Lord Elgin Continental with the 718 Manual Movement
I picked this Lord Elgin up for $41. It is known as the Continental. At first, I was a bit disappointed at my eBay purchase. It was a bit dirty, there was a big gash on the bezel, the case back had a number of long gouges (as if the previous owners had tried to make a slot so as to be able to removed the caseback), and the metal chapter ring around the dial was a bit dirty.
So I decided to make this my first watch that I took apart and played with (except the movement of course). I used the Dremel on the gouge on the bezel and while it is still there, the dirt is gone, it is a bit shallower, and the gold plating is now showing. The caseback, again, attacked with the Dremel, cleaned up nicely. While the gouges are still there, the gold filling is now at least visible.
Next, it seems the chapter ring around the dial at one time, has a very thin veneer of gold. I guess with the passage of time, it flaked off. With that, I did clean the grime off and now it has a reasonable patina about it.
I also polished the hands, which were dirty, and I cleaned the dial up a bit. The dial and hands are in great shape.
Finally, I cleaned the inside of the crystal, and the very last step was to polish it with PolyWatch. I think I finally figured out how to use PolyWatch effectively. Place a few drops on the crystal, and then rub it vigorously on a lint free cloth for several minutes. Elbow grease required. It went from scratched, as you can see in one photo, to a fairly smooth in a few minutes.
The build of the watch is very interesting. The caseback pops off. The movement is held in place by a metal gasket, which also allows the caseback to snap in place. Take the caseback off, lever the movement out, and then remove metal gasket. At that point, you can pop out the crystal.
Putting it back together was simple except for the crystal. It seems it really needs a crystal press to compress it to allow it to fit back under the bezel. Without one, I had to squeeze the crystal together with my fingernails to get it back on the watch.
Lastly, it came with a 10k plated American made Speidel band, which is in great shape.
Now, onto the movement. It is a 718 manual movement with 23 jewels. Over 10 hours, it has kept pretty good time.
Is this watch pristine? By no means. But now, unless I hold it up to my eyes and inspect it closely, it looks really nice.
UPDATE: I was nicely informed by Genejockey that this watch wasn’t particularly correct. The dial was refinished incorrectly, the fonts of the print are wrong, the hands are wrong, and crystal is incorrect, plus, the outer dial ring is missing a layer of black enamel paint. At least the underlying movement was correct : )!
To make things right, I found a donor watch on eBay, and NOS crystal.
First step, I painted the dial with black enamel. That is easier said than done. As I thought, the donor’s enamel was flaking, but it did show the ridges. I tried several times to duplicate this, but to no avail. My solution was to pour the paint on the outer dial and let it flow completely around. I actually baked it in the oven at 100º for about 35 minutes to set it.
While it covers the ridges, it was the smoothest application I applied in 4 tries. I then had to buff the paint off the dial markers. Once again, much easier in theory.
At arms length, it looks fine. Under the camera…, well, let’s just say no close ups when I post
The dial…. It was dirty and cleaned the crud off of it as best I could. Some is just permanent and there are some scraps here and there on the gold finish. One thing I had to do is take the crown and stem off the movement with redone dial and replace the rusty stem that came with the donor movement. The rust gave me pause, and I tore the movement down a bit, but saw absolutely not rust or water damage.
With all that done, I inserted movement into case and used the caseback off the donor movement. The original caseback was a mess, the donor caseback is just less of a mess : )
Now to the crystal. I was so thrilled to have a new crystal. Using my crystal press, I went to insert it, and the entire rim that fits into the bezel cracked off! I’m going to chalk that up to plastic sitting on a shelf for 50 years.
So, that left me with the scruffed crystal that came with the donor movement. Dirty, scruffed and dingy, but it at least was the right crystal, but just a tad smaller than the now ruined new crystal.
So, with a lot of Polywatch and a Dremel, I was lucky and it turned out very nice. Into the crystal press, a little glue in the right places, and it snapped right into place. Like I said, the NOS crystal looks to be just a smidge larger.
Long story, short, here is my Lord Elgin Continental. Is it perfect? Far from it. But, at least it is correct and the donor movement is only 1 second off after 9 hours. The last few pictures reflect more actually the original appearance of the Continental when new.