The United States Watch Company in Marion represents one of the most monumental failures in the history of American horology. Shortly after the company was organized by Frederick A. Giles and William A. Wales, the prestigious “United States Watch Co.” grade was considered the most expensive watch in America. Innovative designs gave the company the ability to produce stem-winding and setting watches – the pinnacle of technology at the time. The elegant finishes and unique “butterfly“ escapement cutouts created a mesmerizing product line. Unfortunately, faulty workmanship, poor financial management, and economic depression eventually resulted in the slow decay of the company’s standards. What once started as a venture with enormous potential eroded into a defunct company using a hodge-podge of old material and poor quality.
While no serial records have been discovered from the original company, observations of surviving examples have allowed a reconstruction of potential runs to facilitate a serial database. This task is considerably more difficult with a company like the United States Watch Company due to its proclivity to pull old material or interrupt existing runs to satisfy an order. In addition to established observations provided by Marion researchers such as Muir, Kraus, and Ehrhardt, hundreds of modern observations were used to compile and refine the reconstructed list.
This marks the first company added to the standard serial lookup feature on the Pocket Watch Database this year, and watch enthusiasts will find the Marion database lookup immensely beneficial for research.