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Watch Finisher

Andy Dervan

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Searching 1910 City of Manistee (MI) Directory I noted all city residents who were employed at Manistee Watch Company.

One person was listed as "finisher". It as small company and he was the only finisher listed

What did a watch "finisher" do?

Andy Dervan
 

Bila

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Interesting to see that only one finisher was listed in your source. During my research into the Manistee Watch Co I found they were advertising on a regular basis for "Watchmaker's and Finisher's".


H. W. Peterson was a "Watch Inspector" for both the Elgin and Illinois Watch Co's at one time and he was the foreman for the "Assembly and Finishing room" at the Manistee Factory, so very doubtful there was only one finisher, he struck out on his own as a Watchmaker/Jeweler after leaving the Manistee factory:???:
 
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Andy Dervan

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H.W. Peterson was not listed in 1910 Manistee City Directory working for Manistee Watch Co.

In 1910 Manistee City Directory - 14 Manistee residents were listed as "watchmkr" working at the factory.

Andy Dervan
 

Bila

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"In 1910 Manistee City Directory - 14 Manistee residents were listed as "watchmkr" working at the factory."
Do you not think that there might have been other Employee's at that time that might not have had a Manistee residential address, thus not in the Manistee City Directory?

In your post you noted all that worked at the Factory that were in the directory, how many Employees' did you find in that source? You state only one as a finisher and it was a small company, really, maybe not as small as you think employee wise, especially when you consider they had only been in existence for 2 years when compared to the start and Employee base that other Watch Company's had at the same time in their history.
 
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topspin

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Surely the finisher would either do the final polish or be the one who put it in the box?
Yup, that's what it should have been. If the watch still needs to have more skilled technical work done on it then to me, it is nowhere near finished.

Perhaps "Watch musterer" or "Watch agglomerator" would have been a more apt job title for the guy doing final assembly. I'll have to get in my time machine, go back to 1910, and write to them and suggest it ;-)
 
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PatH

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In a Factory setting, final assembly before going off to the adjusting and timing department.
I found an online source created by Jane Hewitt (Dictionary of Old Occupations) that includes "watch finisher: put together the various parts of the watch".

I think I recall reading a description of various watch factory departments/jobs in some of Hamilton's "Timely Topics" but I didn't note the references. Perhaps others who are familiar with these publications, or those of other American watch companies, could provide some insight?

Here are a couple of pictures of Waltham's finishing department. Finishing room, fine watch department
 

gmorse

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Hi Andy,

Here's an extract from Rees, (1819-20), describing the trades involved in making an English watch of the period. Bear in mind that there were no factories making watches at this time, at least not in the way we'd think of a factory now.

Regards,

Graham
 

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Andy Dervan

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Each company may interpret the term "finishing" differently.

Manistee only had 1 finisher, so he would have handled each watch doing something to it. Townsend claims Manistee made 100 watches per day, but I believe their output was significantly less than that probably closer to 50 watches a day. If he spent 8 - 10 minutes on each watch that would have kept him busy most of the day.

William Webster photographed the American Watch Co. factory in 1884 and 1893. In 1893, there were no assembly rooms identified, but there were 6 finishing rooms. Finishing rooms 1 & 2 were staffed with all women; rooms 3 & 4 were staffed with all men, and rooms 5 & 6 were roughly 50/50 men and women, so I wonder if there was some "finishing" job differentiation. It does not describe what was occurring in each room. Were men handling the more complex high jeweled watches and women the others or vice versa? It looks like "finishing" may involve movement assembly and the movement goes to someone else for additional work.

Curious.

Appreciate everyone's responses.... Andy
 

roughbarked

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I was told as an apprentice that women were preferred for these tasks because they generally had smaller hands and were more used to fine handiwork.
I would have been suprised if less women were used.
Though in the day, women generally didn't work in what were deemed as 'mens jobs'.
 
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PatH

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Much of the various watch company literature I've read also indicated that women's smaller hands were better suited for the work. I believe the high number of women employees at Elgin was mentioned during the recent Elgin presentation. Various period pictures and postcards that are labeled finishing room, as well as pictures in and around the factories, support this.
 

Andy Dervan

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Women were also paid a lot less,

Manistee Watch Col. had a lady "forewoman" - she must have supervised the women. I wish I could find more information about her....

Andy
 

Andy Dervan

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In 1909, factory work force was 63% women and that % dropped over time.

Andy Dervan
 

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