This story was last updated on the 10th March 2015


This is not a conventional blog, I am using it as a platform to express my interest in the wonderful story and legacies wrapped around the companies who got involved with Hampden watches.

In a nutshell this story is aimed at people interested in, or trying to find out more about, Hampden watches, the Dueber Watch Case Co., The Mozart Watch Co., The New York Watch Co., The Manheimer Watch Co., The Clinton Watch Co. (Hampden Watch Corporation), and early Type-1 Soviet watches.

Geographically the story travel from Italy through Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Ohio in the US before scattering to Moscow, Zlatoust in the Ural mountains, Chistopol in Tatarstan and Chicago, Illinois.

Sociologically the story throughout involves a succession of migrants from the old world making their mark in the new world. It also moves from capitalist to communist ideology in the spate of a year.

Much of my content covers the important Dueber period. This was comparatively easy to research as it had been well documented earlier - both by Cantonians and Horologists.

In particular I wanted to include more about the contribution Hampden patterns, tools and staff made to the Soviet Watch Industry and, in turn, it's role in perpetuating Hampden technology for a further four decades. The USSR's ability to produce fine horological devices was somewhat unfairly dismissed by Gibbs in his definitive publication "From Springfield to Moscow" from who's book my story gets its title.

From the outset it has been difficult to research Soviet history as there is a lack of documentation readily available and what is available tends to have been ideologically weighted. Whilst we can read about all the difficulties experienced by the Hampden companies, Soviet industry was recorded as the heroic struggle towards inevitable success. I fear the generation who were involved in the early days are now gone, but I hope their children and grandchildren will have genuine memories that will emerge. Indeed, since starting out readers are contacting me and little by little the story is evolving. Please bear in mind much information about early Soviet watch making is conjecture on my part.

Just prior to the Hampden movement being transported to the Soviet Union a 'White Émigré who had escaped the purges following the communist revolution, was building up the Clinton Watch Co. in the US. There is little documentation in the public domain about the important and extended period when the Hampden heritage was rescued by the Manheimer Watch Co., and later the Clinton Watch Company., today's Hampden Corporation and I hope to engage others to contribute to that important chapter in the brands survival.

I have purposely avoided putting in too much technical stuff about movements etc., but there are various links here which will take the more mechanically minded to sites with that information. In any case I am not an horologist, just an enthusiast.

This is not a work of great academia - I'm a storyteller not an expert. I have no wish to hide the fact that I have transposed other peoples work. I have sought continuity, rather than simply changing the source material for the sake of disguising it. My purpose it simply to link strands, part stories, articles and snippets together to take the story forward as a whole. I have taken every possible opportunity to contact copyright owners for their approval. I have acknowledged the source of material, either by highlighting it at the time, or referencing it in the Appendix. I welcome others, with more experience and knowledge to add, correct, or just confirm my content. If you have more information about anything to do with this story, or you own the copyright over which I have imposed inappropriately, please let me know. Contact details are shown in the Appendix.

Perhaps your curious about the value of your watch - if so go to the Appendix for advice.

Anyone wishing to know more about a specific Dueber-Hampden watch will find a link, to the NAWCC serial number look-up table, in the Appendix.

Please excuse the eclectic mix of American and English grammar and spelling; the legacy of 25 years collaboration. My profile is shown at the foot of the blog.

Compiled from a painting dated 1636 "Feld (sic) Marshal Hampden" 

Chapter 1. Origins (Mozart Watch Co., New York Watch Co., Hampden Springfield)
Chapter 2. Dueber (The move to Canton - Vretman - Liquidation)
Chapter 3. Amtorg (Armand Hammer's role in the USSR's purchase of Hampden)
Chapter 4. Made in the USSR (Hampden technology starts the Soviet watch industry)
Chapter 5. Manheimer Watch Co. (resurrects the Hampden Watch Co. name)
Chapter 6. Clinton Watch Co. (buys Hampden Watch Co. later Hampden Corporation)
Authors Watch Archive

Chapter 1. Origins
It is necessary to start in 1864 to discover the origin of the Hampden Watch Co. The seed was sown by a man who, in the end, would not have any actual association with Hampden he was Donald Joaquin Mozart. He was born in 1818 in Italy and emigrated to the US with his parents aged three.

According to Mozart specialist Jon Hanson, his father was a watchmaker in Italy before emigrating to the US where he carried on his trade in Boston Mass. At the age of nine Donald was enticed on board a vessel, lying at Boston harbor, by the promises of some bright shells. For seven long years he sailed around the world until he eventually managed to escape and return home. When he did get back no trace of his family could be found and despite his many efforts to find them all proved futile.

Boston Harbor around 1827
It is said that he had an aptitude for mechanics and that he made a living as an itinerant watchmaker. By the age of 36 he had found his way to Xenia Ohio where, in September 1855, he married Anna Maria Huntington and set up a jewellery business. By 1860 three children had been born to the couple, who lived in Yellow Springs just north of Xenia, their names were Donna, Estella and Florence. A fourth daughter Anna would be born in 1862 in New York. Don was by all accounts a little temperamental, somewhat unstable and difficult to live with, nevertheless he and Anna Maria remained married until his death.

Don spent much of his time experimenting, developing and inventing watches. Sometime between the birth of Florence and Anna he abandoned his jewellery business and moved to New York City and then to Bristol, Connecticut. Here he planned to manufacture a clock of his own invention, a complicated clock on which he held several patents. It ended in failure due to manufacturing difficulties and the family moved back to New York. He had however attracted the attention of some backers and in the spring of 1864 the Mozart Watch Co. was organised in Providence, Rhode Island, the incorporators being mostly wholesale and manufacturing jewellers. The company was founded on the basis of a Mozart designed, 18 size, three wheel watch which would become known as the "Three-Wheeled Mozart".

Stiles & Co., of West Meriden, Conn., wrote to Cushing on the 20th August 1866. 
© 2012 Richard D. Dickerson.
 From the outset progress was slow and there appeared little prospect of Mozart being capable of turning his design into a viable product. The stockholders finally decided that Mozart's watch would never be a success and that the sooner they abandoned it, the better off they would be. In the summer of 1866 L. W. Cushing, of The Waltham Watch Co., was placed in Mozart's position, with instructions to construct the necessary machinery to build a regular 18 size three quarter plate lever movement.

And so Don Mozart was dismissed from the company that bore his name.

In 1867 the company changed its name to the New York Watch Company and moved to Springfield Massachusetts where it purchased two buildings into which it moved the machinery. The site was between modern-day Van Horn Park and Wait Street on the north side of Armory Road. The buildings consisted of a large boarding house and a large building which had previously been occupied as a machine shop. The company was reorganised and the capital increased to $300,000. The former president and secretary retained their offices; George Walker was elected as Treasurer and O. P. Rice became business manager. The General Manager was John C. Perry and Henry J. Cain was Manufacturing Superintendent. The ability of last two men to work well together had much to do with the initial success.

Left & Center: 1880 Springfield map by permission of see "Hampden Co◼︎" below the Reservoir. 
Right: Current Google™ map. The Reservoir is in Van Horn Park
1868 New York Watch Company "Homer Foot" movement - Internet sourced picture.
The factory was destroyed by fire on April 25th 1870, but many of the machines and part of the material was saved. The company then cleared away the debris and moved the boarding house into the position previously occupied by the factory. It was re-modelled and in about three months the factory was in operation again. The first movements placed on the market were known as "The Springfield", "John L. King," "Homer Foot,” "No. 5," “J. A. Briggs,” ”H. G. Norton," and "Albert Clark", many of these names being company officers. In 1871 the company placed a size-18 full plate movement on the market.

The factory did well until the year of the economic panic of 1873 when they began to fall behind. They finally pulled through 1873-74 by reducing the number of employees but in 1875 they decided to close the factory.

The stockholders reorganized under the name of the New York Watch Manufacturing Company but this did not last long, for within eight months the factory was again closed.

In the Spring of 1877 the stock and bond holders once again reorganized, this time under a new name the Hampden Watch Company. Using fresh capital, they purchased the machinery from the old New York Watch Manufacturing Company. In effect the Hampden Watch Co., virtually succeeded the New York Watch Manufacturing Company.

Homer Foote remained from the New York Watch Manufacturing Company and became the first Hampden President.

Charles D. Rood became the Treasurer and Business Manager. Rood was born in Ludlow Massachusetts on December 31st 1840. After school went to work for the New York jewelry firm of Warren & Spadone, eventually becoming a managing partner. The firms name was changed to Spadone, Rood & Company and became very successful in the manufacture and importing of diamonds and some of the finest watches available from Europe. He sold his interest in Spadone & Rood and re-invested in the Hampden Watch Company, in which he became the driving force.

Henry J. Cain was made superintendent, having previously held that position in the New York Watch Company. The old movement of the New York Company was re-modelled by Cain and the factory opened in the summer of 1877. In 1881 a new brick building was erected, 40 x 100 feet, with three stories a basement and a central tower. The factory's power was generated by a ninety-horse power steam engine, situated in a building at the rear of the main structure. The company turned out fourteen grades of movements, all full-plate with the exception of the " State Street" which was a size-16 three-quarter plate with gilded steel. The capacity of the factory was 400 movements per day and 400 people were employed. For the first time since 1872.

Charles Rood and this new management team allowed the company to prosper and by 1885 it was paying a 10% dividend and had accumulated a cash reserve of some $100,000. That year one of it’s case supplier, Mr John C. Dueber, of the “Dueber Watch Case Company” of Newport Kentucky, bought a controlling share. Cain and Rood remained in place and continued to manage the watch works for a further six years, first in Springfield and then later in Canton.


Following his dismissal and after moving to Ann Arbor, Michigan, he became the catalyst around which a new Mozart Watch Company was formed. Some of the 30 or so watches made at Ann Arbor have survived, as per Jon Hanson's example below.It's not clear if the Ann Arbor company used the name with or without the consent of the successors to the original Providence company (by now called the New York Watch Company). Whatever the case was, in business terms the Mozart name would have had little value, perhaps would even be seen as a liability - which indeed it turned out to be.
Don Mozart is now Superintendent of the Ann Arbor concern. The capital stock was two hundred thousand dollars and the incorporators who joined Mozart were local businessmen. W. A. Benedict, C. T. Wilmot, W. W. Wheedon, A. J. Southerland and Charles Tripp. A factory was rented and machinists hired to build the necessary machinery. The movement was the same "three-wheeled” one which he tried to have the Mozart Company, of Providence, introduce. Obstacles of various kinds began to present themselves and the progress of the work did not please the stockholders. Nearly three years had elapsed since the organisation of the company and again there was no fruits to show for the labour and money expended. Funds began to run short and in the winter of 1870 the stockholders decided to sell out if a buyer could be found. Some thirty odd movements were finished at this time, all of them given to stockholders and friends; none were placed on the market.
At this time the “Rock Island Watch Company” was organised in Rock Island, Illinois and after an inspection of the Mozart Watch Co. machinery they decided to purchase it. The price paid for the plant was $40,000 plus $25,000 in stock of the new company and a note for the balance. No available site could be found for the factory at Rock Island and accordingly the town of Milan, some seven miles below the city, was selected as a fitting place for the factory. The watch movement chosen for the Company was somewhat like the Mozart movement. After the machinery was moved to Milan and placed on the floor of the new building, the stockholders came to the conclusion that it was not just what they wanted. Accordingly they refused to pay the notes for $15,000. The Mozart Company sent a representative to Milan to sort things out, which resulted in the return of the machinery to the Mozart Company and the payment of $5,000.
In 1874 the “Freeport Watch Company” was formed in Freeport, Illinois, with capital of $250,000 by some ‘businessmen’ (draw your own conclusions) from Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Freeport, Illinois. Part of the old Mozart plant was purchased for $51,000; $1,000 cash and $50,000 in stock in the new company. A brick building was erected in Freeport, 40 x 100 feet and the machinery moved into it. This company never manufactured many movements as the factory was burned down on the night of October 21, 1875 and the building and contents were a total loss. The company were insured for $30,000.
By 1870 Mozart was again unemployed and had trouble managing his affairs and had ceased his connection to this business by this time. He returned to the jewellry trade where he tinkered with a new watch design. This watch movement wound itself for a days operation by being opened and closed five times. But he was said to have lost his mind completely when he took the watch to pieces and later couldn't fit all the parts back together again. He was taken to Kalamazoo Hospital but despite treatment he was deemed incurable and was moved back to Ann Arbor. Prof. O. W. Stephenson, in his "History of Ann Arbor the First Hundred Years", wrote that Mozart died at the Washtenaw County Poorhouse and Insane Asylum, on Thursday March 15th 1877, of what was called at the time "congestion of the brain".
Don Mozart was buried with Masonic honor's after a service at the Episcopal Church.
Legendary Ann Arbor Three-Wheeled Mozart Watch. Courtesy of Jon Hanson
Newspaper clipping of Charles D. Rood. Six years after the Dueber take over, and the factory’s move to Canton, Cain and Rood would move-on and contribute towards founding the Hamilton Watch CompanyRood made a fortune as it's President from 1891 to 1896 and from 1900 to 1910 but lost it trying to manufacture recording equipment.                      

Chapter 2. Dueber
John Carl Dueber was born in Netphen (Öbernetphen) Germany in 1841 and emigrated to the United States at the age of 12. The Great Grandson of Philipp Klaus, who worked for Dueber at both Newport and Canton, researched into the Dueber family and unearthed documents showing Dueber arrived aboard the steamer Herder from Bremen, Germany, with his parents Johannes & Katharina (Schmitt) and his sister Pauline on October 20th 1853. He was listed on the ships records as Johannes Dueber, the same name as his father.

John Dueber became a naturalized US citizen on the 21st of July 1871.

The Dueber family eventually settled in Cincinnati, Ohio. After leaving school John Dueber became apprenticed to a watch case makers in the area. His training lasted for a period of five years. According to various reports he eventually raised enough capital from his father-in-law and from making wedding rings in his spare time to enabled him to start a watch case workshop, across the Ohio river in Newport, Kentucky. The Dueber Watch Case Company was incorporated in 1876, the same year the Gruen Watch Company was founded back across the river in Cincinnati.

John C. Dueber described himself as 5' 10½" tall, with a high and round forehead,  greenish brown eyes
slightly aquiline nose, round face, medium sized mouth. Photo similitude © Author

He married a local Cincinnati girl, Mary Daller. The Dueber's would have four children, Joseph, Albert, Estella and Pauline.

In the early years of American watch making the then small number of companies made both cases and movements. As the industry developed separate companies were formed to make either cases or movements exclusively. The case factories used mass production techniques and multiplied faster than the movements manufacturers and soon there was overproduction of cases. The watch case manufacturers banded together and formed the infamous ‘Watch Case Trust’. Trusts were agreements between business competitors, selling the same product or service, regarding pricing, market allocation and agreement not to compete within each others geographic territories etc. John Dueber was opposed to trusts and refused to join. As a consequence he was subjected to a boycott which made trading very difficult. Dueber was faced with two alternatives (1) Buy a watch company, to enable him to sell his cases as finished watches (2) Submit to the trust. In 1885 he bought the Hampden Watch Co.

By 1885 his watch case business annual turnover had grown to some $1.5M, despite facing opposition from the trust; but he had outgrown his Newport factory and had no opportunity to buy land to expand the plant or accommodate the newly acquired Hampden company, which continued to operate from Springfield, Mass. Dueber let it be known around the North Kentucky, South Ohio area that if a city or town could raise $100,000 in 'gift money' he would move the combined Dueber-Hampden companies, with some 1,500 to 2,000 employees. Which with added families members would mean a 7,500 to 10,000 increase in population. When the city’s leaders of Canton heard about John Dueber's offer they wasted no-time in promoting their city.

Canton is the county seat of Stark County in northeastern Ohio, approximately 60 miles south of Cleveland and 24 miles south of Akron. It was founded in 1805 on the West and Middle Branches of the Nimishillen Creek. Incorporated as a village in 1815, as a town in 1834 and as a city in 1854.

The Canton Board of Trade had recently been organized by Louis Shaefer and Charles Dougherty and they now set out to raise the $100,000 needed to secure the factory. In just three months the full amount was in place. Twenty prominent leaders had guaranteed $5,000 each and the banks advanced the cash against their guarantees.

John C. Dueber was invited together with his eldest son, Joseph C. Dueber and a party of 40 associates and assistants, to a large meeting in Canton. The meeting was held at the Opera House in June 1886, with 1,500 attending. The Dueber’s were told that in addition to the gift of $100,000 by the citizens of Canton, 20 acres of farm land would be donated on which to site the factory buildings (later a further five acres would be donated for additional parkland to surround the factory). A congratulatory telegram was received from local Congressman William McKinley, later to become a personal friend of John Dueber and more importantly the 25th US President. The city council also agreed to a railroad spur running into the factory grounds from the Pennsylvania Railroad.

Work started on the new factories on October 14th, 1886. The plans called for two buildings for the two separate companies - the Hampden Watch Works to the south - the Dueber Watch Case Works to the north. The buildings had a combined frontage of 1,140 feet, almost twice as long as the large factory of their great rivals Waltham. The buildings were the last word in watch making architecture and were drawn up by Akron architects George W. Kramer and F. O. Weary. The park grounds surrounding the buildings brought a new note of impressive distinction and beauty to Canton's buildings, skyline and landscape. The central parts of each building served as offices and rose to 142 feet in height, the equivalent of 12 story skyscrapers. The turrets on the wings were 100 feet high and the steam-engine stack rose 150 feet. The most majestic landmark was the tower with the great clock, with its four faces, which kept time for the next 60 plus years.

Between 1886 and 1888, whilst John Dueber erected his factory, Canton busily built houses to provide homes for the hundreds of workers and their families, who were to come from Springfield and Newport.

The factory building operation got a set-back on the May 27th, 1888, when a terrific rainstorm and cyclone hit the south wing of the Hampden building (see photo below) and levelled it into a mass of ruins. The just completed wing, was 230 feet long, 30 feet wide and 3 stories high. Nobody was killed, or injured, but there was no cyclone insurance in place and the company had to absorb the $15,000 loss and several weeks of time. While John Dueber was looking over the ruins with his architects, 18 year old Ira Augnst approached him and asked for a job. Dueber engaged him on the spot. He was the first Canton citizen to be employed by the company and he continued working there for 41 years advancing to become a Master Watchmaker. He was also one of the 23 members of staff who would later go Russia.

Factory shots (note staff photo on chest, bottom left)

Two special trains brought the first contingent of 250 Hampden workers from Springfield, early in August 1888. A big banquet was organized for the workers and members of their families. On the program, addressing the 560 guests, was Dueber’s friend Congressman McKinley.

The Hampden Watch factory began operations in August 1888, a year earlier than the Dueber Watch Case Works. By the end of the first year the Hampden factory was employing 1,000 persons, and turning out 600 watches a day.

The Hampden building to the left, the Dueber building on the right nearest Tuscarawas Street. Circa 1902. 
The company declared an 8 per cent dividend in February 1890. Net assets of the two companies were reported as $609,000 in January 1891, with liabilities of $612,000. John C. Dueber and his family were the majority shareholders of the Hampden company and the sole owners of the Dueber Watch Case company. Hampden watches enjoyed a trade reputation of being the highest grade on the market. Hampden watches were popular with railroad men, an important benchmark of the era. John Dueber had chosen wisely when he bought the Hampden company, where the skill of the watch workers was amongst the highest in America.

Watch-case engravers at Dueber-Hampden worked 10 hours a day, 59 hours a week and considered $15 good pay for a week according to a Canton Rep article.

A blip in the seemingly endless progression of the companies took place in 1891 when Charles Rood & Henry Cain decided to sell their shares and leave Hampden. Raising the capital to buy them out extended John Dueber financially and put such a strain on company cash-flow that it caused him to suspend operations for a week or two. Nevertheless, within 8 months he had achieved sole ownership of both companies.

Rood & Cain's departure may have also interfered with Dueber's business dealings with the Webb C. Ball Co. of Cleveland OH, Ball placed large orders for "Ball's Standard Railway Watches' with Dueber and this period coincided with Dueber making it clear he manufactured the watches and that he sold the same watch under his own name. Rood & Cain most likely had a personal relationship with Ball as he participated in their new Hamilton Watch Company. Indeed, Ball was a Vice President early in Hamilton's formation and had an exclusive agency for the western part of the US.

In August 1892 the beautiful landscaping about the buildings had been completed and the business was running at the rate of $3,000,000 a year. Hampden watches with 14 karat special filled cases and 17 jewel movements, said to have been the first on the market, commanded a high price because of their intrinsic value. Hampden brought out the first 23-jewelled watch movements in the US. Altogether the company brought out seven different sizes of watches, only one of which was discontinued. Karl Krumm (one of the 23 who later went to Russia) jewelled them all.

Despite the watch business flourishing John Dueber still had to operate in the face of the watch case trust, but after the passage of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act in 1890 John Dueber brought an anti-monopoly suit for $950,000 damages against The American Watch Trust for its alleged conspiracy to boycott his products. The combined capital against Dueber was about $10M. At that time the capital of the Dueber Watch Case Co. was $2M and of the Hampden Co. $0.2M. The courts decided against the Watch Trust in 1893 and the boycott was called off in 1895.

In 1896 a suit was brought against John Dueber by the Waltham and Elgin companies for infringing on the Colby Patent for pendant (stem) set watches. When the lower courts ruled against Dueber he carried the case to the District Court of Appeals before Judge Howard Taft (another future US President) and there won a reversal of the decision of the lower court.

The examples are diverse in content and reflect a bold, confident company at its zenith. One notable man who worked in the 
Art Department at Hampden was Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist Charles Macauley.
Retailers Trade Card - Morgan & Ruger, Elmira NY. (From my collection)

When cycling became the rage, John Dueber added bicycles to his production in a special adjoining building next to The Watch Case Works in 1896, continuing about five years until the space was needed. His bicycles were reported as 'the best in town' with the Dueber Special costing $85.

People took bike excursions around the city and surrounding countryside. Members of the “Century Club” were admitted when they had completed 100 miles within 24 hours. Bike racks were provided for workers at the factory, at stores and schools.

There were of course some other prominent Ohio citizens capitalizing on the national bicycle craze, the Wright brothers opened a repair and sales shop in Dayton in 1892 (the Wright Cycle Exchange, later the Wright Cycle Company) and began manufacturing their own brand in 1896. Wilbur kept time with his Hampden Railroad pocket watch, whilst Orville carried a Rockford Railroad pocket watch. They also used a Sun stopwatch.

Wilbur checks his watch at Le Mans 

John Dueber’s two sons both followed him into the company. The younger son Albert M. Dueber would eventually be the last Dueber to run the company. The eldest son Joseph had shown great promise as an executive and businessman and was being groomed to take over the business but sadly he fell ill and died suddenly in 1900, a blow both to his father and to the future prospects of the company.

On September 6th 1901, John Dueber's friend President William McKinley was assassinated by Leon Czolgosz. Dueber was chosen by the McKinley family to act as an honorary pall bearer at his state funeral. The photo below shows him (seated far right) with the other bearers.

Image courtesy of the Peninsula Valley Historic & Education Foundation 

That same year* John Dueber travelled to Europe with his younger daughter Estella, where together they visited his native Prussia. When he and his daughter returned to Canton, they were met at the station by a crowd of 3,000 people and a band. Following his return he sent a clock to be put in the church tower at Netphen. During World War II the church was bombed, but the tower and clock were unharmed.

*There is evidence this was possibly in 1903: Greg Farino research found a copy of Dueber's 1903 passport application.

In 1907 the Dueber-Hampden factories were at their peak of operations with 3,000 employees. This was near-capacity for the huge buildings, which at times ran four nights a week, making a beautiful sight, all lit up. In the same year the sudden death of John Dueber was reported.

Albert Dueber, who since the death of his elder brother in 1901, had been Vice-President (he also operated part of the time as a travelling salesman) became President of both the Hampden & Dueber companies; he was 33 years old and would head the company for another 18 years.

John Dueber had achieved much during his 66 years, but he had also been fortunate as the majority of the time he built up his company coincided with a buoyant and expanding period in the watch industry in North America.

By 1905 capital in the Dueber & Hampden companies had been reduced from $2,000,000 to $500,000. Great changes for the watch industry were on the horizon, many companies would consolidate, many would fail. By the start of the 1920s only 17 of the 44 companies, listed in Robert H. Ingersoll & Brothers 1919 ‘History of American Watch Making’, were still operating. This was the environment Albert Dueber inherited. And from 1907 to 1925, some 18 years, he set a conservative course for the Dueber & Hampden companies, capitalizing on many of the principles laid down by his father and to his credit he managed to kept the organizations afloat. Perhaps what we would today call downsizing, although judging from the staff photo (see factory collage above), taken in 1913, the organization was still a significant employer at that time.

On October 15th, 1915 a body was washed up on the coast of Ireland. The Lusitania had been struck by a torpedo from a German U-boat and sank in May of that year, and the man was presumed to be a victim of that tragedy. But he had no identification on him – except a Dueber-Hampden pocket watch serial number 3039347. Cunard Line officials were able to trace the man’s identity by contacting Dueber-Hampden in Canton, who were able to tell them who purchased the watch. The serial number indicated that the watch had been purchased new that year. 

Another major shift in the industry was the transition from pocket watches to wristwatches. Not easy for concerns that had built their reputations on the former. Looking at the wristwatches produced at Canton, it’s apparent they are small pocket watch movements, re-cased with a wrist band. It is most likely that Hampden suffered from an inherent conservatism that believed wristwatches would be a passing fad. And by the time they realized they would replace the pocket watch in popularity, it was already too late. The opportunity to develop a modern wristwatch movement to compete with the rejuvenated Swiss, had gone. In all truth both the capital to finance such a project and the expertise to accomplish it, were probably both beyond the company’s resources. Perhaps, the drive needed to bring it off was also missing - maybe that would have been the destiny of the dynamic Joseph Dueber, had he lived. What we do know is that by the early 20’s companies like the Clinton Watch Co. of Chicago were springing up and capitalizing on the trend of importing advanced, modern, low cost and reliable Swiss wristwatch movements. Ironically it was the Swiss who were almost put out of business by the emerging US watch industry only 50 years earlier.

When Jacques David, of the Swiss Company Longines, attended the 1876 American Centennial Exhibition held in Philadelphia (the same year the Dueber Watch Case Co., was incorporated) he reported his astonishment at the disparity of watch manufacturing technology then existing between US and Swiss companies. The American mechanized system was far in advance of Swiss ad-hoc methods, in that it brought together the entire production of watches under one roof, employing standardized machine-made parts made from improved machines and tools. In his opinion American chronometers of that time were better than the best the Swiss were able to construct.

I have a Dueber Hampden movement (see below) that was made in Switzerland. Henrick & Arnold (Hampden Watch Co. NAWCC 1997) catalog the ladies 21/0 size model ES358 with an imported movement made by the Venus Watch Co. of La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland and sold as the "Lady Grace" and I believe mine matches their description. There is no reference to the date of production and I would be very interested to hear from anyone who can say if these date from the Albert Dueber or the later Walter Vretman era. My guess is it was from the Vretman era as the name Grace coincides with that of Vretman's wife.

My Dueber-Hampden "Lady Grace" with a Swiss movement 

In 1923 Albert Dueber merged the case making and watch companies as The Dueber-Hampden Watch Co., with a capital of $1,000,000. He continued as President and Treasurer of the merged organization. Despite this the company’s fortunes continued to decline and eventually it was sold, in September 1925, to a group of Cleveland businessmen, fronted by Walter Vretman.

A post 1923 photo as the name on the building also says Dueber Hampden Watch Company.
Photo source 
A copy of Grace Vretman's share certificate - for sale at the last time of checking.

The end of a 40 year era but I'm not going to make a separate chapter for the Vretman period; in effect the company only changed it's officers. Vretman became President; Fred G. Gatch, Vice-President; L. W. Wickham, Secretary; R. E. Rhyan Treasurer. The purchase price was $1,551,000.00. A price equal to the debts less $65,000 which was set as the commission for the sale. The assets were written up on the company’s books at $2,338,298 and offset by 8,000 new shares of non-par stock issued to the promoters in addition to 2,000 shares issued to the selling company. No new capital was invested. Such methods of financing inevitably led to receivership and two years later, in 1927, that is precisely what happened, as evidenced by the receiver in his bankruptcy statement (below).

Raymond W. Loichot was appointed Receiver by the District Court of the United States for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division. After working out the inventory and selling the assets, all operations ceased in 1930, 53 years after Hampden was first incorporated in Springfield and 42 years since the Canton factories got going.

The machinery and tools were sold to the Amtorg Trading Corporation, one of Soviet Russia’s buying agencies in the US, for $329.000. This amount was within $65,000 of the appraised value of the equipment, which would eventually fill 28 rail cars. For the record the 1st Moscow Watch Factory (Poljot) history has it that that two contract were signed on the 26th April 1929. The first was for factory equipment at $325,000 and the second for spares parts and part-finished timepieces at $125,000.

The land assets were appraised at $528,886.00 and buildings at $483,388.00. At a public sale the mortgagee, Albert Dueber, was the sole bidder.

The factory building were owned by the Dueber-Hampden Watch Company. But exactly who owned the freehold of the land is not so clear. The Meyers' heirs had donated the initial 20 acres and a further 5 acres had been bought by the Canton Chamber of Commerce. I have not seen any evidence that the land was given to Dueber along with the $100,000 "Gift money". Albert Dueber, in purchasing "Land & Buildings", may have been purchasing the freehold of the 5 additional acres, if they had indeed been gifted to the Company(s).

The above paragraph dovetails with a report written in 1949 (see Horological Library) that the site was divided between the Dueber heirs & the Cally-Wyl Co., (A. B. Cable, E. C. Smally and H. Wyles) so I presume the Cally-Wyl Co., were the successor to the the Meyers' heirs and as such the freeholders of the initial 20 acres.

The Hampden factory, south plant, was used in the 40's by the 'Old King Cole Inc.' company who were best known for making the papier-mache models of the HMV dog 'Nipper'.

Eventually the construction of Interstate 77 led to the demolition of the Hampden building and later developments would swallow-up the Dueber building and complete the eradication of what John C. Dueber billed as the largest watch factory in the world.

Left: I-77 under construction in the 50's slices through the Hampden building, leaving the Dueber building intact.
Right: A current Google map, with the site highlighted.
Today there is no evidence of the once great factories (but there is a McDonald's ™).

  • The sale of Dueber-Hampden ended 53 years of Hampden as a “Manufacture d'horlogerie”. From now on the name would be used on assembled watches and movements mainly from Switzerland.
  • Canton is in Stark County, Ohio, which was so named after the American revolutionary hero General John Stark: John Stark's wife was Elizabeth "Molly" Stark. Hence Molly Stark movements.
  • William McKinley was the Canton Congressman, later to be the Governor of Ohio and eventually the 25th US President. McKinley's signature was engraved on the plating of movements bearing his name.
  • Use Of The Word "Railway" On A Watch. Since its existence as the the New York Watch Co., Dueber-Hampden had long used the grade name "Railway" on its watches. With Ball promoting its Railway Queen grade, Dueber-Hampden brought suit against both Ball and Waltham (who had begun to mark its movements with the word "Railroad") for interference in December 1899. The suit was decided in Dueber-Hampden's favor seven months later.  Extract from NAWCC showwiki.  Also see a definition of a "Railroad Watch" in the appendix.

Chapter 3. Amtorg 
Amtorg (acronym of Amerikanskaya Torgovlya - America Trading) and Armand Hammer, who is often linked with it, have been the subject of conspiracy theories, propaganda and mis-information. For those reasons it was difficult to separate fact from fiction, but Amtorg played a pivotal, if short, role in the history of Hampden watches and my story would be incomplete without a passage about them.

The career of Armand and Julius Hammer is fascinating but doesn't have a bearing on the events surrounding Hampden watches or the manufacturing of watches in the USSR and for that reason we should eliminate them from our story.

Amtorg's head commissioner for the factory purchase was Mr A. Vladiminsky. He was normally based in Amtorg's New York office but spent much time in Canton negotiating with the Receiver, Raymond Loichot, and supervising the packing operation.

Having studied most available sources perhaps it's safe to settle a few myths...
  • The Hammer role in US - Soviet commercial events were independent of Amtorg.
  • Amtorg Watch Co.: Never existed in any country.
  • Hammer Watch Co.: Never existed in any country. 

Lenin has written in English "To comrade Armand Hammer from V. I. Ulyanov (Lenin) 10th November 1921"
The Amtorg Trading Corporation was based at 165 Broadway, N.Y. and known simply as Amtorg (Амторг). It became the first Soviet trade delegation in the United States when in May 1924,  it was established to assist Soviet import and export firms seeking to conduct legitimate trade. It continued in this role throughout the Communist era. It was formed by the amalgamation of the Products Exchange Corporation (1919) and Arcos-America Inc (1923). The latter was the US office of All Russian Co-operative Society.

Dzerzhinsky - led the Red Terror
The controlling share of Amtorg's stock was held by the Foreign Trade Bank in Moscow, while the remaining shares were held by Centrosoiuz (a Soviet consumer cooperative) and by two officers of the corporation, both Soviet citizens.

One of the Soviet's, who helped set-up Amtorg, was Felix Dzerzhinsky, the founder and first chairman of 'The All-Russian Extraordinary Commission for Combatting Counter Revolution and Sabotage' who's acronym in Russian is Vecheka or Cheka (the first in a succession of security organizations leading to the KGB).
Dzerzhinsky was also responsible for the Soviet Concessions Commission. The vast undeveloped resources of the Soviet Union, and the lack of finance & facilities to exploit them, led the Soviets to set up a Concessions Commission to open up selected industries for foreign participation. As a rule the concessions ran for a limited period of years. The first concession agreement was between the Soviet Government and the American firm, Allied Drug and Chemical Company, for the exploitation of asbestos mines in Alapayev. This company was owned by Julius Hammer. The Hammer family were given other concessions such as the A. Hammer Pen & Pencil Co. Interestingly, the Soviet's Swiss representative of the Concessions Commission had held negotiations with most of the major Swiss watch companies in order to set-up joint ventures in the USSR. This was during the period before deciding to purchase the American factories and go it alone.

As the representative of the Soviet Governments Concessions Commission in the United States Amtorg was empowered to negotiate concession agreements, which it did to great effect. Companies like International Harvester, DuPont, Ford and General Electric all participated in the USSR.

The Amtorg Trading Corporation was the defacto USSR embassy in the US in the early years before Franklin D. Roosevelt recognized the Soviet Government, thus allowing them a permanent embassy in Washington, D.C. It is alleged to have served as a front for the GRU and OGPU spying operations in the US. According to historian John Earl Haynes... "From day one Amtorg included a contingent of NKGB and GRU officers. One of its early senior staffers was Fiodor M. Ziavkin who was openly a Cheka officer prior to his appointment in New York and there is no reason to think his involvement  as a Chekist would not have continued.

Basil Delgass, an Amtorg vice-president who resigned in 1930 prior to being recalled to the USSR, later testified to the US Congress at length on Amtorg’s role as a cover for industrial and technical espionage as well as conducting a legitimate trading agency. The American employees of Amtorg were, with only rare exceptions, members of the American Communist Party or one of its affiliates. Given the nature of the American Communist movement at the time, these employees would have assisted Amtorg’s Soviet intelligence officers with enthusiasm.

Committee members of Amtorg visit Henry Ford at the Ford exhibit, New York World's Fair. Lonstantin Lukashov,
Joseph Michael, N. Petrov,
Louis E Browne executive secretary American Russian Chamber of Commerce and A. Moioissee representative of Medium Machine
Industry of the Amtorg Trading Co.
The FBI tracked Amtorg's operations throughout the Soviet period and into the present time. According to Rachel Verdon's book “Murder by Madness”... In 1985 Robert Hannson was given the job of overseeing “Project POCKET WATCH” the FBI's monitoring programme for Amtorg. There is no reference as to why "Pocket watch" was chosen. Hannson was of course later convicted for being a Soviet agent.

Quest of the Romanoff Treasure. By Armand Hammer, 1932.
The author describes his travels in the Soviet Union in the early 1920's and the subsequent export of the Imperial Romanoff treasures. Fabergé objects acquired during this time were for sale and exhibited in the 1930's at the Hammer Galleries in New York City, and in department stores in various cities in the United States.
Dr. Armand Hammer (right) was named after the "Arm and Hammer" graphic symbol of the Socialist Labor Party of America (1876 - 1930). In the early days of the Soviet Union Hammer was able to obtain sales concessions for several American firms, including Ford Motor Company, United States Rubber, Allis-Chalmers, and Underwood Typewriter. 
In 1986, Forbes Magazine estimated his net worth at $200 million. He died of cancer on December 10th, 1990, in Los Angeles, California.

Perhaps the 21 workers from Canton had a better experience in Russia than others from America. The following is taken from a review of Tim Tzouliadis's book "The Forsaken".
When Amtorg advertised for help in American papers in 1931, they got over 100,000 applications for slightly over 10,000 advertised jobs. Thousands of American citizens who, during the Depression, sought employment and a better future in the “worker’s paradise” built by the Soviets after the 1917 revolution. All kinds of Americans joined the exodus. Some of them were ethnic American Communists who wanted to help build socialism. The majority, however, were average Americans who could not help but be tempted by the offers coming from Moscow: Skilled workers were promised paid passage, jobs at high pay, paid vacations, and free medical care. The flood of immigrants included not only steelworkers and auto-assembly-line workers but also teachers, clerical workers, dentists, and doctors.
Tzouliadis research found that rather than the utopia expected, a high proportion of the US workers ended up in the Gulags.

Chapter 4. Made in the USSR
The USSR went from a modest pre-revolutionary importer and assembler of watches to becoming the producer of a wide variety of fine and technically sophisticated timepieces, second only to the Swiss. The spread of clocks and watches produced a great change in the rhythm of life for many living on the territories of the Soviet Union. 1917 was, for them, also a revolution in time.

It is important to distinguish between the Soviet Union/USSR and Russia because some Soviet factories were outside modern day Russia. Post Soviet (1992) watches say ‘Made in Russia’ - 'сделано в России' - on the dial: Ones made prior to 1992 said ‘Made in USSR’ - 'сделано в СССР'.

In Imperial Russia, prior to the 1917 October revolution, watches were assembled from finished parts, mainly imported from Switzerland. It was more profitable to assemble watches because of certain tax barriers, against completed watch imports, that were in place at the time. Some local workshops produced wall clocks and alarm clocks.

The most notable watch maker was Paul Buhre and his pre-revolutionary watches exist in some numbers. Karl Fabergé designed exquisite clocks and watches like the pocket watch pictured upper right & centre, who’s movement incorporates the Imperial Eagle. This watch dial does not bear the name Fabergé, but only two imperial jewellers had the right to stamp the Imperial Eagle on their creations, Buhre and Fabergé. Paul Buhre dials were always signed with his name Павел Буре, see picture right three down. In 'Fabergé Eggs: A Retrospective Encyclopedia By Lowes & Ludwig-McCanless', it's recorded that the basic Fabergé movements were manufactured by Paul Buhre.

The Swiss watchmaker Heinrich Moser had established himself in St. Petersburg by 1828 and his company H.Moser & Co. flourished because his watches were of a very high quality. Three years after Heinrich Moser died, in 1874, his wife sold the entire Russian trading operation to its Managing Director, Herr Winterhalter. The contract of sale stipulated that all successor companies must continue to operate in perpetuity under the registered brand name of Heinrich Moser & Co.

After the revolution the remains of the Buhre & Moser watch businesses, together with the remnants of other watch enterprises and workshops, came under the umbrella of various bodies. Importantly, it eventually became the responsibility of Гострест Точмех" (Gostrest Tochmekh) “State Trust of Precision Mechanics”. According to the Russian State Archive of the Economy (RGAE) it was established in 1920 as Glavtochmekh (Chief Administration) and became Gostrest Tochmekh in 1922. 

Slava history records that at the start of Stalins 1st Five Year Plan, in 1928, Tochmekh absorbed the troubled Moscow Electro Mechanical Plant (MÈMZ) which was housed in a renovated three-story stone building at Tverskoy Zastavy, Moscow. Initially the factory employed around 125 production workers, who were mainly engaged in the custom manufacture of telegraphic equipment, radios, projectors, as well as repairing electromechanical timers used in the control of Moscow’s trams. It became known as the 2nd State Watch Factory (later 2nd Moscow Watch Factory - then Slava - Cлава meaning Glory) in November 1930, to distinguish it from the newly created 1st State Watch Factory.

Lenin had an obsession with timepieces and understood their importance in the realization of a Soviet utopia. According to an article by Lois Kapila, in the wake of the 1917 October Revolution, Lenin set about restoring the important monuments that had been destroyed during the turmoil. At the top of the list was the Kremlin's Spasskaya Bashnya, the sandy-colored clock tower that rises up over Red Square. Struck by a stray shell, the clock no longer worked. Finding a skilled watchmaker proved difficult and finally a locksmith Nikolai Behrens came forward, with the help of his sons, to restore the clock in time for the one-year anniversary of the revolution. Lenin, though, was not content with simply returning the clock to its previous condition. In an early example of his 1918 "Plan of Monumental Propaganda," he also ordered that the clock play new revolutionary music. The artist and musician Mikhail Cheremnykh put together arrangements of The Internationale and You Fell A Victim, the former chiming at midday and the latter at midnight.

Tochmekh Swiss import - image from Ebay.
By 1921 Lenin had abandoned pure Communism in favour of his New Economic Policy, sometimes called "State Capitalism" which permitted capitalist business methods. This was opportune as by 1926 the warehouses were depleted of stock. To supply their network of co-operative workshops, known as  Artels (Aрте́ль),  Gostrest Tochmekh had to import whatever components they could acquire on the international market, finishing the timepieces with internally manufactured parts and "Гострест Точмех" signed dials. This unsystematic production continued into the early 1930's and was supplemented throughout the 20's by timepieces imported, in some quantities, from Switzerland and Germany. There was an obvious need in the army, the railways and other industries for accurate timekeeping - watches were not sold to the general public.

1927 Council of Labour and Defense directive (added translation courtesy of Alexey Kobtsev)
In his history of the Soviet watch industry V. G. Bogdanov writes... In March 1927, after heading Gostrest Tochmekh for 5 years, Andrey Bodrov highlighted the need to properly organise watch production in the Soviet Union. He persevered and persisted until eventually the Council of Labour and Defence listened and debated the subject for the next nine months. On December 20, 1927 they issued a directive (see above) “About setting up the manufacture of watches in the USSR”. It would organise factories for the production of 500 thousand pocket watches and 500 thousand large clocks.

Top. V O Pruss in Bern, Switzerland
Below. Andrey Mikhaylovich Bodrov
The factories were to be in line with those in Switzerland and the USA and with this in mind Bodrov planned to sent engineers abroad to report on foreign production. In March 1928 Chief Engineer M. F. Izmalkov was sent into Germany to study the production of wall and alarm clocks. After returning from the trip, Izmalkov proposed a plan for accelerating Soviet watch manufacture by acquiring turn-key plants; machines, patterns and tools.

By April 1928 the management of Tochmekh adopted this approach and in October 1928 they set up a commission to look into purchasing the necessary equipment from Europe. Bodrov & Sarkine from the Trust, together with Professor Zavadsky of the Leningrad Institute of Fine Mechanics and watchmaker Vladimir Osipovich Pruss, made up the commission.

Interupting Bogdanov's book, I want to talk a little about Vldimir Pruss the watchmaker (Chasovshchik) and committed Bolshevic. The Curator of the Moscow Polytechnic Museum watch collection, Tatyana Fokina, says that Pruss was imprisioned and exiled for his revolutionary views, prior to 1917. Lois Kapila, writes that whilst in exile in Switzerland he sought out Lenin, hearing that he was the man to go to if you had problems, Pruss tracked him down to ask his advice on how to obtain a passport because he desperately needed it to marry his fiancee. Lenin not only sorted out this problem, but after questioning the young exile, also offered him some wise counsel and advised him to limprove his skills and become a master watchmaker. Pruss followed Lenin's advice and in a case of old-fashioned networking, after the revolution, took a leading role in the Soviet clock and watch industry. Fokina says that by 1926 he had opened a watchmaking workshop in Tarasovka and later in Moscow. Pruss's experience with Lenin's successor proved fatal. He was a Belarus Jew born in 1883 in Vitebsk and despite many Jews being amongst the staunchest communists there is evidence that he, along with many others, perished in one of Stalin's anti-semitic pogroms - shot on the 8th of December 1937 having been falsly charged with spying for Germany. In 1956 the case of V O Pruss was revisited and the conviction was overturned for lack of evidence.

Back with Bogdanov's book we find that Bodrov's party planned to visit Germany, Austria, France, Czechoslovakia and Switzerland, However, at this time none of the European watch companies would agree to collaborate with the USSR. The Soviets believed this was because the Europeans would be deprived of the large potential watch market in the Soviet Union. The reason was more likely due to the reputation the Soviets has gained for taking stock and parts, after the revolution and not paying for them. Indeed the Swiss had refused to let the commission enter the country (this may be as a result of the breakdown of negotiations with the 'Concessions Committee (see earlier chapter)' who were also trying to do deals with Swiss watchmakers).

Part of the commission was then sent into America where they visited around 21 precision engineering plants, including 8 watch factories. At the beginning of 1929 at a meeting with the Amtorg Trading Corp., which had located the factories and planned the US visit, Andrey Bodrov reported that "the manufacture of watches in America was at a considerably higher level than in Europe. In contrast to the half-amateur European method of the production, America was almost fully automated". Bodrov proposed to purchase America equipment for the production of watches. He recognised the equipment was old and basic, but believed it would be a better level of technology with which to get started. However, he was concerned in case Moscow would say they had "purchased junk”. In the end the report back to Moscow was more or less reduced to the following: “it is better to have something we can work with, than not to have anything”.

We leave Bogdanov’s book now, but it does contain further interesting information about the 2nd Moscow Watch Factory (Slava). If like me you rely on interpretation by on-line translators, then persevere, it’s worth it; a link is in the appendix. The cartoon on the left is taken from his book.

Finding the now bankrupt Dueber-Hampden and Ansonia Clock Co., plants up for sale the Soviets, through Amtorg, purchase the patterns, machinery, tools and stock. These acquisitions were the embryo that helped to establish an impressive industry that still flourishes to this day.

Some sources site the Lip (or LIP if you prefer) collaboration as the foundation of Soviet manufacture, but it wasn't until 1936 (when Lip had financial problems back home in France) that Fred Lipmann signed a deal with the USSR to export technology and parts. This was some six years after the start of Type-1 (Hampden) production by the FSWF in Moscow. Lip's modern designs no doubt highlighted the shortcomings of the aged Hampden pocket watch technology, nevertheless, the Type-1 was the first watch to be manufactured in the USSR. It was robust, repairable, accurate and reliable. Furthermore the Type-1 lasted until the 1980's in one guise or another.

In April 1930 the steamboat with the American equipment aboard left for Russia. Twenty-eight freight cars full of machinery and parts were transported from Canton to Moscow. Three Soviet workers had travelled to Canton to help pack and label the boxes. Samuel Zubkoff who was a watchmaker by trade, Alexander Breitburt and Percy Dreyer.
At about the same time the building of the 1st State Watch Factory (FSWF) was started as a ‘top-priority’ project. The main block was built on the previous location of a Tobacco Factory called “Krasnaja Zvevda” (Red Star) in Voronczovskaja Street, Moscow (see photos below). Work commenced in February 1930 and was finished by June 1930. Installing the main equipment was finished by September 15 of 1930.

Left top & bottom, Site before construction. Right top & bottom. Site under construction.
The above pictures, of the factory under construction, originally belonged to John Miller and I am grateful to his great grandson Dave Miller for permission to use them. Dave told me "Great grandfather was the superintendent of the Hampden Watch Works in Canton. He started with the Works about 1889 when he was only 14-years-old and spent 41 years working for Dueber-Hampden Watch Works moving up through the ranks. When the Works moved to Russia it was great-grandfather who was in charge".

1st State (later Moscow) Watch Factory - Kirov
23 former Dueber-Hampden watchmakers, engravers and various other technicians were hired to help train the Russian workers in the art of watch making. The party left Canton on the 25th of February 1930 and spent several days in New York before setting sail aboard the RMS Aquitania on March 1st. The 8 day sea voyage was reportedly rough and ended in Cherbourg. The party reached Moscow on the 16th of March via Berlin and Warsaw. A band and a large crowd greeted them before they were taken to their allotted accommodation throughout the city. On the 18th of March they were given a banquet at the Grand Hotel with table settings belonging to the late Tzar. During the wait until the factory was finished they were entertained and enjoyed being shown around the city, including as visit to the Kremlin.

Picture courtesy of Ralph Goodenberger  Canton, OH. (his grandfather is 3rd left on the back row)
Top left: C. C. Wilcox. Top centre: John C. Miller. Top right: C. C. Wilcox, A. L. Shotts, Willis Ryman. 
1st row L-R: A. L. Fravel, David H. Jackson, Karl K. Krumm, Isaac Jackson, Charles H. Hammer, Charles Poizel, Hugo Gebhardt, 
H. London, John C. Miller
2nd row L-R: William H. Woessner, Albert H. Shotts, Willis Ryman, Guy Woolston, T. A. Freymark, V. Rost, C. C. Wilcox, J. F. Davis.
3rd row L-R: Irs A. Aungst, Bert Beebout, Joseph C. Sny, Ed S. Wilson, W. H. Goodenberger.

Each Canton man, who was originally a foreman or above, would head-up a Moscow department to train the Russian workers. For example C. C. Wilcox, was head of the flat steel screw department, at which he had worked in Canton for 41 years. Karl Krumm had been responsible for jeweling all the Canton movements. All the Americans reported that they were well looked after and that all their expenses were met. They were given pay even when they were too ill to work and free hospital treatment, neither of which they enjoyed in Canton. Each worker was said to have been paid around $4,650 and provided with a cook and a waiter. One of the party, Ira Aungst (the first Canton boy to have been employed by John Dueber), was very impressed by the speed that the Russians picked up the skills, especially the women. German was the most common language spoken between the US and Russian workers. It's interesting to note that North Canton (the site of the Dueber-Hampden factory) was called New Berlin until 1918 and had been predominantly settled by German immigrants.

 The Soviets would have been happy for any American to stay after their one year contracts were up (and a six month extension for some six men) but at Soviet pay rates. All returned to the US.

The project was completed on October 1st, 1930 and the First State Watch Factory (Первый Государственный Часовой Завод - 1ГЧЗ) came into being. By November 7th the Public Commissariat for General Engineering (HKOM) ordered the manufacture of the first 50 pocket watches. These watches were presented at a ceremonial meeting in the Revolution Theater, now known as the Bolshoi Theater.
Top: Typical Hampden Size 16 movement
Below: Type-1 with distinctive
 Hampden Twin-Bridge layout.

The watch design chosen would be known as a Type-1. Over time I have seen these watches referred to by many names, Kirovskie's being an example. The best explanation of the designations was told to me by an NAWCC aquaintance, Wojtek. Type-1 & K-43... Type-1 is the designation/caliber of the movement and the name speaks for itself. K-43 is the designation of the completed watch, where K is the abbreviation of "kарманные" "pocket" in English and 43(mm) is the diameter of the watch. Placing the Type-1 movement into the wristwatch 'Saucepan" case did not change the designation, these watches are still referred to as K-43's. Additionally, Alexey Kobtsev explained to me that early Soviet pocket watch movements were often generically said to be calibre ChK-6 (also known as ЧК-6 or YK-6 or Cheka 6 or pocket-watch 6).

Although I drift off the Hampden trail a little during this chapter, it is the Type-1 design movements that carries through the Hampden connection. Right up to the 1980s this movement has survived and is easily recognizable as a twin bridge Hampden pattern Size 16. The Type-1, or K-43 when placed into a case, initially comprised of a 15j pocket watch for governmental use and a 7j wristwatch (later 15j) for the Red Army. In addition a 7j pocket watch and a ladies 15j wristwatch were produced for general sale.

In the first period after the 1st and 2nd State Watch Factories started-up, the Artels that had been the main stay of pre-1930 watch manufacture were still in existance. These workshop-collectives were probably responsible for utilizing the stock of Hampden components and part finished movements to produce the ultra rare 'Hampden' hybrids. A 1932 catalog (see below) shows some listed as Type-1a and Type-2 pocket watches and Type-3, Type-3a & Type-4 wristwatches. These watches could contain almost any suitable part or completed Hampden movement, obtained during the original purchase. Anything that would fit a stock case and operate. It's worth reiterating that these watches are rare and very few have survived. Some have top plates with dates going back five or six years prior to the purchase date (1930), coupled with later balances and modified jewel settings. The best way to look at this period is as one of efficient housekeeping. Demand was outstripping supply and the ever thrifty Soviet system was using up every scrap of materials it could, after all it had been doing just that since the 1920's. The Artel 'Right Time' (ABB) was responsible for the assembly of early Type-1 modified chronograph stopwatches, like the one below.

On offer at Molotok at the time of insertion.
These two pages are from the 1932 catalog shown on the USSR Watches website of Dmitry Trošinu
A unique collection of Type=1, 2, 3 & 4 watches courtesy of enthusiast Pmwas (WUS/f10 & NAWCC forum).
He has reinstated them whilst retaining their originality.
Artel watches also used Soviet manufactured parts/movements and undocumented rare examples do crop-up for sale on the internet, from where the images below were taken. Example 'A' is a Type-1 movement that has been modified, and re-bridged, in a crude way to fit it's case. The original stamps have been ground down and re-engraved by hand. The illustration shows how it originated from a superimposed Type-1 movement. The lower version on the right just reinforces the view that these models were one-off's. It has no visible markings on the movement but this time the case appears to be a little larger allowing both bridges to remain. The example lower left has retained both it's bridges and it's factory stamp. Thought to be the work of amateur watchmakers, I have included them as they illustrate the robustness of the movement.
Lower left has a clear 1936 - 1939 1st State Watch Factory mark

The first watch to be wholly designed and manufactured in the USSR was designated the Type-17; it is the rarest watch I own. Mark Gordon has 3 in his collection, which he refers to as Type-1 modified and says there were often known as 'Boys Watches'. It is most probable that this model was made in an Artel. In comparrison with the mass produced Type-1 watches there would have been relatively few Type-17's manufactured. Most examples I've seen date from around 1939 to 1941 and it may have been the wartime imperative to stick to the easily replicated Type-1. After the war the modern Lip movements and post war German wristwatch movements had become available and both Artel production and the Type-17 never got started again.

The fate of the Artels is little documented but as a child of Lenin's 'State Capitalism' policy they may have suffered in Stalin's purges during the change to 'Collectivization'. Tochmekh was dissolved in 1933 at the beginning of the 2nd Five Year Plan.

.Type-17 from my collection
Original hands, case and movement - Dial must have been refurbished, but accurately - Clearly a later crown
The sub captain is wearing his Type-1 Saucepan wristwatch above - source unknown
Both officers, on the left and right lower picture, appear to be wearing Type-17 wristwatches. 
Image from a postcard in my collection.
At about the same time the Soviets purchased the Dueber-Hampden equipment and tools, it also purchased the bankrupt US clock maker Ansonia Clock Company, which in November 1930 were allocated to the 2nd State Watch Factory (1945 - The Second Moscow Watch Factory & 1958 - Slava). It initially made wall clocks and alarm clocks but from 1935 the factory began production of pocket watches with Type-1 movements in them.
Type-1's: 1st State, Zlatoust, Christapol & 2nd State.
In 1935 the “All-Union elder” Mikhail Kalinin signed a decree awarding The First State Watch Factory the name of Kirov after Sergei Kirov. He was a prominent early Bolshevik leader in the Soviet Union, Kirov rose through the Communist Party ranks to become head of the party organization in Leningrad. He was seen as a focal point of opposition to the more extreme policies of Joseph Stalin and on the 1st of December 1934, he was shot and killed by a gunman at his offices in the Smolny Insitute.

The name change heralded a crucial time in the history of the factory as the reconstruction of the enterprise was perfected. Production of pocket watches (nicknamed Kirovskies) increased to 450,000 pieces. In addition the production of special clocks for cars and airplanes began. Watches produced during the 1940's were commonly used by officers of the Red Army. Watches with distinctive engravings were given by the army as a form of reward. Indeed watches were used extensively to reward Soviet citizens, party officials and especially the Armed Forces. Ownership of a pocket watch, and especially a wristwatch was very desirable.

During the period from 1935 to 1941, 2.7 million Type-1 wrist and pocket watches were produced, according to Poljot history.

Zlatoust (or Slatoustowsky) Watch Factory.
Researching the history of the Soviet watch industry is not easy, access to documentation is very limited. As a consequence the next part of the Type-1 story has been the most difficult to assemble. In addition to the general lack of written evidence, all this happened during a time of what could only be described as organised chaos. Much of what I write is conjecture on my part, combined with valued observations from other enthusiasts.

As the Axis army closed in on Moscow, during the Autumn of 1941, the factory (along with many other industrial enterprises) was hurriedly evacuated. In this case to the city of Zlatoust, in the province of Chelyabinsk, close to the Yural Mountains.

The installation started in November and was completed on Christmas Day.  The 1941-1943, or first, Zlatoust period should be separated from the second, post 1943, period and the re-establishment of the Moscow factory. Throughout the period of the Great Patriotic War Zlatoust produced timing devices including, tank clocks, aircraft clocks, timers, chronometers, gun camera clocks and naval chronometers. By the end of the war the factory was said to have produced more than 300,000 such devices. 92% of Tanks and 98% of Aircraft were fitted with Zlatoust clocks. Examples of timepieces made during the first period are indistinguishable from Moscow made models of 1940-41. In reality Zlatoust operated as the First State Watch Factory - Kirov (logo 1ГЧЗ) including the continued use of factory stampings and logo's; cosmetic considerations not being a priority during those days. The earliest pocket watch I've seen with the familiar Zlatoust mark, of ЗЧЗ inside it's pyramid, is 1951.

By 1943 the Red Army was on the offensive and the Moscow factory was re-established. This probably coinsides with the time 'State' was replaced in the title with 'Moscow', thus becoming the 'First Moscow Watch Factory - Kirov (logo 1МЧЗ). The proliferation of factories that occurred when the Zlatoust and Chistopol units were established during WWII may well have prompted the need for a name change. In the excellent Russian Times web site you can find a chronological series of movement logo's with 'State' still being referred to in 1942 but by 1945 they have become "Moscow". Verification of the actual timing of this change remains elusive.

Chistopol Watch Factory.
At the same time of the Kirov factory move, the 2nd State Watch Factory was evacuated to Chistopol, a small town located on the Kama River in Tatarstan. Here production of the Type-1 K-43 watches commenced in 1943 and continued throughout the war. Production remained after the 2nd State Watch Factory was relocated back in Moscow. The factory brand was known as Vostok (Boctok). Just as with Zlatoust, watches played a small part in the overall factory output; the main priority was the production of war materials.

As the satellite factories continued production both during and after the war, almost unabadted, it seems logical that the original equipment and tooling was left in-situ. If so, all Type-1 timepieces produced after 1941 will almost certainly have come from these new sites. Indeed I have found it almost impossible to find Type-1 watches made at the FMWF after 1941 (apart from some examples which are probably composites or cobbled together repairs). If that was the case it's logical that the Moscow factories were re-established firstly with Lip equipment and later with watch making equipment, tools, etc. it took from Glashütte as part of the reparations the Soviet Union imposed on Germany after the war.

Lip engineers and technicians had supervised the installation of a factory at Penza near Moscow and trained Russian engineers. Over the years many Lip type movements appeared... The Lip R26 was called “Pobeda” meaning Victory and first released in 1945. The Lip R43 was called “Zim”. In 1950 the assembly of Pobeda watches was switched to a conveyor belt automated system which not only increased the output, but also improved quality. By 1951 the annual total output of watches at the factory had reached half a million and by 1955, 1,100,000 pieces. In 1969 Lip were invited back to bring the Soviet technology up to date and later in 1972 a deal was agreed giving the Soviets fresh technical assistance. This cooperation lasted until 1975 when Lip went under.
I am trying hard to restrict my collection to Type-1 watches but the one exception could be a Zvevda based on the Lip T-18.

The Glashütte factories lost almost all their machinery. This was relatively new equipment, allowing the Soviets to produce some of the most modern movements of the time and with a high class finish. All the famous watch manufacturing companies of the little town of Glashütte, such as Lange, Kurtz, Assmann, Muehle, UFAG, UROFA and many other small workshops were forced to join the 'Glashütte Uhren-Betriebe VEB'.

Walter Lange reported that the Soviet occupiers expropriated the firm in 1948. "The little that was left after the war was taken away by the Soviets, I myself helped packing machines into boxes to be shipped to Russia. At Lange, we had to make sketches to teach the Russians how to make marine chronometers," he said.

Despite the Type-1 being old technology it can clearly be seen worn by high ranking
Andrei Zhdanov, Chairman of the Soviet Union in the initial post war period. 
It was Zhdanov who back in 1935 took over Kirov's position as head of the party
organisation in Leningrad.
By the end of the 1940's there was a gradual phasing out of the Type-1 movements, the legacy of the Hampden purchase in 1930. I have a Type-1 Pocket Watch from the Zlatoust Watch Factory made in the third quarter of 1958, possibly one of the last of the Type-1 pocket watches (see archive).

The final destination, or disposal, of the original watch making equipment from Canton is impossible to determine but it's reasonable to assume most of the equipment machines and tools ended their working lives in Zlatoust and Christopol (see footnote Henry B. Fried).

It is a fair to say that the Hampden, size 16 model 5 pattern, Type-1 movement served the USSR for 50 years until the 1980's - not bad value for money and not bad for a bankrupt design.

And so a lineage, that had it's roots back in Italy and travelled to the Urals via Providence, Springfield, Canton and Moscow, finally comes to an end.

Before this chapter ends here are some examples of the diverse use of the Type-1 movement...

The lower picture is copied from Mark Gordon's collection item #1453. Circa 1950.
According to an article by Sergey Klimakov ‘The Cheliabinsk Worker’, Zlatoust manufactured the legendary "Vodolaz"191-ChS watch for Soviet Navy Divers. A very large watch who’s diameter (without the crown) is about 60 millimeters and which weighed 250 grams. Production of these unique watches was stopped in the first half of the 1970s. The Type-1 designed movement is in reality a variant as it's quality and manufacture is significantly upgraded.

This rare and important Type-1 variant is the one major watch missing in my collection. Unless I'm lucky, it will remain beyond my pocket, genuine watches fetch Rolex prices.

Beware! There are many expensive fakes on offer, many with genuine Type-1 movements from old pocket watches.

Whilst on that subject; the majority of Type-1 watches you see should be treated with caution. Most are at best composites of genuine parts. Many are redialed, or re-cased. I include much of my collection - I buy them for what they mean to me. Worst of all frauds are old Hampden movements placed into an old Type-1 case and passed off as the rarest of the rare. Both these old movements and cases are readily available on internet auction sites and it's relatively simple for workshops to put them together.

One of the fascinations of studying and collecting Soviet watches is never knowing if what-you-see is what-you-get. There are few 'experts' and sparse documentation, even in Russian. Remember also that the Soviets were notorious for changing facts, as the following photos of the soldiers hoisting the flag at the Reichstag in Berlin demonstrates. First the monochrome photo was coloured to convey a more modern technology. Then it had the (looted?) watch on his right wrist removed for used in a propaganda poster.

Upper right below. 1940' 50's clock. Lower right. 1980's clock. Compare them with the Type-1 1940 movement above. The final chapter in the Type-1s history is well illustrated by these clocks from my collection. Both are stamped with the Zlatoust Watch Factory logo, the lower one being the stopwatch logo.

Interestingly the lower left clock has a fused bridge (like the size 16 1923 Hampden movement shown on the right). This fused bridge is also evident on later "Voldaz" 191-ChS divers watches, albeit without the sub secondhand.  
One of the best pieces in my collection has to be the Type-1 mantle clock. With it's milky white opaque glass and chrome body, it has the classic 50's look. It was made in the 3rd quarter of 1957 at the Zlatoust Watch Factory and carries the factories distinct logo.
The white translucent glass is not adequately captured by photographs
More examples of uses for the Type-1 movement can be seen below, tank clocks and aircraft clocks. There is also evidence of the movement being used as vehicle clocks. I think it's safe to say the movement was adopted as a general purpose movement, initially for military use and then for domestic consumption.
Left. Cockpit clock from the I-16 Ishak (Little Donkey). Right. KV-1 heavy tank showing clock in centre.
Another clock in my collection is a "Gun Camera Clock". It's a re-worked Type-1 Zlatoust movement with a modified dial face and central second hand. The case fits inside the movie camera (the housing beside the lens lower left) which is set in-line with the gun sight. When the gun is fired, the camera records the target with a time stamp.
Thanks to Phil at Russian Times for the use of this picture

Henry B. Fried was president of the New York City Horological Society
and the New York State Watchmakers Association also vice president of
the old Horological Institute of America and was the first American to
receive the Silver Medal of the British Horological Institute.
Henry B. Fried (right) an eminent watchmaker and horology lecturer reported seeing Dueber-Hampden machinery being used in China in 1986. This report is often sited but the brief content fails to say which city, factory or company and even what the equipment was being used to produce.
If this equipment was used in China to make watches of the Dueber-Hampden pattern it opens up a completely new chapter to study and write, but there is no evidence of this whatsoever.

With the end of the Soviet Union the old factories were re-organized, in 2000 the Volmax organization is formed by ex-Poljot employees. Today it is a little unclear who is selling what and where the brands are being made. To the best of my knowledge Volmax sells watches under the Aviator, Shturmanskie & Piljot brand names. Vostok watches (Bostok) are sold by Vostok Europe.

Soviet watches (post 1950) would be exported to over 70 countries including, USA, Great Britain, Belgium, Italy, Germany, Hong Kong & Greece.

Soviet clock & watch factories
• 1st (State) Moscow Watch Factory- Первый Государственный Часовой Завод - Since 2000 known as Volmax selling Poljot, Shturmanskie & Aviator branded watches.
• 2nd (State) Moscow Watch Factory – Второй Часовой Завод - The old factory building in Moscow has recently been demolished but the Slava company continues to produce watches.
• Tschistopol Watch Factory - Чистопольский часовой завод - Christopol - the Chistopol Watch Factory, Vostok, started back in 1942 when the 2nd Moscow Watch Factory was evacuated from Moscow to a little town located on the River Kama.
• Petrodvorets Watch Factory – Петродворцовый часовой завод - Saint Petersburg - following the collapse of the Soviet Union the Raketa watch factory struggled in the new market economy of Russia and ceased production in the mid 1990s. However, there has been a recent resurgence of the company and production has started once again.
• Maslennikova Watch factory – Масленникова Завод имени, Samara - Often referred to as ZIM (Zavod Imeni Maslennikova). The factory struggled following the collapse of the USSR and has since closed with the loss of jobs in the local area.
• Pensenki Watch Factory - Пензенцкий Часовой Завод - Penza - The Penza watch factory was formed in 1935 under a governmental order.
• Serdobsk Watch & Clock Factory – Сердобский Часовой Заво - Following the war, production was devoted to clock manufacture, particularly cuckoo clocks.
• Uglich Watch Factory – Угличский Часовой Завод - Manufacture of Chaika and Volga watches in the town of Uglich 120km north of Moscow. The city has a branch of the Scientific Research Institute of the Clock and Watch Industry.
• Zlatoust Watch Factory – Златоустовский часовой завод - Zlatoust - Set up when the FSWF evacuated from Moscow in the war. Continued to produce Pocket & Stop watches amongst others, branded as Agat.
• Luch Watch factory - Луч Часовой Завод - Minsk - Since 2004 the Minsk Watch Plant has operated to the ISO 9001 quality standard. 

Extract from the SEKONDA web site... "Sekonda is a British brand which was established in 1966 to offer a collection of mechanical watches which were manufactured in Russia [sic]. With extensive marketing support and superb customer service Sekonda quickly became a household name. The introduction of the quartz movement saw manufacture moved to Hong Kong and this enabled Sekonda to introduce more fashionable styles. This combination and continued marketing support led to Sekonda becoming the best selling watch brand in units in the UK in 1988, a position that is still held today."

Chapter 5. The Manheimer Watch Co. 
In 1930 with Amtorg’s agreement, use of the Dueber-Hampden name was assigned to the Receiver. He transferred it to some former employees who set up The Dueber-Hampden Service Department in Canton. Part of the agreement with Amtorg had been for the Soviets to export parts back to Canton, but this did not become a reality. The Service Department was owned by the Anderson Bros., two former Dueber-Hampden employees and was operating out of the Zinninger Building until the early 1940's.

Registration of the Hampden name was abandoned, in effect it ceased to be used in 1923 when the Hampden and Dueber companies were amalgamated. The best explanation of how the name came back into use is found in James W. Gibbs book. When Gibbs compiled the original Hampden Story in the very early 1950's, he wrote to the Hampdem Watch Company of Chicago IL,.
"We were put in touch with the Hampden Watch Company of Chicago, Illinois. Mr Arthur E. Manheimer, the President, wrote to me that when the machinery, equipment, inventory and materials were sold to Russia in 1930, good-will and trade marks were not sold. The trade name Hampden having been abandoned by the Dueber-Hampden Company, three companies, including his own, applied for registration of the name or a similar sounding name for jewelry items. His company subsequently made contact with the other two companies and acquired all of their right, title and interest in the name Hampden, which his company has been using since 1939. Their application for registration of the name in connection with watches was perfected in 1940".
Information about the Manheimer Watch company is thin on the ground but research led me to the transcript of the 'Lowenthal v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue' court case which provided a comprehensive account of why the Hampden name was rescued. The transcript states (and I paraphrase)...
The Manheimer Watch Company during the end of the 1930's to early 1940's was engaged in distributing American manufactured watches under franchises from the Hamilton, Elgin and Waltham watch companies. It was well established and had an outstanding reputation. In the spring of 1939, Waltham changed its method of distribution in a manner which led Arthur E. Manheimer to believe that it would lose a large percent of the volume of its Waltham business. To meet this situation, on May 6, 1939, he organized the Hampden Watch Company, an Illinois corporation, as a wholly owned subsidiary of The Manheimer Watch Company. Hampden was to import Swiss watch movements and sell them to customers which the The Manheimer Watch Company expected to lose as a result of the change in Waltham's merchandising policy. By the fall of 1939, it became evident that The Manheimer Watch Company would be in danger of losing its franchise with Waltham should its connection with it's new subsidiary, and its activities be discovered. So Arthur Manheimer, the then President, decided he would separate the Hampden Watch Company and sever his connections with The Manheimer Watch Company.
1940 Janney, Semple Hill & Co. advert

Arthur Manheimer Patent 1932

Arthur E. Manheimer was born in Kansas City on the 14th of April 1888; he graduated from Harvard College in 1909 and gained a Law Degree from the Harvard Law School in 1912, after which he practiced in Chicago. In 1917 he was commissioned Second Lieutenant in the Signals Reserve Corps and served in France, during WWI, as Supply Officer for the 415th Railway Telegraph Battalion. After the war he returned to Chicago and practice law for a few years before purchasing part of the family business, the Manheimer Watch Co. As previously stated he formed the Hampden Watch Company in 1940 and ran it for 17 years. He sold out in January 1957 to Hyman Wein owner founder of the Clinton Watch Company, also of Chicago. Clinton would eventually change it’s name to Hampden in 1995; but more on that later.

Arthur Manheimer was past President of the National Wholesale Jewelers Association. He was also an active member of the Alliance Française and a supporter of the World Federation for World Government. He died in December 1957 after a short illness.

The Manheimer era (as I shall refer to Hampden watches from 1940 to the late 1950's) watches are difficult to distinguish from later Clinton era watches, as in effect the method of manufacture changed very little, nevertheless this was an important period and lasted some 17 years.

Either through Manheimer or Wein, Hampden watches have been produced from the 1940s up to the present day and distributed via their companies Chicago offices. Hampden branded watches, from the Manheimer & Clinton era's, have been fitted with Swiss, German and French movements. Some of the Clinton era movements are stamped Clinton Watch Company some Hampden Watch Company. Clinton, Douglas and Wolbrook watches, also from the Clinton stable, are fitted with a mixture of these movements, the majority being 17 jewel Swiss ones.

Continuity - The top set are 1952 (Manheimer era) the lower set are 1957 after the Clinton purchase.  
In my opinion many Hampden wristwatches from the Manheimer and Wein period between 1940 and 1980 are classically stylish, utilise quality components and as such were accurate and reliable. They were amongst the ones I first purchased to start my small collection; which coincidentally, includes one circa 1960s model with a Soviet First Moscow Watch Factory 2414 movement.

Chapter 6. The Clinton Watch Co.
The Wein family, formally Weinzieher, originally emigrated to the US from Russia but it’s a little unclear how many of the family travelled with the head of the family, Hersh Wein, and how many arrived later. Hersh Wein had a large family that would diverge and go on to form important branches of the North American watch industry. Nevertheless, the foundations were established in 1904 with the incorporation of Weinstrum Watches, who became the authorised dealership of “Abra Swiss Watches” and were situated at 93 Nassau Street, New York City. Later the concern would be known as Wein Brothers. Hersh (or Hirsch) left a number of his sons and sons-in-law in the business. Family lore had it that the larger family enterprise broke up due to fighting among the wives.

Hersh Wein and family

Monya Wein moved to Switzerland and during WWII helped to keep the family businesses alive by scrounging enough movements and parts to send back to the families in the US and Canada. Monya’s son is Boris Vansier the artist.

Rose Wenger, nee Weinzieher, and her husband went to Montreal and in 1923 started Wenger Ltd. owners of the Cardinal Watch brand. The current President is Myer Wenger the great-grandson of Hersh.
The Canadian Wenger Watch Company (Wenger Ltd.) are not affiliated with Wenger Switzerland or their sister company Victorinox. Wenger Switzerland did not start producing watches until the late 1980s.

Morris Wein (seen above sitting on his father’s knee) would become the founder of Marathon Watch in Montreal Canada in 1939, which is run today by his grandson Mitchell Wein (family pronunciation ‘ween’).

One brother moved in New York and another went to live in Los Angeles.
Hyman Wein
Photo by permission of Joseph Wein

Last but by no means least there was Hyman Wein, pictured right, (family pronunciation ‘wine’), born in 1888 in the city of Kiev, then a part of the Imperial Russia Empire, today the capital of the Ukraine. He was 34 years old when he emigrated to the US with his wife Susan, also known as Sasha. He had formerly been an officer in the Russian Army and had witnessed the horrors of the pogroms following the revolution.
Between 1920 and 1922 as many as 30,000 Russian soldiers, aristocrats, professionals and intellectuals left the Soviet Union and settled in New York City, Philadelphia and Chicago. These immigrants were known as "white émigré", so named for their opposition to the bolsheviks and communism.
They settled in Chicago Illinois where he founded the Clinton Watch Company in 1922 at 29 East Madison Avenue. Clinton is the name of both an Illinois county and an area in Chicago. The company were like many others of that time ‘watch designers and compilers’ bringing-in movements, dials and cases and assembling them in their workshops.

Involvement in community projects runs through the three generations of the Wein family who figure in the chapter. The Wein Family Foundation, set up by Hyman in memory of his wife Susan in 1946, remains in place today and makes charitable donations to a wide variety of good causes (approx. $250,000 in 2009).

Hyman Wein began a watch repair school for immigrants. Alfred Blum, who worked at Clinton and was well known in Chicago as “The German Watchmaker” taught there on a voluntary basis for two years in the late 1930’s. After finishing his regular job with Clinton at 5 p.m., he would teach from 6 to 9 at night. The school catered for the disabled and for war veterans.

Hyman’s son Irving L. Wein, born 1925, grew up in Hyde Park on Chicago's South Side and at age 16 enrolled in the University of Chicago. He spent two years in the U.S. Army in Europe, as a member of the 8th Armoured Division. He also studied at the Sorbonne in France and the University of Geneva in Switzerland; afterwards he returned to Chicago to finish his degree and join the family business.
Irving Wein
Photo by permission of Joseph Wein

One of his earliest ventures was to set up the Josan SA company in Neuchatel, Switzerland in the 1960s (about the time the company moved it's Chicago offices to 1104 South Wabash Avenue). He assembled watches there for the next 20 years. Following on from this in the 80s he opened a watch factory in St. Croix, in the US Virgin Isles (the name St. Croix became a Hampden Corp., brand). Irving Wein was a leading lobbyist to the US Federal Trade Commission in connection with watch movement assembly in the US Virgin Isles. He sought markings clarification, arguing that it would improve the domestic industry. From the late 1950s watch companies got involved in watch assembly in the islands and it is a fascinating adjunct to the story of the US watch industry. Hampden closed their factory there in 2008, leaving just one other company still operating.

In 1981 Irving acquired Benrus after that venerable old American brand had gone through some troubles. The company had been sold in 1967 to Victor Kiam, of Remington Razors fame. His attempt to consolidate various manufacturing enterprises under one roof proved to be a much more expensive move than anyone calculated and was the final blow to the company which subsequently filed as bankrupt in 1977. The company passed through several hands before it came under the ownership of the Wells Benrus Corporation; it to ultimately ended in bankruptcy (Victor Kiam being the largest shareholder and creditor)and was purchased by Clinton in 1981.
1963 advert - clearly implying a link with the original Hampden company.
The Benrus watch brand was sold to catalogue showrooms and mass merchants until the sale of the business in 1995 to Bernie Mermelstein of M.Z. Berger & Company, with headquarters in Long Island City, NY,. M.Z. Berger also, separately, acquired the Trade Marks of three other old American watch companies, Elgin, Waltham and Gruen.

Clinton had changed its name to Benrus in 1981 but following the sale in 1995, the name was changed again, this time to it's current one, Hampden Corporation. In light of the subsequent Monica Lewinsky scandal, this choice proved to have been an astute one; for a long time the name Clinton may not have immediately evoked thoughts of fine timekeeping. Pity in a way because a President William Clinton model would have been in keeping with the Dueber-Hampden President William McKinley model.

It was during the Benrus era, 1989, that the company move to their current location in West Carroll Avenue.

I was interested to know what wristwatch Irving wore. His son Joe said that his father wore a variety of watches, “Oddly, (or perhaps not) he never fell in love with any particular watch. He’d wear one of our newer models, or whatever was lying around”. I asked Joe what watch he wore "Haha – right now I’m wearing one of Mitchell’s watches... a Marathon" he told me.

Electric watches

My collecting interest finishes with the demise of the mechanical watch and what more apt way to finishing than to draw your attention to Electric Watches. I am lucky enough to have three, two Hampden & one Clinton in my collection. Electric watches should not be mistaken for Quartz watches, whilst both are battery powered, electric watches have jeweled mechanical movements. These watches only lasted for a short period between the development of the cell battery and the advent of quartz movements which were cheaper to produce. I am grateful to top enthusiast Paul Wirdnam who provides details of the watch movements on his website at Electric Watches. In addition to containing excellent information generally he also catalogues his own Clinton and all but identical Baylor (the latter has no connection to Clinton or Hampden) models.

Hampden today...
The third generation, Joseph H. Wein, took over the business when his father died in 2002, continuing his family’s ownership of the Hampden name. An association that has lasted for nearly 60 years, greatly exceeding the 40 years it was owned by the Dueber family.

Joe Wein was born on January 5, 1961 in Chicago, he grew up in the family business and learned all the traditions that had guided it throughout its long history. When it was his turn to take the reins, he is said to have questioned everything. He applied modern economic principles and forward-thinking process innovation, an approach that has ensured Hampden continues to be successful.

Joe & his wife Michele Sackheim Wein (right), also carry on the family tradition of supporting community organizations and have won awards for their work.

And so my story ends.
From the start in 1877 to my electric watch circa 1977. But that of Hampden continues and their current watches can be seen on the company's web site. My story is non-commercial and not sponsored in any way, but I have included their banner for the following reason. My URL "hampdenwatches.blogspot" could easily deflect searchers seeking their information and yet they have not objected. On the contrary they have been most helpful in making archive information available to me.


Watch archive
These watches belong to me and I am pleased to recommend watch collecting as an affordable hobby, indeed many were bought for less than a tank of fuel for my car. I acquired them from Auctions, Jumble (Yard) Sales, Antique Shops and on-line and of course Ebay.

Top; Springfield Hampden 1886 & 1887 (sidewinder).
Seconds & third rows: Canton Hampden watches, circa 1900 - 1927
Forth, fifth & sixth rows: Soviet Type-1 Hampden pattern watches, circa 1930 - 1980
Seventh & eighth rows: Hampden watches from the Manhiemer & Wein era's, circa 1940 - 1980

My thanks to all those who gave permission for me to use their material. To the collectors of Dueber-Hampden & Soviet watches who inspired me, especially members of the 'watchuseek f10' forum. Mark A. Gordon who's catalog and collection is the backbone of USSR watch research. Dave Miller and Alexey Ivanov (Алексей Иванов). Finally, a special thanks to Joe Wein for his material help and patience.

May I draw your attention to an excellent URL dedicated to information about the Dueber-Hampden Watch Works, written by Lee Horrisberger, Associate Professor, Walsh University, North Canton OH. Her site has in-depth local studies, stories and great illustrations from the families of former Dueber-Hampden employees - you can find a link below.

All efforts have been taken to contact copyright owners, where contact has failed such release is solicited.

These links are either the sources of material or just great horology (alphabetically)...
 Books in my collection (alphabetically)...
  • Arnold, Robert F. & Hernick, James L. Hampden Watch Co.
  • Blair, Harry. Mr Horology - The Life & Times of Henry B. Fried.
  • Gibbs, James W. From Springfield to Moscow.
  • Harrold, Michael C. American Watchmaking. 
  • Sterling, Ronald E. Canton, Ohio (Images of America).
  • Watkins Richard & Jacques, David American and Swiss Watchmaking in 1876.



Not everbody agrees with this definition or the dates of incorporation.

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I’m an Englishman born, like John Hampden, in Buckinghamshire. For many years I worked for a company also called Hampden, but with no connection to the watch concern. We were involved in the Rubber Industry, which inevitably led me to Ohio, the capital of the US Rubber Industry and I often visited the Canton, Akron, Cleveland and Cincinnati area. At this time I was unaware of the watch company but then one day, whilst visiting India, I had cause to put Hampden into Google, the results opened up a fascinating and completely new world to me. Now that I have more time on my hands I am enjoying gathering as much information about Hampden watches as I can. I also am forming a modest collection of watches from the Springfield, Dueber, Manheimer, Clinton and Soviet era’s, many of which are included. Anyone wishing to comment, ask questions, report DEAD LINKS or add to the story can contact me via…

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