Program of the 2006 Ward Francillon Time Symposium

Title: American Watch Making II: From Craft to Industry

Location: Crowne Plaza City Centre Hotel, Cleveland OH

Thursday Evening October 26, 2006:
6:00 PM - Cash Bar

7:00 PM
James Arthur Lecture: “The American Influence on Swiss Watch Making,” by Antoine Simonin, Past Director of the Watch Makers of Switzerland Technical Education Program (WOSTEP), currently proprietor of Editions Simonin. Utterly dependent on foreign sales, Swiss watch maker’s were deeply concerned for their steadily dwindling export trade with America after 1860. But by the 19th century’s end, the Swiss had embraced and improved upon the manufacturing methods pioneered in the US and were cementing their world dominance in watch making. Msr. Simonin will discuss the American challenge and the response of the Swiss watch industry, tracing the resultant changes in Swiss manufacturing practices and watch designs in the late nineteenth century.

Friday 10/27
8:30 AM
I. General Chairman’s Introduction: Facilitated by important preceding developments in European watch making and in other American industries, modern industrial watch making was born in the US in the Boston area in the 1850’s. By 1900 watch making world wide had been transformed from a craft serving the privileged classes to a modern industrial engine serving the multitude of ordinary citizens. To accomplish this Herculean task, industrial watch manufacturers reinvented the pocket watch with efficient, cost-effective production methods in mind. The transformed products emerging from this process reflected the engineering and economic imperatives of their origins in their design, finish and markings. In this seminar, the important outlines of the relationship will be traced between changing watch making technology and the watches that resulted, first in the US and later in Europe.

II. The American System of Manufactures: A stable, profitable manufacturing system must successfully coordinate the technological, economic and human factors of production. The first three presentations in our seminar examine the interplay between these key factors in 19th Century American Watchmaking.

8:45 AM
II.A “Human Factors in The American System of Manufactures,” by Professor Kenneth P. De Lucca, Ph.D., Millersville University of Pennsylvania, Department of Industry and Technology. Technological and sociological transitions, from farm field and small craft shop to factory floor, carried in their train profound changes in social and, especially, labor organization. Previously independent producers, artisans, and entrepreneurs became hired factory hands, subject to new forms of labor discipline imposed by the demands and logic of factory production. Dr. De Lucca will examine human factors within the nineteenth-century factory system, including the watchmaking industry that is reflected in the production methods and final product of early factories.

9:45 AM Coffee Break

10:00 AM
II.B “Economic Trends in Early American Watchmaking,” by Michael C. Harold, FNAWCC. In this presentation Henry Fried Award winner Mike Harold will discuss the economics of American watchmaking and its profound influence on movement design trends.

11:00 AM
II.C “Technological Factors: The Machines that Made the Watches,” by noted horologist Mr. George Collord, III. In the first American watch making seminar in 2002, Mr. Collord discussed the key innovations that enabled “mass production” of watches in the US in the 1850’s and 60’s. Machine innovations in subsequent decades further boosted factory capacity, completing the transformation of American watch making from craft to industry. In this second seminar, Mr. Collord’s talk will focus on watch factory and machinery developments in 1870-90 period and the emergence of an independent American machine tool industry that fed watch making industries in other nations.

12:00 AM Lunch

III. The Evolution of American Watch Design: The early American watch industry struggled to put out a reliable watch at a competitive price. This goal required simple, rugged movement designs that minimized dependence on expensive foreign parts and lent themselves to efficient mass production. As the industry matured, it sought to make American watches the option of choice for American consumers rather than merely lower-priced alternatives. The next six presentations in our seminar examine the interplay between technical features of movement design and the changing market in which American watch manufacturers plied their wares.

1:30 AM
III.A “Technical aspects of Post-1880 Watch design at Waltham,” by noted horologist and NAWCC BULLETIN author Craig Risch. The changes in watch design at Waltham provide a window on technological change throughout 19th century American watchmaking. Waltham’s workhorse Model 1857 full plate, the first truly successful mass-produced watch, was discusse din detail at the 2002 seminar. Craig Risch now resumes the story with the development of Waltham’s most important post-1880 watch designs influenced by D. F. Church: the 18 Size full plate Models 1883 and 1892, the 16 Size split three quarter plate Model 1888, and the 16 Size 1899 bridge models.

2:45 PM (Group A)
III.B “The Railroad Brotherhoods and Webb C. Ball,” byMr. Larry Buchan, to be presented on the ground floor of City Bank Antiques. Webb C. Ball of Cleveland, Ohio probably did as much or more than any other person in history to define what most modern collectors think of as a "railroad watch." Ball courted both the railroad company management and its labor force, securing for himself the post of chief watch inspector for numerous railroad lines around Clevelend, influencing their pocketwatch standards and regulations. At the same time, Ball enjoyed honorary memberships in two railroad brotherhoods, and warm relations with all five. Noted railroad brotherhood watch specialist Larry Buchan of Calgary, Alberta, will discuss Ball's relationships with the railroad brotherhoods and the watches that resulted.

4:00 PM (Group A);  4:45 PM (Group B)
Webb C. Ball Exhibit. The Cleveland connection. Seminar participants will be divided into an two groups. Each group will board its own bus (compliments of Mr. Jeffrey Hess) for the excursion to City Bank Antiques in Kent, OH, Karen and Don Barrett, proprieters. CBA is housed in a former two-story bank building and furnished with nineteenth century jeweler's display cases exemplifying those that would have held watches for sale by Webb C. Ball and his contemporaries in Ball's own time. Watches, clocks, fobs and chains, ephemera and important documents from the Jeffrey Hess - Ball Estate Collection, The Don and Karen Barrett Collection, the Lindell Riddle Collection and the Joel Sarich Collection among others will come together in a charming period setting to make this the definitive W. C. Ball exhibit of all time! Light refreshments will be served, compliments of Karen and Don Barrett. Seating will be available for weary feet and casual conversation on the second floor.

Group A will proceed directly to CBA. Group B will proceed first to the Pufferbelly Restaurant in Kent.

5:00 PM (Group A);  7:30 PM (Group B)
III.C Introduction to the On-Site Exhibit, featuring the Webb C. Ball Estate Collection of Watches and Horological Documents and Ephemera, by Mr. Jeffrey Hess, horologist and proprieter of HessFine Arts.

5:20 PM (Group A):  7:50 PM (Group B)  - Viewing of the Exhibit

7:00 PM (Group A);  9:30 PM (Group B)
Group B will return to the Crowne Plaza, and Group A will proceed to the Pufferbelly Restaurant in Kent, continuing with the railroad theme of the afternoon.

Saturday, 10/28
8:30 AM
III.D “The Development of Railroad Standard Watches During the Final Quarter of the Nineteenth Century,” by Kent Singer. Noted NAWCC BULLETIN Railroaders’ Corner coauthor and Gibbs Award winner Kent Singer, FNAWCC, will discuss the evolution of the American railroad standard watch, beginning in the 1870s with the industry workhorse 18-size 15-jewel full-plates, and tracing the introduction of features such as Breguet overcoil hairsprings, anti-magnetic escapements and/or cases, the increasing requirement for adjustment to five or more positions, and the jewelling wars of the 1890’s.

9:30 AM - Coffee Break

10:00 AM
III.E “Watchmaking Quality Redefined,” by Timothy Flower, PhD. Mass production methods drove down the cost of reliable timekeepers so dramatically that by the 1880’s, American watch manufacturers were turning out large numbers of affordable movements that kept time about as well as the ordinary citizen cared. To maintain profits watch manufacturers sought simultaneously to sell the public on higher standards of watch performance, and on new, more encompassing conceptions of “quality” embracing attributes increasingly divorced from timekeeping accuracy or reliability. Expanding on his previous published work, horologist and watchmaker Dr. Timothy Flower will examine the changing definitions of quality in American and European watchmaking during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

11:10 AM
III.F “The O’Hara Dial Company,” by Gerit Nijssen, FNAWCC. In the mid-nineteenth century, dial painting was one of the aspects of watch making least amenable to efficient mass production methods, making dial departments potential strongholds of craft tradition. Factory superintendents frequently chafed at the “temperamental” artists in these departments with their lax time discipline and incessant demands for frequent breaks, better lighting and other improvements in working conditions. Furthermore a watch dial was a timepiece’s public face, suggesting the quality of workmanship within and giving a timepiece much of its perceived character. Hence, uniformity at low cost was never a completely sufficient goal in the dial department. Rather, there remains to this day a public demand for distinctive watch dials. Thus it is not surprising that distinctive dial makers enjoyed a continuing niche market after the large watch manufacturers had found ways to deskill and/or mechanize their own dial making operations. Noted horologist and NAWCC BULLETIN author, Gerit Nijssen, will present new research on the history and products of the O’Hara dial company, America’s foremost aftermarket producer of specialty dials.

12:20 AM – Lunch

IV. The English Connection. James Arthur Lecturer Antoine Simonin discussed the Swiss response to American watch making innovation in the late nineteenth century. The relationship of English watchmaking to the American industry was more bidirectional. In the mid-nineteenth century, England was a critical source of parts, equipment and skilled workmen for the emergent American industry. Somewhat later, British watch makers felt the effects of American competition perhaps equally with the Swiss. The changing nature of British exports and imports to and from the US tells a fascinating story.

1:45 PM
IV.A "UK Exports to the USA of Watches and Horological Tools and Materials," by noted horologist Alan Treherne. A fascinating window on developments in the English watch industry is provided by a study of the changing nature of English watch exports to the US, an important traditional market for the British industry.

2:50 PM
V.B “The Impact of American Watch Making on the English Watch Industry,” by David Penney, noted horologist and former editor of Antiquarian Horology. Mr. Penney will discuss the influence of American developments in machinery and production methods on the English trade, as exemplified by the histories of such firms as the Anglo American Watch Company (Dennison), the Tremont Watch Company, the English Watch Company in Birmingham, the products of William Ehrhardt also in Birmingham; P & A Guye in London; the Errington Watch Company in Coventry; the Lancashire Watch Company in Liverpool and, perhaps the most important of the lot: Messrs Rotherham in Coventry. His talk also will feature representative anti (and pro) American commentary from period English horological journals and trade literature.

4:00 PM Light Refreshment Break

4:20 PM
VI. Fantasy Debate and Panel Discussion, with Audience Participation. The year is 1887 and a panel of distinguished horological personalities are assembled to discuss the question of “What makes a good watch?”: Webb C. Ball (aka Jeff Hess), Duane F. Church (aka George Collord), Ezra C. Fitch (aka Tom Mcintyre), and Thomas Avery (aka Mike Harrold) will lead off the discussion with short prepared remarks; then other participating panel members will respond [Albert Potter (aka Tim Flower), etcetera]. Mr. Edward Howard (aka Clint Geller) will moderate.

5:20 Adjourn

6:00 PM Hors D’oevres and Cash Bar

7:00 PM

8:30 PM
General Chairman’s Brief Remarks

8:45 PM
Musical Entertainment: Fitzgerald & Beach
Fitzgerald & Beach is a blues based acoustic duo incorporating many musical perspectives. D.C. Fitzgerald plays guitar and sings while Bob Beach plays harmonica and flute and adds vocals as well. They employ Gospel, R & B, Rock & Roll, Country and of course the Blues in both original material and unique arrangements. Bob and D.C. have been performing together on and off since the early 1970's and truly appreciate and complement each other's musical talents. They are currently recording a new project which is slated for a 2005 release on BoneDog Records. Fitzgerald & Beach recently released a recording of spiritual and gospel based songs, "Joyful Noise" (August 2004). Previous recorded works include "Muddy Water Into Wine" (2002) "Blues, New and Used"(1997), "Old School" a collection of early recordings by the duo and "Live DC." Recent performances have included Northeast Folk Alliance Showcases, DelMarVa Folk Festival, Calliope Folk Series, Three Rivers Arts Festival, the 2004 Philadelphia Folk Festival, Lansdowne Folk Club, the Point and numerous local venues in western Pennsylvania.