Home / Advertising History / Private Label Trade Names on American Pocket Watches: “Burlington Watch Co.” Part 31: The Origin of the Burlington Challenge

Private Label Trade Names on American Pocket Watches: “Burlington Watch Co.” Part 31: The Origin of the Burlington Challenge

“Our $1,000 Challenge” Burlington Watch Company Catalog, c.1911.
Pictured: “Our $1,000 Challenge” Burlington Watch Company Catalog, c.1911.

The time-keeping challenge presented to the Elgin and Waltham factories by the Burlington Watch Company was not a novel concept, despite the company leveraging the prospect of an open competition.

The original challenge was issued by the Waltham factory to foreign watch manufacturers. The c.1911 Burlington Watch Company draws attention to this initial challenge:

“The best watches are made by Americans and American wages, with American tools. To prove it, we are prepared to offer fifty Waltham Watches to be run against fifty watches of any foreign make in a competitive test of time-keeping – the one hundred watches to be placed for this purpose in the hands of some competent and disinterested authority and the whole number to become the property of the winner.”

While Waltham opened the challenge to foreign manufacturers, the Burlington Watch Company raised the stakes by offering $1,000 in a challenge mimicked domestically. This challenge strategically flipped the defense back on Waltham and included Elgin in the mix as well – because, why not?

Unfortunately, no evidence has been discovered indicating that either factory took up the challenge.

Even if Waltham or Elgin had accepted the challenge and won, the $1,000 was well worth the prideful confidence presented to potential customers by the company in advertisements and catalogs.

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