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American Waltham

1851-1957


In 1850, the history of the watch began an essential transformation; the idea of impeccable quality, lower prices and above all, interchangeable parts was born. In 1850 the founders of the American Waltham Watch Company, Aaron Dennison, the father of the American Watch Company, Mr. Howard, a watch and clock maker from Boston, and Howard’s business associate, D. P. Davis, started their company in Roxbury, Massachusetts.

The idea of watch making with interchangeable parts was first thought of and attempted by Howard and Davis when they started the American Horologue Company in 1849, but the successful implementation of the concept was not accomplished until 1850 by Mr. Dennison. This is when the three men founded the American Waltham Watch Company, but their first watches were not made available for public sale until 1853.

There were many problems that arose while the three men attempted to successfully establish their business, most of which were caused by financial hardships. Though the men had the right idea when they first dreamed up what are now considered Waltham watches, they did not take into account the funding that would be required to incorporate the jewels, quality faceplates and though the parts were interchangeable, each watch still seemed to house its own individual personality when it came to repairs.

When the American Waltham Watch Company finally made their first pocket watches available to the public in 1853, the company name changed to the Boston Watch Company. This was one of several name changes that the company would undergo before returning the closest to its original company in 1885 when it became the Waltham Watch Company.

Despite the many bankruptcies, buyouts and auctions, the Waltham Watch continued to transform over the years providing watches to the general public and even monumental figures in American history. The Waltham watch used by Abraham Lincoln in the time of the civil war is currently on display at the Smithsonian Museum.
Eventually, the Waltham Watch Company and all of its glory were bought out by the Hallmark Watch Company. Hallmark continued to sell watches using the Waltham name until a 1961 ruling by the Federal Trade Commission determining that it is unlawful to imply that any further watches sold and produced were related to the original Waltham Watches.

Source: http://heritagepocketwatch.com/american-waltham/

Craig Duling

Craig Duling's fascination with timepieces goes back at least to his college days, when he built a digital clock from scratch for his senior year physics lab class. Currently the head of Heritage Management Services, a business management firm in San Francisco, Craig Duling is also a significant collector of rare antique pocket watches. Pocket watches are often associated with images of 19th-century railroad conductors consulting them as steam trains left the station. This close attention to correct time was essential. In the 19th century, most trains traveled in both directions on single sets of tracks. Sidings were placed at regular intervals to allow trains to pass safely. Printed timetables showed the arrival and departure of trains, as well as when they were waiting in sidings. This system depended on accurate watches. The problem with this became evident in 1891 when two trains in Ohio had a head-on collision, killing nine people. Investigation disclosed that the engineer's watch on the passenger train had stopped and restarted, making it four minutes slow. This tragedy prompted railroad officials to set up standards for pocket watches. These specifications mandated that watches share a common design, as well as being reliable, easy to read, and impervious to extremes of temperature.

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