My clock and Mickey Mouse are related!

Anyone who collects clocks knows that Waterbury clocks have had a long and illustrious history but did you know that the modern day Timex watch can trace it’s roots all the way back to the Waterbury Clock Company?

Let’s start with my Ingersoll-Waterbury time and strike mantel clock that I picked up late last year (2015) and following which we will explore this most interesting company.

Mantel clock
Ingersoll-Waterbury mantel clock

This mantel clock was sold to retail outlets by the G.R. L’Èsperance Company of Montreal, Canada who advertised themselves as the sole distributor. “Made in Canada” it says on the case but as is typical of clocks sold in Canada before and during the Second World War the movements were made in the USA, assembled and shipped to Canada to be installed in cases that were sold in many stores across the country. Other clock companies such as Seth Thomas established a similar practice. Aside from the very rare Martin Cheney clocks made in Montreal in the mid 18th century, the only clock company that made their own movements and built their own cases was the Arthur Pequegnat Clock Company based in Kitchener, Ontario in the early 1900s to 1941.

This Ingersoll-Waterbury mantel clock was made in 1943 and likely very popular at the time.

clock face
Clock face showing somewhat flimsy hands

It has a conventional pendulum adjusted by a small arbor under the “12” and the company logo “W” in raised relief on the bob. It has a common recoil escapement. The clock face is paper with the inscription “Waterbury” on top of the “6” and”Made in Canada” below it.

operating instructions
Label showing instructions for operating the clock

The label is a generic one found on a wide variety of clocks to save printing costs. The swinging front panel door is unique to this clock and there is a small catch underneath the right hand side to secure it.

The hands may look very ornate but they are in fact quite cheap looking. A quick search on the net reveals that are, in fact, original. The inexpensively made hands and paper face are not unexpected for a mass produced clock.

clock movement
Time and strike movement

The veneers on either side of the back panel were split open when I first received the clock but clamping and carpenter`s glue tightened things up. It is very common for clocks of this vintage to have chipped or missing pieces of veneer which unfortunately reflects their cheap construction. However, this clock presents well and is free of serious flaws on the case itself.

clock door
Swinging front panel door
The Waterbury name has been around since 1857. From my research I found that in 1922, the Waterbury Clock Company purchased the Ingersoll operation whose business had begun to decline after 1910 and had gone bankrupt two years previously due to poor management. Waterbury’s operation was particularly hard hit by the Great Depression of the 1930s. Clocks were considered luxury items and many could ill afford a timepiece for the home.
By 1932, their huge factory complex was almost idle when demand was so low. The company avoided bankruptcy and the firm was reorganized as the Ingersoll-Waterbury Company with investors raising half a million dollars in new capital. During this period (1933) the popular “Mickey Mouse” character watch was made and electric clocks were added to the line which revived the company. The Mickey Mouse watch was known as the “mouse that saved the day”. Draw any conclusion you wish.
After the USA entered World War II, the Ingersoll-Waterbury Company switched almost entirely to manufacturing war products though a small number of clocks were still produced. However, in 1942, the company was purchased by a group of Norwegian investors and a new factory was built at Middlebury, CT. Two years later, in 1944, the firm changed its name and became known as the United States Time Corporation. They introduced the widely popular “Timex” watch a year later. In November, 1969, U.S. Time was succeeded by Timex Corporation (now Timex Group), whose corporate headquarters are located in Middlebury, CT. to this day. The Timex museum, located in Waterbury, Connecticut, USA, is said to be “both the birthplace of Timex, and of modern timekeeping”.
So there you have it. My clock and Mickey Mouse are indeed related!