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Locating the Tremont Watch Company Factory in Boston, Massachusetts

In 1864, Aaron L Dennison and A.O. Bigelow organized the Tremont Watch Company in Boston, Massachusetts. The objective was to produce a “hybrid” movement, leveraging cheap manufacturing in Zurich, Switzerland for the train and escapement while manufacturing the remaining parts in America.

This brilliant arrangement quickly proved to be a success. However, while Dennison was overseeing the work abroad, there was a growing pressure amongst the investor group to move the entire manufacturing operation to the United States.

Tremont Watch Advertisement from the November 1867 Issue of the American Agriculturist

Despite Dennison’s opposition, in 1866, a new factory was established just north of Boston, in the community of Melrose. The location of this factory has not yet been discovered (all references contain notable errors). However, the original location of the Tremont Watch Company has been determined using original sources and maps.

Original directories confirm that the Tremont Watch Company at least maintained offices at the location in Boston. In the 1871 Brookline directory, company treasurer Edward S. Philbrick is listed with reference to the company location at “Washington, cor. West, B.).

The Brookline, Jamaica Plain and West Roxbury directory

The 1872 directory provides the exact address of the Tremont Watch Company: “12 West (factory as Melrose).”

The Massachusetts Register, 1872

12 West Street in Boston was the address where the first Tremont watches were assembled and shipped. Even after the manufacturing operation moved to Melrose, this location continued to be utilized for the Tremont office.

The 1867 Fire Insurance Map of Boston, Massachusetts identifies the building on the corner of Washington Street and West Street as a “Jewelry Factory.”

1867 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of Boston, Massachusetts

Interestingly, this area was just spared during the Boston fire of 1872. The map below shows the burned district stopping a block shy of where the Tremont Watch Company was located.

“Bird’s-eye view of Boston, showing the burned district”

This 1879 City Map of Boston, created well after the Tremont Watch Company failed, shows the detail of the building that likely once housed the innovative company.

1879 City Map of Boston
1879 City Map of Boston

Today, the original buildings are a blip on the historical map, lost to time.

2 Comments

  1. Nathan,

    This was an interesting article about the location Tremont Watch Co. I only bought one 18s Tremont watch about 11 years go and didn’t find it a very well made watch and only the case remains. I live close to Boston and have passed up and down West st. between Tremont and Washington many times, but never bought another Tremont watch. Like other collectors I settle on buying from a few makers (mainly, Elgin, Hamilton, Illinois, and Waltham) and didn’t even know Tremont manufactured in the Boston area! You would of thought I would have connected the “dots” considering Tremont St. is one the best known street names in town and area near that block housed many businesses in the jewelry trade.

    Thanks.

    • Happy to hear. Boston was the epicenter of the early watch industry in America. The Tremont watches are an excellent addition to any collection.

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