1876 -1883


Jason R. Hopkins, designed a rotary watch movement that, in theory, would fill the need to adjust for positions, leading a less costly escapement. Hopkins received two U. S. Patents covering his design in 1875. Half of the rights belonged to William D. Colt and the other half belonged to Jason R. Hopkins.This rotary watch movement began its transformation on the way of making the pocket watch. Hopkin’s design, though not the first of its kind, required fewer parts than other watch set ups, thus intending for a cheaper design. A year after obtaining his two patents, Jason R. Hopkins teamed up with a few investors and created the Auburndale Watch Company in the city of Weston, Massachusetts. The company was located across from home of its primary financial backer, William B. Fowle Jr who lived in the city of Auburndale.

Though the rotary design was intended to be more affordable, the company’s first product, the Auburndale Rotary, now considered an antique collector’s item, was not a success financially. This was due to complex mechanics within the pocket watches that caused several repair issues leading to the return of many watches. Piecing these products together required a very delicate process, feasible by only the most skilled workman; therefore, few pocket watches were actually able to be developed and the ones that were, were still incredibly expensive for their time.
In an attempt to recover from their early financial disaster, Auburndale built many watches of traditional design and succeeded in the creation of the Auburndale timer. Despite their best efforts, the company was not able to bounce back from its early financial conundrum and was forced to shut down merely seven years after opening its doors. Though the company and its pocket watches were not successful business wise, they served as a huge stepping stone for the creation of less expensive rotary watches to come in the future. In fact, Hopkins’ patent model is now at the US National Museum.

A closeup view of an 18 size 5 jewel 10 minute 1/4 seconds Auburndale Timer movement

A closeup view of an 18 size 5 jewel 10 minute 1/4 seconds Auburndale Timer dial

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Source: Heritage Pocket Watch

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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