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Title: The Auburndale Watch Company - First American Attempt Toward the Dollar Watch
Author: Battison, Edwin A.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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_Edwin A. Battison_

  THE INVENTION             51
  THE NEW SPONSOR           57
  THE LESSON                67

_By Edwin A. Battison_


_First American Attempt Toward the Dollar Watch_

  _The life of the pioneer has always been arduous. Not all succeed,
  and many disappear leaving no trace on the pages of history. Here,
  painstaking search has uncovered enough of the record to permit us
  to review the errors of design and manufacture that brought failure
  to the first attempt to produce a really cheap pocket watch._

  _This paper is based on a study of the patent model of the
  Auburndale rotary and other products of the company in the
  collections of the National Museum, and of other collections,
  including that of the author. The study comprises part of the
  background research for the hall of timekeeping in the Museum of
  History and Technology._

  THE AUTHOR: _Edwin A. Battison is associate curator of mechanical
  and civil engineering, Museum of History and Technology, in the
  Smithsonian Institution's United States National Museum._

The idea of a machine-made watch with interchangeable parts had been in
the minds of many men for a long time. Several attempts had been made to
translate this conception into a reality. Success crowned the efforts of
those working near Boston, Massachusetts, in the 1850's. The work done
there formed the basis on which American watch making grew to such a
point that by the 1870's watches of domestic manufacture had captured
nearly all the home market and were reaching out and capturing foreign
markets as well. In spite of this great achievement there remained a
large untapped potential market for a watch which would combine the
virtues of close time keeping and a lower selling price. Only a radical
departure in design could achieve this. Rivalry between the several
existing companies had already produced an irreducible minimum price on
watches of conventional design.

The great obstacle to close rate in a modestly priced watch is the
balance wheel. This wheel requires careful adjustment for temperature
error and for poise. Of these two disturbing factors poise is the most
annoying to the owner because lack of it makes the watch a very erratic
timekeeper. A watch in which the parts are not poised is subject to a
different rate for every position it is placed in. This position error,
as it is called, can and often does cause a most erratic and
unpredictable rate. Abraham-Louis Breguet, the celebrated Swiss-French
horologist of Paris is credited with the invention, in 1801,[1] of his
tourbillon, a clever way to circumvent this error.

[Illustration: Figure 1.--BREGUET'S TOURBILLON. At C is shown the
carriage which revolves with pinion B carrying the escapement and balance
around the stationary wheel G. (After G. A. Baillie, _Watches, their
history, decoration, and mechanism_, London, Methuen, n.d.)]

His solution was to mount the escapement in a frame or "chariot" which
revolved, usually once a minute, so that with each revolution all
possible positions were passed through (fig. 1). This gave the watch an
average rate which was constant except for variations within the period
of revolution of the chariot. Only a very skillful workman could,
however, work with the delicacy necessary to produce such a mechanism.
The result was that few were made and these were so expensive that it
continued to be more practical to poise the parts in a conventional
movement. The idea of revolving the entire train of a watch, including
the escapement, seems to have evolved surprisingly slowly from Breguet's
basic invention of the revolving escapement. In constructing a watch
wherein the entire train revolves, no such delicate or precise
workmanship is required as in the tourbillon. Due to the longer train of
gears involved the period of revolution is much slower. Position errors
average out as certainly if not as frequently. In Bonniksen's "Karrusel"
watch of 1893[2] the duration of a cycle is 52.5 minutes[3] while in
the Auburndale Rotary which we are about to discuss the period of each
revolution is 2-1/2 hours.

  [1]  Paul M. Chamberlain, _It's about time_, New York, 1947,
       p. 362.

  [2]  British patent 21421, granted January 21, 1893.

  [3]  Chamberlain, _op. cit._ (footnote 1), pp. 229, 230.

The Invention

The patent model of Jason R. Hopkins' revolving watch, now in the U. S.
National Museum,[4] was not the first in which the entire train
revolved but it was a very novel conception intended to reduce greatly
the number of parts usually associated with any watch. This may be seen
from figures 2 and 3, where everything shown inside the ring gear
revolves slowly as the main spring runs down. This spring is prevented
from running down at its own speed by the train pinion seen in mesh with
the ring gear. Through this pinion motion is imparted to the escape wheel
and balance, where the rate of the watch is controlled. The balance,
being planted at the center of revolution, travels around its own axis,
as in the tourbillon, at the speed with which the entire train revolves
around the barrel arbor. This arbor turns only during winding. No dial or
dial gearing is shown in the patent or exists in the patent model. The
patent merely says, casually, "By means of dial wheels the motion of the
barrel may be communicated to hands and the time indicated in the usual
manner." No fine finish or jeweling has been lavished on the model, the
only jewels present being in the balance cock which was utilized as it
came from its original watch with only minor modification to the shape of
its foot. Apparently the balance wheel itself is also a relic of the same
or a similar conventional watch. There is no jeweling in the escapement
or on the other end of the balance staff. In spite of this the model runs
very actively and will overbank if wound up very far. The beat of the
escapement is two per second and the movement revolves once in 20

There are two great faults in the model. First is the lack of an adequate
bearing for the barrel to turn on. There is only one very short bearing a
long way removed from the point of engagement between the pinion and
internal gear, and no adequate support is given the barrel, with the
result that it tends to deflect from the ideal or true position and to
bind. This condition is aggravated by the fact that the ring gear was
made by cutting its teeth on an angle to the axis around which it is to
revolve, using only a saw of appropriate width. The teeth were then
rounded-up to form by hand in a separate operation which by its very
nature means that the teeth are not exactly alike. This lack of
uniformity of the ring gear coupled with an entirely inadequate bearing
for the barrel contributes to rather erratic transfer of power. These
irregular teeth would not, of course, be a factor in factory-made watches
where suitable machinery would be available for the work.

[Illustration: Figure 2.--PATENT DRAWING OF THE HOPKINS WATCH. The
mainspring barrel _E_, of a very large diameter in proportion to the
diameter of the watch, occupies nearly the full diameter of the movement.
The spring itself, narrower and much longer than usual, is made in the
patent model by riveting two ordinary springs together end to end. Over
this barrel and attached to the stationary frame of the watch is placed a
large thin ring A, cut on its inner diameter with 120 teeth. Near its
edge the barrel E carries a stud _g_ on which runs a pinion of 10 in mesh
with the ring gear _A_. On this pinion is a wheel of 80 driving a pinion
of 6 on the escape-wheel arbor. The 15-tooth escape wheel locks on a
spring detent and gives impulse to the balance in one direction only,
being a conventional chronometer escapement. The intermediate wheel and
pinion, balance wheel, and balance cock have been adapted from a Swiss
bar movement of the time.]

The second fault is in the ratio between the time of one revolution and
the number of revolutions necessary for a day's run. Three turns of the
spring are, of course, required to run the watch for an hour, since the
barrel and train revolve three times in that length of time. If we choose
to have the watch run for 30 hours on a winding, and this leaves but a
small safety factor, then we see that this will require 90 turns of the
main spring, a manifest impossibility in view of the space

U. S. Patent 161513, July 20, 1875, now in the U. S. National Museum
(_cat. no._ 309025).]

[Illustration: Figure 4.--DRAWING FROM U. S. PATENT 165831, showing
Hopkins' first design improvement, an arbor for the barrel and train to
turn on and the balance displaced from center.]

Probably no attempt was made to produce a finished and practical watch at
this time, although Hopkins, the inventor, was an actual watchmaker as
well as a retail jeweler, with premises virtually in the shadow of the
Patent Office. He was a native of Maine[6] and had been established in
Washington since 1863, or perhaps some time in 1862.[7]

[Illustration: Figure 5.--HOPKINS' BALANCE ARRESTING DEVICE, the subject
of U. S. patent 165830. This and the device illustrated in figure 4
originally were submitted together to the Patent Office on June 9, 1875,
and later were divided into two patents.]

  [4]  Cat. no. 309025; U. S. patent 161513, July 20, 1875.

  [5]  Those who have seen the Waterbury watch, which developed
       from this design, may be drawn to the conclusion that
       this explains why it took so long to wind the Waterbury.
       Such is not really the case; in the Waterbury the
       winding wheel (which is on the outer rim of the barrel)
       was nearly as large as the inside diameter of the case
       while the pinion engaging with it was of only nominal
       diameter. This meant that one turn of the winding crown
       wound the barrel a much smaller fraction of a revolution
       than in a watch of conventional design.

  [6]  District of Columbia death record 145,013.

  [7]  Hopkins is not in the _Washington and Georgetown
       directory_ of 1860 or 1862, and 1861 was not available
       to check. Starting with 1863 he is listed each year
       through 1871. Starting with 1872 Boyd's _Directory of
       the District of Columbia_ lists Hopkins as a resident
       each year (including 1902, the year of his death at 84
       years) except 1877, when he was out of the city in
       connection with the exploitation of his rotary watch
       patents. Carl W. Drepperd, _American clocks and
       clockmakers_ (Garden City, N.Y., 1947), in referring to
       Hopkins, says, "Lincoln, Me. 1840's-1850's: Bangor, Me.,
       to 1862. Inventor of the Auburndale Watch. Also
       manufactured pianos and clock cases."

Developing the Invention

Edward A. Locke had long been seeking a simple watch adapted to easy
manufacture and a selling price of three to four dollars. While on a trip
to Washington his attention was drawn to the Hopkins watch by William D.
Colt of Washington.[8] A result of this meeting appears to have been
the issuance to Jason R. Hopkins of two patents,[9] in both of which
half rights were assigned to William D. Colt. Patent 165831, relates to a
barrel arbor for watches. The arbor will be seen (fig. 4) to consist of
two parts, one telescoped within the other and the composite arbor
_B_-_C_ supported at each end by the frame of the watch. The patent text
limits itself to a bare description of the arbor. In the light of what we
have seen of the shortcomings of the original model, however, the patent
drawings tell that much more had been accomplished on the general design
of a more workable rotary watch.

A square on arbor _C_ at the back of the watch permits winding the main
spring, which attaches to the largest diameter of _C_, a ratchet or
winding click being supplied just under support _F_. The inner or front
part _B_ of the composite arbor projects from the front of the movement
and revolves at the speed of the barrel arbor, which speed is not
specified. Also, looking at the perspective view, we see that while the
chronometer escapement has been retained, the balance has been placed
eccentrically to make room for the center arbor. The balance now
describes an orbit around the center of revolution. No driving train is
shown, it being irrelevant to the patent, but there seems to be ample
room for two intermediate wheels and their pinions between the escape
wheel and the train cock boss, seen at the upper right in the perspective
view of figure 4. Adding one more wheel and pinion to the train would
have the effect of reducing the number of revolutions required of the
spring barrel. We have seen from examination of the patent model of the
Hopkins rotary that this was necessary not only to reduce the number of
turns of the main spring and barrel but also to reduce the force
transmitted to the escapement. There seems little reason from the
foregoing observations and considerations to doubt that these
modifications had been realized by the time of this patent. Again no dial
gearing is shown. If the need for special gearing existed at this time it
seems strange that it was not covered by patent as was done in the later
patent[10] assigned to William B. Fowle. The only way to avoid special
gearing would be to revolve the barrel and train each hour so that the
minute hand could travel with them as it travels with the center wheel in
conventional watches. Once this condition was set up, the usual dial
gearing would apply.

Companion patent 165830 (see fig. 5) covers a mechanism to prevent
overbanking of the balance wheel, primarily of a chronometer escapement.
This, of course, was aimed at making it possible to use the escapement in
connection with a mainspring of greatly varying power. We have seen that
this condition of uneven power existed in the first Hopkins watch. While
the condition was greatly improved in the second model (seen in fig. 4),
it was surely present to some extent, as it is associated with every
spring. Overbanking protection may well have continued to be necessary,
particularly if the gear ratio between escapement and barrel was low
enough to permit hourly rotation of the barrel. The features covered by
this patent were originally submitted as part of what later became patent
165831. Examination of the original manuscript patent file[11] shows
that the patent application was separated into two on the suggestion of
the patent examiner, who pointed out that two distinct and separate
mechanisms were involved, either of which could be used without the

[Illustration: Figure 6.--DRAWING FROM U. S. PATENT 179019 showing
Hopkins' device to prevent the tripping of a chronometer escapement.]

These two patents, which actually started out as one, appear to represent
the watch as it was when Hopkins went to Waterbury, Connecticut, where he
again met Edward A. Locke. They submitted this improved watch model to
the Benedict and Burnham Manufacturing Co., which advised not
manufacturing it until it was further developed. Hopkins went with his
watch from there to Boston, where he conferred with George Merritt who,
like Locke, was interested in getting into the manufacture of a
low-priced watch. Merritt may have been the senior member of the
Locke-Merritt team or may simply have had more faith than his associates
in Hopkins and his watch. At any rate, he advanced expense money while
further efforts at improvement were made.[12] Hopkins' absence from the
_Washington city directory_ of 1877 is perhaps explained by this work he
was doing on his patent. While this was completed to Hopkins'
satisfaction, it still fell short of Merritt's idea of practicality, and
the latter abandoned the idea of manufacturing the watch;[13] what had
started out as a very simple watch of few parts grew, with every effort
to make it workable, more and more complicated by involved and expensive
detail. It appears that Hopkins did not possess the rare gift of
improvement by simplification. This is a rare gift, and one seldom
possessed by an individual very closely and intensely involved in the
minute details of a given problem.

[Illustration: Figure 7.--PART OF THE DRAWINGS FROM U. S. PATENT 186838,
showing the winding and setting mechanism very nearly as it was applied
in the Auburndale rotary.]

How long this period of development and experimentation required is
unreported. It could hardly have started before early June of 1875, when
application was made for the patent (165830) to prevent overbanking. The
cash book of William B. Fowle of Auburndale, Massachusetts,[14] tells
us that he bought half of William D. Colt's half-interest in the Hopkins
rotary in March 1876, partly for cash but including a royalty on each
watch made. Half this royalty was to go to Hopkins, a quarter to William
D. Colt, and a quarter to William B. Fowle. Does patent 179019, issued
June 20, 1876, to Hopkins, who assigned it on June 10, 1876, to
Fowle,[15] represent the last improvement offered to Merritt? It covers
a device actuated by a spur on a balance staff to lock the detent against
tripping when in one position and to permit normal operation of the
chronometer escapement when in the other position (see fig. 6). Another
patent applied for on January 12, 1876, was in prospect and finally
issued as no. 186838 on January 30, 1877, assigned to William B. Fowle on
November 21, 1876.[16] This is much the most practical and useful
patent in the series. A comparison of these (see figs. 7 and 8) with the
Auburndale rotary watch (see fig. 9) shows a remarkable similarity
between the inventor's conception and the product eventually
manufactured. A practical center arbor to support and guide the entire
rotating mechanism is here combined with a stem-winding and lever-setting
mechanism and dial gearing in a well thought out arrangement.

[Illustration: Figure 8.--REMAINING DRAWINGS FROM U. S. PATENT 186838,
showing the dial gearing used in the Auburndale rotary.]

Here, where the story of the Hopkins watch diverges from the interests
who later brought out the rival Waterbury watch, it seems appropriate to
call the reader's attention to the basic points of novelty and merit in
the Hopkins watch which carried over to what became the Waterbury,
somewhat as an hereditary characteristic passes from generation to
generation. Previous writers have realized that one of these watches led
to the other and have grouped them together because of the rotating
feature which they shared in common. Beyond this point they have treated
the watches as though they had nothing in common. Actually several basic
features of the Hopkins watch existed in both: the long narrow spring in
a barrel approximately filling one side of the watch case, a train
rotating in the center of the watch and driven by a planetary pinion in
mesh with a gear fixed to the stationary part of the watch, a slow beat
escapement, and probably the hourly rotation of the train and escapement.
When these details appeared in the first watches manufactured for Messrs.
Locke and Merritt by the Benedict and Burnham Manufacturing Co. and later
the Waterbury Watch Co., they were vastly changed in detail and much
better adapted to mass production, although still basically the same.

  (In the author's collection.)]

The story of Hopkins' rotary watch now enters an entirely new setting
with new financial backing which, however, had no apparent experience or
background in mechanical work, much less watch manufacturing. Those with
watchmaking experience who were brought into this new organization
unquestionably did their best, based on past experience confined to
conventional watches of much higher grade. Judging from the products
turned out, however, they had great difficulty in making a clean break
with their past and in producing a satisfactory low-priced watch of new
and radical concept. The market for watches, which had been depressed,
was at this time reviving a little. The _Newton Journal_,[17] referring
to the American Watch Co. at Waltham reported: "The hands employed in the
caseroom and the machinists have been called in. All the works are to be
started the first of September."

[Illustration: Figure 10.--WILLIAM B. FOWLE, sponsor of the Auburndale
Watch Co., after an engraving in S. F. Smith, _History of Newton,
Massachusetts_ (Boston, 1880).]

  [8]  Chas. S. Crossman, "A complete history of watch and
       clock making in America," _Jewelers Circular and
       Horological Review_, January 1888, pp. 400, 401. This
       history ran as a continuing series of short articles
       appearing over a period of years. In his sketch of the
       Waterbury Watch Co., Crossman gives the name as William
       D. Coates, a name not found in Boyd's _Directory of the
       District of Columbia_ for 1875. The directory does,
       however, contain the name of William D. Colt, a patent

  [9]  U. S. patents 165830 and 165831, granted July 20,

 [10]  U. S. patent 186838, January 30, 1877.

 [11]  Patent file 165831, records of the Patent Office in the
       National Archives, Washington, D. C.

 [12]  Crossman, _op. cit._ (footnote 8), January 1888,
       p. 32.

 [13]  _Ibid._, p. 33.

 [14]  William B. Fowle's "Cash book," commenced January 1,
       1873, and closed February 21, 1882, plus "Cash Book #5
       Leaves 1 to 20 inclusive. All that were used up to my
       failure on August 4, 1883," are in the author's
       possession. They contain many entries on the "Watch
       Adventure" and later "Aub Watch Co." mixed in with other
       entries referring to everything from killing pigs to
       extensive stock, bond, and real estate transactions.

 [15]  U. S. Patent Office digest of assignments, vol. H9V,
       p. 13, stored at Franconia, Virginia, Accession no.

 [16]  _Ibid._, p. 76.

 [17]  August 26, 1876, p. 2., under the heading of Waltham
       Items, "Signs of a revival of business at the Watch
       Works in Waltham."

The New Sponsor

William Bentley Fowle (fig. 10), new partner with Hopkins and Colt in the
watch, was born in Boston, Massachusetts on July 27, 1826. His father,
William B. Fowle, Senior, a well-known Boston teacher and educator, had
variously been a bookseller and conductor of a "Female Monitorial
School."[18] The junior William B. Fowle we have first located as a
ticket master with the Boston and Worcester Railroad in 1848,[19] and
he retained this listing in the directory through 1851. Starting in 1852
and continuing through 1862, with no indication of employer or
occupation, he had an office at 9 Merchants Exchange. In 1860 and 1862 he
was a member of the Boston Common Council, and was president of that body
in 1865. In 1862, after the second battle of Bull Run, he raised an
infantry company for the 43rd Massachusetts Volunteers and was mustered
in, September 24, 1862, with the rank of captain. From December 7, 1862,
to March 4, 1863, he was commandant of the military post at Beaufort,
North Carolina. He then reported to his regiment. On June 24, 1863, he
was left sick at New Bern, North Carolina, by his company bound for
Fortress Monroe. On July 21 he rejoined his company at Boston,
Massachusetts, in time to be mustered out on July 30 at the expiration of
his nine months' enlistment.[20]

AUBURNDALE ROTARY. Note, in addition to the escapement, the absence of
banking pins and the metal balance jewel in the escapement at the left,
which is from watch No. 176. (Both watches in the author's collection.)]

In the 1864 _Boston directory_ we find him listed as treasurer of the
Bear Valley Coal Co., and the North Mountain Coal Co., with an office at
38 City Exchange. This association with the coal business continued with
changes unimportant to our story through the directories until 1877, in
which year the name is dropped from the _Boston directory_, not to
reappear until the directory of 1880, where he is listed at "Herald
Building, watches and timers." This was apparently the sales office. The
_Newton directory_ of 1877 drops its previous listing of coal after Mr.
Fowle's name and first mentions the Auburndale Watch Co.[21] In 1866
Mr. Fowle established his home, Tanglewood, in Auburndale, a village in
Newton not far from his boyhood home at West Newton and on the bank of
the Charles River about two miles upstream from the Waltham Watch Co. He
served the town of Newton as selectman from 1869 through 1871, was an
alderman in 1877, and mayor in 1878 and 1879.[22]

[Illustration: Figure 12.--A 24-HOUR DIAL for the rotary watch.
  (In the author's collection.)]

William Atherton Wales of New York is credited with introducing Mr. Fowle
to the Hopkins watch. No clue has come to light on what connection there
was between Hopkins and Wales, who had been a partner in the large
watch-importing house of Giles, Wales and Co., in New York and later a
large stockholder in the United States Watch Co. of Marion, New Jersey,
which had only ceased operation in 1874. A patent[23] had been issued
to Fayette S. Giles of New York, the leading figure in the United States
Watch Co., for an improvement in stem-winding watches. This had
presumably been available to his company. In this winding mechanism a
crown pinion driven by a clutch on the stem engages with a large ring
gear, having 110 internal teeth, which in turn drives a gear on the
barrel arbor. The author has seen no watch, except the patent
model,[24] containing this device, but the pillar plate of many of the
United States Watch Co. movements were cut out, apparently to receive
this ring gear.

The expense of cutting so many internal teeth in steel seems reason
enough to explain why this patent did not become the basis for all their
stem-wound models. Steel is far more difficult to cut than brass,
resulting in a much greater consumption of time and cutters, both of
which represent money to the manufacturer. In the patent model these
ring-gear teeth have been cut by a milling cutter which did not pass
through the ring and across the face of the teeth. This produced a gear
somewhat resembling an internal bevel gear, one which could have only the
merest contact with its mating pinion. To make a durable gear for this
application it would be necessary to pass the cutter through the ring in
line with the gear axis. This would require a special or, at least,
radically modified gear-cutting machine with a cutter arbor shorter than
the inside diameter of the gear. Into this short space the spindle
bearings and means of driving the spindle would have to be crowded, along
with the cutter. Hopkins faced a problem similar to this in cutting the
ring gear for his watch, except that the brass gear needed for the rotary
watch could be cut far more easily and quickly. This may be the link
which brought Wales and the defunct United States Watch Co. into the
Auburndale picture. Another plausible link between Fowle and Wales
involves a patent[25] Wales received for a pulley. This, the now
familiar device of interlocking conical sections so commonly used in
variable speed V-belt drives, was assigned to G. E. Lincoln of Boston,
Massachusetts. George E. Lincoln was treasurer of the Mammoth Vein
Consolidated Coal Co. at Boston in 1865, with an office adjoining that of
Fowle. In addition he boarded for many years at Auburndale,[26] and he
apparently owned the buildings about to be converted into a watch
factory. Thus we see that Lincoln may very well have been the one who
brought Fowle and Wales together.

[Illustration: Figure 13.--THE AUBURNDALE TIMER with top plate, balance,
and control mechanism removed to show the train. The conventional barrel
has 66 teeth that drive a pinion on the so-called 10-minute staff. This
staff carries on the dial end the pointer, which revolves in 10 minutes,
as indicated on the dial. Also on this staff is an unspoked wheel of 80
driving the center, or minute, staff through a pinion of 8. In addition
to the sweep hand (or hands in the case of the split model) indicating
seconds up to a duration of one minute, there is a wheel of 80 driving a
pinion of 8 on an intermediate staff. A wheel of 60 on this staff drives
a pinion of 10 on the escape-wheel staff. A pointer on this last staff
also carries the hand that indicates fractions of a second. (In the
author's collection.)]

William B. Fowle's cash book shows, on July 14, 1876, payment to Geo. E.
Lincoln "For large building used $200" and "For small building used $30."
On July 21 is an entry "Milo Lucas bal. of Building Contract $1605.25."
These with an entry on the preceding June 30, "Milo Lucas on a/c Contract
for Building" seem, with a July 25 entry "W. E. C. Fowler, Painting
Factory $64.91," to cover the expense for the bare factory. The
buildings, two stories high and measuring 40 x 20 and 32 x 20 feet,
respectively, were located on the Weston bank of the Charles River,
opposite Fowle's home, from which they could be reached by a private
ferry. This pleasant bucolic location was not far upstream from that
originally sought by the Boston Watch Co. when that firm was looking for
a spot to move to from Roxbury in 1854. The situation of the factory was
described as a wild and secluded glen.[27]

Another account[28] says:

  The well appointed little steamer _White Swan_, owned and commanded
  by a Captain Gibbs, veteran of the last war, now plies regularly
  between Waltham and Auburndale Bridge, carrying picnic parties,
  etc.... Along the banks of the river are located the summer
  residences of Messrs. Cutter and Merrill, the elegant residence of
  R. M. Pulsifer, Mayor of Newton, the splendid mansion of Ex-Mayor
  Fowle, the Benyon mansion and others.... At sunset the river is
  alive with canoes, row-boats, shells and sailboats filled with
  ladies and gentlemen adding, with the delightful music, greatly to
  the natural charm of the scenery.

[Illustration: Figure 14.--ESCAPE WHEEL AND PALLETS of an Auburndale
timer. With four pins in the escape wheel, this particular one beats
eighths of a second. (In author's collection.)]

This idyllic pastoral setting surely must have been a joy to all
connected with the little watch factory. It seems to typify the
atmosphere of wealth and leisure into which the infant industry was
brought without adequate study of the problems it would be called upon to

The Auburndale machinery came from the United States Watch Co. factory at
Marion, New Jersey, which, as we have seen, was closed in 1874. William
A. Wales, who was associated with Fowle in the Auburndale "adventure,"
had been secretary, treasurer, and director of this company. Most of the
machinery came from George E. Hart and Co., of Newark, which had taken
over much of the Company's equipment, eventually selling it to other
factories. Warren E. Ray, a neighbor of Mr. Fowle's, commenced as manager
of the factory in July 1876, and died suddenly of heart disease about
October 1 of that year. He was soon succeeded by Mr. James H. Gerry, who
had gone from Waltham to Newark in 1863 to superintend the building of
the original machines for the United States factory.

The employees were chiefly drawn from other factories, principally the
neighboring American Watch Co. at Waltham, and the defunct United States
Watch Co., while some who needed no specific watchmaking skills perhaps
never had worked in a watch factory before. Names, not already mentioned,
that have been preserved are: George H. Bourne, L. C. Brown, Abraham
Craig, Frederick H. Eaves, Henry B. Fowle, Benjamin F. Gerry, William H.
Guest, Jose Guinan, Sadie Hewes, Isaac Kilduff (the watchman), Justin
Hinds, E. Moebus, James O'Connell (the stationary engineer), Edwin H.
Perry, Frank N. Robbins, John Rose, Thomas W. Shephard, William H. A.
Simmons, Alfred Simpson, Thomas Steele, Oscar L. Strout, and George Wood.
These, compiled from several sources,[29] represent only a few of the
men who contributed their knowledge and skill to the enterprise; they are
listed in alphabetical order because it has been found impossible to
arrange them accurately according to position, magnitude of contribution,
or length of service.

Of the five Hopkins patents[30] the first and the last are the ones
covering the essential elements used in the Auburndale product. The two
patents assigned in half to William D. Colt apparently were never used,
nor does the device shown in figure 6 seem to have been used, although
these unused patents are listed on the Auburndale movements. Now that the
watch was in the hands of men accustomed to making watches, some
modifications dictated by their experience and by considerations of
expediency in manufacture were made. The movement that issued was 18
size, rather thick, cased at the factory in a nickel case made by the
Thiery Watch Case Co. of Boston, Massachusetts. In the winding and
setting mechanisms, some changes in details were made with respect to
those shown in figure 7. The dial is mounted by means of a rim which
snaps over the edge of the movement as on a high-grade Swiss watch of the
same era. The usual dial feet, if used, would have interfered with the
rotation of the movement. For the same reason, of course, there is no
dial indicating seconds.

[Illustration: Figure 15.--VERGE AND LEVER for an Auburndale timer. The
one on the left beats eighths of a second; that on the right beats
quarters. (In author's collection.)]

Five jewels are found in most instances, two cap jewels and two hole
jewels for the balance staff and a jeweled impulse pin. One of the faults
of the movement is that the cap and hole jewels on the balance are not
separable for cleaning. After the jewels were inserted part of the
setting was spun down over them, making the assembly permanent. A few
movements with only one jewel are known, the cap and hole jewels being
metal "jewels" likewise set under a spun-over rim. Whether or not the
impulse jewel found in these last-mentioned movements is original or a
later intrusion remains undetermined. It is easy to conceive that the
factory would see no more necessity for an impulse jewel than for other

The lever escapement is the only one known to have been used, but two
varieties of this are found (see fig. 11). One is a standard club-tooth
lever with banking pins, the other, much more interesting because
unconventional, has pointed pallets and all the lift on the escape wheel,
which has very short stubby teeth, very much like the wheel of a
pin-pallet escapement. No banking pins are used, the banking taking place
between the pallets and the wheel. An examination of a number of these
watches, with serial numbers ranging from 46 to 507,[31] reveals no
correlation between the serial number and the style of escapement, from
which one may conclude that the pointed pallet escapement was originally
used; later four balance jewels were added and the escapement changed to
the conventional club-tooth pattern. As complaints came in about the
defective running of the watch these changes were apparently substituted
at the factory in customers' watches. The movements with the
pointed-pallet escapement seldom show much wear; on the other hand, watch
no. 224,[32] which has the conventional escapement and five jewels, is
very much worn and must have run for many years.

These watches are stem wound by turning opposite to the usual direction
and are set through the winding crown after actuating a setting lever
located under the front bezel. The plates, bridges, and ring gear are
nickel-plated and highly buffed, making a very showy movement, the only
instances of such a finish on watches in the author's experience. In
figure 12 is shown a 24-hour dial to fit the movement. Special dial
gearing would be required for the hour hand to accompany this dial.

[Illustration: Figure 16.--DIAL FOR 1/10-SECOND MODEL Auburndale timer.
(In author's collection.)]

The first of these watches were placed on the market in 1877, priced at
$10.00 to the trade. Soon complaints came in that they were defective in
operation and many were returned. We have seen from the specimens
examined that there seems to have been no established model produced in
quantity. The dial and the number of jewels varied, as well as the
escapement, suggesting that the owners were groping for a salable variant
of the design for which they had tooled the factory. Probably the pointed
pallet escapement was used first, it being the less expensive of the two.
In addition to the saving effected by not requiring banking pins, the
escape wheel was much cheaper to cut, as the teeth were very short and
strong (see fig. 11). Since the banking took place between the pallets
and the escape wheel, there was no adjustment for the amount of slide;
and since the watches were not made to close tolerances, the slide was
necessarily excessive and consequently power consuming. The conventional
club-tooth escapement was probably substituted as less troublesome,
although the banking pins were fixed and could only be adjusted by
bending them. The pallets remained solid steel, without adjustable stone

At this stage of affairs approximately $140,000 had been invested in the
venture, the market was already glutted with conventional watches which
enjoyed the confidence of retailers, and the Auburndale Rotary had won a
bad reputation. The success of any watch depends largely on the
confidence the retail dealers have in it. They are looking for a product
easy to sell at an attractive profit as well as one that will stay sold
and create a satisfied customer. Fowle was of course very much
disappointed; before going into the venture he had been advised that he
could expect to produce 200 watches per day on an expenditure of
$16,000.[33] The watches reached the market at a time, the fall of
1877, almost coincidental with application by D. Azro A. Buck for patents
on what was to become the Waterbury rotary. These patents represented a
new and economically sound expression of the basic ideas of Hopkins. The
Waterbury associates immediately commenced work aimed at getting their
watch on the market by June 1878.[34] News of this certainly reached
Auburndale where they were not only well aware of the cost of producing
their rotary but were also aware of the strict cost and performance
studies which Locke and Merritt would apply to any watch before they
would invest in it. Knowledge of this very able and well organized rival,
coupled with the troubles experienced in manufacturing and selling the
Auburndale Rotary, seem to account for the decision to abandon it. It was
unfortunate that the timing of events happened just as it did for a
little more work on the Auburndale and the tools for making it would
probably have placed it on a firm footing in the trade, although
obviously it could never compete with what eventually became the
low-priced watch, really a scaled-down alarm clock minus the alarm

It is said that about one thousand of the "Rotaries" were made. The
highest serial number to come to the author's attention, 507, may
indicate that only a part of the watches started were finished.

Accounts agree[35] that the next product of the factory was a "Timer"
containing a novel escapement patented on May 28, 1878,[36] by William
A. Wales. Early specimens are marked "Pat. Applied For," but one with the
serial number 996[37] bears no reference at all to a patent, presumably
because issuance of the patent or patents was imminent. Apparently the
timer was in full production before the patent was issued on May 28.
Specimens with higher serial numbers are stamped with three patent dates,
May 28, 1878,[38] June 24, 1879, and September 30, 1879, as seen in
figure 13, which also shows the arrangement of the train. In this
escapement the escape wheel (fig. 14) carries in the rim any suitable
number of steel pins all on the same radius from, and parallel to, the
axis of wheel rotation. In all cases the wheel makes one revolution per
second. The verge (figs. 14 and 15) is so proportioned that the distance
between the points of repose on the entrance and exit pallets will stop
the wheel at intervals equal to half the angular distance between the

In other words, with two pins in the escape wheel the escapement will
beat quarters of a second, because starting from a point of repose the
wheel will be arrested on the other point of repose after turning through
90°. With four pins in the escape wheel and a suitably proportioned verge
the escape wheel advances in steps of 45° and beats eighths of a second.
The growing trend in this period to standardize the timing of sporting
events in intervals of fifths of a second is reflected in still another
model having five pins in the escape wheel and beating tenths of a
second. By the nature of the verge in this escapement, it will be seen
that the number of beats must be twice the number of pins in the escape
wheel, leaving no way to secure an odd number of beats per second, hence
the 1/10-second model. This must have been a less desirable form because
of the much smaller verge required, plus the problem of accelerating so
much mass from a dead stop 600 times per minute.

[Illustration: Figure 17.--A TIMER DIAL that is probably either
experimental or very early. Note that the fractions of a second
(quarters) are shown on the outside dial instead of on a separate dial.
This dial was converted at the factory for use as the base of a
hairspring vibrating stand. A dial different from this but having the
same arrangement of circles is known. (In author's collection.)]

Figure 16 illustrates a dial for this 1/10-second model which the author
found in a lot of unused parts left over when the factory closed. The
watch had an 18-size 3/4-plate movement with grained nickel finish. The
escapement is special, as we have seen, but the fork, roller, and balance
action are conventional. There are five jewels, four to support the
balance staff and an impulse jewel. The barrel arbor comes through the
top plate with a square, as in a keywind watch, but is fitted with a
winding handle, so that a key is unnecessary. This handle appears to be
an afterthought, because on the earlier models (those with serial numbers
below 1,000), the barrel arbor is short, barely long enough to attach the
winding handle; later this arbor was made longer. Patent 204274 issued to
Benjamin Wormelle of Brighton, Massachusetts, on May 28, 1878, the same
date as Wales' escapement patent, may have suggested this winding handle.
On watches with higher serial numbers, there are two arrows on the handle
to show the direction to wind.

The earliest of these timers had a slide on the side of the case to stop
the movement by means of a piece of thin spring steel applied roughly
tangentially to the smooth rim of the three-arm, solid steel balance
wheel. When this action is reversed to start the movement, the spring, in
retracting from the wheel rim, starts the wheel swinging. Soon this slide
on the case was dispensed with by fitting a curved sheet-metal rack into
a groove turned in the edge of the balance cock. Engaging this rack was a
pinion with a square hole through which the square stem could slide to
set the hands back to zero as it had from the beginning, while turning
the stem now would actuate the pinion and rack to start and stop the
movement, as the slide in the case had originally done.

Various minor changes, dictated by experience and the need for economy in
manufacture, were made in these movements. After about the first thousand
the diameter of the balance was reduced from approximately .700 to about
.530 inch. This smaller wheel was, of course, much more suitable to
vibrate at the faster speeds required on the models beating eighths and
tenths of a second. At some time between the manufacture of watches
bearing serial numbers 3135 and 3622, the formerly separate winding pawl
and spring were combined into one piece that could be entirely made in a
punch press. Another economy move was to stamp the name and patents in
place of hand engraving. For a long time hand engraving was used,
although stamping had been used from the beginning on the earlier rotary

The case was very similar to that used on the rotary. The dial, of white
enamel with snap rim fastened by a screw,[39] carried three graduated
circles, an outer circle graduated in seconds up to sixty surrounding two
smaller subsidiary dials. The top one of these smaller dials recorded
minutes elasped up to ten and the lower one recorded fractions of a
second. The same dial was used on movements indicating quarters and
eighths of seconds, all being graduated in eighths. A dial without
provision for indicating the fractions of a second on a separate small
dial may be seen in figure 17. This last has been made into a stand for
hair spring work and is shown with balance and spring just as it came
from the Auburndale factory with balance spring and wheel for a timer
still in place.


  (In author's collection.)]

The sweep second hand and the minute register hand are attached to
heart-shaped cams friction driven from their respective staffs. They are
reset by a bar pivoted beneath the dial and actuated by the stem through
pressure on the crown. An original instruction tag as sent from the
factory with these timers is seen in figure 18.

Figure 19 shows the mechanism of the split-second model as represented
in U. S. patent 220195 of September 30, 1879, issued to William A. Wales
and assigned to William B. Fowle.[40] A split-second mechanism is used
to time the finish of two horses in the same race or any other similar
event. In usual watches of this nature the watch will run along
indefinitely with the extra or split second hand stopped although this
hand will not record more than a difference of one minute from the main
sweep hand. This was not true of the Auburndale, as pointed out in the
instructions. The reason for this is that motion is conveyed to this hand
through a hair spring which would be damaged if allowed to overwind. To
prevent this a stop is interposed which will halt the entire watch unless
directions are followed. The serrated wheel _F_, of hardened steel,
driving the second sweep hand, is cut on the edge with 120 serrations;
stopping of this hand therefore is only to the nearest half second
regardless of how minutely the escapement is dividing time. This is
rather a serious defect as, if timing a horse race as an example, the
time of the fastest horse is taken on this hand which registers a lesser
degree of accuracy than the time recorded on the second and less
important horse. A general view of one of these watches is seen in
figure 20.

 [18]  _Stimpson's Boston directory_, 1840.

 [19]  _Adams' new directory of the City of Boston_, 1847-48,
       1849-50, 1851.

 [20]  Records of Veterans Administration, pension application
       666 675, National Archives, Washington, D. C.

 [21]  The _Newton directory_ at this time was issued
       biennially on odd numbered years.

 [22]  S. F. Smith, _History of Newton, Massachusetts_, Boston
       1880, p. 833.

 [23]  U. S. patent 65208, issued May 28, 1867, all rights
       assigned to Giles, Wales and Co., March 4, 1867 and
       recorded March 8, 1867, at U. S. Patent Office, liber
       G9, p. 100.

 [24]  In the U. S. National Museum, cat. no. 309021.

 [25]  U. S. patent 179746, issued July 11, 1876.

 [26]  _Boston directory_, 1865 through 1872.

 [27]  M. F. Sweitser, _King's handbook of Newton,
       Massachusetts_, Boston, Mass., 1889, p. 203.

 [28]  Smith, _op. cit._ (footnote 22), p. 20.

 [29]  The sources used were Crossman, _op. cit._
       (footnote 8), December 1887; Henry G. Abbot, _Watch
       factories of America_, Chicago, 1888, pp. 93-95;
       _Newton directory_ for 1875, 1877, 1879, 1881, 1883,
       1884-85, and 1885; _Waltham-Watertown directory_ for
       1877-78, 1880, 1882, 1884; and William B. Fowle, "Cash
       book" (see footnote 14).

 [30]  U. S. patents 161513, applied for November 13, 1873,
       issued March 30, 1875; 165830, applied for July 14,
       1875, issued July 20, 1875; 165831, applied for June 9,
       1875, issued July 20, 1875; 179019, applied for May 25,
       1876, issued June 20, 1876; and 186838, applied for
       January 12, 1876, issued January 30, 1877. A French
       patent was issued to Hopkins on September 12, 1876, and
       a Belgian patent on September 30, 1876. For lack of
       records neither has been positively identified but
       presumably they are for the same device covered in
       U. S. patent 179019.

 [31]  No. 46 courtesy of the late C. A. Ilbert (this watch is
       now in the Science Museum, South Kensington, London);
       124, 176, 224, 241 in the author's collection; 161
       Abbot, _op cit._ (footnote 29); 250 Henry Ford Museum,
       Dearborn, Michigan; 361 F. Earl Hackett; 387 Dr. Alfred
       G. Cossidente; 403 Dr. W. B. Stephens; 423 Crossman, _op
       cit._ (footnote 8); and an unnumbered movement
       illustrated in _American Jeweler_, December 1898, vol.
       17, no. 12, p. 371.

 [32]  In the author's collection.

 [33]  Crossman, _op. cit._ (footnote 8), December 1887,
       p. 400.

 [34]  Crossman, _op. cit._ (footnote 8), January 1888,
       p. 33.

 [35]  Crossman, _op. cit._ (footnote 8), January 1888,
       pp. 400-401; Abbot, _op. cit._ (footnote 29).

 [36]  U. S. patent 204400.

 [37]  U. S. National Museum cat. no. 248691.

 [38]  U. S. patent 204400. The text of this patent speaks of
       dividing the second into "halves, quarters, eighths,
       etc." and in the summation of claims of "an escape
       wheel, _A_, provided with one or more pairs of pins..."
       showing that measuring tenths of a second with a
       five-pin escape wheel was not conceived at this time. It
       is interesting to note that in referring to the drawings
       shown in figure 12 the text states "In the present
       instance two pairs of pins are used to denote quarter
       seconds." Only one pair of pins is shown, which is
       correct. This seems, however, to reflect carelessness on
       the part of patent attorneys and examiners, as the error
       exists in the original manuscript patent application
       preserved in the National Archives, Washington, D. C.

 [39]  U. S. patent 216917, issued to William A. Wales and
       assigned to William B. Fowle, was applied for on
       November 1, 1878, after the device was already in use on
       earlier specimens of these watches.

 [40]  The mechanism was also covered by British patent 3893,
       issued September 27, 1879, to Philip Syng Justice on
       behalf of William B. Fowle.

Success and Failure

It would be pleasant to report that after the fiasco of the rotary model
these timers were a financial success, but the facts indicate otherwise.
They were well built and reliable, so that the trade was pleased to stock
and promote them. The public responded well when in the market for a
timer, as might be expected, since no other stop watch with fractional
second dial or split-second hand was made in the country. Those imported
from abroad were many times as expensive. Unfortunately the demand was
seasonal. Sometimes, during the racing season, demand would reach 400
per month, while at other seasons of the year practically none at all
were sold. Some remained in stock during the remaining life of the
company, as is shown by the following advertisement,[41] which was
accompanied by an illustration of the watch:

  The old reliable Auburndale Chronograph Timers, for sale by Edward
  H. Brown, No. 16 Maiden Lane, New York. The manufacture of these
  watches having been discontinued for reasons entirely apart from
  their value and reliability, the stock in existence is very
  limited, and is now in the hands of Mr. Edward H. Brown, No. 16
  Maiden Lane, New York City, the well known and reliable dealer in
  Watches, Diamonds and Jewelry. The Auburndale timer has been in the
  hands of a number of competent judges, and has always been found to
  be accurate. It is of convenient size, and is contained in a German
  silver case, nickel plated. The timers are manufactured in two
  qualities, without split seconds for $15 and with the split second
  for $25. They all have minute, second and lightning hands. We
  recommend all desiring a cheap and reliable timer to apply at once
  to Mr. Brown, No. 16 Maiden Lane, New York.

A steadier market was sought with the introduction of a low priced
3/4-plate, back-setting, 18-size watch to compete, it was hoped, with the
full-plate watches of similar price made by the established companies.
Nearly all these watches had seven jewels, some few had more. The
majority were key wind and set with a folding winding key permanently
attached to the barrel arbor, as in figure 21. These were named
"Lincoln" for Mr. Fowle's son, Lincoln A. Fowle,[42] and had a solid
steel balance with screws and the general appearance of a compensated
balance. A stem-wound, lever-set edition of the same basic watch was
named "Bentley" for Bentley D. Fowle, another son.[43] This had a cut
bimetallic balance and higher finish. Conventional gilt finish was used
on both of these models, although one isolated specimen found in factory
remainders[44] has a bright nickel finish comparable with the rotary
watch. These watches were designed by Chauncey Hartwell,[45] after J.
H. Gerry had removed to Lancaster, where the Lancaster Watch Co.,
organized in August 1877, was attempting to bring a line of watches onto
the market although beset by acute financial woes similar to those
building up at Auburndale. To return to our 3/4-plate watches, it may be
said that they were well made for the price, reliable, and successful
from a manufacturing point of view but could not be sold at a figure high
enough to return a profit on the manufacture.

[Illustration: Figure 19.--SPLIT SECOND MECHANISM of the Auburndale
timer, as shown in drawings from U. S. patent 220195, issued September
30, 1879.]

Up to this time, about November 1, 1879, the Auburndale Watch Co., had
existed as a private company; now it was incorporated with a book value
of $500,000, and William B. Fowle, who at this point had invested about
$250,000 (mostly unrecoverable) in the enterprise, was elected president,
and George H. Bourne was elected secretary and treasurer.

After a quantity of these Lincoln and Bentley watches had been
manufactured[46] and it had become clear that they could not be
attractively priced to the trade, the company sought a product adapted to
their factory equipment for which a constant market could be found. The
product chosen was a line of metallic thermometers.[47] Two patents,
240058 and 240059, were issued to William A. Wales, assignor to the
Auburndale Watch Co., of Weston, Massachusetts, on April 12, 1881.
Whether these patents represent the first thermometers made at Auburndale
or reflect the result of experience gained in making conventional models
is not clear. The earliest evidence dating the appearance of the
thermometer is the 1881 _Boston directory_ which appeared on July 1. This
illustrates the same model of thermometer seen in figure 22. The patents
cover means of eliminating springs of any sort from the mechanism, so
that the hand or dial pointer is entirely under the influence of the
fused bimetallic thermal strips. Manufacture of the timers was carried
along with thermometer manufacture at first, but production of the timer
was finally dropped, as the stock on hand was constantly increasing, and
for a while the factory was at last operated at a profit, on thermometers
alone. These were furnished in cases from 20 inches in diameter down to
the size of a ten cent piece, according to the advertising.

[Illustration: Figure 20 (_left_).--AUBURNDALE TIMER WITH SPLIT SECOND
HAND. Note the stop and start lever for the "split" hand at the side of
the case. (In author's collection.)]

[Illustration: Figure 21 (_above_).--AUBURNDALE THREE-QUARTER PLATE
WATCH, typical of both Lincoln and Bentley grades. (In author's

Unfortunately Mr. Fowle had suffered so much loss through the watch
venture and from other investments that he was forced to make an
assignment of his personal estate. The watch company, without his
support, was carrying too large a burden of debt to be self-supporting.
In the fall of 1883 a voluntary assignment was made and the equipment was
sold in February 1884.[48] The _Newton directory_ of 1885 lists W. B.
Fowle as a thermometer manufacturer on Woodbine Street, "house near." His
home, "Tanglewood," was on Woodbine Street and perhaps the thermometer
business was operating in one of the outbuildings. William A. Wales
assigned to the Auburndale Watch Co. patent 276101, of December 4, 1883,
covering details of a unit counter for keeping score in games, and for
similar work. Among the relics in the author's collection is a box
bearing the label "Auburndale Counter, W. B. Fowle & Son, Auburndale,
Mass." These counters were packed two in a box, the box just mentioned
being suitable to contain counters the size of the thermometer in
figure 22. Figure 23 shows a larger counter measuring 4-1/2 inches in
diameter. From this and the fact that Fowle as late as 1887, is carried
in the _Newton directory_ as a manufacturer of metallic thermometers, it
seems that some attempt was made after dissolution of the watch company
to carry on manufacturing, or perhaps only the assembly on a small scale
of parts previously manufactured. The _Directory_ of 1889 lists Fowle as
an accountant on Ash Street, Auburndale. He had bought this property in
1887, presumably after disposing of "Tanglewood" which now would be too
large for his needs. In the editions of 1891 and 1893 he is listed as
United States collector of internal revenue, with an office at the Post
Office building, Boston. In 1895 he appears as an accountant at the same
address and from then to his death in 1902 he is listed as an accountant
at his home address in Auburndale.

[Illustration: Figure 22 (_above_).--AUBURNDALE THERMOMETER, about 1-3/4
inches in diameter. (In author's collection.)]

Jason R. Hopkins, inventor of the first Auburndale product, passed away
in Washington late the same year, 1902, having spent all the intervening
years as a watchmaker.

 [41]  _The Jewelers Circular and Horological Review_, July

 [42]  _Newton directory_, 1884-85; Crossman, _op. cit._
       (footnote 8), December 1887.

 [43]  Records of Veterans Administration, pension application
       WE 666 675 of Mary E. Fowle (widow of William B.

 [44]  Serial 926, in author's collection.

 [45]  _Newton directory_, 1879.

 [46]  Each model of watch made at Auburndale was numbered in
       its own series, starting at number 1, contrary to the
       usual watch factory practice where blocks of serial
       numbers are assigned to different models. Other
       Auburndale products seem not to have borne serial

 [47]  Crossman, _op. cit._ (footnote 8), December 1887.

 [48]  _Ibid._

The Lesson

The life of a pioneer has always been arduous. The story we have just
reviewed illustrates this. Hopkins was a successful workman with clever
and novel ideas. Fowle had been very successful in an entirely unrelated
field. Wales had been very successful in importing and selling watches
but the watch factory which he had owned in part had failed, the fault
more probably that of the times than of the man. The various
superintendents and foremen were first-class men with ample background in
making conventional watches. At the time no one could have had experience
in manufacturing exactly the grade and type of watch being attempted, for
this was the pioneer effort.

[Illustration: Figure 23 (_right_).--AUBURNDALE COUNTER. Pressure on the
projecting stem indexes the inner dial, showing through the window, at
the same time ringing a bell. This dial is numbered from zero through
six. The outside hand is held in place by friction and is manually set as
desired. There is no connection with the inner mechanism.]

The country was in the grip of a long, lingering depression following the
Civil War. Money was tight. The Auburndale Rotary was conceived as a very
low priced watch which would at the same time include the desirable and
unusual feature of close timekeeping. Could these ideals have been
adhered to, there is little reason to question that it would have found a
market, even in hard times.

We have seen that every effort to improve the original watch added to its
cost, and here lies the real reason why it failed to win acceptance. By
the time it reached the market it was no longer priced below conventional
watches and at least some specimens were not reliable in performance. To
make matters even worse, the best features of Hopkins' rotary watch had
been incorporated by Locke and Merritt into a competing rotary watch much
better engineered for cheap mass production.

At this point the only hope for the factory seemed to be the manufacture
of some other watch or similar small mechanism. The Auburndale timer,
with the exception perhaps of the split-second model, was a triumph
mechanically and it returned a profit, but not enough to meet the
financial needs of its sponsors. Much the same may be said of all the
later Auburndale products.

The rotary had been of doubtful value when Flowe bought it, and the new
organization was not able to contribute the necessary manufacturing
engineering to make it a successful product. By the time this necessity
was recognized, debts had mounted to the point where later products,
which might have been successful on their own, were not able to carry the
burden. The whole affair can be viewed as a very expensive educational
adventure from which the students were not able to salvage enough to put
their education to any use.

Surely they received a clear illustration of how dangerous it can be to
engage in an enterprise without sufficient background or a long and
careful study of design, manufacturing processes, costs, and market and
sales analysis. For although numerous fortunes have been made in watch
manufacturing, many more have been lost, and often those who put every
effort at their command into such ventures came away with only sad
experience as their reward. Thus ended the story of the Auburndale Watch

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Auburndale Watch Company - First American Attempt Toward the Dollar Watch" ***

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