Westclox alarm clock – made in China….sigh!

You can still buy a brand new Westclox today and few people realize that the company was a pioneer alarm clock manufacturer.

Baby Ben alarm clock
Baby Ben alarm clock

This is a nondescript Baby Ben clock; thousands were sold but unlike older alarm clocks made in the USA and made and/or assembled at the Peterborough plant in Ontario (Canada), this one was made in China.

The Baby Ben has had a long and interesting history. The Baby Ben movement was originally marketed in 1910 and first nationally advertised in 1915. The 5-year delay occurred because the company was going through organizational changes and it took 3 years to improve the reliability of the Baby Ben movement.

Westclox LaSalle alarm clock
An early Baby Ben, the Westclox LaSalle alarm clock

In 1912 Westclox opened a sales office in Toronto, Canada as part of its policy to establish world markets. Between 1920 and 1922 production began at the plant in Peterborough, Canada. At that time parts were shipped from the LaSalle-Peru plant for final assembly in Canada. Unfortunately, there is no information on which clock parts were made in Canada and which parts were manufactured in the Peterborough plant through the years.

Thousands of Baby Ben alarm clocks were manufactured and sold through the 1920s to the 1970s. In the early 1980s production in Canada ceased. “Westclox” and “Big Ben” trademarks were acquired by Salton Inc. in 2001. In October 2007, Salton sold its entire time products business, including the Westclox and Ingraham trademarks, to NYL Holdings LLC, which, to this day sell clocks under the Westclox name. In addition to clocks the company’s line of business also includes the wholesale distribution of jewelry, precious stones and metals, costume jewelry, watches, and silverware.

Baby Ben alarm clock with second hand
Baby Ben alarm clock with second hand
Back controls
Back controls

I have not had the chance to look inside this alarm clock but from its style and other design elements it is from about 2001 when production shifted to China under General Time Corporation, parent company of Westclox, just prior to the sale to Salton and before quartz clocks entered the mainstream. It is the Style 10 Baby Ben with radial numerals and a sweep second hand.

This example is still working and keeping good time. I bought it to study the Baby Ben movement.

Though every bit as reliable as the older American and Canadian alarm clocks it is unfortunate that we lost this segment of the industry to the Chinese. For more information on the history of Big Ben and Baby Ben clocks you can go here called appropriately enough, Westclox History.

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