Home / Advertising History / Private Label Trade Names on American Pocket Watches: “Burlington Watch Co.” Part 5: Introduction of the Burlington Special

Private Label Trade Names on American Pocket Watches: “Burlington Watch Co.” Part 5: Introduction of the Burlington Special

“Fighting the Trust” Burlington Special Watch Advertisement, Missouri Valley Farmer (Topeka, Kansas), June 1908
Pictured: “Fighting the Trust” Burlington Special Watch Advertisement, Missouri Valley Farmer (Topeka, Kansas), June 1908

The “Burlington Special” watch was introduced to the market as early as June 1908, with advertisements published in newspapers across the midwest.

The large promotions were headlined with “Fighting the Trust,” positioning the Burlington Watch Company as a heroic enterprise overcoming the prominent “watch trust” that controlled much of the industry at the time.

The advertisement also proposed a public challenge to Waltham and Elgin, promising $1,000 to either company that can provide a watch of the same size and grade that outperformed the Burlington watch.

The sales offer made to prospective customers was simple. The “Burlington Special” could be purchased on a $2.50 per month installment plan. As the Santa Fe Watch Company mimicked later, advertisements rarely included the full purchase price, a sales technique commonly used by automotive dealers today.

Customers were encouraged to send a coupon to receive a free catalog from the Burlington Watch Company.

These advertisements, created over 100 years ago, feature many successful sales techniques studied and implemented by modern advertisers. One such example is the left side of the accompanying image that appears as a standard newspaper column. Despite the sharp division between the column and the bounds of the offer section, this is part of the advertisement. 

Those interested in advertising and sales techniques may also find the following link interesting. It appears that customers were potentially being primed to recognize the Burlington watch as early as January 1908.

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