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A History of American Watchmaking

The United States became a leader in mechanical watch manufacturing during the 1800's and early 1900's. Our American manufacturing legacy is responsible for revolutionizing the way mechanical watches were made. Before that time, each part of a watch was made one by one, largely in England and Switzerland. The industry was not optimized to meet demand, and Americans seized the opportunity to manufacture in a new way that would encourage widespread use of timepieces and pocket watches.

Waltham, Massachusetts became the hotbed of the industrial revolution and home to the art of modern watchmaking. American companies invented the tools and machines specifically for cutting metal parts. In 1854, Aaron Dennison established the Waltham Watch Company, which went on to make the first-ever watch with interchangeable parts and the first 100% American-made watch. The advanced machinery they designed spread to other industries and led to America's reputation for industrial prowess. Waltham pioneered a more precise and efficient production method, where each machine made a specific part correctly and in the same way each time it was manufactured, enabling the production of perfect watch components with repeatability. In addition to Waltham, companies such as Elgin, Illinois, and Hamilton became known for their skill, craftsmanship, and ability to produce each part of a watch more efficiently, and on a larger scale, right here in the United States.

Eventually, the Swiss adopted our American machinery with great success. Some brought back equipment purchased in America and others replicated new machines in Europe. With the introduction of the disposable quartz watch in 1969, people began turning to battery-powered and computerized watches at a rapid pace. The art of American watchmaking quickly vanished, and one by one, each historic company was purchased by foreign investors. Although the rise of the quartz watch affected the Swiss market as well, they were able to reinvent the industry by manufacturing timepieces positioned as a luxury item, using precious metals, advanced complications, and ornamental decorations, thus creating the advanced legacy and pristine reputation of fine Swiss watchmaking.

Weiss Watch Company was founded to rediscover the art form and historical legacy of the mechanical manufacturing processes originated by Waltham in the United States, to once again restore prestige to American watchmaking. Weiss is proud to offer our Field Watch with US and Swiss components.


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