The Dollar Ingersoll Watch took some time to become a reality, but Ingersoll solved the mass production puzzle with the Ingersoll Watch...
What pocket watch manufacturers needed was to sell more watches - and to do that they needed to produce them in a much more efficient and cost effective manner, make them accessible to the masses, and therefore make them much cheaper. So the first ideas of producing the so-called "Dollar Watch" was born.
One company is famous for the first genuine Dollar watch - Ingersoll. They produced the first Dollar Ingersoll Watch in 1881 via a New York based mail-order business set up by brothers Robert & Charles Ingersoll. The Dollar Watch proved to be so popular that by mid 1890s they had sold one million Dollar Pocket Watches. Ingersoll coined the phrase "The Watch that made the Dollar Famous!". Other companies that also sold pocket watches costing only one dollar were Westclox, New Haven, Ingraham, and Ansonia.
These watches were not the same as more expensive makes of the era. They did not utilise jewels in their mechanisms, instead they used the so-called "pin lever" method. Instead of a jewel being used as a bearing, a hole was drilled directly into the pocket watch plate and a pin attached to the gear sat inside the hole. This was a simple but effective way to drastically reduce costs. Oiling was very important to reduce wear on the metal-to-metal contact surfaces, and the movements did eventually wear. But the goal was achieved - make a watch affordable for the everyday worker.
Ingersoll continued and expanded its operations to the UK market, with a store in London being opened in 1904. Here it sold the Crown pocket watch, which was sold for the princely sum of 5 shillings (25 new pence). Ingersoll was eventually bought out by the Time Corporation and eventually the name was changed to that synonymous with timekeeping in general throughout the 20th century - Timex.
For collectors, the Dollar Pocket Watch is still a highly collectible item, and although many people are of the opinion that these watches have no real "antique" value, I disagree. If you can find one of these in mint condition, it still won't cost you an arm and a leg to aquire it, but over time as collectors begin to realise the importance that the Dollar Watch played in the development of timepieces in general, these will become more collectable and hence valuable.
Thank heavens for the Ingersoll Watch!
Pocket watch image reproduced with the kind permission of Pieces of Time
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