American Watch Manufacturers: Production Summary

How many watches were produced by American watch companies?

When looking at the total output of American watch manufacturers, a natural distinction can be made between companies producing higher-quality jeweled pocket watches and those producing lower-quality "dollar-style" (or otherwise minimally-jeweled) watches. Over 500 million low-cost watches were produced by companies like Ingersoll, Ingraham, New Haven and Ansonia, accounting for a large percentage of total US production.

We are more concerned with the production of higher-quality, jeweled pocket watches of at least seven jewels; the type that might be considered collectible today. Obviously, a rare watch tends to be more valuable than a common watch, so an understanding of which companies made more or fewer watches is worthwhile information for any watch collector.

The passage of years and incompleteness of factory records means that it is probably impossible to create a completely accurate accounting of American watch production, but production numbers are known for many of the major makers, and can be estimated from known serial numbers for others.


Total Estimated US Production of Jeweled Pocket Watches

The table below is our best estimation of total production of jeweled (non-dollar-style) pocket watches made by American watch manufacturers. Production numbers are not exact, but give a good picture of the relative size of various American manufacturers. Note that Elgin and Waltham together account for nearly 80% of the total number of jeweled watches produced!

Company Produced % Total
Elgin 55,000,000 48.18%
Waltham 35,000,000 30.66%
Illinois 5,700,000 4.99%
Hampden 4,600,000 4.03%
Hamilton 4,000,000 3.50%
Seth Thomas 3,600,000 3.15%
Trenton 1,934,000 1.69%
South Bend 1,200,000 1.05%
Rockford 1,000,000 0.88%
Keystone-Howard 600,000 0.53%
Columbus 380,000 0.33%
Aurora 205,900 0.18%
Ball 200,000 0.18%
NY Chronograph Co. 170,800 0.15%
E. Howard 120,000 0.11%
- - -
All smaller makers (approx.) 500,000 0.44%
- - -
Total 114,210,700 100%