Home / History / Private Label Trade Names on American Pocket Watches: The Non-Magnetic Watch Company: Part 21: The Non-Magnetic Wars

Private Label Trade Names on American Pocket Watches: The Non-Magnetic Watch Company: Part 21: The Non-Magnetic Wars

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Pictured: Waltham Non-Magnetic Watch Advertisement, The Locomotive Engineers’ Journal, February 1888.

Just as the Non-Magnetic Watch Company launched their innovative non-magnetic watches in the United States, the American Waltham Watch Company dealt the company a forceful blow by introducing their own non-magnetic watch.

In December 1887, Waltham advertised three grades that would be fitted with a non-magnetic balance, hairspring, and escapement: Appleton Tracy & Co. (18s, Gilt), No. 35 (18s), and the Riverside (16s, Gilt). Additionally, the company offered to refit existing watches with non-magnetic parts for a nominal fee.

In a cunning move, Waltham also recognized an opportunity to appeal to American nationalism. Most parts used by the Non-Magnetic Watch Company were manufactured in Europe even though the watch was assembled in the United States. Even though the Non-Magnetic Watch Company beat Waltham to the market, Waltham advertised their non-magnetic watch as “The First and Only Non-Magnetic American Watches.”

The euphoric confidence possessed by Charles Willis Ward that believed no other company could compete with the Non-Magnetic Watch Company was being put to the ultimate test. This underestimated competition proved to be an enormous challenge to overcome as the Non-Magnetic Watch Company attempted to gain momentum in the American market.

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