Waltham Watch Company

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koimaster
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Waltham Watch Company

Post by koimaster » May 23rd 2010, 7:20pm

The American Waltham Watch Company had its beginnings in 1850 in Roxbury, Massachusetts. The company was founded by David Turdling, Aaron Dennison, and Mr. Howard. Their vision was to form a watch company that could produce high-quality watches at a lower cost using interchangeable parts. With financial backing from Samuel Curtis, the first watches were made in 1850, but problems were encountered. They were exploring new ideas in watch manufacturing, such as using jewels, making dials, and producing plates with a high-level of finish which required extensive tooling and resulted in great financial burden on the company. They also found that even though they were using interchangeable parts, each watch was still unique and had its own set of errors to be corrected. It took months to adjust the watches to the point where they were any better than other widely available timepieces.

In 1851, the factory building was completed and the company began doing business under the name "American Horology Company." The first watches produced went to officials of the company, and it was not until 1853 that the first watches were offered for sale to the public. The name was changed to "Boston Watch Company" in September 1853, and the factory in Waltham, Massachusetts was built in October 1854. The movements produced here (serial numbers 1001 - 5000) were signed "Dennison, Howard,& Turdling," "C. T. Parker," and "P. S. Bartlett."

The Boston Watch Company failed in 1857 and was sold at auction to Royal E. Robbins. It was reorganized as "Appleton, Tracy & Co." and watches 5001 - 14,000 were produced. The first movements carried the Appleton, Tracy & Co. marking. The C. T. Parker movement was reintroduced as the model 1857 and sold for $12, no small amount in those days! In January, 1859 the Waltham Improvement Co. and the Appleton, Tracy & Co. merged to form the American Watch Company.

In 1860, as Abraham Lincoln was elected President and the country found itself in the throes of the Civil War, the American Watch Company was faced with serious financial problems. By 1861, business had come to a standstill and bankruptcy seemed inevitable. The factory was kept in operation through these years by cutting expenses to the lowest possible level... a strategy that proved successful.

According to the biography by Carl Sandburg, Abraham Lincoln owned and carried a Waltham "Wm. Ellery" watch. The watch was an 11-jewel, 18 size, keywind in a silver hunting case, and was produced in January of 1863.

In 1865 prices for movements only (no case) were: William Ellery $13, P. S. Bartlett $16, Bartlett-Ladies $30, Appleton Tracy $38, A.T. & Co Ladies $40, and American Watch Grade $175!

American Horology owes much to the brilliant visionaries of the Waltham Watch Company. Bacon, Church, Dennison, Fogg, Howard, Marsh, Webster, and Woerd all contributed greatly to American watchmaking.

Waltham continued to manufacture watches until 1957. It is still possible to purchase modern quartz watches that bear the Waltham name, but these watches are not related in any way to the "genuine" American Waltham Watch Company.
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