Elgin Pocket Watches

1864 - 1964

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In 1863, the idea of beginning a large watch company in the West was discussed by Mr. J. C. Adams, of Chicago, and Mr. N. P. Stratton, of the American Watch Company, Waltham, Massachusetts. In the spring of 1864, Mr. P. S. Bartlett and Ira G. Blake, both of the American Watch Company, visited Chicago with the idea of building a watch factory in the area. Mr. Adams interviewed a number of men from Waltham who were anxious to form a new company, provided enough capital could be raised. Upon his return to Chicago, he interested several prominent business men, who, early in August, 1864, formed a corporation, under the name ot the National Watch Company. Incorporators were Benjamin W. Raymond, Howard A. Culver, Thomas W. Dickenson, George M. Wheeler, Philip Carpenter, W. Robbins and Edward H. Williams. The certificate of incorporation or license granted at this time was surrendered on April 25, 1865, and the company was reorganized under a special charter granted by the General Assembly of the State of Illinois, on February 15, 1865. The building committee selected the city of Elgin, Illinois for the factory. The citizens of the city donated 35 acres of land to the company for the plant and homes for the foremen, together with purchasing $25,000 worth of stock in the company. The work force came entirely from the Waltham Watch Company. They were offered higher wages and a plot of ground containing one-half acre as a homestead. In April, 1865, Mr. Daniel G. Currier, an expert watchmaker, was hired from Waltham and assisted in constructing a model watch, while work was commencing on the permanent factory buildings, which were completed by January 1, 1866. The first movement produced was an 18-size full plate, named -B. W. Raymond", after the president of the company, went on sale on April 1, 1867, or about 2 years and 7 months from the date of the organization of the company. It was a key wind, quick train and straight line escapement. On May 12, 1874, the corporate stockholders, at a special meeting, changed the name of the company from the National Watch Company to the Elgin National Watch Company.


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