It’s about time

Illinois Watch book guide for collectors
By Rhianna Wisniewski
STAFF WRITER (Courier News, Elgin, Illinois)

There was a point in time when Illinois was known for more than its baseball teams and politics. Now a thing of history books, the Illinois Watch Factory and Elgin National Watch Company once produced some of the most sought-after timepieces, coveted even today.

Art deco designs, inset jewels, a changing style and reliable engineering have had amateur and professional collectors alike seeking out both types of watches. But as any collector knows, the most important part of a purchase is the research.

Unlike most books on bygone companies, a recently released book helps to give the watch collector and the historian something to cheer about. The Illinois Watch, The Life and Times of a Great American Watch Company is devoted entirely to the history and products of the Illinois Watch Company.

A comprehensive book by Fredric J. Friedberg, The Illinois Watch provides the reader with a complete and accurate chronology of events, from the company’s conception to its closing. The book also chronicles Friedberg’s journey into collecting, explaining to the amateur collector how not to repeat his mistakes. He even lists the prices, value and details about almost every Illinois watch ever made.

Friedberg also does his best to make sure that local history is as appealing as possible to the common reader. While chronicling the progression of the company, Friedberg gives historical context as to what was happening in the world. He highlights important people and discoveries of the time, the most important world events, and, after the history has been told, stories from collectors about their experiences with the Illinois watch.

It’s a wonderful book, said local resident Bill Briska, who has been a watch collector for the past few years.

According to Briska, who is more a collector of knowledge about watches than the actual pieces themselves, books like The Illinois Watch serve as guides for collectors everywhere, and are important because they immortalize an important piece of Illinois history, helping those who don’t collect appreciate the watches for what he believes they are: tiny pieces of art.