This is probably the most common question watch collectors have.
Sometimes it is easy to answer, and sometimes it is impossible.
The Elgin and Hamilton were dated by serial number, while the Gruen was dated by an inscription on the back. In the 1930's there was a style change from highly engraved cases to smoother cleaner lines.
The "New Haven" was dated by looking at the style of the watch. Notice that the watches from the early 1930's still have engraved cases.
This holds no relevance and only the one on the movement is of any significance.Many people make this initial mistake and then struggle to determine the watch’s true age and potential value.Just remember that the serial number we require can be found on what is often referred to as the workings of the watch or the actual movement.Dials were larger while the cases were made to be less of a focal point...looking straight at a watch from the 60's, you will many times notice that not too much of the case is visible.Both companies went to a different serial number system and the date of manufacture is not determinable by these letter & number serials.: In the 1950's Bulova incorporated a symbol system to date the watches they manufactured.This will be the one that is on the inner movement of your watch.Once you have this important number then you can find the date when the watch was made.The 1940's watch styles were very similar to the styles of the 30's. A few years following the end of WWII america entered a period of prosperity, economic growth, and technical advancements in electronics and science. Many (but not all) watches were affected by the vision of the future. 1960's watches were a little bigger than they had been before.As you can see from some of these examples, bold and fancy was back in style! Hands got a little wider and came to a sharper point.