Home / History / Private Label Trade Names on American Pocket Watches: “Burlington Watch Co.” Part 17: Tungsten Steel vs. Nickel Steel

Private Label Trade Names on American Pocket Watches: “Burlington Watch Co.” Part 17: Tungsten Steel vs. Nickel Steel

Burlington Special “Tungsten Steel” Burlington Watch Company Catalog, c.1908 [Courtesy of Martin Van Coevering] and Burlington Special “Nickel Steel” Burlington Watch Company Catalog, c.1911.
Pictured: Burlington Special “Tungsten Steel” Burlington Watch Company Catalog, c.1908 [Courtesy of Martin Van Coevering] and Burlington Special “Nickel Steel” Burlington Watch Company Catalog, c.1911.

The earliest advertisements for the 16-Size Grade 174 “Burlington Special” indicate that “Tungsten Steel” was used to manufacture the pinions of the watch. This claim also appears in the c.1909 Burlington Watch Company catalog.

By the end of 1909, the terminology in advertisements was quietly changed to “Nickel Steel.” 

When the 16-Size Grade 185 “Burlington Special” was introduced in 1910, the “Nickel Steel” terminology was continued. Interestingly, the c.1911 Burlington Watch Company catalog description was nearly identical to the description praising the “Tungsten Steel” in the previous catalog.

c.1909 Burlington Watch Company Catalog:

Tungsten Steel of the choicest selected quality is used in the Burlington Watch. Tungsten is far more costly than platinum. The use of Tungsten steel is characteristic of the high grade material used exclusively in our watch – just the right amount of carbon to temper the most expensive steel (some of it costing $12,000.00 a ton), the very best retested brass, nickel, oreide silver and gold.”

c.1911 Burlington Watch Company Catalog:

Nickel Steel. Nickel Steel of the choicest selected quality is used in the Burlington watch. This steel is so fine grained it will take the highest possible polish. The use of nickel steel is characteristic of the high grade material used exclusively in our watch – just the right amount of carbon to temper the most expensive steel, the very best re-tested brass, nickel, oreide, silver and gold.”

Because the descriptions are so similar, it is unknown whether tungsten steel was actually utilized in the original “Burlington Special “watches or if this was a misapplied term used for advertising purposes.

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