The Burlington Watch Company introduced the “Burlington Special” watch in 1908 through a series of newspaper advertisements published in the Midwest region.
The identity of the company behind the Burlington watches has been discussed by collectors, with some hypothesizing that the Illinois Watch Company arranged the scheme as an obfuscated distribution channel.
While the identity of the primary company was intentionally hidden to some degree, it was not the Illinois Watch Company that was responsible for the Burlington sales campaign. Rather, the Burlington Watch Company was part of a large enterprise of mail order subsidiaries organized by the Babson Bros. in Chicago, Illinois.
Over the years, Babson Bros. sold numerous products via mail order – from talking machines to suits and furnaces. Every product had a unique and descriptive company name to lead the marketing efforts, each owned by the Babson Bros. Advertisements for these products frequently appeared adjacent to one another to save on advertising despite appearing unrelated.
The strategy of offering diversified products eventually led the company to distribute milking machines in the agriculture industry. This move proved so successful that Babson Bros. shifted all company resources to focus solely on the development and sales of milking machines, becoming an influential leader in the industry.