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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:


I never read this GREAT thread until today. Did you ever locate another example of your first Benrus? What model was it??
 

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Sigh....

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:
While I did not grow up here, I live near Detroit. Sadly, there are important old building JUST like these all over the southeastern Michigan area. There are too many old factories and warehouses to even know what they were in their prime. One of the largest is now called the Russell Industrial Center (RIC) -- it was designed around 1915 by Albert Kahn as one of the largest factories in the world covering a few million square feet. It was very close the the Grand Trunk Railroad Line - another famous old Detroit building designed by Kahn. (Grand Trunk was later used as a Hudson's warehouse in the 1970s.) In the beginning it included a carriage/coach manufacturing business (Murray) who eventially made car bodies for Ford, Packard, Studebaker, Chrysler, GM, and others. Murray was known as the "Dean" of stampmakers and eventually made stamps for most of the auto-related business in the US. Later the RIC produced B1s and B17s during WWII. After the war the RIC was the home of Michigan Stamping and then later became home to about 150 printers -- making Detroit one of the largest printing areas in the US in the 1960s. By 1970 it was purchased by Leona Helmsley. About then most people were leaving the city, so the RIC and the entire area became blighted. When I moved here in the late 80s it was basically empty. Soon an industrious bunch set up an urban-warfare-like (Mad Max-ish) paintball facility inside -- there were massive water leaks and big hole in some floors, so you could literally shoot down 2-3 floors at your friends as a sniper... just what Detroit needed, LOL. A few years ago a group of artists slowly started to reclaim portions of the RIC for studios and urban lofts. These days on most weekends there are art exhibits with artists selling industrial-looking jewelry and urban chic wear. Of the 2.2 millions square feet about 1/3 is currently being used... but I sure would not want to be there at night! Sadly, there are likely a few dozen other similar old buildings, most smaller but not all, which are all over Detroit. Most have remain empty and rotting for 30 years....
 

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Discussion Starter · #50 ·
I never read this GREAT thread until today. Did you ever locate another example of your first Benrus? What model was it??
Thanks!

No, I never did find that exact watch again. I do have something that was pretty similar though. It's a pretty basic 17 jewel from the sixties, 34mm, SS case, but it does have a red second hand which makes it standout.
 

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Discussion Starter · #51 ·
While I did not grow up here, I live near Detroit. Sadly, there are important old building JUST like these all over the southeastern Michigan area. There are too many old factories and warehouses to even know what they were in their prime. One of the largest is now called the Russell Industrial Center (RIC) -- it was designed around 1915 by Albert Kahn as one of the largest factories in the world covering a few million square feet. It was very close the the Grand Trunk Railroad Line - another famous old Detroit building designed by Kahn. (Grand Trunk was later used as a Hudson's warehouse in the 1970s.) In the beginning it included a carriage/coach manufacturing business (Murray) who eventially made car bodies for Ford, Packard, Studebaker, Chrysler, GM, and others. Murray was known as the "Dean" of stampmakers and eventually made stamps for most of the auto-related business in the US. Later the RIC produced B1s and B17s during WWII. After the war the RIC was the home of Michigan Stamping and then later became home to about 150 printers -- making Detroit one of the largest printing areas in the US in the 1960s. By 1970 it was purchased by Leona Helmsley. About then most people were leaving the city, so the RIC and the entire area became blighted. When I moved here in the late 80s it was basically empty. Soon an industrious bunch set up an urban-warfare-like (Mad Max-ish) paintball facility inside -- there were massive water leaks and big hole in some floors, so you could literally shoot down 2-3 floors at your friends as a sniper... just what Detroit needed, LOL. A few years ago a group of artists slowly started to reclaim portions of the RIC for studios and urban lofts. These days on most weekends there are art exhibits with artists selling industrial-looking jewelry and urban chic wear. Of the 2.2 millions square feet about 1/3 is currently being used... but I sure would not want to be there at night! Sadly, there are likely a few dozen other similar old buildings, most smaller but not all, which are all over Detroit. Most have remain empty and rotting for 30 years....
It's pretty much the same here in NYC.

There are so many buildings like the one you posted in this city, especially in Brooklyn and Queens, but they are nearly all vacant, or now used for office space or have been renovated into condo's. It's pretty sad when you look at them and know that they once made anything and everything we all used at one time and they employed ten of thousands of decently paid workers. Heck, we used to have 60 beer breweries in Brooklyn alone! Now New York City is a one trick town, Wall St., and we going to wither away because we no longer have the manufacturing base here to back-up that ailing industry. Wall St. goes, so does NYC, kind of like Detroit and the car industry.

Ah, NAFTA, you gotta love it!:001_unsure:
 

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I live about a mile from the Waltham Watch Company building. The place is pretty much run down and getting more run down by the day. Pretty sad.

We pretty much know why the American watch business died--and for that matter most businesses that produced goods. Labor costs, which are the bulk of most every product, are higher in the United States than in most countries, especially China. The other factor is the American public. People who shop at Wal-Mart and other such places, many who are members of the Tea Party, are to blame as well. We squawk about losing jobs to China yet we would rather save a few bucks and keep the Chinese in business rather than spend a few bucks more and keep Americans in business. I think we could get a lot of businesses going again if Americans decided to buy American and not Chinese. Sadly though we do not--and to boot, we are sending money to a country the ultimately may prove hostile to us either financially or militarily or both.
 

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Waltham

I am new to the forum, but not to watches. Waltham is my favorite American company. Here are a few images of the Waltham factory -- one from 1880 and another circa 1908 (both from a company pamphlet). Then I have two photos from a visit to Waltham in 2006 -- a panorama from the across the street and another snapshot from across the Charles River.
Landmark Circle Tree Tints and shades History
Sky Building Tree Natural landscape Wood
Sky Building Water Plant Cloud
Water Plant Sky Cloud Window
 

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Discussion Starter · #54 ·
I am new to the forum, but not to watches. Waltham is my favorite American company. Here are a few images of the Waltham factory -- one from 1880 and another circa 1908 (both from a company pamphlet). Then I have two photos from a visit to Waltham in 2006 -- a panorama from the across the street and another snapshot from across the Charles River.
View attachment 16586 View attachment 16585 View attachment 16587 View attachment 16588
Welcome to the American forum Jerry!

Thanks for your contribution. It is quite sad to see where this once great industry has gone, isn't it? That beautiful factory is just going to wither away, because there is simply no use for it anymore.... Maybe condos?:sad:
 

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Waltham factory future

Actually, the news for Waltham is not so bleak. Phase one of its redevelopment opened last October. Most of the factory building is being converted to office space and a little light industrial space. A small exhibit of Waltham Watch Factory memorabilia is supposedly already open. The next phase will see one wing converted into apartments. There will also be some retail and restaurant space.
 

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Thanks Jerry!

Actually, the news for Waltham is not so bleak. Phase one of its redevelopment opened last October. Most of the factory building is being converted to office space and a little light industrial space. A small exhibit of Waltham Watch Factory memorabilia is supposedly already open. The next phase will see one wing converted into apartments. There will also be some retail and restaurant space.
I have been waiting to comment on your post...

I would love to know if you will go and check if that Memorabilia is in there.

That would be so cool to see, if I am in the area... I will visit the building some day if I am in town. I do quite a bit of traveling.

Thanks Jerry!:thumbup:
 

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I have been waiting to comment on your post...

I would love to know if you will go and check if that Memorabilia is in there.

That would be so cool to see, if I am in the area... I will visit the building some day if I am in town. I do quite a bit of traveling.

Thanks Jerry!:thumbup:
Unfortunately, I am on the wrong coast for a quick check. Perhaps Pratt can check for us. If you are in Waltham you might also check the Charles River Museum of Industry. They have a nice Waltham exhibit with some of the original factory machinery.
 

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Discussion Starter · #58 ·
Actually, the news for Waltham is not so bleak. Phase one of its redevelopment opened last October. Most of the factory building is being converted to office space and a little light industrial space. A small exhibit of Waltham Watch Factory memorabilia is supposedly already open. The next phase will see one wing converted into apartments. There will also be some retail and restaurant space.
Well, it's not the original ideal use for the building, which was manufacturing, but at least the beautiful turn-of-the-century building itself will be saved.

I had a similar historical factory park in my neighborhood that used to do heavy manufacturing, but then it went to light manufacturing and then it was broken down into office space and then to near abandonment. Now, it is gone completely and a mall replaced it. I'm not a fan of this kind of re-development, but such is the society we now live.

Shop, shop, shop till you drop! I guess I wouldn't mind that much if I could buy something made in America....:001_rolleyes:
 

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It's pretty much the same here in NYC.

There are so many buildings like the one you posted in this city, especially in Brooklyn and Queens, but they are nearly all vacant, or now used for office space or have been renovated into condo's. It's pretty sad when you look at them and know that they once made anything and everything we all used at one time and they employed ten of thousands of decently paid workers. Heck, we used to have 60 beer breweries in Brooklyn alone! Now New York City is a one trick town, Wall St., and we going to wither away because we no longer have the manufacturing base here to back-up that ailing industry. Wall St. goes, so does NYC, kind of like Detroit and the car industry.

Ah, NAFTA, you gotta love it!:001_unsure:
As a fellow New Yorker, I feel your pain and know EXACTLY what you are saying.

I forget the name, and they are rather expensive, but there IS one great place in NYC that proudly displays in it's BIG window many pre-owned good ol' American and Swiss watches. The store is located down the street from Radio City Music Hall.

Look in the window, and see what American watches and watchmaking was all about! It's so sad that very, very few places like this exist in NYC...when there used to be so many!:sad:
 

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I live about 45 minutes from where the old Elgin National Watch Comapny and Illinois Watch Case Company factories were located back in the day. The town of Elgin has a rather big historical society and they have an extensive museum of pictures, watches, watch cases, tools and so on from when that area was a powerhouse of watch activity. They just did a massive renovation of their building and expanded back in February of this year. I have not been there sense the construction but the next time I go I'll take lots of pictures and post them on this thread.
 
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