United States Watch Co., Waltham, Mass

The United States Watch Co. of Waltham was formed in 1885. It grew out of an investment made by the principles of the Waltham Watch Tool Co., Charles V. Woerd and the Nutting brothers. The firm was purchased by the Philadelphia Watch Case Co. in 1901.


United States Watch Company of Waltham: The Beginning

The following is based upon information in the December 1999 issue of the NAWCC Bulletin, which in itself draws upon other sources:
The United States Watch Company of Waltham, hereafter referred to simply as USWC, began on the basis of the existing watch industry in Waltham, MA. The first of the principles was Charles V. Woerd, formerly the Superintendent of the American Waltham Watch Co. In 1882, he joined the Nutting brothers, owners of a small watch machinery and tool company on Crescent St. in Waltham, Massachusetts. Together, they created the Waltham Watch Tool Co. After several years, Woerd won over his partners to the idea of expanding the operation and concentrating on watch making. E.C. Hammer supplied the financing and the United States Watch Co. of Waltham, hereafter referred to simply as USWC, was formed in 1885 (listed as 1884 in some references, but a copy of the incorporation documentation, reported by Andy Dervan, states February, 1885). A Boston businessman, T. B. Eaton, became a stockholder and was elected President of the company while Mr. Hammer became the Treasurer.

United States Watch Company of Waltham: A Short History

A new factory was built, with a planned capacity of 50 watches per day. "The directors attempted to name the company the 'Waltham Watch Company' but because of objections by the American Watch Company, use of the name Waltham was prevented. Some time after the United States Watch Co. (USWC) had been established, in November 1898, Waltham brought a suit against the company over the use of "Waltham" on the dials and movements. The judge's decision was handed down on December 2. This, in turn, led to an 1899 injunction, the result of which was that the USWC had to add the phrase, 'A New Watch Company at Waltham' to its movements and, possibly, to its advertising." Production continued until USWC ceased operations just after the turn of the century. In the Spring of 1901, USWC was purchased by the Philadelphia Watch Case Co. During its period of operation, watches were built having serial numbers up to approximately 890,000. However, its believed that quite a bit fewer watch movements, approximately 400,000, were actually produced.

In 1901, the U.S. Watch Co. at Waltham was purchased by the Philadelphia Watch Case Co., which was already controlled by the Keystone Watch Case Co. This firm then merged with others in 1904, with the Keystone name prevailing.

"After Keystone purchased U.S. Watch Co. they decided to put "New York U.S.A." on movements to avoid using name "Waltham". Beginning about serial number 770,000 have the name change."
Andy Dervan, NAWCC Message Board Post, 21-Dec-09

Thus, Keystone gained control of the plant and used it to begin making their “E. Howard Watch Co.” brand of watch by 1905. U.S. Watch Co. production had ceased by then.


The Dome Model

'When Charles Vander Woerd left Waltham in the early 1880's he was a principal in the U. S. Watch Tool Co. for a short time and then persuaded the other investors to form the U. S. Watch Co.
'The "dome model" ... is the unique watch he designed as that company's first offering. The hole in the plate is part of the mechanism. One drops a pin in the hole to secure the stem so that the upper stem assembly can be unscrewed and the watch disassembled.
'The watch uses Woerd's square roller jewel with two round engaging fingers on the fork. He applied for and received a patent on the design while working for the U. S. Watch Co. even though the design had been used on 1872 model Waltham watches for several years before.
'The dome in the center requires a non-standard case and the overall watch was not popular with watchmakers and jewelers. It cannot be cased in a normal 16 size case.
'Most Waltham collectors feel the need to have one of these in their collection as an example of C. V. Woerd's worst idea ever. The design was scrapped very soon and Woerd did not stay around long either.
Tom McIntyre Message Board Post, 1-Aug-09

See this 15-Sep-12 Message Board Post for an example.

Railroad Standard Watches

USWC built a number of watch size 18 grades that, being suitable for railroad time service, were accepted for use as a railroad watch. As early as 1889 USWC was using testimonials from railroad officials in its ads. These ads emphasized "Waltham" more than USWC. The grades No. 79 and No. 80, having 17 jewels, fitted with a patent regulator and having an adjustment to heat, cold and positions, would have been accepted for use on just about any railroad in the U.S., and probably Canada. However, the USWC grade most heavily promoted for this service was their "The President" grade. This lever-set movement, "adjusted to heat, cold, isochronism and all positions, ..." made in both hunting-case and open-face versions, was made primarily as a 17-jewel watch. Some open-face "The President" movements remaining in inventory until the industry trend went to 21-jewel railroad standard watches, were up-jeweled to 21-jewel to encourage their sales.

References


Online

Illustrations and descriptions of some USWC movements may be seen in an 1895 Ad.

Movement descriptions, cuts and prices may be seen on pages 7 & 8 of the 1896 A.C. Becken Jewelers' Wholesale Price List.

Post on the NAWCC American Pocket Watch Message Board by Andy Dervan, 20-Dec-09 describing the names and markings.

Post on the NAWCC American Pocket Watch Message Board by StanJS, 1-Oct-06 regarding "The President" grade.


The following books and NAWCC Bulletin or Watch & Clock Bulletin back issues containing the articles, listed below are available to members on loan by mail from the NAWCC Lending Library. Also, all of the NAWCC Bulletin or Watch & Clock Bulletin back issues are available online to NAWCC members who are logged in at the NAWCC website.

Books

Illustrations and descriptions of a number of USWC movements, and material, may be seen in History and Products of the United States Watch Company Waltham, Mass., Greg Frauenhoff, Sedalia, CO, 2003.

The Complete History of Watch Making in America - Reprinted from the Jewelers' Circular and Horological Review 1885-1887, Charles S. Crossman, Adams Brown Co., Exeter, NH, undated, but probably late 1980's, pp. 182-186.

Articles

"United States Watch Company (Waltham, MA) History and Watch Production," Andrew H. Dervan, NAWCC Bulletin No. 370, October 2007, pp. 554-563.

"A Detailed Examination of U.S. Watch Co.’s Production," Andrew H. Dervan, Watch & Clock Bulletin, No. 447 (September/October 2020), pages 361-371.

"Railroaders' Corner - The President," Ed Ueberall and Kent Singer, NAWCC Bulletin No. 323, December 1999, pp. 817-821.

This page has been seen 13,170 times.

Know Your NAWCC Forums Rules!
RULES & GUIDELINES

Find member

Recent Activity

Icon Legend

  • Normal page
  • Color code

    • Content has new updates
    • Content has no updates

Share This Page

Readability Information

An automated review of this page attempts to determine its readability in English (US). The page contains roughly 144 words across 7 sentences.
Readability score
37.90
Readability score: 37.90
Grade level
13.1
For the information in this page to be accessible to the widest audience of readers, both a high readability score and a low grade level are ideal.

Staff online

Forum statistics

Threads
177,678
Messages
1,557,249
Members
53,645
Latest member
lucymine840
Encyclopedia Pages
909
Total wiki contributions
3,058
Last edit
Watch Inspectors by Kent