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Behind the Name: Who is the “Appleton, Tracy & Co.” Marked on Waltham Watches?

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The Appleton, Tracy & Co. grade produced by the American Watch Company (Waltham) has roots that run deep in the company’s history. 

In 1850, Aaron Dennison, Edward Howard, David P. Davis, and Samuel Curtis organized a company in Roxbury, Massachusetts to manufacture watch movements. This startup was known by several names during the 1850s, but the most prominent was the Boston Watch Company. Special machinery was created to produce watches with interchangeable parts, a fairly novel concept at the time. The ambitious company was soon relocated to Waltham, Massachusetts and a factory was constructed to continue production. After an unsteady start and subsequent bankruptcy, the company was forced to be sold at auction in 1857 to Royal E. Robbins.

Robbins, along with Eliashib Tracy and Theodore Baker formed a partnership under the name “Tracy, Baker & Company,” and aimed to restart production at the Waltham factory once again. Soon after, Baker sold his interest in the company to James W. Appleton. As a result, the company was reorganized again, and the first movements marked with the new “Appleton, Tracy & Co.” name were issued in July 1857.

On January 1, 1859, the Appleton, Tracy & Co. partnership merged with the Waltham Improvement Co. to form the American Watch Company. It was decided that the established “Appleton, Tracy & Co.” grade would be retained as the company’s premium offering in the product line.

The “Appleton, Tracy & Co” name was used for many decades, appearing on over 250,000 movements sold by Waltham until the grade was finally retired around 1911.


American Watch Company (Waltham)
Grade Appleton, Tracy & Co. – 18-Size, Model 1857, 15 Jewels, c.1859, Serial No. 17939.

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