History of Waltham Car Clocks
The Waltham Watch Company, based it Waltham Massachusetts in the USA, produced high quality watches, clocks, speedometers and other precision instruments between 1850 and 1957. In 1850 David Davis, Edward Howard and Aaron Lufkin Dennison formed the company that would later become the Waltham Watch Company.
The company initially produced watches and then railroad chronometers. In 1911 the Waltham Watch Company began to manufacture car clocks or "automobile timepieces," as they were described by the company. All of the early automobile clock manufacturers faced the challenge of producing clocks that could withstand the subtantial vibration transmitted to clocks fitted to the early automobiles. The solution developed by Waltham was a rugged clock based on the "37 size watch" movement. These were 8 day movements powered by 2 mainsprings. They are most commonly 7 jewel but some 15 jewel car clocks were also produced. There were two basic models produced - the model 1910 (named for the year it was designed) and the later version known as the model 1926 which was the year of the major redesign of the movement. The production of these clocks continued wth different variations of cases and styling well into the 1930s. Some variants have an indicator on the dial (a red dot) that provides an indication that the clock needs to be wound. The 37 size watch movements were used in a wide variety of other Waltham clocks produced in the 1920s and 1930s including travel clocks, desk clocks, ships clocks and chronometers, display clocks and wall clocks.
The early Waltham car clocks were quite expensive at the time and only a limited number of premium makes such as Packard and Pierce Arrow fitted the Waltham car clocks as standard equipment. They were successfully marketed as aftermarket accessories and were popular among the owners of the more common makes and are often found onto the Fords, Buicks and Dodge cars of the period. They were later fitted as standard equipment on a wider range of car makes.
The company that was to become the Elgin National Watch Company was founded in August 1864. It was initially called the National Watch Company. A number of former associates of the Waltham Watch Company were associated the formation of the company. The city of Elgin, Illinois was chosen as the factory site. The city donated 35 acres of land and the factory was completed in 1866.
History of Elgin car clocks
The main concept behind the establishment of the company was the mass production of pocket watches using machine made interchangeable parts. The first watch was produced in 1867 and over the following 100 years they produced 60 million watches and became one the major manufacturers of clocks in the USA. In the 20th century the company diversified and produced a wide range of products including chronometers, fuses for artillery shells, altimeters, bombsights and other precision instruments for the US armed forces during world war two and after the war decorator clocks, transistor radios and wedding rings. The production of automobile products at the company involved a range of products. This included the production of the Van Sicklen speedometer up until 1924. In 1922 the Elgin Clock Company was chartered as an outgrowth of the automobile clock that the Elgin National Watch Company had developed for Van Sicklen. The production of Elgin and Hunter dashboard clocks occured alongside the manufacture of automobile smoking sets and vanity cases. The Elgin stem-wind clocks that were mounted onto the dashboard were a popular accessory and were fitted on many vintage cars during the 1920s. There was also a variant of the Van Sicklen speedometer produced that had a Elgin clock integrated into the speedometer head.
The Waltham and Elgin car clocks were popular accessories on a wide variety of automobiles in the period from the 1910s to 1930s including the Model T Ford, Buick, Chevrolet and Dodge. We currently have a range of vintage Waltham and Elgin car clocks available for purchase. To view the vintage car clocks that we currently selling you can view the clocks in our webstore and our eBay listings. If there is a particular type of Elgin and Waltham mechanical car clock that you are seeking please email us and we will check if it we have it among our current stock.