The EARLIEST American made Men's Wrist Watch KNOWN to EXIST

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Literustyfan
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The EARLIEST American made Men's Wrist Watch KNOWN to EXIST

#1 Post by Literustyfan » Sun Jan 07, 2018 7:23 am

I want to share one of my research projects with you............

This is the story of the EARLIEST American made Men's Wrist Watch KNOWN to EXIST!

For the better part of the past decade I have been searching for the first men's wrist watch ever manufactured in the United States.

Based on all of the evidence previously discovered, the horological community believed that the Ingersoll Midget was the first men's wrist watch manufactured in the United States.

The very first advertisement ever found for the Ingersoll Midget Wrist Watch was published on November 11, 1912.

Nobody has ever been able to find anything earlier than that from an American company.

I recently made an acquisition that will change everybody's thoughts on this topic.

I have been able to push that date back by 1 year, 3 months and 11 days!

I have searched hell and high water to draw my conclusions.

I have literally searched every database (including the Hathi Trust intranet), newspapers, magazines and books possible to draw this conclusion, nearly a decade worth of research.

Thousands upon thousands of publications and documents have been searched and this is in fact the earliest ever found and documented.

New England was/is one of the lesser known American manufacturers, their plant was located in Waterbury Connecticut.

One September 1, 1911 the New England Lever Cavour made its debut in The Keystone magazine with a full page advert, page 1628.

Then, only five days later on September 6, 1911 they backed it up with another full page advert in the Jewelers Circular, page 132.

The adverts are big, bold and beautiful.

This gold filled version that I have obtained was introduced on October 18, 1911, confirmed in the Jewelers Circular, page 136.

The key words/phrases used in the adverts are rather important and each word used had to be researched.

"Automobiling", only about 5% of ALL car owners in the United States were women in 1911.

"Soldiers", women were not soldiers back in 1911.

"Sailors", women were not sailors back in 1911.

"Aviation", only 8 women around the world had a pilot's license in August of 1911.

So, with all keywords/phrases being dug into in the adverts this was in fact marketed as a men's wrist watch.

The Keystone magazine put the date stamps on the right hand side page when reading the publication.

The New England Lever Cavour advert is on the left hand page so I included the front cover of the magazine within the attached pictures so the date can be verified.

The Jewelers Circular advert actually shows the date in the upper right hand corner.

After an exhaustive search I finally obtained the actual model shown in the adverts just a few days ago.

It is in absolutely beautiful original cosmetic condition, but the movement has seen better days, it has some issues.

The watch made its debut on September 1, 1911 but only about 10-11 months later the New England Watch Company fell on hard times.

The factory closed in mid July of 1912, operations and manufacturing ceased.

I highly doubt that New England would have produced tens of thousands of these men's wrist watches.

They would have only made a small amount of them to ensure that they did not get burned too badly if it turned out to be a flop.

Then, add in the fact that they went out of business only 10-11 months after this men's wrist watch made its debut.

There simply cannot be many of these models still in existence today.

This is the ONLY one I have EVER seen.

In 1914 the New England plant was purchased by Ingersoll.

Ingersoll through mergers and acquisitions eventually became the the Timex Group USA, Inc. with their corporate headquarters currently located Middlebury Connecticut.

Timex Group USA, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Dutch conglomerate Timex Group B.V.

Details about the 1911 New England Lever Cavour...............

Gold filled case, 20 year warranty, original factory crown, original factory crystal, swivel lugs, enamel dial, Louis XIV hands.

The case measures 42mm lug tip to lug tip, 31.8mm going across not including the crown with an 11mm lug diameter.

Low grade, non jeweled movement.

To set the time you push the crown in towards the case, to wind the wrist watch you turn the crown forward from the crown's current position as shown in the pics.

It looks a bit strange with the crown out so far but it is how the wrist watch was designed to operate.

Now, the New England Watch Company did in fact have a Cavour Ladies Pocket Watch previously, but that pocket watch used their Cavour "Z" movement.

This New England Watch Company Lever Cavour Men's Wrist Watch used an upgraded version of the Cavour movement, the "ZZ".

The "ZZ" Cavour used a weighted balance wheel, the original "Z" Cavour did not.

Over the past few days I have shared this story with several of my friends who are experts in the field of antique American made watches.

All of us agree that the New England Lever Cavour is now currently the EARLIEST American made Men's Wrist Watch KNOWN to exist.

We are still considering our options when it comes to what to do with this incredibly historically important piece of American horology.

Enjoy the attached pictures/docs!
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http://www.LRFAntiqueWatches.com

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GJH
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Re: The EARLIEST American made Men's Wrist Watch KNOWN to EXIST

#2 Post by GJH » Sun Jan 07, 2018 2:11 pm

Once again Stan... you never cease to amaze.

It looks JUST like the advert and the hands even match.

The Key to this is:
The earliest KNOWN American! The hunt always continues and if there is
an earlier Wrist to be found we all know who will most likely find
the Ad AND the watch down the line!

This is amazing stuff Stan!

WOW.

G
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stryfox
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Re: The EARLIEST American made Men's Wrist Watch KNOWN to EXIST

#3 Post by stryfox » Sun Jan 07, 2018 2:55 pm

Impressive research. Thanks for sharing.
My watches on instagram,
https://www.instagram.com/fth_classic_timepieces

Watches serviced and ready to go at,
http://fthclassictimepieces.com

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Re: The EARLIEST American made Men's Wrist Watch KNOWN to EXIST

#4 Post by randy van » Sun Jan 07, 2018 3:50 pm

Stan, amazing watch and some serious research! I have read this thread twice. I had never heard of the New England Watch Co. Congratulations on your contribution to our horological education.

leibo
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Re: The EARLIEST American made Men's Wrist Watch KNOWN to EXIST

#5 Post by leibo » Sun Jan 07, 2018 4:39 pm

Very cool. Where did you unearth it?

I thought it was interesting that the "4" has the same "+" on the end that some of the later Hamiltons used.

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Re: The EARLIEST American made Men's Wrist Watch KNOWN to EXIST

#6 Post by JerryT » Sun Jan 07, 2018 8:29 pm

Very nicely done, Stan. I have a possible competitor for the “earliest” label. This 6/0 Waltham wristwatch was cased around the beginning of 1911 for Black, Starr & Frost, a prominent New York jeweler.
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The original leather strap is rather narrow (~9 mm), and I have considered that this might be a ladies’ strap watch. My case is approximately 28 mm across. I do not have any ads for this watch (and would not expect to find any) but it has the same proportions as your Cavour, and a similarly styled (albeit slightly larger) Elgin is featured as a man’s watch in a 1914 catalog.
http://elginwatches.org/scans/sales_cat ... _pg21.html

I am quite confident that my watch dates to early 1911, so the only issue I can see being disputed is whether this wristwatch was intended as a man’s watch or not.

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Literustyfan
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Re: The EARLIEST American made Men's Wrist Watch KNOWN to EXIST

#7 Post by Literustyfan » Mon Jan 08, 2018 6:13 am

Thank you everybody!

This one was not an easy task due to it being from a lesser known manufacturer that went out of business before the Great War had even begun.

I obtained this New England Lever Cavour in an open auction on ebay, looks like nobody else knew what it truly was.

When I first started researching the "EARLIEST" American topic for my books I started back in the 1890's, moving forward through the years.

I drew out some parameters, I had to have documentation (published advertisement or factory catalog) and I had to have the actual watch model shown in the advert or factory catalog with a date stamp.

Without a combination of the actual watch, verifiable advertisement or factory catalog and a date stamp people would rip any claim I made for the "earliest known".

I was lucky enough to hit the trifecta on this one!

Research is constantly evolving...............

I would LOVE to see somebody else down the road surpass this September 1, 1911 New England Lever Cavour Men's Wrist Watch with documentation.

I'd have a smile on my face for a week, dinner and drinks would be on me!


Jerry, that certainly is an interesting piece!

Can you post some more pics, is your watch a "pin set"?

That dial and font style seemed to be very popular pre-war, with no second hand.

The earliest known men's wrist watch advertisement ever published in the United States from ANY manufacturer in the world has an extremely similar dial.

I have obtained the watch AND lots of documentation to back it up, the watch is currently being restored to perfect running condition, it had issues.

It was Swiss made for an American company and is from several years earlier than this 1911 New England Lever Cavour and I mean several!

I will post about the watch and my documentation when the piece is ready, maybe 1-2 more months.

I've got the watch, a dated factory catalog and a dated advertisement for the piece!


I love that 1914 Elgin Men's Wrist Watch advert you posted a link to.

Only about two weeks ago I was able to push back the date for the earliest known advert for that watch to May 28, 1913.

I currently believe that the first Men's Elgin Wrist Watch made its debut in May of 1913 sometime but Elgin had the "official" release of the watch the weekend of the 3rd running of the Indy 500 on May 30, 1913.

The entire Case Racing Team including support staff had one of these Elgin's on their wrists during the race.

The advert below was published on May 28, 1913 in the Indianapolis News Newspaper.
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http://www.LRFAntiqueWatches.com

Author of "Elgin Trench Watches of The Great War"

Author of "Waltham Trench Watches of the Great War"

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WWITrenchWatch/

stryfox
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Re: The EARLIEST American made Men's Wrist Watch KNOWN to EXIST

#8 Post by stryfox » Mon Jan 08, 2018 7:55 am

That add looks very similar to this one I have.
I believe mine if from 1916
Any opinion on it.
I wear it often as it is the oldest one I have.
I have some marriage watches with earlier movements but those cases are obviously from the 20’s and 30’s
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My watches on instagram,
https://www.instagram.com/fth_classic_timepieces

Watches serviced and ready to go at,
http://fthclassictimepieces.com

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JerryT
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Re: The EARLIEST American made Men's Wrist Watch KNOWN to EXIST

#9 Post by JerryT » Mon Jan 08, 2018 4:40 pm

Literustyfan wrote:
Mon Jan 08, 2018 6:13 am
...

Jerry, that certainly is an interesting piece!

Can you post some more pics, is your watch a "pin set"?
...
Stan - yes, my watch is pin set. This was a special (but minor) movement modification that Waltham made to their 1898-model 6/0 movement for these cases. The modification involved using the shipper bar as an active part of the setting mechanism rather than just a shop feature for the watchmaker. In the photo below a standard Waltham setting mechanism is shown on the left and the modified setting mechanism is on the right.
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The cases were made by H.W. Matalene, a small custom casemaker in New York who was making cases for Waltham. The “Patrician” label on the movement was his un-registered trademark, so this movement was made specifically for Matalene to case. It would have been nearly impossible to get a standard sleeve in a case like this, with such a flat crown, and I believe this may have been before the reverse sleeves were developed, hence the pin set mechanism.

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Re: The EARLIEST American made Men's Wrist Watch KNOWN to EXIST

#10 Post by Literustyfan » Tue Jan 09, 2018 4:57 am

Jerry,

Great side by side movement pictures and explanation!

Thank you for sharing.
http://www.LRFAntiqueWatches.com

Author of "Elgin Trench Watches of The Great War"

Author of "Waltham Trench Watches of the Great War"

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WWITrenchWatch/

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