I believe that chromium plating as a commercially viable alternative to nickel plating came along in the 1920's.The Model T Fords used nickel plate and the later Model A's used chrome. I don't know more specific dates but I hope this helps a little.
According to the judging rules for the Auburn, Cord Duesenberg Club; either nickle or chrome is correct for '29 and '30 model cars, but all details must be of the same alloy on a particular car.
An old employee of the company told a group of collectors some years ago that they got paid only if they worked. So if you didn't have work in your department you went to the plating department and plated anything you could get your hands on just to be able to work and be paid. This being the situtation, produced a lot of chrome plated parts that would have otherwise been left as nickle.
Chrome parts are not accepted on cars before 1929 as far as the ACD club is concerned.
Hope this sheds a little more light on the subject.
In keeping with the theme of "clocks", were not some of the "Fancy" calendar clocks of the 1890's by Ithica & Seth Thomas with "chorme" plated movements and "see-thru" glass with silver
paint decorations ??
The advent of chrome plating is a benchmark in dating clocks, all the shiny silver color ones before its introduction were either silver or nickel plated, with nickel being widely used since it was cheaper than silver and does not tarnixh very quickly.
Chrome plating appears to have been successfully used in 1926 on some small appliances, but general application did not follow until the late 1920's as noted for the ACD cars. Some GM models evidently had chrome fittings as early as 1927.
The first clocks known to be chrome plated were made by Kieninger & Obergfell (Kundo) in 1928, with Jarhresuhren-Fabrik (Schatz), Junghans, Kienzle, and others shortly after. From about 1929, chrome was really in vogue for Art Deco design and thousands of articles were chromed.
Chrome plating of steel first requires a layer of copper, then nickel, and finally chromium. Brass requires only the nickel and then chromium. The chrome layer is quite thin since it is brittle.
Early clocks (before 1927) such as the Ithaca's and Seth Thomas were nickel plated.
I tried without success to find the direct answer to this question when it first appeared. I have found a link for the history of chromium.
I think the invention of chrome plating must have been pretty gradual. Early nickel watches were first plated over brass, then solid nickel and finally at their peak bright nickel plated over nickel. The bright nickel plating is not as hard as chromium, but is nearly as bright. The Auburndale rotary watch appears to be chrome plated, but I am not certain that it is.
My great grandfather George Suman invented Chrome Plating in his garage. He worked for General Motors, and brought his invention to work to use on car bumpers. He did not get credit for the patent but does have a commemorative plaque in his name in Dayton, OH GM offices.