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F.2 Elgin 722 / 725

Elgin already started research on electric watches during the nineteen thirties. This project was under general direction and supervision of research director George G. Ensing and technical engineer Glenn T. Soper. Thomas L. Boswell was the principal engineer concerned with the development of small batteries. See USA patents nos. 2,772,321 (1956), 2,782,414 (1957) and 2,862,039 (1958).

1946The secret electric watch project is started.
1946-1949Many problems remain unsolved.
1949Elgin and Lip start a technical co-operation to jointly develop the new electric watch.
19-3-1952Elgin's president J.G. Shennan presents the 'Electronic' watch to the international press at the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago. Lip's president, Fred Lip, does the same in Paris on the same day.
15-4-1952Application for a USA patent no. 2,865,163 on an 'Electrically-powered Time Device' is filed by Elgin. It was the world's first application for a complete electric wrist watch, that came into production.
1952-1962For the production of large dependable series of watches, Elgin and Lip need at least ten more years, since small batteries to power the watches are still unavailable. July 1962 Elgin introduces the 'Elgin Electronic 725' to the market; the smallest electric watch so far produced and the second electric watch in the USA.
1974Elgin sells its entire stock of watches to Transtime Corp. (Waltham Watch Company). Elgin's brandname is licenced to Waltham Watch Company for the following seventeen years.

The watches didn't work very well. Therefore about ninety percent of these watches were returned to the factory. Elgin's service department couldn't handle the tremendous amount of problems and a substantive number of watches had to be destroyed. The production was halted and Elgin started to buy its electronic movements in Switzerland. As collectables, these watches are therefore hard to find.

The different movements are:

1The '722'. An extremely small movement with the following dimensions: 18 mm * 15 mm * 4 mm. It remains unknown if the '722' was ever sold. Supposedly, the larger '725' movement was developed after Elgin discovered that the '722' was too small to fullfill a watch's needs. Both the '722' and the '725' possess a 'hidden' diode, which is glued onto the coil or on the back of the dial. The '722' is powered by one battery.
2The '725'. Only a few thousands have been produced, which were destroyed on a large scale later on.
3The first prototype of the '725' model had a single kidney-shaped battery. A battery opening on the back of the watch is missing.
4The first commercial model of the '725' was powered by two parallel batteries. This model also lacked a battery opening on the back.
5Elgin started using two batteries in parallel to lengthen the running time of the watch. However, the difference in voltage which occurs between any two batteries no matter how slight, results in a small drain in power between these batteries. Elgin returned to using a single cell like other manufacturers.
6The last series of the '725' were fitted in a larger case.
7The '910'. This is believed to be a prototype.

Four different cases are known, three smaller ones, gold and gold plated and a larger steel one. There are approximately fifteen differently designed dials, of which some have been inspired by the design of the nineteen fifties and show a resemblance with the Hamilton watches.

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Copyright by Pieter Doensen

email: doensen@xs4all.nl

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