Welcome!

Classic watches, watchmaking, antique tools, history, vintage ephemera and more!

Learn about mechanical timepieces and how they work, the history of the American watch industry and especially all about the Elgin National Watch Company! Check back for new content daily.

Although this is technically a blog, the content is not generally in a time-based sequence. You can find interesting items throughout. Down the page some is an alphabetical word cloud of keywords used here. A great way to dig in is to look through those topics and click anything you find interesting. You'll see all the relevant content.

Here are a few of my favorites!

There are some large images on some posts, so that might impact your load times, bit I think you will find it worth the wait. Thanks for visiting!

Advice To Young Jewelers

From The American Horologist magazine, February, 1946

Advice To Young Jewelers



I ran across the following article in an old scrap book of a watchmaker friend of mine. The piece appeared in a Boston newspaper in 1881. Don't take it seriously.
- O. F. Snow, East Orleans, Mass.

From Elgin Every Saturday (Note - W e publish below an article from the pen of P. S. Bartlett, "the best known man in the watch trade in the world". Mr. Bartlett's experience covers a period of forty years, and he is considered the highest authority on watch matters. " - Ed.)


The construction of a watch depends entirely upon how it is made; the wheels have nothing to do with the case. A small watch will keep as much time as a large one and sometimes more. The reliability of a watch as a time keeper depends upon how big a liar the owner is; there is no exception to this rule. In order to be a good watchmaker it is not necessary to know anything about a watch, you must know how to shake a watch, look wise and hold an eye glass; if you cannot look wise try some other business. The proper thing to do when you do not know what ails the watch is to say the main spring is broken; this will give the party confidence in you and show him you understand the business; all first-class watch makers keep a broken main spring on the bench to show customers when they come in what ailed their watch. Some watch makers will say the watch is dirty, but as this is a reflection upon the owner it does not take so well. The regular price for repairing a watch is three dollars, it makes no difference what you do to it some will take out three or four wheels and then charge the owner three dollars for what is left. This is not right, as it lowers the high moral tone of the business, and will eventually lead to deception. Some people have great ideas what a watch maker can do. A young lady once brought us a very large, old fashioned bull's-eye watch and wanted us to make two small ones out of it; one for her and one for her sister. We told her we could not do it and she left us with a poor opinion of our skill and ability; thus is loves labors lost and truth crushed to the earth. But do not be afraid of telling the truth, you may get caught at it some day and then you can wear diamonds. If any customer complains of your prices, tell him that the skill and dexterity required in the i manipulation of the fine and intricate parts of so costly and beautiful a watch is hardly commensurate with the importance of the object required and that if they ever wish to sell the watch you will give them two dollars for the first chance to buy it. You can always guarantee a watch to run within one second a year, but state that it will take time to get it regulated down to it, the man will die or the watch will meet with some accident before you get it done, so you are safe in saying so. Never have a watch done the first time the owner comes for it, as that will give away the business and he will think you have not done it well, or that you have not much work, or it was an easy job. The most difficult thing to do to an old watch is to get the hayseed out of it and not lose any. It is important that you should be "the only reliable dealer in town", and "the best workman on both sides of New York;" this you can do in the daily papers; also that you should come from the watch factory; Cloudman can get you through in twenty minutes, if you can keep up with him. Watch oil comes in pint and quart bottles, pints are twenty-five cents, quarts are forty-three cents. It is made from the seeds of the sunflower at Los Angeles, California For tools you will need a grindstone, a monkey wrench, a hatchet and a lead pencil - with these few hints and two quart bottles of watch oil and $5,000 in cash, an energetic young man can start ill business. 


Yes, that piece was written 65 years ago.

Following is a short article about Mr. Bartlett, copied from a small booklet printed ill 1905 by the Waltham Watch Company.

Patten Sargent Bartlett, whose name is familiar to every watchmaker and jeweler in America, and we might say the world, was born in Amesbury, Mass., December 3, 1834, of one of the oldest and most famous puritan families, his great uncle, Josiah Bartlett, being one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. He had a common school education and learned the machinist trade in Lowell. His first connection with watchmaking was in December, 1855, when he went to work at 21 years of age for the Boston Watch Co. just after its removal to Waltham and before the organization of the Waltham company. In 1858 he became foreman of the plate and screw department of that factory and continued with them in that capacity until 1864. In 1859 the American Watch Company put upon the market a new 18-size movement, which they engraved P. S. Bartlett.

He brought J. K. Bigelow from Lowell to assist him, but Mr. Bigelow was not long afterwards given a department to manage and Leonard Green became Mr. Bartlett's assistant until he went to Elgin.
In 1864, Mr. Bartlett and Ira G. Blake came west from Waltham on a visit, and becoming acquainted with John C. Adams, whose brother George B. Adams was a jeweler in Elgin, he was induced to assist in organizing the National Watch Company of Elgin, and undertook to provide it with skilled labor. He was one of the half-dozen who was paid with a bonus of $5000 and $5000 a year for five years to go to Elgin and start a factory, his position being foreman of the plate department for five years, the same position which he had held in Waltham. He worked in the machine shop at Elgin until the factory had begun to produce watches.

In 1869 Mr. Bartlett commenced traveling for the Elgin Company, and was, the first watch missionary in the trade, although not then designated as a missionary. He was general traveling agent for the company for the next seven years, and in that time he introduced the Elgin watch in Europe, selling them in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other cities. Returning to this country he was assistant superintendent at the factory in Elgin until 1878, leaving to take a position traveling for the Waltham company, with whom he remained for three years.

At the conclusion of his connection with the Waltham company, he established himself in the wholesale and retail jewelry business in Elgin, which he continued until he died, December 14, 1902, at the home of his daughter in Chicago.


Patchogue Treasure 

"Old Faithful" was the village clock of this Long Island town. On January 9 "Old Faithful" went down fighting. There was a fire but "Old Faithful" continued to keep time with its usual regularity for an hour after flames were heating its mechanism and smoke was practically hiding its entire face.
Thirty years ago "Old Faithful" was placed in a tower that tops the building in which the fire took place, in the heart of the downtown business section. Though the building has al· ways been privately owned, the clock has been maintained by the village. The tower was so badly damaged that it will have to be torn down, and with it, "Old Faithful". Patchogue will miss that familiar face. 



Post a Comment

Click "Older Posts" just above for more, or use the archive links right here.

Blog Archive