The Waterbury Clock Company, one of many 19th century Connecticut-based clock firms, began as a subsidiary of Benedict & Burnham, a brass manufacturing company, in 1857. Benedict & Burnham had no background in clock making, but it saw clocks as a means to use its brass. Over the years, Waterbury would become a leading manufacturer of clocks—by the time it closed its doors in 1944, it had made some of the most memorable American antique wall clocks and mantel clocks, as well as highly regarded clock movements and watches.
Because of Waterbury’s roots in brass, the metal played a large role in the design of its clocks, but during its first few years, the firm lacked an experienced clock maker and designer. Enter Chauncey Jerome and his brother, Noble. Until they arrived, most of Waterbury’s business had been in the sale of movements and cases for clocks made elsewhere. Under the direction of the Jerome brothers, however, Waterbury’s production grew rapidly, necessitating the building of a new production facility in 1873 for its growing number of products.
In the 1880s and early 1890s, Waterbury added non-jeweled pocket watches to its product line. In the final decade of the 19th century, Waterbury was producing upwards of 20,000 clocks and watches a day, and was selling its output through Sears, Roebuck & Company and other retailers. By 1915, Waterbury was making more clocks than any company in the United States.
Throughout this period, Waterbury maintained a relationship with R.H. Ingersoll & Brother, a mail-order company. When Ingersoll fell on hard times in 1922 Waterbury bought the company—the combined firm was later renamed as the Ingersoll-Waterbury Company.
Waterbury was not immune to the effects of the Great Depression, but it managed to stay afloat with the production of the Mickey Mouse wristwatch, which was a huge hit. In addition, Waterbury embraced changing technology and began producing electric clocks in 1932.
As many companies did during World War II, Waterbury shifted gears during the first half of the 1940s to support the war effort. During this period, in 1942, Ingersoll-Waterbury was purchased by a group of Norwegians, who built a new factory for their firm in Waterbury, Connecticut. They also changed the company’s name to the United States Time Corporation, the forerunner of Timex.
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KOVEL'S ANTIQUES: Antique pet cages find new life as folk artFlorida Times-Union, October 8th
Ingersoll declared bankruptcy in 1921 and was bought by the Waterbury Clock Co. which became the Ingersoll-Waterbury Co. In 1933 Ingersoll, in a deal with the Walt Disney Co., made the first watch with Mickey Mouse on the face and three mice chasing ...Read more
Shop's closing ends a century of local historyLivingston Daily, September 27th
Donald Yax Sr. and his son Don "Buss" Yax Jr., who winds a Waterbury clock purchased by Buss's grandfather in 1912, will retire and close up Donald Jewelers permanently. That clock has hung in several locations where the three generations ran jewelry ...Read more
Timex Museum Prepares to Shut Its DoorsNew York Times, September 17th
Wall texts explain how Timex, originally incorporated as the Waterbury Clock Company in the 1850s, adapted to changing tastes over the decades by ornamenting clocks and watches with images of dragons, elephants and Mickey Mouse and coming up with ...Read more
Workers Rappel To Inspect 240-Foot Waterbury Clock TowerHartford Courant, June 19th
Workers descend down the Republican-American's clock tower to investigate the condition of each face of the 240-foot-tall structure in Waterbury, Conn. Thursday June 18th 2015. The results of their inspection will be used to design repairs to the 109...Read more
Timexpo Museum in Waterbury to closeFOX CT, April 22nd
WATERBURY – The Timexpo Museum, which opened in 2001 and was dedicated to the history of the Timex Group and its predecessor companies, including the Waterbury Clock Company, will close later this year, Timex announced today. Low attendance at ...Read more
Spend your time well exploring Waterbury, Conn.Boston Globe (subscription), March 7th
In fact, the Waterbury Clock Co. — you might know it better as Timex — produced the first-ever Mickey Mouse watch in 1933. More than 11,000 were sold on the first day. Landmarks like the 240-foot Union Station Clock Tower are reminders of those days...Read more
Last Of Waterbury's Radium Girls DiesHartford Courant, March 3rd
Keane and her co-workers at Waterbury Clock Co., all young women, were told they could paint faster if they dipped their brushes into the radium-laden paint and then sharpened the bristles with their lips. But the paint was bitter and Keane would not...Read more
Waterbury clock could sell for $600 to $1200Ocala, October 13th
Q: I am attaching some photos of my antique clock. My mother gave it to me, and it is supposed to be more than 100 years old. I would like to have your opinion as to its worth. The glass is hand painted, supposedly from an artist in Providence, R.I. ...Read more