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American Watch Case Co.

There were two watch case companies who used the name American Watch Case Co. (AWCCo.), one, a U.S. company operating in New York City which specialized in high grade solid gold cases. The second was the American Watch Case Co., Toronto, Ontario, Canada, which made a variety of case grades (see below).

The U.S. Company


Research by Jerry Treiman, whose post on the subject may be viewed under the Discussion tab above, shows that the American Watch Case Co., the U.S. firm having offices on Maiden Lane in New York, "... was founded in 1893. ... the New York factory was founded on 23rd St. in Manhattan by Henry Oppenheimer, a New York jeweler and watchmaker." This company seemed to only make solid gold 14K and 18K cases, an example of which (along with the U.S. company's distinctive trade mark) can be seen in an 1908 ad. It should be noted that the term "English" as used in the ad refers to the style, not the origin nor the type of movement it would accept. Interestingly, the company advertised the availability of half-hunter (demi-hunter) cases, a style not often promoted.


The company sold directly to retailers, sending samples upon request. This entailed some cost is shipping the samples, but more importantly, quite a bit of risk.


The New York company's address of their sales office is listed originally on John Street and later on Maiden Lane, both in New York City. A 1908 ad serves as an example.

The Canadian Company


Jerry Treiman also reported that the "... Canadian company was organized in 1885 and the factory on King St. (Toronto) dates from 1893 ..." When bids for the King St. factory were called for in March 1893 it was to be a five story building. When the firm moved into the bulding however, it was reported to be only four stories and that is what is shown in the image on this Cashier case paper (posted by onsite).

Robert Sweet reported in a message board thread that his research showed "... the Keystone Watch Case Co. in 1903 purchased 851 shares or 42% of the 2000 shares of capital stock of the American Watch Case Co of Toronto, Canada. The rest of the stock was held largely in the interest of the Elgin and Waltham companies." This is consistent with a May 26, 1903 report. A July 1900 ad shows that the American Watch Case Co., Toronto, used a Maltese cross trade mark on gold and silver cases and a winged wheel for gold-filled cases. However, there appear to be exceptions to this and the Maltese cross has been used in conjunction with Fortune and Cashier gold-filled cases and the winged wheel trade mark has been used on solid gold cases. As Jerry Treiman pointed out in a Message Board post (24-Oct-11), the winged wheel trade mark seems to have been inherited from the Philadelphia Watch Case Co., a company owned by Keystone (which, as mentioned above, owned a large percentage of the Canadian AWWCo.).

It seems that there was some sort of transition from the Canadian AWWCo. to Sturdy during or after the Great Depression. Whether this was just a name change, a merger or a buy-out is unclear. However, it is known that the AWWCo. vacated their King St., Toronto premises in 1939.

Canadian AWCCo Case Grades

Some of the American Watch Case Co. case grades are

Case GradeCase Material
18K w/ Winged-Wheel & Maltese Cross Trade Mark (Courtesy of Jerry Treiman)18K Solid Gold case
14K w/ Winged-Wheel Trade Mark (Courtesy of CurtisH)14K Solid Gold case
Lion10K Solid Gold case
Premier21-year, later 25-year 14K Gold-Filled case w/ solid gold bow.
Cashier (courtesy of MartyR)25-year, 14K Gold-Filled case, but at one point, 21-year guarantee (posted by onsite).
Fortune20-year, 10K Gold-Filled case
Empress w/ Crown Trade MarkGold-Filled case, guaranteed for 10 years if so marked (courtesy of Bossman)
Sterling w/Maltese Cross or Winged Wheel (courtesy of Hedgehog) Trade MarkSterling silver
Excelsior w/ Horseshoe Trade MarkCoin silver
Nevada w/ "Maltese Cross" Trade MarkCoin silver, 2 oz case.
Coin w/"Maltese Cross" Trade Mark (Courtesy of GordianCoin silver), may have Albata cap
N.P. w/ "Maltese Cross" Trade MarkCoin silver and Albata cap
Nickel SilverNickel case
SilveroidNickel case

See the Case Material Wiki article for an explanation of the terms "Gold-Filled."

Sturdy Case Grades

Post-WWII watches have been seen in Sturdy-marked cases bearing the names:

Case GradeCase Material
FortuneGold-Filled case
EmpressGold-Filled, or Rolled Gold Plate case
DerbyRolled Gold Plate - the Derby grade name was used earlier by the Montreal Watch Case Co. - MWCCo (posted by kurky333) - to designate a Rolled Gold Plate case.
Nickel SilverNickel case

See the Case Material Wiki article for an explanation of the terms "Gold-Filled" and "Rolled Gold Plate."

An example of the difference in value between the Fortune and Empress grades can be seen in the prices of the Waltham Vanguard watch in either of those cases in a 1953 T. Eaton Catalog.

References

A few of both the American and Canadian American Watch Case Co. trade marks (but not all) may be seen on page 111 of the book Trade Marks Of The Jewelry And Kindred Trades, Second Edition, Jewelers' Circular Publishing Co., NY, 1904 (found online by Askbart). Philadelphia Watch Case Co.'s winged wheel trade mark is shown on page 121.

Lorne Wasylishen's excellent blog, "The American Watch Case Company of Toronto" has the company's history and a detailed analysis of their case grades.

Descriptive catalog sheets of cases offered by the American Watch Case Co., Toronto may be seen in the Goldsmiths' Catalogs.
Categories: Category Watch case makers

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Current Discussion: Main discussion

  1. jerry treiman

    jerry treiman Registered User
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    Aug 25, 2000
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    I would like to offer, from my own research, some comments bearing on the question of whether there was only one company or two (an American company in New York and a Canadian company in Toronto). The Canadian company was organized in 1885 and the factory on King St. (Toronto) dates from 1893 (ref: Ontario Bureau of Industries). According to Niebling the American Watch Case Co. of New York City, was founded in 1893. Is it just coincidence that this is the same date as the founding of the King St. factory in Toronto? Another source (on-line genealogical site) indicated that the New York factory was founded on 23rd St. in Manhattan by Henry Oppenheimer, a New York jeweler and watchmaker. This is the strongest evidence thus far that the New York operation was a separate company and not just a sales office for the Toronto firm. Perhaps there are some trade notices from 1893 that might verify this.
     
  2. kent

    kent Registered User
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    Jerry:

    They may have been two separate companies. I don't recall seeing the A.W.C.Co. trade mark (shown in this 1908 Ad) on cases bearing the Fortune, Empress or Cashier names. On the other hand, that trade mark could have been reserved for the solid gold cases.
     
  3. jerry treiman

    jerry treiman Registered User
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    Kent - I generally associate the trademark from the 1908 ad with the New York company. Attached is a trademark from the Toronto company from around 1908. I have another similar example from a few years later in 14K. The mark on the cuvette is a simple karat mark in a shield similar to the American mark, but the shield is not incuse.
     
  4. dunrobin

    dunrobin New Member

    Jul 23, 2009
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    Hello. I am new to this and was researching a piece of equipment I have recently purchased that had the abbreviations on it A.W.C. Co with the numbers under it 111 on a brass plate. I have an American Watch Case Company lathe used for machining the watch cases. It is in good shape for it's age and is mostly original. I am not sure of it's age but It is older than 1920 for sure. I am looking for pictures of one when it was new or pamphlets on it so I can machine the missing pieces etc. Does anyone have any information on the machinery used in the factory? I will post a picture of it is anyone is interested.
    I like learning new things all the time.

    :rolleyes:
     
  5. kent

    kent Registered User
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  6. kent

    kent Registered User
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  7. kent

    kent Registered User
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  8. kent

    kent Registered User
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  9. kent

    kent Registered User
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  10. kent

    kent Registered User
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  11. kent

    kent Registered User
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    AWCCo Toronto Trade Marks
     
  12. richard beauchamp

    richard beauchamp Registered User

    May 10, 2010
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    Kingston, ON
    For a glimpse into the "nefarious" goings-on in the Canadian Jewelry trade in the 1890s, including questionable gold content and the veracity of A.W.C. Co. Waltham-style watch cases, check out the article entitled "How The publlc Are Being Swindled" at www.archive.org/stream/cihm_08454/cihm_08454_djvu.txt.

    Richard
     
  13. kent

    kent Registered User
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    Moving material to the NAWCC Message Board
     
  14. kent

    kent Registered User
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    Adding Material
     
  15. kent

    kent Registered User
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