Home / Hampden Watch Company / Early History of the New York Watch Company: Part 15 – Birth of the Hampden Watch Company

Early History of the New York Watch Company: Part 15 – Birth of the Hampden Watch Company

"Hampden Watch Co." Dial
“Hampden Watch Co.” Dial

The Financial Panic of 1873 and the ensuing economic decline placed the New York Watch Company on the brink of collapse. In August 1876, the company was forced to reorganize as The New York Watch Manufacturing Company to reopen the defunct factory.

A few months later, in December 1876, production at the factory resumed with limited capacity as the company’s future remained in jeopardy.

Springfield Republican
Monday, Dec 11, 1876. New York Watch Company resumes operations.
Springfield Republican
Monday, Dec 11, 1876

With the renewed activity at the factory, the company immediately began publishing advertisements to promote the product line. Interestingly, the company continued to use the name “New York Watch Co.” rather than the newly formed “New York Watch Manufacturing Co.,” implying that the restructuring was a financial maneuver.

Springfield Republican
Tuesday, Dec 12, 1876. Advertisement for the New York Watch Company.
Springfield Republican
Tuesday, Dec 12, 1876

This new company lasted only a short time. In May 1877, the business was again reorganized under a new name – The Hampden Watch Company. [Note: Some sources indicate this reorganization occurred in January 1877. However, newspaper reports and available business records from the period support this transition happened in May 1877].

The new name was more fitting for a company established in Massachusetts instead of New York and was possibly a requirement for some investors as the leadership sought to secure new capital. Since the factory was located in Hampden County, Massachusetts, the Hampden Watch Company name was a suitable choice.

The reorganization was reported in the May 23, 1877 issue of The Springfield Daily Republican:

“The New York watch company has recently been reorganized, and starts off to-day as the Hampden watch company with increased facilities and an enlarged capital. The officers will be as follows: President, Homer Foot; treasurer, Charles D. Rood; directors, Homer Foot, [Aaron] Bragg, James D. Brewer, Henry J. Cain. Mr. Rood is at present living in New York, but will quite likely move to this city. There are at present 50 men employed in the factory, which number will be gradually increased and new machinery added until the full capacity of the works is reached. The market for watches is very quiet at present, but those made by this company stand as high as any American watch, and the new capital places the company in a position to push its sales as far as possible. Testimony is constantly brought in to the effect that these watches are the best and cheapest in the market, and the managers propose to keep the standard of their goods at the very highest notch. They certainly have been an honor to the city wherever they have gone, and the change in the name of the company will do away with a singular misnomer and place the credit of the manufacture where it belongs.” The Springfield Daily Republican
May 23, 1877

The Springfield Daily Republican
Wednesday, May 23, 1877. The organization of the Hampden Watch Company.
The Springfield Daily Republican
Wednesday, May 23, 1877

The new name represented a complete rebranding for the company, distancing itself from the New York Watch Company history and name. As a result, the summer of 1877 marked a fresh start for the struggling company with fresh capital and a new identity to build a renewed foundation.

Within a few months, the new Hampden Watch Company had increased the workforce to 75 and placed a new inexpensive watch on the market, likely the 7-Jewel “Springfield, Mass.” movement that became one of the company’s best-sellers in the 1880s.

Springfield Republican
Thursday, Aug 02, 1877
Springfield Republican
Thursday, Aug 02, 1877


  1. Another great article! Perhaps you will be getting to this in a later article but I’ve always had the impression that in the late 1800s, early 1900s, Hampden watches were not considered nearly as good as their counterparts from companies like Hamilton, Illinois, Ball, Waltham, etc. even though they made some really nice high jewel movements for railroad service. Is that a correct assessment? Were they in fact lower priced, sub-standard watches or do I have that wrong?

    • In my opinion, Hampden watches are on the same level as the larger watch companies – especially the higher-end movements. However, they do not see as much attention from modern collectors, relative to products from other manufacturers.

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