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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
There was a time when watchmaking was an important and very large business here in America. These factories were tremendous and they employed thousands of skilled and non-skilled workers. I was stunned by just how big and ornate some of them actually were when I saw them, so I thought I would post a few pics of them here.

Feel free to add to these if you can -

The first is the Waltham plant -



This is the Elgin factory -



And the sad remains of one of the two old Benrus plants -





I'm not sure, but I don't think the Swiss factories are or were anywhere near the size of these. Is that true?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Lol! That was the first thing that entered my mind, when I saw that sign! I knew you'd want it :D
Yes, my wife would love to see that hanging on our bedroom wall overlooking my collection!:biggrin:

Here's a pic of another great ornate factory that played an important role in American clock and watchmaking, aptly named, the United States Watch Company located in New Jersey. I believe this company would become Timex eventually.

I love this period of architecture -


 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Is that Benrus factory in Ridgefield, CT?
There were two in Ct., I think one was in Waterbury and the other in Ridgefield and this is the one in Ridgefield.

Do you know the place?

I believe that Timex used this factory to manufacture their cases and then Benrus took it over at some period and used it as their case-making factory. Pretty interesting, eh?:thumbup1:
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
^And how could we forget the famous Hamilton factory! :cursing:^

Beautiful architecture on that place. I love that factory. It has to be one of the only original's still left standing. It's amazing they didn't take the wrecking ball to that place to.

That's a place that any true WIS would love to live!:D

Thanks for adding it to the list gator...:thumbup1:
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
This is a good thread :thumbup1: .. i like this very much.

Just being curious, if anybody can update me with any (more) watch factories that are still in operation in USA ?

many thanks
Pete J
Glad you like the thread Pete!:thumbup1:

To answer your question...none!:001_unsure::blushing:

There are actually a couple of small boutique watchmakers still here, but nothing that is nearly the size of what I've posted here. These factories were huge as you can see, and employed thousands of people and sold millions of watches.

If you go to the top of the American Watch Forum page, you'll see the banner for RGM watches, which is an American watchmaker trying to buck the trend. Gorgeous watches!
 

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No, but I grew up in Easton and Redding and will look for it next time I'm up there.

Speaking of dead factories, there used to be an old Walpole Fence Company factory on the border of Redding and maybe Ridgefield or Wilton. Was to the East of where Bob Sharp Motors (Datsun, then Nissan) is/was. One big scene from a Danny DeVito movie (Other People's Money?) was filmed there.

There's something about abandoned factories/hangars/military bases that fires up the photog in me.

There were two in Ct., I think one was in Waterbury and the other in Ridgefield and this is the one in Ridgefield.

Do you know the place?

I believe that Timex used this factory to manufacture their cases and then Benrus took it over at some period and used it as their case-making factory. Pretty interesting, eh?:thumbup1:
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Here is the Waterbury Clock Co. factory in...where else, Waterbury Ct.. It was a huge factory in it's day and at it's peak put out an astounding 20,000 clocks and watches per day! And it had 3000 employees! :001_wub:

This company was founded and it's factory built in the mid 1800's and built only clocks. They added pocket watches to its product line around 1890 and by 1915 Waterbury became the largest clockmaker on the American scene. The company also introduced the original Mickey Mouse wristwatch to America. But the Great Depression, combined with World War II, caused the company to be sold to investors from Norway (of all places!) who changed the name to United States Time Corporation who would later become the Timex brand of watches.





 

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The Illinois Watch Factory

Just like many of the other American Watch factories, The Illinois Watch Factory was a "HUGE" place.

(Friedberg)
The Illinois Watch Company in Springfield, Illinois employed about 1200 workers in 1927.

The factory was a small city in it's own right, and had such interesting things as it's own:
"Benefits" package (like a 401k)
Library
Newsletter
Nurse
Doctor
Mens AND Ladies bathrooms
Cafeteria that served food at COST to employees
Band and Glee Club
Baseball team

The company boasted that it made "Every effort to have
the interests of its employees at heart, as well as the
desire to produce the best quality product at the lowest cost"

The company estimated that it cost between
$50 to $200 dollars to train an employee
properly and they wanted to keep them!

SOME COOL PIX:


Aerial Shot


Parking lot runoff wasn't a problem when this photo
of the Illinois Watch Co. plant was taken around
the turn of the century. The lawns apparently came right
up to the building. At the earlier Springfield Watch Co.
the grass was kept short by sheep grazing around the building


This observatory was built near the Ninth St.-North
Grand Ave. intersection on the grounds of the Illinois Watch Co.
in Springfield to verify the accuracy of the railroad
timepieces that were the firm's specialty.


The Illinois Watch Co. boasted its own band,
that later became the Springfield Municipal Band.
A clock face adorns the bass drum.

(Pix/info: State of Illinois EPA)
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
One of the more interesting architectural marvels in the American watch industry was this Gruen HQ's, located in Cincinnati Ohio -



In 1917 the Gruen brothers built this new headquarter outside of Cincinnati, Ohio and named it Time Hill. The building was inspired by Medieval guild halls, and became an important symbol. “It has always been our aim,” Fred said, “… to foster those ideals of the ancient guilds, of quality and craftsmanship; to make useful things in a beautiful way, under ideal surroundings. We believe in applying art to industry as exemplified in all of our activities, from building a plant whose style of architecture suggests craftsmanship, to making the watches most beautiful, with greatest accuracy obtainable.”

Anybody know if this building still exists?:confused1:

Initially, Dietrich and Fred designed the watch movements in America and manufactured them in Germany. Later, they would build their own movement factory in Switzerland. Most Gruen watches have Gruen-made Swiss movements and were assembled and adjusted in the U.S. in American-made cases.

That's American in my book!:thumbup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
This Beauty of a building is still standing in Queens, NY...
Hey, I know somebody who lives in Queens:wink:

observer.com pic
Yeah, that would be me!:thumbup:

The old Bulova factory, although it is far to nice looking to call it a factory, is probably one of the prettiest of all the old factories. It is a gorgeous art deco building built with what looks to be real granite on the outside and the inside is almost all marble with a wonderful atrium, such was the fortune of the old watchmakers.

This was also the site of the Bulova School Of Watchmaking, which Joseph Bulova built to help returning service men find work after the war. He was especially helpful to the disabled vets and the school had amenities such as full cafeterias, kitchen facilities, dorms, a rec room, a gym and even a pool! So most of the Bulova watchmakers were returning vets.

This building is still in use today as a corporate center for Bulova and it is in very nice shape. It might be the last of the old "factories" still up and running at least in a small way like it once did. Bulova has some sales, personel and other staff offices there and the rest of the place is rented to various business's. It's a great place to visit and I think 007 has a bunch of great pics of the place he might be able to post.

I'm lucky enough to pass this building everyday on my way to work...:)
 

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The Dueber-Hampden Watch Company

In the never ending quest for ever more obscure American watch companies... Dad found this one hiding.:thumbup1:

The Dueber-Hampden Watch Company was an important employer in Canton, Ohio during the early 1920s.


**Employees in flat-steel division of the Dueber Hampden Watch Co.


The Dueber-Hampden Watch Company formally organized in 1923. Previous to this year, the firm actually consisted of two separate companies: the Dueber Watch Case Company and the Hampden Watch Company. In 1886, John Dueber, the owner of the Dueber Watch Case Company, purchased a controlling interest in the Hampden Watch Company. In 1888, he relocated the Hampden Watch Company from Springfield, Massachusetts and the Dueber Watch Case Company from Newport, Kentucky to Canton, Ohio. These two companies shared manufacturing facilities in Canton but remained two separate companies. The Dueber Watch Case Company provided casings to the Hampden Watch Company, which manufactured the internal workings of the watches.



The Dueber Watch Case Company and the Hampden Watch Company quickly became two of Canton's largest employers. In 1888, the companies' first year in Canton, the firms employed 2,300 Canton residents. In 1890, Canton's population was 26,337 people. Thanks to these two companies, Canton became an important center for watch manufacturing in the United States of America. Unfortunately for Canton residents, in 1930, the Dueber-Hampden Watch Company ceased operations in the city. The factory and all manufacturing equipment was sold to Armen Hammer, who moved the company to the Soviet Union (modern-day Russia) and established the Amtorg Watch Co. Several former employees of the Dueber-Hampden Watch Company traveled to the Soviet Union to train workers.






Source: Ohio Historical Society
 
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