If I could magically be transported to one of the original watch factories to see it in person, this would be the one.
I was thrilled to pick up this CDV at one of the recent Jones & Horan auctions. The photograph features the United States Watch Company factory in Marion, New Jersey. A few years after the construction was completed in 1866, the factory was eloquently described in the June 25, 1870 issue of Harper’s Weekly.
“There is no doubt about this being the largest as well as the model manufactory in the world. It is located at Marion, New Jersey, only fifteen minutes distant from New York, and is on the line of the New Jersey Railroad. The principal building is 253 feet in length, is built almost entirely of iron and glass, and is remarkable in its construction in point of light and ventilation. The grounds of the establishment comprise three or more acres, are beautifully laid out, and, being surrounded by a unique iron fence, it has most the appearance of a private palace than a hive of industry in which are employed more than four hundred souls, turning out about one hundred of the company’s celebrated watches daily.
The great care exhibited by this company for the comfort of their employees is a credit to them, and is pre-eminently ahead of any other manufactory in this country in this particular. The building is in the form of a T, the design of which excites the admiration of all who are so fortunate as to see it, and the interior arrangements are perfect for the convenience and comfort of all concerned. Sets of pipes, of which there are a number arranged throughout the building, are used respectively for light, heat, and the supplying of water. Great care has been exercised in guarding against accident by fire, every room and hallway being supplied with fire-hose, so that every floor can be drenched almost immediately, if necessary. The toilet arrangements for the vast number of employees are perfect: hot and cold water, with abundance of room and light, serve to make this one of the pleasantest rooms in the building, and could be copied with advantage by many employers throughout the country. The sanitary arrangements are competitive; the consequences of which are health and cheerfulness expressed by everyone engaged in the establishment.” Harper’s Weekly, June 25, 1870
A watch manufactured at the Marion factory around 1869, featuring Giles’ distinctive butterfly cutout design: