Waltham: American Watchmakers That Almost Put the Swiss Out of Business

Founded in 1853, the American Waltham Watch Company figured out how to mass-produce watches so well that they almost put the entire Swiss watch industry out of business. I explain how this happened in a short Video Blog (vlog) post. 


waltham watch company

An American Waltham Watch Company movement

“It is obvious to all that at this moment the American factories have the advantage. Their products are wanted everywhere, they manufacture and they sell, while the Swiss factory is idle and its agents are without business, many with unsold goods.” (Jacques David, an executive of Longines, 1877, translated by Richard Watkins)

“[Waltham] increased their plant and turned out a better ordinary watch than the Swiss watch. At the end of several years, and with the aid of patriotism, the American watch enjoyed a good reputation, while our own was discredited everywhere.” (Edouard Favre-Perret, a Swiss watch executive, 1877)

“Swiss watchmaking is so deeply affected by American competition that many makers have reduced their production, and many others have been obliged to stop entirely, because the Americans not merely make their own watches, but export also to Europe, particularly to France and to England.” (Bally, a Swiss businessman who visited America, 1878)

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These are articles that look at the watch industry from the historical perspective, starting with the invention of the watch in the 16th century to the future.

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