Ingersoll Watch Company

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Ingersoll Watch Company
Type Family business
Industry Watch manufacturing
Founded 1892
Headquarters New York City
Owners Robert Hawley and Charles Henry Ingersoll

The Ingersoll Watch Company is currently owned by Zeon Watches [1], a British subsidiary of the company Herald Group [2], [3]. The brand originated in the US.


The Ingersoll Watch Company grew out of a mail order business (R H Ingersoll & Bro) started in New York City in 1882 by 21-year-old Robert Hawley Ingersoll and his brother Charles Henry. The company initially sold low-cost items such as rubber stamps. The first watches were introduced into the catalogue in 1892, supplied by the Waterbury Clock Company.

Ingersoll Watch Company workers, circa 1900

In 1896 Ingersoll introduced the Yankee watch priced at $1.00. It was cheaply mass-produced from stamped parts and without jewels so that it would be affordable to everyone. They were producing 8,000 per day by 1899, and started advertising that 10,000 dealers carried their "dollar watch." By 1910, Waterbury Clock was producing 3,500,000 "dollar watches" per year for Ingersoll.[1] Over twenty years nearly forty million of these watches were sold, and Ingersoll coined the phrase "The watch that made the dollar famous!" Theodore Roosevelt mentioned that during his hunting trip in Africa he was described as "the man from the country where Ingersoll was produced."

In 1904 Ingersoll opened a store in London, England. In 1905 Robert sailed to England and introduced the Crown pocket watch for 5 shillings, which was the same value as $1 at the time. These were made by a British subsidiary, Ingersoll Ltd, initially assembled from imported parts, and later made entirely in their London factory. These watches were made until the late 1920s, after the American parent company had collapsed.

Ingersoll bought the Trenton Watch Company in 1908, and the bankrupt New England Watch Company in Waterbury, Connecticut, for $76,000 on November 25, 1914.[1] By 1916, the company was producing 16,000 watches per day in 10 different models. In 1917 they produced another popular watch with 7 jewels called the Reliance. In 1919 Ingersoll developed a watch with the so-called "night design", the Radiolite with luminous dial.


Ingersoll Watch Company went bankrupt in 1921 during the recession that followed World War I. It was purchased by Waterbury Clock Company in 1922 for $1,500,000. Waterbury Clock sold the London-based arm of the Ingersoll watch business, Ingersoll, Ltd., to its Board of Directors in 1930, making it a wholly British-owned enterprise.[2] In 1944 Waterbury Clock Company was renamed United States Time Corporation (now Timex Group USA) and continued producing Ingersoll watches in the United States through the 1950s.

Anglo-Celtic Company Ltd[edit]

After the Second World War, the British company, Ingersoll Ltd, joined with Smiths Industries Ltd and Vickers Armstrong in setting up the Anglo-Celtic Company Ltd on the Ynyscedwyn estate. This was on the outskirts of the village of Ystradgynlais, near Swansea, Wales. The first model featured the same movement as the earlier British Ingersolls, now designated calibre PY. These watches were branded Ingersoll Triumph and Smiths Empire. Ingersoll Ltd pulled out of the venture in 1969. Between 1946 and 1980, when the factory closed down, over 30,000,000 watches were made, and exported to 60 different countries throughout the world. They also made many character pocket watches, of many different subjects from the 1930s Prewar years 1933–1939 - Betty Boop, Big Bad Wolf, Buck Rogers, Dizzy Dean, Donald Duck, Flash gordon, Lone Ranger, Mickey Mouse, Moon Mullins, Popeye, Rudy Nebb, Skeezix, Smitty, Three Little Pigs, Tom MixSmiths, Ingersoll (Anglo-Celtic) - Ranger, Jamboree, Football (blue & yellow skies), the 1953 coronation watches, the Guinness automaton & cross bottle watches, the 1951 'From Outer Space' and the Esquire magazine watches . Postwar years 1946–1958 - Captain Marvel, Captain Midnight, Dan Dare (shown shooting monster with moving arm, revolving space dial, and Eagle logo on watch case), Dick Tracy, Donald Duck, Hopalong cassidy, Jeff Arnold, Peter Pan. then in Great Britain several Eagle comic watches were made including, Dan Dare red Label with moving arm and Rocket Ship and word Ingersoll, Dan Dare Black Label with no Ingersoll writing just the word Dan Dare, Ingersoll Jeff Arnold with moving arm, then Ingersoll Jeff Arnold without the word Ingersoll, then Jeff Arnold without the moving arm (this model is very scarce and was part of a late production run of approx 1,500 watches so is quite collectable) 1958–1972 - Buck Rogers, Buster brown, Charlie Chaplin, Flash Gordon, Marilyn Monroe, Mickey & Minnie, Roy Rogers, Superman, Valentino.

Smith Watches were sold in the early 1980s to another company who bought all the rights; they have since made Combat watches, Timex, Aircraft plus many more makes without even names on them, but all Smiths-cased dollar watches. Over 100 character watches were made by unknown companies. There are lots of different designs out there, including many advertising Pocket Watches Double Diamond and Players Please, to name a few.

Today: a new brand[edit]

The brand Ingersoll is currently owned by Zeon Watches [4], a British subsidiary of the company Herald Group [5] [6].

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Comic Character Timepieces, Hy Brown with Nancy Thomas

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b Pape, William Jamieson (1918). "Chapter XVIII Clocks, Watches, Pins, Needles, Hooks and Eyes". History of Waterbury and the Naugatuck Valley, Connecticut, Volume 1. Chicago – New York: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company. pp. 225–226. LCCN 18021396. Retrieved 2010-05-21. 
  2. ^ McDermott, Kathleen (1998). "Chapter 3: The Triumph of the Wristwatch, 1917 – 1941". Timex: A Company and Its Community. pp. 78–82. ISBN 0-9675087-0-3.