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The Dueber-Hampden picture is quite amazing. :thumbup1: Funny thing with all those straps at the ceiling. It think that it was a bit loud in there but it looks much more interesting compared to modern factory buildings with their sterile looking workstations.
Thinking of the chemical industry where I am working its all the more a complete difference. They just look like some control room of the NASA or maybe a military nuclear bunker from an old cold war scenario with their many computer places and a handfull people in there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
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.

That is just an iconic scene from the days of our industrial might. People toiling away building products with genuine quality! No throw-away items like we buy today, these products were made to last and each had an importance in our lives, unlike the disposable, cheaply made items these days. I know I say it often, but it saddens me to see that it's all gone, that every single watch factory in this thread is gone! How did it happen and why did we let it happen?:crying:

That picture reminds me alot of the famous one of the ironworkers building the Empire State Building, sitting on a beam about 80 stories high eating lunch! That's a real classic...:thumbup1:
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
I found a picture of a second Bulova factory that I didn't even know existed. It's on the east end of Long Island NY in a quaint town called Sag Harbor. This building was where Bulova built their watch cases.

It still exists and it is the biggest building in Sag Harbor. It's presently being renovated into condo's. Anyone WIS's interested?:D

 

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Isn't Ball an American watch? Or do you consider them boutique?

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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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
Isn't Ball an American watch? Or do you consider them boutique?
Ball was an American watch at one time, but no more.

Ball was very important in horological history because he basically timed the railroads. He took movements from all of the best makers of the day, Hamilton, Elgin, Waltham and others, and then modified them to his exact standards so trains could run on time, on schedule and most important, safely. During WW2 and after, he used Swiss movements.

Ball, as far as I know, never actually was a watchmaker per-say. I don't think he had a factory or produced his own watches, he just used other movements, cases, hands and dials and badged them as Ball watches.

Ball are now completely Swiss made. I believe they are part of the Swatch Group.

Anyone have further info?
 

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BALL WATCH COMPANY
The Ball Watch Co., founded in 1891 by Webster C. Ball,


has an extremely unique story behind its birth. Webb C. Ball, of Cleveland, Ohio, was the General Time Inspector for more than 125,000 miles of railroad in the United States, Canada and Mexico, A collision of two Lake Shore and Michigan Southern trains at Kipton, Ohio. The Fast Mail train was traveling West on the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad in Kipton, Ohio on April 19, 1891. Twenty five miles from Cleveland, at Elryia, another train, called the Accomodation, was given orders to let the Fast Mail pass it at Kipton. The conductor of the Accomodation never took his watch out of his pocket. He later stated that he thought the engineer was watching out for the station and timing when to stop to let the Fast Mail pass. However, the engineer's watch stopped for nearly five minutes and then started back up again. The engineer kept along thinking he had time to spare. Leaving Oberlin, the Accomodation thought it had seven minutes to reach the meeting point, but actually had around four. The two trains collided at Kipton with the Accomodation braking and the Fast Mail still traveling at speed, thinking the Accomodation had detoured for the scheduled passing. Engineers on both trains were killed, along with several others.
This crash resulted in the commissioning of Mr. Ball by the railroad officials to establish the time inspection system. Mr. Ball realized the key to the safe operations of the railroads was the manufacture of a standard watch that was sturdy enough to withstand the hard usage of railroad service and be an accurate time keeper. The first watch made for Ball and Company was an 18-size 3/4 plate by E. Howard. In 1893, the Hamilton Watch Company manufactured for the Ball Watch Company a 16-size to Mr. Ball's specifications. This was followed by a 16-size made by the Waltham Watch Company and afterwards by an 18-size made by the Elgin National Watch Company.
A minimum of 17 jewels were specified Adjustments to temperature and 5 positions were required. The 5 positions of adjustment were dial-up, dial-down, pendant up, 9-up and 3-up. Later a sixth position was added, pendant down. The watch had to be accurate in temperatures from 30 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Ball watches were required to be lever-set, as a pendant set watch could pull out in the pocket and change the time. A clear white dial was specified with Arabic numerals and 5-minute markers. Railroad watches were required to be inspected by a time inspector every two weeks and a tolerance of 30 seconds plus or minus, for the period was required. Webb C. Ball, was instrumental in the formation of the Horological Institute of America organized in 1921.

By UrbaneWatchReview
 

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Now that we opened a can of worms on railroad watches, let's see who has what.
I'm sure my friend RJ007 has a Bunn Rairoad watch to show us, since it was made by the Illinois Watch Company.
 

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Bunn

This is what makes the American Watch Forum so interesting. Here RJ007 is showing us the Bunn Railroad watch as part of the watch ads of the times This and the Ball Railroad Watch were so important for safe rail travel. Then we switch over to his thread on the Skyway watches and we see how the focus was switching to air travel in response to Lindburgh's flight across the Atlantic. The tide was turning and the watch manufacturers were gearing up for a whole new audience.
This was American Capitalism at it's best. Where has the Spirit of America gone?:mad:
 

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Where has the Spirit of America gone?:mad:
literally: It's in the Smithsonian I believe. :wink:

figuratively: Don't get me started on the lack of skilled labor and the diminishing drive to create & manufacture domestic product. :cursing: It's all about the quick buck now, and if that means selling to foreign interest that's not an issue anymore.
 

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This is what makes the American Watch Forum so interesting. Here RJ007 is showing us the Bunn Railroad watch as part of the watch ads of the times This and the Ball Railroad Watch were so important for safe rail travel. Then we switch over to his thread on the Skyway watches and we see how the focus was switching to air travel in response to Lindburgh's flight across the Atlantic. The tide was turning and the watch manufacturers were gearing up for a whole new audience.
This was American Capitalism at it's best. Where has the Spirit of America gone?:mad:
Jim (Hamx) and I talk about this all the time. One of the main themes of this American Forum was to show the best of America past and today... You see a great little company like RGM that is reminiscent of the past, but on a very small scale and you think, "Where are the other RGM's?" Why are so many watches NOT made here anymore, to see the old factories empty or gone is sad... We made the BEST watches ever! IMO.
 

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The current Ball Co. is not a part of Swatch. I believe it is owned by Jeff Hess and perhaps some others. Mr. Hess has co-authored books on Rolex, has a watch business in Florida and is very active in the NAWCC. He also has a ton of Ball material.

A comment on the demise of manufacturing in the US. We collectors of American watches like them for many reasons, one of which is, that if properly maintained they will last for centuries. The problem with such products is that after a while you get market saturation, you can only sell so many before sales start going down. That happened to the US watch industry early in the 20th century and add to that competition from dollar watches and the Swiss and you've got trouble. By 1930 only Elgin, Waltham and Hamilton were left. Early industrial products such as firearms, clocks, watches and sewing machines all had similar problems. That's why business chases cheap labor and promotes creeping obsolescence. The electronics industry is the best example. Also folks forget that this country was in an
unusual situation after 1945, we were king of the hill with little or no competition, a situation that could not go on forever and certainly changed for the worse as the Germans and Japanese recovered. We also developed a fly in the ointment, to be polite, the MBA. Sorry if I've offended anyone but I feel that instead of adding lubricant to the system they've added sand.
 

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Well Spoken

The current Ball Co. is not a part of Swatch. I believe it is owned by Jeff Hess and perhaps some others. Mr. Hess has co-authored books on Rolex, has a watch business in Florida and is very active in the NAWCC. He also has a ton of Ball material.

A comment on the demise of manufacturing in the US. We collectors of American watches like them for many reasons, one of which is, that if properly maintained they will last for centuries. The problem with such products is that after a while you get market saturation, you can only sell so many before sales start going down. That happened to the US watch industry early in the 20th century and add to that competition from dollar watches and the Swiss and you've got trouble. By 1930 only Elgin, Waltham and Hamilton were left. Early industrial products such as firearms, clocks, watches and sewing machines all had similar problems. That's why business chases cheap labor and promotes creeping obsolescence. The electronics industry is the best example. Also folks forget that this country was in an
unusual situation after 1945, we were king of the hill with little or no competition, a situation that could not go on forever and certainly changed for the worse as the Germans and Japanese recovered. We also developed a fly in the ointment, to be polite, the MBA. Sorry if I've offended anyone but I feel that instead of adding lubricant to the system they've added sand.
I was telling my son the other day that a wristwatch was a very big deal years ago. Many couldn't afford one and relied on the clock tower or the church bells, or the factory whistle to tell the time of day. He who was able to afford the $45 for a watch purchased it for a lifetime. As a gift, the watch was reserved for the lucky graduate or for 25 years of service to a company.
To have more than one watch would have been a rarity.

Similarly, I remember my grandfather with his orange and black fountain pen. He probably had and used that most of his working life, as it was an important tool in the era pre email and computers. If you wore out the nib (point) you took the pen and had the nib replaced. It took BIC to make pens a throw away item.

Today we live in a disposable society and preach recycling. Years ago, we bought things to last a lifetime and passed them on to the next generation to use for another lifetime. The watches we collect and cherish will last as long as people respect their heritage.:sad:
 

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Discussion Starter · #34 ·
I was telling my son the other day that a wristwatch was a very big deal years ago. Many couldn't afford one and relied on the clock tower or the church bells, or the factory whistle to tell the time of day. He who was able to afford the $45 for a watch purchased it for a lifetime. As a gift, the watch was reserved for the lucky graduate or for 25 years of service to a company.
To have more than one watch would have been a rarity.

Similarly, I remember my grandfather with his orange and black fountain pen. He probably had and used that most of his working life, as it was an important tool in the era pre email and computers. If you wore out the nib (point) you took the pen and had the nib replaced. It took BIC to make pens a throw away item.

Today we live in a disposable society and preach recycling. Years ago, we bought things to last a lifetime and passed them on to the next generation to use for another lifetime. The watches we collect and cherish will last as long as people respect their heritage.:sad:
Well said AJ.:thumbup1:

My first good watch as a young man was a Benrus and I remember it was very expensive for the time and my parents really debated whether they could stretch the budget to get it for me. Well, they did and I certainly appreciated it, because as you say, it was my one and only watch that was meant to last. It was and important and meaningful purchase that took alot of thought on my parents part. How many thing's in our lives can we say that about these days?

Anyway, many years past and I never heard the name Benrus again, until I found this forum and it was like a rebirth hearing that great name again. So began my Benrus addiction....:001_unsure:
 

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Westclock

I found some wonderful information on this once Great company on a site called clockhistory.com, here are some excerpts and wonderful photos.
( Northern Illinois University Archives, Stoddard photos, 1992)






1884
Stahlberg and others arrived in Peru, Illinois from Waterbury, Connecticut to make clocks based on Stahlberg’s idea. Small factory established in back of Brylski’s Department Store. First produced 1 clock per day, then 3 or 4 per day, gradually increasing. Started with 8 people.



Western Clock Manufacturing company made their first pocket watches in 1899. Early models include The American and the Boyproof. Pocket Ben was first made about 1919 and first advertised in 1921. Glo-Ben, the luminous version of Pocket Ben, was introduced in 1919 and renamed Pocket Ben Luminous in 1927

1901
Production capacity 1,000,000 alarm clocks per year (500,000 units actual production). 285 employees.



1914
3.5 million Big Ben alarms sold to date (according to March 21, 1914 Saturday Evening Post ad - figure doesn't agree with Westclox sales data ). Advertising manager Gaston LeRoy died in battle in France.



1929
3058 employees (peak number of employees before depression)

1941
3700 Employees.

1942
All non-war production ceased July 31.

1956
More than 4,000 employees produced 40,000 timepieces/day. More than 40 million Big Bens and 28 million Baby Bens had been produced to date. Style 7 Big Ben and Baby Ben introduced. New Big Ben single key wind movement.

2001 Style 10 Big Ben and Baby Ben introduced. Reproduction Moonbeam introduced.
June: General Time Corporation announced it was closing its entire operation. Facilities in the United States were the headquarters in Norcross, Georgia and the factory in Athens, Georgia. The distribution centers in the United Kingdom, Canada, and Hong Kong were closed as well.

2007 On July 18, 2007 Salton, Inc. ("Seller") and NYL Holdings LLC ("Buyer") entered into an Asset Purchase Agreement as amended on August 23, 2007 ("Agreement"). The terms of the Agreement provided for Buyer to purchase Seller's clock inventory and certain time products related trademarks and tooling and molds. The closing occurred in October 2007, when all inventory was transferred to Buyer.

Another Tragic sight just sitting and rusting in Peru, Illinois:crying:



 

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Discussion Starter · #36 ·
I found some wonderful information on this once Great company on a site called clockhistory.com, here are some excerpts and wonderful photos.
( Northern Illinois University Archives, Stoddard photos, 1992)








Another Tragic sight just sitting and rusting in Peru, Illinois:crying:



Yikes, that is pretty sad....

Every American from the baby-boomer generation is familiar with this company. I mean who didn't wake up to a Baby Ben or Big Ben Alarm clock? And who didn't have a Westclox hanging in their kitchen? They were truly an American icon.:sleep:

Those last two sad pictures remind me of the old and abandoned Benrus factory wasting away in Waterbury CT. Shameful...
:001_unsure:
 

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This is a quote from The History of the Gruen watch Co by pixlep.com
After Gruen's watch business was sold and left Cincinnati, Time Hill was occupied by a calendar company. The interior was extensively modified. The magnificent lobby, with a 20-foot (7 meter) ceiling, huge fireplace, tile floors and very large, unusual chandeliers, was stripped, chopped into two stories and turned into offices. During the 1990s the building was housed an insurance company, and today is owned by the Union Institute, an adult-education school.
There is also talk that the building is beening restored
 
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