QUESTION: Hi there. I saw a posting by another watch-inheritor and wondered if you could give me an approximate date for a watch my parents have. The other poster's watch was a C.W.C. Co watch with a serial number of 180825 which you said was probably produced around 1887-1888. I don't have quite as much detail about this watch, but inside one cover are the letters C.W.C. Co and the number 581555. Over near the side is scratched the number 19244 or 19744 in TINY hand-scratch. The outside case is smooth gold with just some design along the very edge of the case covers. In addition to dating the watch, I'm wondering if you can tell me where it might have been sold. For instance, were these only sold from the Boston area, or distributed to other cities, etc.? My parents were having a hard time remembering who the watch originally belonged to. Thanks so much for your anticipated response, Thais Gloor, Burlington, MA
C.W.C. Co is Crescent Watch Case Company. They did not make the watch, only the case.
the hand etched numbers are from former watchmakers. When one of them worked on a watch, they would put down the shorthand in case they worked on that same watch again. There was no standard shorthand. Every watchmaker had his own symbols and codes.
If you can tell me what is written on the movement itself, I can probably tell you more about the watch.
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QUESTION: Hello again Melvin. I have more information about this (and two other watches), if you don't mind.
Watch #1: American Waltham Watch Co. SAFETY BARREL 6175569, case is CWC Co # 581555
Watch #2: American Waltham Watch Co. SAFETY BARREL 6518390, case is Philiadelphia Watch Case Co. VICTORY WARRANTED TEN YEARS 4056437 (This one has a more elaborate case with floral design on both sides)
Watch #3: Tobias Et Co LIVERPOOL, No 40788, DETACHED LEVER, 13 JEWELS, case has the numbers 11455 and 40788 on it. Face has roman numerals, very delicate hands and looks like silver with gold floral accents
Thanks for all your help with further information on the origin/age of these!
Watch #1: 1892 Crescent Watch Case Co.
Watch #2: 1893 Warranted then years means that it is gold filled.
The American Waltham Watch Company had its beginnings in 1850 in Roxbury, Massachusetts. The company was founded by David Davis, Aaron Dennison, and Mr. Howard. Their vision was to form a watch company that could produce high-quality watches at a lower cost using interchangeable parts. With financial backing from Samuel Curtis, the first watches were made in 1850, but problems were encountered. They were exploring new ideas in watch manufacturing, such as using jewels, making dials, and producing plates with a high-level of finish which required extensive tooling and resulted in great financial burden on the company. They also found that even though they were using interchangeable parts, each watch was still unique and had its own set of errors to be corrected. It took months to adjust the watches to the point where they were any better than other widely available timepieces.
Customer Department at the Waltham Watch Company In 1851, the factory building was completed and the company began doing business under the name "American Horology Company." The first watches produced went to officials of the company, and it was not until 1853 that the first watches were offered for sale to the public. The name was changed to "Boston Watch Company" in September 1853, and the factory in Waltham, Massachusetts was built in October 1854. The movements produced here (serial numbers 1001 - 5000) were signed "Dennison, Howard,& Davis," "C. T. Parker," and "P. S. Bartlett."
The Boston Watch Company failed in 1857 and was sold at auction to Royal E. Robbins. It was reorganized as "Appleton, Tracy & Co." and watches 5001 - 14,000 were produced. The first movements carried the Appleton, Tracy & Co. marking. The C. T. Parker movement was reintroduced as the model 1857 and sold for $12, no small amount in those days! In January, 1859 the Waltham Improvement Co. and the Appleton, Tracy & Co. merged to form the American Watch Company.
The dial department of the Waltham Watch factory. In 1860, as Abraham Lincoln was elected President and the country found itself in the throes of the Civil War, the American Watch Company was faced with serious financial problems. By 1861, business had come to a standstill and bankruptcy seemed inevitable. The factory was kept in operation through these years by cutting expenses to the lowest possible level... a strategy that proved successful.
According to the biography by Carl Sandburg, Abraham Lincoln owned and carried a Waltham "Wm. Ellery" watch. The watch was an 11-jewel, 18 size, keywind in a silver hunting case, and was produced in January of 1863.
In 1865 prices for movements only (no case) were: William Ellery $13, P. S. Bartlett $16, Bartlett-Ladies $30, Appleton Tracy $38, A.T. & Co Ladies $40, and American Watch Grade $175!
American Horology owes much to the brilliant visionaries of the Waltham Watch Company. Bacon, Church, Dennison, Fogg, Howard, Marsh, Webster, and Woerd all contributed greatly to American watchmaking.
Waltham continued to manufacture watches until 1957. It is still possible to purchase modern quartz watches that bear the Waltham name, but these watches are not related in any way to the "genuine" American Waltham Watch Company.
Watch #3: That one I don't have know about because it is an English watch.