United States Watch Co. of Waltham, Mass
The United States Watch Co. of Waltham, Mass. grew out of an investment made by the principles of the Waltham Watch Tool Co., Charles V. Woerd, formerly the Superintendent of the American Waltham Watch Company, and the Nutting Brothers, around 1883. The Waltham Watch Tool Co. was reorganized to focus on watch making as the United States Watch Company in February 1885. Thomas B. Eaton was president, E. C. Hammer subsequently joined as treasurer and financial backer.
A new factory was built on Charles Street in Waltham, with a planned capacity of 50 watches per day. Watch making machinery was purchased or constructed and installed in the new factory building.
The first watches were produced in October 1886, they were 16-size, 3/4 plate and were made in 3 grades, designed by Charles V. Woerd. These early watches are called "Dome Watches" because they used a wide mainspring barrel, the top of which was domed upward in the center to accommodate the balance wheel. Proving unpopular because of the odd-size case, the dome model was replaced by a new 16-size movement in mid-1888 which fit in a conventional case.
18-size hunting case, lever set movements were introduced in 1888 and 1889. Advertised for railroad service, the top of the line in the 18-size model 1 was the grade No. 40, with 15 ruby jewels in gold settings, Breguet hairspring, compensation balance, patent regulator, adjusted to temperature and positions. A slightly lower priced grade No. 42, with 15 ruby jewels in gold settings, Breguet hairspring, compensation balance, patent regulator and adjusted to temperature was also available.
Open face grades No. 79 and No. 80, having 17 ruby jewels, patent regulator and adjustment to heat, cold and positions, were introduced in 1893 as "especially adapted for Railway Service". The flagship grade for railroad service was the The President grade, introduced in 1894. This lever-set, double roller escapement movement, "adjusted to heat, cold, isochronism and all positions," made in both hunting case and open face versions, was made primarily as a 17-jewel watch, and subsequently open face as a 21-jewel watch to encourage their sales. Advertisements stated that The President was "warranted to run closer than six seconds per month."
The company was reorganized in 1894 following the death of E. C. Hammer.
The American Waltham Watch Co. brought a lawsuit against the company over the use of "Waltham Watches" in trade advertisements and "Waltham" on the dials and movements. The American Waltham Watch Co. won in the Massachusetts Supreme Court in March 1899. In July 1899 the United States Circuit Court for the Southern District of New York upheld this decision. The Court ordered the United States Watch Co. to stop describing it's products as "Waltham Watches", remove "Waltham" from its dials, and stamp "A new watch company at Waltham est'd in 1885" on it's movements to distinguish its products from those of the American Waltham Watch Co.
Production continued until the company ceased operations just after the turn of the century. The U.S. Watch Company was purchased by the Philadelphia Watch Case Company in April 1901. In May 1901, the Philadelphia Watch Case Co also purchased Suffolk Watch Co. The U.S. Watch Co. factory was enlarged and all Suffolk machinery and employees were moved to it. Watch production continued under the name United States Watch Co. through 1904. Watches manufactured after acquisition by the Philadelphia Watch Case Company have "New York U.S.A." on the movements to avoid using the name Waltham.
The Philadelphia Watch Case Company merged with the Keystone Watch Case Company in 1904. In December 1904 the factory was transferred to Keystone Watch Case Co. for production of higher quality Keystone "E. Howard Watch Co." watches in 1905.
Production of Keystone's E. Howard Watch Co. products at the factory on Charles Street ended in the late 1920's, in 1930 the land and buildings were sold to the E. Howard Clock Company.
Note: The U.S. Watch Company of Waltham, Mass. should not be confused with the United States Watch Company, Marion, New Jersey.
U.S. Watch (Waltham) Serial Numbers and Production Dates
Note: These are estimated approximate dates, actual dates may vary by several years. The serial number being referred to is the serial number on the movement of the watch, not the case.
|1887 - 3000||1892 - 90,000||1897 - 350,000||1902 - 750,000|
|1888 - 6500||1893 - 150,000||1898 - 400,000||1903 - 800,000|
|1889 - 10,000||1894 - 200,000||1899 - 500,000|
|1890 - 30,000||1895 - 250,000||1900 - 600,000|
|1891 - 60,000||1896 - 300,000||1901 - 700,000|
Dervan, Andrew H. United States Watch Company (Waltham, MA) History and Watch Production. Bulletin of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, Inc. No. 370, October 2007, Columbia, PA., pp. 554-563.
Ed Ueberall and Kent Singer, Railroaders' Corner - The President, Bulletin of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, Inc. No. 323, December 1999, pp. 817-821.