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Most runs were for only 1,000 watches, but for very popular grades, the runs could be 10,000 or more. Since it took around 6 to 18 months between the time the first parts of a watch were manufactured until the watch was actually finished, it is likely that the watches from a given run may have been in many states of completion at any time.Looking at the serial number lists, it appears that Elgin would allocate runs of watches periodically (monthly? Elgin appears to have allocated serial number runs in sequence and so the finished watches came out of the factory watches at least somewhat in order.
All of the watches produced in this first series of watches with letter prefixed serial numbers were the first time these grades had been produced, and often the first of a particular size or model.
This means that the first runs of a new grade would actually be sold at least a year or two later than other watches that had serial numbers around the first run.
New models tended to take longer to develop than new grades based off of an existing model.
By the late 1950s, Elgin had pretty much phased out the use of serial numbers.
The first watch Elgin made in 1867 had the serial number 101, and they continued to use serial numbers up into the 1950s.
If you are interested in just an overview of this subject, just read the section summaries.