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The original, obsolete factory in Elgin closed in 1964, after having produced half of the total number of pocket watches manufactured in the United States (dollar-type not included). In 1964 the company relocated most manufacturing operations to a new plant in Blaney, a town near Columbia, South Carolina which renamed itself Elgin, South Carolina.A leased building in Elgin that housed offices as well as casing, fitting, shipping, service, and trade material departments was maintained until about 1970. The growing young city of Elgin, Illinois, some 30 miles northwest of Chicago, was chosen as the factory site. In September of the same year the founders visited the Waltham Watch Company in Waltham, Massachusetts, and successfully convinced seven of Waltham's watchmakers to come to work for their new company.You can also refer to an Elgin serial number chart.

The company was first incorporated in August 1864 as the National Watch Company, in Chicago, Illinois, by Philo Carpenter, Howard Z. The company was re-organized in April 1865 and the factory was completed in 1866. The company built the Elgin National Watch Company Observatory in 1910 to maintain scientifically precise times in their watches.

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Established in 1864, the National Watch Company changed its name a decade later to Elgin National Watch Company to reflect its location in Elgin, Illinois.

Elgin-branded watches produced after 1968 have no connection to the Elgin Watch Company.

The city of Elgin, North Dakota derives its name from the watch brand.

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