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History of watches : Waltham


American Waltham Watch Company, founded in 1850, were one of the largest watch makers of the 19th Century. The company was founded on a relationship between three men, in Massachusetts USA. Mr David Davis, a Mr Dension and a Mr Howard. It was based on a dream that they could produce watches that were of good quality, yet were not made from some of the more expensive materials usually found on watches of the era. Mr Howard had originally server as an apprentice to a man called Aaron Willard Junior circa 1829, and a few years later on, in 1842 Mr Howard formed a clock and Balance Scale Manufacturing company with Mr Davis. Mr Howard and Mr Dennison then combined there ideas and with some funding, completed there first watch in 1850. 
But problems were apparent. 

The company was trying new ideas, things like using Jewels, making dials, and producing steel with a mirrored finish. The problem was as always, that things like this cost money, and all of it required brand new machinery and thus put the company under a great deal of financial stress. The other thing discovered is that although each watch was made in the same press and made in the same way to the same style, each individual piece had it's own individual problems and mistakes to be corrected before the time piece could be classed as complete, and it took months to adjust the watches to the point that they were better than any other timepieces on the market. During this time Mr Howard had perfected and patented many different varieties of automatic watch making machines, that could easily and efficiently make precision watch components. 

 
 

By 1851, the trio had there own production house, and the name 'American Horology Company' was adopted. 

In 1852 the company had renamed themselves and watches were being produced with the signature 'The Warran Mfg. Co.' after a Revolutionary War Hero. Watches 1 - 17, the first from the production line, were not placed on the market but were instead given to the company officials, and executives. From then on the company went through a number of name changes, with watches #18 - 110 being engraved with "Warren Boston", the next 800 were marked "Samuel Curtis" (The Main Financial Backer of the Company) and a few were marked "Fellows and Schel" and were sold for $40. 

In September 1853 the name was changed yet again to 'Boston Watch Company' an d a factory was erected in Waltham, Massachusetts in October 1854. The movements produced at this building are marked #1,001 to #5,000 and were marked with the engraving of "Dennison, Howard & Davis,", "C.T.Parker", and "P.S. Bartlett". Times were hard and the Boston Watch Company failed in 1857, and was subsequently sold at Auction to Royal E Robbins. 

In May 1857, the company was shuffled and became "Appleton, Tracey & Co.", and the watches produced in this time carried the serial numbers between, 5,001 and 14,000 ,model 1857. The C.T.Parker movement was re-introduced as Model 1857 and was sold for $12, 399 were made. In 1855 brass watches were being sold for $1. Also at this time 598 chronometers were made, and by January 1858 the P.S.Bartlet watch was made. 

In January 1859, the Waltham Improvement Company and Appleton, Tracey & Co. merged to form The American watch Company. 

As Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the USA, in 1860, and the US was plunged into Civil War, the Comp nay Had problems, as over the next year business was at a standstill. As there seemed to be no market for watches, bankruptcy seemed inevitable, but expenditures were cut to the lowest possible level thus keeping the factory in operation. 

To this day the Waltham name is synonymous with quality and craftmanship, and remain to this day, very desirable timepieces. 

Also an interesting fact is that, according to the biography by Carl Sandburg, Abraham Lincoln himself carried an American Waltham wrist watch. 
 
 


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ABP Paris is a craft company with the French state label Company of Living Heritage.

On measure watchstraps, belts, leather goods, new and second-hand watches are the core part of our activity.