Waltham Clock Company History

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Waltham, MA

Walter J. Dudley and Walter K. Menns began work on a battery powered clock in John Stark’s shop in Waltham, MA in 1890. The pair convinced a group of Natick, MA investors to form Waltham Electric Clock Company in New Hampshire in June, 1890. A factory was established in Natick and the first clock sold in early 1891. In April 1891 a group of Waltham-area investors took over the company and moved it back to Waltham.

January 1893, the firm developed a weight-driven precision regulator. American Waltham Watch Co. purchased an early regulator for the 1893 World’s Fair: Columbian Exposition (aka The Chicago World's Fair) to control the watch-making machinery. The company quickly acquired a reputation for manufacturing high precision weight-driven regulators. In June 1894, Board of Directors voted to change the company’s name to the Waltham Clock Company.

Because of continuing losses, John Stark and William Henry purchased the company from the investors in January, 1897. John Stark became president of the new corporation and William Henry, treasurer and manager. Their continued focus was manufacturing of high-grade tall clock movements to compete with some of the English and German firms that were exporting tall clock movements and clocks to the U.S. in increasing numbers, most notably the American clock entrepreneur, Walter H. Durfee of Providence, RI.

In November 1898, the Waltham Clock Co. reorganized and elected new officers: John Stark, president; William Henry, treasurer and business manager; Thomas W. Shephard, mechanical superintendent. The company was preparing to introduce a new hall clock designed by Henry and planned to offer a complete line of regulators, office, and marine clocks.

This new partnership appeared very successful with many newspaper articles and other publications highlighting the firm’s success. Waltham Clock Co. chiming hall clocks became a big seller, along with large and small regulators and Willard–style banjo clocks.

Tall clock offerings increased for the firm during the first decade of the 20th century, dozens of case styles were being offered with several optional movements. By 1915, their top-end quarter-striking movement with three different chime selections played on nine tabular bells, a moon dial and solid mahogany colonial style case could be purchased for $560 retail.

Waltham Clock Co. continued until the death of William Henry in January, 1913. Subsequently, John Stark and Thomas Shepherd purchased his interest in the firm.

In 1913, an offer to purchase Waltham Clock Co. was tendered by the Waltham Watch Company, which was seeking to diversify its watchmaking business. The offer was accepted, and in February 1914, documents were signed transferring all good will, stock, completed, and in-process materials and machinery to the Waltham Watch Cp.

The Waltham Clock Co. name was continued until 1923 when, during a reorganization of the parent firm, the name Waltham Watch and Clock Company was adopted. This name lasted only about two years when Waltham Watch Company was adopted as the moniker for all operations. After a 1925 reorganization of Waltham Watch Co., the separate clock department was abolished

The Waltham Watch Co. increased its product offerings and maintained Waltham Clock Co. as separate department to capitalize on its recognized name for quality. Production of tall clocks declined during the 1920's, though more mantel and wall clocks were added to the line. Production of pendulum clocks ceased about the time of the Great Depression, though electric clocks and speedometers were manufactured until about 1940.

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Attribution: The research above is from Andrew Dervan's "Waltham Clock Museum" site and used with his written permission. Thank you Andrew.

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