Waltham International

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WALTHAM INTERNATIONAL SA
Private
Industry Watch Manufacturing
Founded 1850 (as Boston Watch Company)
Founder Aaron L. Dennison / Edward Howard
Headquarters Marin-Epagnier, Switzerland
Key people
Antonio DiBenedetto, Chairman
Products Luxury Watches
Website waltham.ch

Waltham International SA is a Swiss luxury watchmaker based in Marin-Epagnier/Neuchâtel, Switzerland. It is one of the oldest watch making companies in the world, heir and owner of the legendary Waltham brand. It was founded in 1954 in Lausanne, Switzerland by the American Waltham Watch Company to provide necessary watch and movement parts which were not readily available in the USA.

History[edit]

Foundation[edit]

The Waltham Watch factory, before 1923, on the banks of the Charles River
The Ellery Model movement, produced when Waltham was still named Boston Watch Company
The Waltham Boxed Naval Chronometer, 1910
The Waltham Type A-11 Hack Navigational, 1942
Print ad of the Waltham Vanguard adopted by Railroads
Wrist Watch WWI
The legendary Waltham Model XA-Type 37, 1927
Waltham Central Date Indicator Aeronaval, 1942
Waltham Elapsed Time Chonograph, 1964
The Waltham Car Speedometer Clock 1102 Model, 1916

In 1850, at Roxbury, Massachusetts, David Davis, Edward Howard, and Aaron Lufkin Dennison formed the company that would later become the Waltham Watch Company.[1] Their revolutionary business plan was to manufacture the movement parts of watches so precisely that they would become fully interchangeable. Based upon the experience of earlier failed trials, Howard and Dennison eventually perfected and patented their precision watch making machines, creating what has been called the American System of Watch Manufacturing. In 1854 the new plant built on the banks of the Charles River in Waltham, Massachusetts, was ready to operate.[1]

Relocation - Waltham International SA[edit]

Waltham International SA was founded as subsidiary in Switzerland in 1954, and continued to produce mechanical wrist watches and mechanical pocket watches under the "Waltham" brand. In 1976, the 40% share capital of the company were acquired by Heiwado&Co., a Japanese company that, in 1981, acquired the total majority, manufacturing and distributing Waltham Swiss Made watches in the higher end of the luxury Japanese watch market.

Waltham International SA - The new course[edit]

In 2011 the control of Waltham International SA was acquired by Antonio DiBenedetto, the current President and CEO. With a vast experience in the world of luxury and jewelry gained at his company Tanagro Corp., New York, USA, and a passion for watches, he desires to bring the Waltham brand back to the western markets and to glory of its past. The company was completely reorganized, and new commercial offices were opened in Milan, Italy and in New York, USA and the new Aungular Aeronaval Collection was presented in USA at the end of June 2014.

Waltham Legendary Feats[edit]

For more than a century (1850–1980), Waltham was the most diffused and largest manufacturer of the world. It was renowned for its incomparable precision and reliability, that allow the company to produce more than 40 million pieces in its history. Since its beginnings, Waltham was beside extraordinary men and feats.

Important reference dates for the Waltham precision records:

  • 1857: The United States President, Abraham Lincoln, becomes one of the first proud owners of the Waltham model 1857 Serial Number 67613, the first industrialized pocket watch, today exhibited at the Smithsonian Museum
  • 1870: The first Waltham Railroad Watches are manufactured: high-precision pocket watches that are selected by railroad companies in 52 countries in the world
  • 1900: The new century begins and Waltham is in search of the highest possible precision for its clocks and watches. It was the first and only manufacturer in the world that decided to build its own Astronomical Observatory[2] to ensure the quality of its vast industrial production
  • 1908: Nikola Tesla, patented for Waltham Watch Company the first air-friction speedometer for cars
  • 1909: Robert Edwin Peary, Sr., was the first man to reach the geographic North Pole, with a Waltham in his pocket. Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton, reached the farthest South latitude, 97 geographical miles from the South Pole. He and the rest of the team had a Waltham in their pocket
  • 1911: The Marine Chronometers, Waltham Model 1910, featuring an 8-day power reserve, are chosen by the United States, Canadian and British governments for all military and civilian ships. No other factory is equipped to manufacture such high-performance chronometers in such large quantities
  • 1911: Waltham begins production of clocks and speedometers for automobiles, such as Ford, Lincoln, Renault, Cadillac, and even Rolls Royce
  • 1927: Charles Lindberg, did the first trans-Atlantic flight. On the cockpit of his Spirit of Saint Louis plane there was mounted the legendary Waltham Model XA-Type 37
  • 1928: Sir Charles Edward Kingsford Smith, was the first man to flight from the United States to Australia. On board of his Southern Cross a Waltham Model XA-Type 37
  • 1928: During the Second World War, Waltham’s experience in the aviation sector brings it on board the most emblematic aircraft of the time, as the F6F Hellcat fitted with the CDIA Model; the B-24 Liberator bomber; the legendary P-51 Mustang fighter plane. etc...
  • 1947: Waltham manufactures the Type A11 Navigational Watch, the first wristwatch to become standard military issue for all the American armed forces: in a waterproof version for the navy, and a dustproof version for all the other services
  • 1950: Waltham develops the Type A17 Pilot Watch and the wrist compass, standard issue equipment for the US Air Force and Navy
  • 1967: The F-4 Phantoms are legends of the US Navy, chosen by the equally legendary Top Gun Fighter Weapons School to train the best pilots in the US Air Force. Their control panels boast a Waltham Type A-13A, the official aeronautical clock of the US Department of Defense during the Cold War
  • 1971 (?): David Scott, commander of the Apollo 15 mission declared in 1996 he used his personal Waltham Chronograph during his second extra-vehicular activity on the Moon (even if Scott himself in 2014 confessed that he had made a mistake - "it was a Bulova, not a Waltham.")[3]
  • 1979: Waltham launch the Vacuum Model, the innovative mechanical wristwatch that works in the absence of atmosphere
  • 2000: The success on the Asian market is celebrated with the incredible Radiant 2000, a model decorated with over 150 carats of diamonds and considered the most expensive wrist watch of the time
  • 2009: Waltham introduces in Japan the 'Lone Eagel', a Chrono GMT pilot's watch
  • 2011: Waltham start a new course, profoundly reshaping its vision and the style of its creations, with the aim to develop an avant-garde concept of watches for men
  • 2014: After 3 years, Waltham introduced its new 'Angular Vision' and presents a new, daring Aeronaval Collection, with 3 post-modern angular designed models: the XA SOLO TEMPO, inspired by its XA-Type 37 (1927); the CDI GMT, inspired by its CDIA (1940); the ETC CHRONO, inspired by its 13a-A ETC (1967)

The First watch on the Poles[edit]

The "Waltham Pocket Chronometer" was the first watch on the Poles, used by Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton, Robert Edwin Peary, Sr., Walter Wellman and Ernest Leffingwell in their successful expeditions. Peary, wrote "... the behaviour of the meantime watches was particularly excellent. Watches carried by men in charge of different parties on the sledge journeys over the sea ice ran for weeks without any considerable variation from each other".[4]

The First clock flying across the Oceans[edit]

The legendary Waltham Model XA-Type 37 was the onboard clock of the airplanes used in the two first trans-oceanic expeditions: Charles Lindberg had it on his Spirit of Saint Louis; Sir Charles Edward Kingsford Smith had it on board of his Southern Cross.

The watch of the Railroads[edit]

The finest Vanguard was the world's railroad watch for half a century (1870-1920). This high-precision pocket watches was selected by railroad companies in 52 countries across the five continents. It was the first watch to incorporate the "up and down" power reserve indicator on the dial, a Waltham patent that is still used in hand-wound timepieces. During the golden age of railroads, there were more Waltham watches in circulation around the world than all other brands put together.

The watch of the Army[edit]

The Waltham XA Model was subjected to difficult performance test since it had to be able to perform under extremely difficult environmental conditions such as vibration, exposure and sudden and extreme barometric and temperature changes commonly encountered in aircraft. Since the XA had these capabilities, it became a standard aircraft timepiece for the U.S. Army, Signal Corps, the U.S. Army Air Corps, and the U.S. Navy Air Service.[5] Waltham timepieces was adopted by the Army of several countries (U.S.A., Canada, England, Australia, Soviet Union) for their planes, ships and soldiers.

Notable men of Waltham[edit]

Waltham history was made by extraordinary men, from creators to developers, to owners or simply users:

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Moore, Charles W. (1945). Timing a Century. History of the Waltham Watch Company. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. p. 18. 
  2. ^ Abbott, Henry G. (1923). History of the American Waltham Watch Company of Waltham, Mass. p. 97. 
  3. ^ NASA. "Apollo 15 Mission". Preparation Lunar EVA2 mission/line 142.14.22. NASA, USA. 
  4. ^ Peary, Robert E. (June 19, 1908), Private letter written to Waltham Watch Company 
  5. ^ Whtney, Marvin E. (1992). Military Timepieces. USA: AWI Press. p. 16. 

External links[edit]