Mass production of clocks with interchangeable parts began in
the United States after the American Revolution (1775-1783). In
Connecticut's Naugatuck River Valley, clock makers, brass workers
and machinists made important strides toward increasing clock production.
In the first half of the 19th century, they invented and produced
clocks average citizens could afford. Arguably, the greatest of
these entrepreneurs, Eli Terry, developed mass-production and interchangeable-part
technology to economically produce a form of "box clock" which
required winding only once a day. Amazingly, Terry's famous "Pillar
and Scroll Mantle Clock" sold over 6000 models in 1817, the
first year of its production. The $15 to $20 priced timekeeper
housed in an elegant case was instrumental in sprouting competing
clock models and makers not only in Connecticut but worldwide.
About the same time in Plymouth Hollow (now Thomaston), Connecticut,
Seth Thomas founded the Seth Thomas Clock Company, which was, by
the mid-20th century, one of the largest clock factories in the
Starting in about 1830, Connecticut clockmakers used stamped
brass gears for their clocks to produce new clocks with the same
interchangeable parts approach as the wooden clock industry had
developed. Companies like the Jerome Manufacturing Company of Derby,
CT turned out 130,000 clocks a year in brass by the early 1850’s,
helping to make the United States the leading clock-making country
of the world. Cheap clocks were affordable to almost anyone by
Watches were not produced in significant volume in the United
States until about 1800, when Thomas Harland of Norwich, Connecticut,
established a factory with a capacity of 200 units a year. In 1836
the Pitkin brothers of East Hartford, Connecticut, produced the
first American-designed watch and the first containing a machine-made
part. Despite a reputation for accuracy and durability, the manufacture
of this watch was discontinued as a result of the depression of
1837, which temporarily crippled American industry.
Watches also became cheaper as production rose. American horologists
Aaron Dennison and Edward Howard, working in Massachusetts, invented
and perfected automatic production machinery in the 1850s. In 1854,
the Waltham Watch Company of Waltham, Massachusetts, was established
by Aaron Dennison. The company went on to make the first watches
with interchangeable parts and the first 100% American-made watch.
The advanced machinery designed at the Waltham Watch Company spread
to other industries.