Monday, December 24, 2012

To Russia with love...

Our guest blogger this month is Alan Garratt from England.  


About Alan Garratt... He is an Englishman living about 75 miles north of London. For many years Alan worked for a UK company called Hampden (no connection to the watch concern) and was involved in the Rubber Industry. This inevitably led him to Ohio, the center of the US Rubber Industry, where he often visited the Akron, Canton, Cleveland and Cincinnati area. He tells us at this time he was unaware of Hampden watches, but then one day, while visiting India he had cause to put Hampden into Google; the results opened up a fascinating and completely new world for him.

He says that with more time on his hands now he is enjoying gathering as much information as possible and building a small collection of Hampden watches from the Dueber, Clinton and Russian eras.

This is the second time Alan has written for our blog, and it is an honor to have him again share his expertise.  Please visit his blog to read more. 


Alan picks up the Dueber-Hampden story as a new chapter opens in Russia.  

Russian: Гострест Точмех
We would not normally consider the former USSR as a potential source of consumer
goods but the Soviet Union produced many fine, technically sophisticated,
watches during the 80 or so years it existed and in part that was due to
the legacy it acquired in the form of materials and expertise from Canton.
Before the communist revolution Russia did not have a significant watch industry,
most timepieces being assembled from imported parts. After 1917 the
remains of the small watch businesses became centralized as part of Gostrest
Tochmekh (Russian: Гострест Точмех) which translates as The State Trust of
Precision Mechanics. Gostrest Tochmekh used old stocks of parts and whatever
imported components they could acquire on the international market to continue
production; watches were usually completed with locally made dials and
This state of affairs could not continue if the new demands for clocks and
watches was to be met; a whole new industry needed to be created from
scratch. In October 1928 Gostrest Tochmekh set up a commission to look into
the purchase, from abroad, of the necessary equipment to establish turnkey
watch factories.

Andrey Bodrov
Part of the commission, under it’s leader Andrey Bodrov, was then sent to
America where it visited around 21 precision engineering plants, including
eight watch factories. At the beginning of 1929 at a meeting with the Amtorg
Trading Corp., which had located the factories and planned the US visit, Bodrov
reported that the manufacture of watches in America was at a considerably
higher level than in Europe. In contrast to the half-amateur European method
of the production, America was almost fully automated and this best suited the
Soviet Unions ambitions. Bodrov’s proposal to purchase American equipment
for the production of watches was eventually accepted in Moscow.
Finding the bankrupt Dueber-Hampden plant up for sale the Soviet Union,
through Amtorg, purchased the machinery, tools and stock. It seems strange
that the Federal Government would permit such a purchase when it embargoed
most goods to Soviet Russia. Perhaps it decided that if the Soviets were crazy
enough to buy such out-of-date technology it would let them - what harm
could it do. In any case the twenty-eight freight cars full of Dueber-Hampden
equipment set out from Canton bound for Moscow. By April 1930 the steamer
with the equipment aboard had set sail for Russia.
Two months earlier in February 1930 the building for the “First State Watch
Factory” (Russian: Первый Государственный Часовой Завод Abbreviation:1ГЧЗ)
was started in Voronczovskaja Street, Moscow as a top-priority project. The
main block was built on the previous location of a Tobacco Factory called “Krasnaja
Zvevda” (Red Star). The work was finished by June 1930 and installing
the main equipment was completed by September 15th 1930.

Bound for Russia ~ 1930
Twenty one former Dueber-Hampden watchmakers, engravers and various
other technicians were hired to help train the Russian workers in the art of
watch making. The party left Canton on February 25th 1930 and spent several
days in New York before shipping out aboard the RMS Aquitania on March 1st.
The eight day sea voyage was reportedly rough and ended in Cherbourg, France. 

 Dueber-Hampden watchmakers, engravers and various
other technicians in New York before shipping out aboard the RMS Aquitania 
Heavy Sea ~ S.S. Aquitania March 1930

The party reached Moscow on March 16th via Berlin, Germany and
Warsaw, Poland. A band and a large crowd greeted them before they were
taken to their allotted accommodation throughout the city. On the 18th of
March they were given a banquet at the Grand Hotel with table settings belonging
to the late Tzar.
All the workers reported that they were well looked after and that all their expenses
were met. They were given pay even when they were too ill to work
and free hospital treatment, neither of which they enjoyed by right in Canton.
Each worker was said to have been paid around $7,000 (equivalent to $95,000
in 2012) and provided with a cook and a waiter. The Soviets would have been
happy for any Hampden employee to stay after their one year contracts were
up (and a six month extension for some six men) but at Soviet pay rates. All
returned to the US.
The project was completed on October 1st 1930 and the First State Watch
Factory came into being. By November 7th the Public Commissariat for General
Engineering ordered the manufacture of the first 50 pocket watches. These
watches were presented at a ceremonial meeting in the Revolution Theater,
now known as the Bolshoi Theater. Interestingly, some parts of these early
watches were still stamped "Hampden Watch Co. Canton, OH" as the old US
stock was used-up. The Hampden pattern watch movements were to be known
as the Type-1.

The Watches
The Type-1 movement carried through the Hampden connection right up to the
1980s and is easily recognized by it’s distinct twin finger bridge layout. The
Type-1 movement, or K-43 watch when placed into a case, initially comprised
of a 15j pocket watch for governmental use and a 7j wristwatch (later 15j) for
the Red Army. In addition a 7j pocket watch and a ladies 15j wristwatch were
produced for general sale.
At about the same time the Soviets purchased the Dueber-Hampden equipment
and tools, it also purchased the bankrupt US clock maker Ansonia Clock
Co., of New York. In November 1930 The Second State Watch Factory was
founded also in Moscow. It initially made wall clocks and alarm clocks but from
1935 the factory began production of watches containing Type-1 movements.
In 1935 the ‘Chairman of the Congress of Soviets’ Mikhail Kalinin signed a decree
awarding The First State Watch Factory the name of Kirov after Sergei
Kirov who was a prominent early Bolshevik leader in the Soviet Union. Watches
made at the factory are often referred to as Kirovskie’s.
As the Nazi army closed in on Moscow, during the Autumn of 1941, the factory
was hurriedly evacuated to the city of Zlatoust in the province of Chelyabinsk
close to the Yural Mountains. The installation started in November and was
completed on Christmas Day. Throughout the war the factory produced timing
devices including tank clocks, aircraft clocks, gun camera clocks and naval
chronometers. By the end of the war the factory was said to have produced
more than 300,000 such devices. 92% of Tanks and 98% of Aircraft were fitted
with Zlatoust Type-1 clocks. By 1943 the Red Army was on the offensive and
the Moscow factory was re-established; at the same time being renamed the
'First Moscow Watch Factory (Kirov)'.
The Zlatoust factory continued the manufacture of pocket watches, stopwatches
and the legendary Type-1 191-ChS watch for Soviet Navy Divers. A
very large watch who’s diameter (without the crown) is about two and a quarter
inches and which weighed eight and a half ounces. Production of these
unique watches was stopped in the first half of the 1970s. Modern replicas are
very trendy today - Arnold Schwarzenegger is often filmed wearing his 191-

Arnold Schwarzenegger is often filmed wearing his 191-Chs.  Look at his watch.

By the end of the 1940's there was a gradual phasing out of the Type-1
movements, the legacy of the Hampden purchase in 1930. I have a Pocket
Watch from the Zlatoust Watch Factory made in the third quarter of 1958, possibly
one of the last watches using a Type-1 movement. I also have a Type-1
tank clock dated 1980.
The final destination, or disposal, of the original watch making equipment from
Canton is impossible to determine but as the factory was evacuated to Zlatoust
during WWII, it's reasonable to assume some of the equipment would have
stayed there. Plenty of examples of other Type-1 watches coming from factories
located throughout the Soviet Union are well documented so Dueber-
Hampden machines and tools may well have been distributed to those sites.
The Hampden Type-1 movement, in Soviet hands, lasted from 1930 until the
1980's - not bad for a bankrupt design. What’s more many of the pocket and
wristwatches with Type-1 movements are working to this day and have proven
to be durable, accurate and reliable. Canton can be proud.

Something to think about... Thanks to the NAWCC Chapter 28 for inviting me to their November meeting.  I enjoyed sharing my project.
 NAWCC Chapter 28 November watch swap and meeting.  

Link on for more details for the NAWCC Convention in Dayton 2013

Come to Dayton, Ohio for the 2013 National Convention.  One of the treats will be a great slate of experts speaking on a variety of interesting subjects, many focused on Seth Thomas, who first started clock making on his own 200 years ago!  See you there!


Vladimir Bogdanov.

Garratt. Alan.  Arnold. Photograph. Private collection. 

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.

Goodenberger, Ralph. Photographs of Dueber Workers bound for Russia aboard ship, Aquitania   and Canton Repository clipping. 1930. digital file. private collection.

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