American Watch Company Railroad Pocket Watch and Chain

American Watch Company

National Park Service, Centennial One Object Exhibit

National Park Service, Centennial One Object Exhibit

The accurate recording and monitoring of time was of great importance to critical personnel working for the railroads. Track was shared and the precise monitoring of time meant safety. This American Watch Company pocket watch is an 1857 model manufactured circa 1867 and popular with railroad workers. The key wind and set are from the William Ellery movement. The movement describes the specific type of working mechanism, or gears, used in the watch, which included jewels to reduce friction inside the watch. This model of watch included fifteen jewels indicating it was of high grade. The outer case of the watch, which protects the inner mechanisms, is silver. Markings on the case include: DUEBER / COIN / 366346 / with a hallmark of an anchor in a shield.

The American Watch Company was the first company to supply pocket watches to the railroads and the first company to create machine made watches with interchangeable parts. Watches made by the American Watch Company were one of the most popular pocket watches carried by railroad engineers and workers in the 1800s. It is very likely that at least one American Watch Company 1857 model pocket watch was present on May 10th, 1869, at Promontory Summit, to witness the driving of the Last Spike and the completion of the first Transcontinental Railroad. This model watch represents the spirit and precision of the railroad personnel who made such a feat possible.

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  • Title: American Watch Company Railroad Pocket Watch and Chain
  • Creator: American Watch Company
  • Contributor: Golden Spike National Historic Site
  • Park Website: Park Website
  • National Park Service Catalog Number: GOSP 579
  • Measurements: Diameter 5.5 (watch) cm, L 32.5 (chain) cm, L 3.3 (key) cm
  • Cultural Group or Period: William Ellery movement
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