Thursday, April 1, 2010

Beginnings of the Hampden Watch Company in Springfield Mass...

About the same time, John C. Dueber was engraving his watch cases upstairs in his one-room workshop at the Carlisle Building in Cincinnati (1864), Don J. Mozart, began his association with the Mozart Watch Company in Providence, Rhode Island (Gibbs 8).

Showing great mechanical promise, Mozart began in the watch business establishing himself as an expert in the field. In 1854, he married and settled in Xenia, Ohio. Dedicating himself to the watch repair business, he spent much of his time manufacturing mechanical devices for watches. Mozart's hope was to create a year-round clock, but his invention was a dismal failure (Gibbs 8).

Mozart endeavored to make a three-wheel watch, assisted by George Sam Rice, he converted this idea into the Mozart Watch Company in Providence, Rhode Island. The three-wheel watch would offer economy in cost, and simplicity in manufacturing by using less material, while making it easier for workers to assemble the watches. Not having much success for this venture either, and by mutual consent, Mozart left the company in 1866.

Although Mozart was leaving the company, he still wanted to create his three-wheeled watches, so he started the Mozart Watch Company in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He only produced about seven of these watches, with none ever making it to the public. By 1870, with the company failing, the Mozart Watch Company and equipment was bought by the Rock Island Watch Company. Mozart became the designer and mechanic at the Rock Island Watch Company (Gibbs 8; Engle 213).

The Rock Island Watch Company failed in 1874, and the Freeport Watch Company in Freeport, Illinois, purchased most of the machinery, but then it burnt down in 1875. Although Mozart was affiliated with both of these watch companies neither had much success.

But back in Providence...The Mozart Watch Company --under new directors changed the name to the New York Watch Company. The name change was because most of the capital came from New York investors. This company reorganized twice, and then reorganizing again under the name--The New York Watch Manufacturing Company, but again it failed (Gibbs 8).

In 1877, flushed with new capital the stockholders reorganized. Located in Springfield, Massachusetts, in Hampden County, for which the company is named, the Hampden Watch Company is formed (Gibbs 8).

Around 1885-86, the Dueber Case Company and the Hampden Watch Company were doing business together. Worried about a possible business problem, John C. Dueber visited the Hampden Watch Company to iron out this possible problem. As he toured the plant he became so impressed with the company's potential, so much so...he decided to buy it.

Dueber purchased the Hampden Watch company that had $150,000 surplus cash and 480 employees. Wanting to expand the watch manufacturing company, Dueber soon found the land prices were too high in Springfield to develop, and because Dueber also couldn't expand his case manufacturing facility in Newport Kentucky, he decided to combine the watch works and case factory in an entirely new town. Dueber let it be known that he would move his new companies and their employees to whatever city put up $100,000 (Gibbs 8). After moving the watch company to Canton, Ohio from Massachusetts, the city of Springfield declined economically and was not able to recover until World War II when war production of weapons moved in the old Hampden Watch Factory.

This image (right) shows a new model 1890 movement, 16 size,
from the Hampden Watch Company.

Collector Edward Thouvenin added that a good way to determine where your watch was manufactured is: any serial number below 58,000 was made by the New York Watch Company, and any serial number above 58,000 was made by the Hampden Watch Company.

More to come...


Engle, Tom, Richard E. Gilbert, and Cooksey Shugart. Complete Price Guide to Watches. 27th ed. Mount Pleasant, SC: Tinderbox Press, 2007. 213-318. Print.

Gibbs, James W. From Springfield to Moscow: The Complete Dueber-Hampden Story. Revised Edition--supplement to the 1954 Dueber-Hampden Story. Philadelphia, PA: Supplement to the Bulletin of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, Inc., 1986. Print.

"Mozart Watch Company of Ann Arbor, Michigan." Clock and Watch Makers of the World Historical Clock & Watch Research. Historical Clock & Watch Research. Web Site: , 1998. Web. 31 Mar. 2010. .

Thouvenin, Edward A. Personal interview. 31 Mar. 2010.


Image(The Hampden Watch Factory, at Springfield, Mass.): Abbott, Henry G. The watch factories of America, past and present. A complete history of watchmaking in America, from 1809 to 1888 inclusive. Chicago: G.K. Hazlitt & Co.,, 1888. 98. Smithsonian Libraries' Catalog. Web. 24 Mar. 2010. .

Images (Hampden Watch Com. Advertisement (32); Development of Hampden Watch Co. Chart (ix) , : Hernick, James L., and Robert F. Arnold, eds. Hampden Watch Company. First Edition ed. Columbia, PA: The National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, Inc., 1998. 32-43. Print.

Image: Model Movement used with permission from the Edward Thouvenin collection.


  1. Again the background information is so interesting. This is the history of our area. I look forward to learning more. I especially like the pictures and interviews. Marge

  2. I have a mozart watch and i need to now the pricr actually for this watch, if you now who has this info, please tell me in an email