Also commonly referred to as the "Waltham Watch Company," the American Waltham Watch Company was the first watch company to mass produce watches in America and is generally considered to be the most important American watch company. The history of the company is a little complicated, but it all started in 1850 when Edward Howard, David Davis and Aaron Dennison got together in Roxbury, Massachusetts, and decided to start their own watch company. They formed the "American Horologue Company"in 1851 and 17 prototype watches were produced in 1852 with "Howard, Davis & Dennison" engraved on the movements. The name of the company was then changed to the "Warren Mfg. Co." [named after a famous Revolutionary War hero], and the next 26 or so watches produced bore the name "Warren" on their movements. The name was officially changed to the "Boston Watch Company" in 1853, and in 1854 a factory was built in Waltham, Massachusetts. The founders of the company certainly knew how to make great watches, but weren't so hot at managing money, and the Boston Watch Company failed in 1857. The story doesn't end there, though! The defunct company was sold at a sheriff's auction to a man named Royal Robbins, and he reorganized the company and renamed it the "Appleton, Tracy & Co." In 1859 the Appleton, Tracy & Co. merged with another company called the Waltham Improvement Company, and "The American Watch Company" was born. Soon after that, the company name was changed to "The American Waltham Watch Company," and in later years the watches simply bore the name "Waltham". Note that The American Waltham Watch Company bears no relation whatsoever to the similarly named "U. S. Watch Co. of Waltham" which was founded in 1884.
Over 35 million Waltham watches were produced during the company's long history, and many of them still exist today. Although they made many low and medium grade watches to suit the needs of the existing markets, Waltham also produced watches of exceedingly high quality. They also probably produced more types of watches than any other American company, including railroad watches, chronographs, repeating watches and deck watches. Early Waltham watches with low serial numbers are especially prized by many collectors.
-- from The New Collector's Guide to Pocket Watches, © 2000 Barry S. Goldberg
Although I collect a wide variety of pocket watches, I happen to own a lot of Waltham watches. This is for a number of reasons. First of all, I was born and raised in Massachusetts, and that's where the American Waltham Watch Company was located, so it's a matter of local pride I guess. Second, the first pocket watch I ever owned was a Waltham, so I've always felt partial to them. Third, the Waltham Watch Company is without a doubt the most important American watch company -- formed in 1852, it was the first company to truly mass produce watches here in the U.S. And, finally, I just like the way they look!
If you have a Waltham pocket watch and would like to know how old it is, click here to look up its serial number. If that link doesn't work for you, try this one.
If you would like to read an explanation of the various Waltham "grades", click here. If that link doesn't work for you, try this one.
If anybody has some additional information or questions about these watches, please send me an e-mail and let me know!
|VERY early Waltham pocket watch. 18 Size, Model 1857, "Dennison, Howard & Davis". Key wind and key set. 15 jewels. Engraved hunter case is probably 18-Karat gold. Dates to about 1855, the company's fourth year in existence.|
|Another very old Waltham pocket watch. 18 size, Model 1857, "Appleton, Tracy & Co." Key wind and key set. 15 sapphire jewels. The watch is encased in a beautiful and very heavy solid 18 karat gold hunter case with wonderful engine turning on the front and back. The serial number is only 21772, which dates it to about 1860.|
|This is a Size 18 Waltham Model #1877, "P.S. Bartlett" grade in a nice gold-filled open face case. It has 11 jewels and is key wind from the rear and key set from the front. The serial number of 1,656863 dates it to about 1882.|
|American Waltham Watch Company, Model #1879, "Appleton, Tracy & Co." Size 18, open face, stem-wind, lever set, triple-hinged gold-filled case [warranted 25 years], 15 Jewels. Ca. 1881.|
|American Waltham Watch Company, Model #1877, "Appleton, Tracy & Co." grade in a nice gold-filled hunter case. 15 jewels. Originally key wind and key set, later fitted with Abbott's Stem Wind Conversion and is now stem wind and lever set. Ca. 1883|
|Waltham "P.S. Bartlett" pocket watch, Model 1877. Stem wind and lever set. Size 18 coin silver hunting case. Single sunk porcelain dial marked "A.W.C. WALTHAM". 11 jewels. Ca. 1884.|
|Waltham Chronograph, Size 14, Model 1874, 13 jewels. Stem wind and lever set. Original sterling silver Waltham hunter case, nicely engraved. Ca. 1886|
|Waltham pocket watch, size 18, Model #1883, 15 jewels. Stem wind and pendant set. Private label "jobber" watch has "J. H. Washburn Natick, Mass." engraved on the movement and the dial. Ca. 1886|
|18 size Waltham Model #1883 with 15 jewels. Stem wind, pendant set and marked "adjusted". Has a number of interesting features, including a strangely lettered dial, a "frosted" movement and a special dustproof case. ca. 1888.|
|18 size Waltham Model #1883, "Appleton, Tracy & Co." Grade, with 15 jewels. Stem wind and lever set. Gold-filled case. Wonderful gilt damaskeened movement. Ca. 1890.|
|This is an 18 size, 17 jewel Waltham Model #1883, "Santa Fe Route" Grade. Stem wind and lever set, marked "adjusted". Ca. 1896.|
|18 size Waltham Model #1883 with especially fancy movement. Stem wind, lever set, 17 jewels. Housed in a triple-hinged Keystone "Silveroid" case. Ca. 1900.|
|16 size Waltham Model #1888, "Riverside" grade with 15 jewels. Stem wind and pendant set. Housed in a nicely engraved, triple-hinged gold-filled case. Absolutely spectactular two-tone damasceening on the movement, together with gold jewel settings, gold screws, a gold regulator, and even a gold center wheel. Ca. 1900|
|Waltham "Vanguard" pocket watch. Size 18, Model 1892. Stem wind and lever set. 23 jewels, adjusted to 5 positions. Housed in a lovely gold-filled hunter case. Ca. 1902.|
|Waltham Model #1899, "Riverside Maximus" pocket watch. 16 size, 23 jewel, stem wind and pendant set, adjusted to temperature and five positions. Nicely engraved gold-filled case. Ca. 1902.|
|Waltham pocket watch. 18 Size, Model #1883, "820" grade with 15 jewels. Highly engraved gold-filled hunter case. Very fancy enamel dial in mint condition. Ca. 1903.|
|American Waltham Watch Company, 18 size, Model 1892, 17 Jewel, "P.S. Bartlett" grade. Open face base metal display case. Stem wind and lever set. Gorgeous two-tone movement, which really cries out to be in a display case! Ca. 1908.|
|Another Waltham "Vanguard" pocket watch. This one, however, is a 16 size, Model 1908. Stem wind and lever set. Not only does it have has 23 jewels, it also has a rare up-down wind indicator. It's in a gold-filled railroad style case and is ca. 1913.|
|This is a Waltham railroad watch made specifically for the Ball Watch Company. It is size 16, stem wind, lever set with 21 jewles and adjusted to 5 positions. Ball watches are among the most highly prized railroad approved pocket watches. Circa 1910-1915.|
|This is a 16 size Waltham "Marquis" made for the English export market and housed in a stunning gold-filled "demi-hunter" case. Stem wind & lever set. 15 jewels. Circa 1918.|
|16 size Waltham Model #1908, Grade No. 620, with 15 jewels. Stem wind and pendant set. Gilt damascened two-tone movement, housed in a factory Waltham salesman's display case. Ca. 1919.|
|This is a Waltham 8-day watch that has been set up as a marine chronometer. It is stem wind and pendant set, has 15 jewels, and has wind indicator. The watch is housed in a gimballed brass tub which has been set into an inner and outer wooden box. Ca. 1920|
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