The last American watch factory folded up in the 1960s.Recently a fellow started making watches in America, complete watches but on a very small scale, but that only started a couple of years ago.It could tell you what day Easter was going to fall on 50 years from now.: In Switzerland, Geneva is where the headquarters are, but the Le Locle is where the major part of production is.I think they were surprised at how heavy they had to make the machinery and it took them a few years to work all that out, but by the early 1870s, the watches that were being made at Waltham were winning all of the prizes around the world for the best watches. They were still making them by hand in Europe until then, and then a fellow from Switzerland came over to our centennial exposition in 1876 and saw the Waltham watches being made by machinery.He went back to Switzerland and tried to persuade the Swiss to do that.Tom Mc Intyre talks about antique pocket watches, discussing key manufacturers, the mechanics behind the watches, the varying types, and the collecting hobby in general.Based in Massachusetts, Tom can be reached via his website, American Watch Company Web, which is a member of our Hall of Fame.
: There were some brothers in Connecticut called the Pitkins who made some watches before that, and there was a family near Worcester, Mass. Luther Goddard and Benjamin Goddard and Parley Goddard made watches, but they were handmade watches.They caught up with the Americans in the early 20th century and then passed them.That, plus a couple of wars where the Swiss didn’t fight and we did, essentially finished off the American watch industry.The Pitkin watches used some machinery and were a first stab at doing it, but they didn’t do it all that well, so it didn’t really take off, and one of them went insane trying and killed himself.: The point of manufacturing them was that if you made the same part over and over again, you could make it better than if you had to make each one from scratch each time.They had an edge in terms of assembling the watches and adjusting them and that sort of thing.Once they got to using the machinery, they could produce some very wonderful things.I got interested in clocks in 1967, and I started collecting watches fairly seriously in the early ‘80s. Pocket watches are a little bit more manageable, and in some ways more interesting, too.I collect precision clocks, clocks that are very accurate timekeepers, and marine chronometers; things like that.It took quite a few years to persuade them, but a couple of Americans went over there and set up factories, and then the Swiss reports said that the machinery was the way to go.The Swiss developed a very similar style of making watches by machine, but not with large factories like the Americans had.