The Peoria Watch Co., a successor to the Fredonia Watch Co., began making watches in 1886. Production only lasted a few years, until about 1890.
Peoria Watch Co. - A Very Brief History
J.C. Adams, who had become involved the Independent Watch Co., reorganized as the Fredonia Watch Co., and moved the equipment to Peoria, IL in 1885. In the process of attracting new capital, it then became the Peoria Watch Co.
Perhaps one of the best known Peoria grades were the 18-size, 15-jewel, nickel, adjusted movements, marked "For Railway Service" and carrying dials having the same marking. These were also made in an earlier gilt movement, although their dials are believed to lack the "For Railway Service" marking.
A Santa Fe Standard Watch
Apparently, the AT&SF had designated a Peoria grade as a standard watch.
First, in April of the year 1887, "E.N.W." a correspondent for the Railway Conductor, reported that conductors and engineers on the AT&SF had to have their watches examined every 30 days and if they didn't meet the +/- 30 per week rate, the employes would have to "buy a new one of the Peoria Watch Co., Santa Fe Standard."
Then, a letter from "De Soto" appeared in the September of 1887 issue of the Locomotive Engineers' Monthly Journal, complaining about the cost (to the employes) of the Santa Fe's "Time Inspection Service". Towards the bottom of the right-hand column on page 665 of of that issue, "De Soto" states that you have to go at least twice a week to the watch inspector and if your watch fails to run within the required limit of two minutes per month (which is +/- 30 sec/week, thereabouts), "... you will be required to buy a 'Peoria Watch', which this company have adopted as a standard watch for their employes, ..."
A slightly more specific indication is a September 3, 1887 ad for Arthur Everitt of Albuquerque, NM, offering the: "New PEORIA anti-magnetic watch, the Standard Watch of the A.T. & S.F. Railroad."
It would be better to see some AT&SF documentation that in, or around, 1887 they declared the anti-magnetic Peoria to be their "Standard Watch". However, this is a pretty good indication that the watch shown here could have been a Santa Fe Standard Watch.
Non-Magnetic Watch Co.
Peoria is also known for furnishing 18-size watches to the Non-Magnetic Watch Co. These ranged from high-grade, 15-jewel, nickel, adjusted movements down to gilded movements having 11 jewels.
Books and back issues of the NAWCC Bulletin are available to members on loan by mail from the NAWCC Lending Library.
Serial Numbers and Descriptions of Fredonia and Peoria Watch Co. Movements, Greg Frauenhoff, Sedalia, CO, 2001.
Back issues of the NAWCC Bulletin are available online to NAWCC members who are currently logged in.
"The Peoria Watch Story Part 1 - Peoria No. 1," Eugene T. Fuller, NAWCC Bulletin No. 300, February, 1996, pp. 15-23.
"Peoria and Non-Magnetic or Who Got the Scrap Iron?," William Muir, NAWCC Bulletin No. 178, October, 1975, pp. 489-494.