Henry Pitkin

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Henry Pitkin

#1 Post by Bazzab » Wed Mar 14, 2012 1:28 pm


Who was Herny Pitkin and should I know him!

Pitkin with his brothers John, Walter, and James had a successful jewelry manufacturing business in Hartford, Connecticut. The Pitkins were known to have outstanding mechanical ability.

The Pitkin brothers were already developing a watch they hoped could be successfully mass produced via partial automation of the process.

Pitkin came up with the idea of making pocket watches by mass production methods using mechanical manufacturing equipment. Pitkin with his brothers designed and built the machine apparatus's themselves for their automation of pocket watch manufacture. Pitkin was the inventor of the American level watch movement for pocket watches

Mass production of Pitkin watches began in 1836. Pitkin with his brother designed the first American pocket watches containing the first American machine made parts The Pitkin Watch Company was the first to mass produce pocket watches in America. Pitkin's pocket watches had an excellent reputation for being accurate and durable. The plates for the Pitkins pocket watches were punched out with stamping dies but many times had to be finished to close tolerances by hand. The movements were three-quarter plate, slow train, and about the diameter of the modern 16-size pocket watch. The watch cases they made themselves from gold and silver. They imported from Europe many of the dials, hands, hair springs and balance jewels needed for their watches, even though they tried to avoid using foreign made parts. Pitkin named the first fifty movements after himself, however after that the name H & J. F. Pitkin was used. They did not engrave the place of their production shop on their watches, however the words Detached Lever were put on the balance bridge. Pitkin and his brother made about 800 watches between 1836 and 1841.

In 1841 the company moved to New York in hopes for a better market.

The cost to manufacture the movements was too great to compete with the Swiss watches and other imports. In 1846 Pitkin had a nervous breakdown and committed suicide. His brother James died a few years later.

I do believe that Henry Pitkin, as the right to be called one of the founding fathers of the American Watch Industry and everybody with an interest is watches should know of him!

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Re: Henry Pitkin

#2 Post by ben_hutcherson » Sat Mar 17, 2012 6:20 am

Henry Pitkin is definitely one of the most important names in American horology.

Jon Hanson has several Pitkin watches...go to his website at www.americanhorologe.com for pictures of one of them and a good write-up about the company.

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Re: Henry Pitkin

#3 Post by diveboy » Tue Jan 30, 2018 4:44 am

zombie wake up.

just found an article from 1965 that says that ENWCO donated the first Pitkin watch out of their collection to the Smithsonian but can't find any mention of it on their inventory.
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Re: Henry Pitkin

#4 Post by stryfox » Wed Jan 31, 2018 5:12 am

I think they lost the ark from Indiana Jones so anything is possible.
Hopefully it’s there somewhere.
My watches on instagram,

Watches serviced and ready to go at,

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