Home / Advertising History / Private Label Trade Names on American Pocket Watches: “Burlington Watch Co.” Part 29: Re-Imported Watches

Private Label Trade Names on American Pocket Watches: “Burlington Watch Co.” Part 29: Re-Imported Watches

“Cheaper to Re-Import Watches,” Burlington Watch Company Catalog, c.1911.
Pictured: “Cheaper to Re-Import Watches,” Burlington Watch Company Catalog, c.1911.

In an attack on the unscrupulous methods of the “watch trust,” the Burlington Watch Company exposed the drastic price differential between the American market and the European market for identical watches.

The price differences provided economic incentive to re-import American watches back into the United States after being purchased abroad for less money than what was demanded by the “watch trust” locally.

The c.1911 Burlington Watch Company catalog includes a summary of this technique and describes the “watch trust” effort to try to prevent it.

“A watch made in America, and sent to England, sells IN ENGLAND at such a comparatively low price that it can be bought in England and shipped back here and sold in its home for practically half the American list price.”

“Such re-importing of watches from England and offering them at cut prices in America came as quite a blow to the American watch factories. So the latter took great precautions, while exporting their watches, to keep them from getting back to America. We have seen copies of letters plainly showing how dealers in England were allowed to get the American-made watches only after they had been carefully cautioned not to let these watches (sold at the bargain prices) get back to America.c.1911 Burlington Watch Company Catalog

The catalog also provides a price list comparing Waltham and Elgin watches sold in America with the prices of the same watches sold after being exported and then re-imported from England. The Waltham Maximus is listed as $100 in the American market and $39.98 after being re-imported. The Elgin Veritas is listed as $60 in the American market and only $25.38 after being re-imported.

These claims strategically seeded suspicion and distrust in potential customers, encouraging them to purchase a “Burlington Special” rather than supporting the dishonest “watch trust.”


“Cheaper to Re-Import Watches,” Burlington Watch Company Catalog, c.1911.
Pictured: “Cheaper to Re-Import Watches,” Burlington Watch Company Catalog, c.1911.

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