American Waltham Watch Company

Waltham was the first American Watch Co. They are the pioneered almost in all of the early developments in watches and watch making in the United States. Elgin was an early spin off from Waltham and eventually overtook Waltham in total production. For essentially all the period of 19th Century American Watchmaking, Waltham and Elgin had cooperative agreements intended to prevent other companies from competing with them. The first of these covered the patent center pinion. Later cooperative arrangements included stem winding and pendant setting arrangements.

 Waltham Watch Waltham Watch
Waltham Watch

In 1850 at Roxbury in Massachusetts, David Davis, Edward Howard and Aaron Lufkin Dennison formed together the company that would later become the Waltham Watch Company. The business plan was to manufacture the movement parts so precisely that they would become fully interchangeable. Based upon the experience of earlier failed trials, Howard and Dennison would eventually perfect and patent their precision watch making machines and create the American System of Watch Manufacturing.

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.

The 1883 model full plate watch was followed by Waltham’s 1892 model, which was the last of the Waltham 18 size designs. Although a larger watch, it incorporated many of the design elements of the earlier 16 size watches. Waltham also continued to develop the successful 16 size lines with the innovative 1888 model and their very successful 1899/1908 model.

Also commonly referred to as the “Waltham Watch Company,” the American Waltham Watch Company was the first watch company to mass produce watches in America and is generally considered to be the most important American watch company.

The name was changed to “Boston Watch Company” in 1853.  In 1854 a factory was built in Waltham Mass.  The watches that were made were named “Dennison, Howard, & Davis” as earlier stated, as well as “P.S.Batrlett”,  and

 Waltham Watch
Waltham Watch

“C.T. Parker”.  Boston Watch Company failed in 1857.

The company was sold at auction to Appleton Tracy & Co in May 1857.  In January 1859 the Waltham Improvement Company and Appleton, Tracy & Company merged to the American Waltham Watch Company.  By 1860 the country was in Civil War, and the company was in trouble again.  Production ground to a halt.  With a war going on, finding a market for their watches was becoming a seroius problem.  The company decided to downsize to the lowest possible level to keep the factory open.  It worked!

 

In 100 years of existence the factory produced 40 million jeweled watches, plus clocks, speedometers, compasses, time fuses for bombs and other precision instruments.

Waltham Watch company went out of business in the late 1950”s-early 1960’s,  in 1957 they planned to merge into Waltham Precision Instrument Company which was completed March 1960.  The shareholders of the old company received shares of  the Waltham Precision Instrument Company and also received shares in a Waltham Watch Company.    In the mid 60’s the remaining assets were purchased by the Dextra Corporation which failed in 1983.

 

Waltham  S/N by through the years.

1852 – 50
1874 – 730,000
1896 – 7,450,000
1918 – 21,800,000
1940 – 30,250,000
1853 – 400
1875 – 810,000
1897 – 8,100,000
1919 – 22,500,000
1941 – 30,750,000
1854 – 1,000
1876 – 910,000
1898 – 8,400,000
1920 – 23,400,000
1942 – 31,050,000
1855 – 2,500
1877 – 1,000,000
1899 – 9,000,000
1921 – 23,900,000
1943 – 31,700,000
1856 – 4,000
1878 – 1,150,000
1900 – 9,500,000
1922 – 24,100,000
1944 – 32,100,000
1857 – 6,000
1879 – 1,350,000
1901 – 10,200,000
1923 – 24,300,000
1945 – 32,100,000
1858 – 10,000
1880 – 1,500,000
1902 – 11,100,000
1924 – 24,550,000
1946 – 32,350,000
1859 – 15,000
1881 – 1,670,000
1903 – 12,100,000
1925 – 24,800,000
1947 – 32,750,000
1860 – 20,000
1882 – 1,835,000
1904 – 13,500,000
1926 – 25,200,000
1948 – 33,100,000
1861 – 30,000
1883 – 2,000,000
1905 – 14,300,000
1927 – 26,100,000
1949 – 33,500,000
1862 – 45,000
1884 – 2,350,000
1906 – 14,700,000
1928 – 26,400,000
1950 – 33,560,000
1863 – 65,000
1885 – 2,650,000
1907 – 15,500,000
1929 – 26,900,000
1951 – 33,600,000
1864 – 110,000
1886 – 3,000,000
1908 – 16,400,000
1930 – 27,100,000
1952 – 33,700,000
1865 – 180,000
1887 – 3,400,000
1909 – 17,600,000
1931 – 27,300,000
1953 – 33,800,000
1866 – 260,000
1888 – 3,800,000
1910 – 17,900,000
1932 – 27,550,000
1954 – 34,100,000
1867 – 330,000
1889 – 4,200,000
1911 – 18,100,000
1933 – 27,750,000
1955 – 34,450,000
1868 – 410,000
1890 – 4,700,000
1912 – 18,200,000
1934 – 28,100,000
1956 – 34,700,000
1869 – 460,000
1891 – 5,200,000
1913 – 18,900,000
1935 – 28,600,000
1957 – 35,000,000
1870 – 500,000
1892 – 5,800,000
1914 – 19,500,000
1936 – 29,100,000

1871 – 540,000
1893 – 6,300,000
1915 – 20,000,000
1937 – 29,400,000

1872 – 590,000
1894 – 6,700,000
1916 – 20,500,000
1938 – 29,750,000

1873 – 680,000
1895 – 7,100,000
1917 – 20,900,000
1939 – 30,050,00

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