Watch, Waterbury, Series J

Dating from between 1891 and 1898, this watch represents a new design that its manufacturer, the Waterbury Watch Company, hoped would overcome difficulties with an earlier product, the Long Wind.
In 1880 the Waterbury Watch Co., then a new corporation founded by Connecticut brass manufacturers Benedict and Burnham, sold the Long Wind for $3.50. This was in sharp contrast to the cheapest American-made watches at that time, which sold, cased, for between $8 and $20. At first the company had great success, but interest waned after middlemen devised a scheme to give away the Long Wind with the purchase of a suit of clothes. The firm then tried to revive falling sales with more conventional and costly watch designs like this watch, a lively advertising campaign and, in 1898, a new corporate name--the New England Watch Company. The pioneering enterprise ultimately failed in 1912, but other firms would take up the manufacture of cheap reliable timepieces that came to be known as “dollar” watches.
Movement: spring-driven, duplex escapement, regulator with indicator between plates, back plate marked: “TRADEMARK/The Waterbury Watch Co./WATERBURY/CONN. U.S.A./Patented Series J; between plates marked: “Duplex/Patents” and numerous patent dates.
Dial: white enamel, blued steel hands with second hand missing, sunk seconds at 6; marked: “WATERBURY/logo with initials for WWC
Case: open face, nickel-plated, back snaps on
Watch,” Contributions from the Museum of History and Technology, United States National Museum Bulletin 218 (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1959).
Harry Chase Brearley, Time Telling Through the Ages (New York: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1919).
William J. Pape, History of Waterbury and the Naugatuck Valley, Connecticut (Chicago, New York: S. J. Clarke Publishing, 1918).
Currently not on view
date made
ca 1890
Waterbury Watch Co.
place made
United States
Physical Description
metal (watch case material)
brass (watch movement material)
overall: 3 in x 2 in x 5/8 in; 7.62 cm x 5.08 cm x 1.5875 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Dr. Thomas Featherstonhaugh
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Work and Industry: Mechanisms
Measuring & Mapping
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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