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Elgin M-56b US Patent

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I just ran across this today.  For those of you who enjoy reading patents...have at it (I do it for a living).

The patent number was printed on an M-56b bottle, thus it may not apply to M-56.  We will probably never know the difference.

Elgin Watch Oil Patent US2355616.pdf

Edited by LittleWatchShop
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25 minutes ago, spectre6000 said:

For those of us that don't read patents for a living, what about this one in particular is especially interesting/should we be focused on?

Very detailed spec.  If you were a chemist (I am not), you could probably synthesize this with the detail of the spec.

Claim 9 gives a succinct description of the lubricant.

It is the oil I use BTW.

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  • 1 month later...

I am convinced that 56-a is as good as 56-b.  I have a full bottle of 56-a and equivalent of about four bottles of 56-b (the blue one-drop bottles).  I will never run out of 56-b, but if I did, I would use 56-a. 

All this based on a precise scientific wild ass guess (PSWAG).

I put a drop of both on a glass several months ago and then set it on its side.  The drops appear identical then and now.  Yeah, there's a dozen other tests that should be performed to prove they are equivalent.

Finally, if 56-b had some special sauce, they would have protected it by filing a continuation of their patent.  No evidence that they did.

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On 2/12/2023 at 9:14 AM, LittleWatchShop said:

If you were a chemist (I am not), you could probably synthesize this with the detail of the spec.

Claim 9 gives a succinct description of the lubricant.

maybe another approach to get the oil would be if I a company making horological lubrication made a request. Like a request of the watch community please send us your oil and we will analyze it and synthesize it. Then we will sell it under the name Elgin which will upset the holder of the Elgin name and supposedly that's why it's no longer available in this country. I'm attaching a picture of it and the PDF.


On 4/3/2023 at 8:26 AM, LittleWatchShop said:

56-a is as good as 56-b.

no idea who made the lubrication chart comparing oils but according to that there is a difference between the a and b.


Elgin M-56a oil.jpg

Elgin watch oil modern.JPG

elgin oil chart 55.jpg

Elgin M-56b oil.jpg

TS5500EN elgin oil.pdf

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It looks like it may be possible to get the Dr. Tillwich oil, but my guess is that it would be eye-wateringly expensive.  Has anyone ever looked into current pricing? Cas-ker has the LGN grease, but it is $145 for a seven gram tube.  Ouch.


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3 hours ago, dadistic said:

Has anyone ever looked into current pricing? Cas-ker

maybe you could email and ask if they have the oil as they did have it at one time. Don't remember what they listed for price the

3 hours ago, LittleWatchShop said:

Fortunately for me, I have a lifetime supply of 56b!

amusingly the last time I saw it for sale on eBay the seller had make an offer and a starting price of $9.99. Typically with make an offer you would offer less but I offered $20 which was rejected and then one week later I bid and got it for $9.99 because nobody bid against me. So based on the rate that I use oil yes it looks like I have a lifetime supply also. But I haven't even got around to testing it yet I wanted tested in some watches and see how well it performs.

So yes it does show up on eBay from time to time it's just a shame that it wasn't readily available at a reasonable price because it definitely looks so much more promising than Swiss oil.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sorry about obsessing over this Elgin lube...lol...just comes up now and then here and other fora.

Has anyone ever seen a bottle of Elgin oil labeled just "M-56" with no "a" or "b?"

Puzzling.    Integrated circuits always have a rev letter "A" for the first mask set.  That is because we know (in spite of our best efforts) there will be a "fix."  Not so common in product labeling though.

So then...why is there an M-56a?  They would have only labeled it that way if there were also an M-56b, n’est-ce Pas?  Maybe...just maybe, as the data @JohnR725has shared (that the performance of M-56a is different than b) they sold both versions concurrently. 

We, on this forum, are just too young to have experienced the history--I think.  Although, sometimes @JohnR725comments make me think he was born around 1901 or thereabouts.

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1 hour ago, LittleWatchShop said:

Has anyone ever seen a bottle of Elgin oil labeled just "M-56" with no "a" or "b?"

probably the easiest way to figure this out would be to do a search of horological publications in the 50s and see if there's any Elgin oil before version a came into existence.

thinking of the literature I don't have time to look but Elgin usually put publication dates on their literature did we ever figure out from publication dates if we looked whether there was a time difference between A&B coming out?




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It looks as if they started out calling it 56-A right from the start in 1940. That's the trademark that was filed, and that's how it was named in the announcement in their service bulletin.   There is a possibility that their chemists were already tinkering with another product formula (56-B) with slightly different characteristics that they knew they'd want to eventually sell but they wanted to get this one on the market first. (That would be similar to the way things often work in pharmaceutical development...) Hope this link works:


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10 hours ago, diveboy said:

Elgin watch oil timeline

1941 m56a

1944 N22a developed for the Navy for low temp operation

1948 m56b

1954 "frigid all weather" oil for the military rated for 75f below freezing 


This comports with the US military repair manual from 1945...as shown in these images.

Where did you dig up this historical information?  Well done--competing with @JohnR725for watchgoogle.

2023-04-19 08_40_58-TM 9-1575.pdf _ - Foxit PhantomPDF.png

2023-04-19 08_41_24-TM 9-1575.pdf _ - Foxit PhantomPDF.png

2023-04-19 08_43_23-TM 9-1575.pdf _ - Foxit PhantomPDF.png

12 hours ago, Geotex said:

Hope this link works

Yes it works!

My Dad completed watchmaking school in 1947.  He had two bottles of 56a in his watchbench I inherited.  If he bought it new, they were selling it in that time period.  I have six bottles of the blue Elgin oil which does not say 56-b, but it most certainly is.  One of the 56a bottles is empty and the other is 3/4 full.  The blue bottles are mostly full except for one as I recall.  All this seems to mean both oils were available concurrently...at least for a time (as I mentioned above).

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I probably should've waited much longer to post the second reply because it decided to merge everything together which requires me to re-edits and explain what all the images are which behind it becomes a big mess then.

We have the Elgin watchword publication this is the publication of the Elgin watch company for the employees. We can see the article on the new cold temperature oil. then easy to recognize because the ill-fated pages the American horologist magazine 1942 snipped out some images from that including non-Elgin oil.

Then for two more watchword magazines 1948 when they introduce the m56b oil in 1955 for the talk about the history and more about oil.

then from the horological times a little section on oil and the history in reference to other companies making lubrication.

Elgin watch word 1954 page 2.JPG

Elgin oil page 3 not.JPG

Elgin oil page 2.JPG

Elgin oil page 1.JPG

Elgin oil magazine title.JPG

Elgin oil horological times February 2000.JPG

Elgin watch word 1954 page 1.jpg

found two interesting articles in the Elgin watchword magazine. 1948 introduction of the m56b oil and another article from 1955 that is also interesting.

Elgin oil watch word 1955 page 1.JPG

Elgin oil watchword 1955 page 2.JPG

Elgin oil watchword 1955 page 3.JPG

Elgin oil watchword 1948 page 1.jpg

Elgin oil watchword 1948 page 2.jpg

Elgin oil watchword 1948 page 3.jpg

Elgin oil watchword 1948 page 4.jpg

Edited by JohnR725
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27 minutes ago, LittleWatchShop said:

One of those clips was pretty "matter of fact" about Elgin oil.  I have been looking for a catalog that sold these oils side by side.

you're seeing a classic problem with horological literature of it spans a great deal of time. It doesn't seem to get revisions that often so what appears to be current may not be. So I think because of that we tend to see overlapping of things that maybe don't overlap as much as we think perhaps.

the dating of things gets to be interesting if you read the fine print of both the watchword in the 48 and 55 you get amusing things. So apparently 1940 is when the m56a was announced the world I'm assuming it was late in 1940 then one of the article says that two years later they developed the m56b version. But then in one of their other articles and says 1943 which would correspond the 1941. But then we don't see that oil coming out until 1948. I suppose I read all the fine print of the article on to grasp why probably something like a world war interfered with producing their oil.

then the history on the page the horological times as interesting because Elgin comes out with both of their synthetic oils before the Swiss to buy a couple of years. This would of course explain why we see it referenced literally everywhere and even Elgin talks about supplying I think half the oil to the United States and sending a lot of little to Switzerland because their oil beat out everything in existence at the time and some of us still think it beats out the oil that's in existence. But then the pesky Swiss had to get involved. Somewhere has seen a reference where if you look at the older Rolex technical documentation they were using the Hamilton oils but because her a Swiss product they have become up with their own lubrication they couldn't be using American stuff in their watches.

So I have a suspicion is you will not see both Elgin oils for sale at the same time unless someone's clearing out old stock. These everything says the m56b is the better version I guess think were seeing overlapping of documentation. Although it's conceivable that material houses still had supplies of existing oils.



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