 1911
Watch Case Marking for Illinois Watch Case Co. Union Watch Case Company Label: Union Watch Case Company Label Gold-Filled 25-Year
Venus Sep 26, 1911

Company Case Trademarks & Hallmarks

Elgin Giant
[Giant] (Illinois Watch Case Co.)
Illinois Watch Case Co.
Trademark Issued:
April 03, 1894

Gold-Filled

10K Gold-Filled

Hercules (Illinois Watch Case Co.)
Illinois Watch Case Co.
Trademark Issued:
September 13, 1910

5 Yr. Gold-Filled

Napoleon
Elgin (Illinois Watch Case Co.)
Illinois Watch Case Co.
Trademark Issued:
July 26, 1910

10 Yr. Gold-Filled

14K Gold-Filled

Guaranteed
Napoleon
14K
10 Years (Illinois Watch Case Co.)
Illinois Watch Case Co.
Trademark Issued:
July 26, 1910

10 Yr. Gold-Filled

14K Gold-Filled

Elgin's Pride (Illinois Watch Case Co.)
Illinois Watch Case Co.
Trademark Issued:
December 30, 1902

Gold-Filled

16K Gold-Filled

Guaranteed
Commander
14K
25 Years (Illinois Watch Case Co.)
Illinois Watch Case Co.
25 Yr. Gold-Filled

14K Gold-Filled

Elgin Commander
[Man] (Illinois Watch Case Co.)
Illinois Watch Case Co.
Trademark Issued:
February 18, 1890

Gold-Filled

14K Gold-Filled