Brief History: U.S. Watch Company

Marion, New Jersey and New York, New York

1865 - 1877

The United States Watch Company of Marion, New Jersey

The United States Watch Company of Marion, New Jersey

The United States Watch Company of Marion, New Jersey, also known as the Marion Watch Company, should not be confused with the U.S. Watch Company of Waltham, Massachusetts which was formed in 1885.

The U.S. Watch Company of Marion, New Jersey was an offshoot of the Giles, Wales & Company jewelry importer that had been an importer of English and Swiss watches. In August of 1864, construction of the new factory began on 23 acres of land purchased in Marion. James H. Gerry, the head machinist for the American Watch Company, was hired in 1863 to build the machinery for the new watch factory.

Company records make mention of the following U.S. Watch Company employees:

  • Superintendent - James H. Gerry,
  • Foreman, Pinion Finishing - John Gardiner,
  • Nickel Finishing - Walter Farnsworth, Chas. Berlin,
  • Flat Steel - William Sheppard,
  • Plate Room - George Hart,
  • Escapement Room - E. S. Gerry,
  • Motion Room - Fred Lowell,
  • Stem-wind Room - D. B. Gerry,
  • Balance Room - H. J. Cain,
  • Dial Room - E. A. Hull,
  • Jewel Room - William Smith


The first watch was produced by the United States Watch Company in 1867, and was an 18-size, 19-jewel, full-plate, expansion balance model called the "Frederic Atherton," which was the first mass production stem-wind watch made in America. The name for the first watch was chosen because "Frederick" was the first name of Giles, and "Atherton" was the second name of Wales. It featured a butterfly-shaped cutout in the top plate which allowed the escapement to be viewed. This cutout became a hallmark of U.S. Watch Company watches.

Damaskeening, the application of decorative embellishment to the movement plates, which had become popular in Switzerland, was also first introduced on American watches by the U.S. Watch Company, which saw the process as a way of enhancing the beauty and quality of their watches.

By the end of 1869, the company had over 100 employees and was producing watches at a rate of 100 per day but was not able to operate the factory profitably.

Marion Watch Company

In 1872, the company was reorganized, and continued to operate under the name Marion Watch Company. Prices were reduced and lower-grade watches were offered, including many that had been reclaimed from the "reject bins" of the U.S. Watch Company. The company went bankrupt in 1874 after a total production of about 300,000 watches. The factory tooling was sold off to Auburndale Watch Company, the Fitchburg Watch Company and the Fredonia Watch Company.

U.S. Watch Company Marion

U.S. Watch Marion Serial Numbers and Production Dates

Total Production: Approx. 300,000 Watches

Year S/N
1867 1001
1868 10,000
1869 24,000
1872 160,000
1874 289,000
1874 "Marion"
1876 "Empire City"
1876 "Royal Gold"

Be sure to use the serial number on the movement (the works) of the watch. Do not use the serial number from the watch case.

Can’t find your serial number in the table? Click here for an explanation and example of how to use our serial number tables.

Need help finding the serial number on your watch? Click here for instructions on how to identify and open most common case types.