Westclox Company History

Company History Overview

Westclox began as the United Clock Company of Peru, Illinois in 1885. Charles Stahlberg headed a group from Waterbury, Connecticut, who came to Peru in 1884 to build clocks based on a new idea by Stahlberg. They incorporated the United Clock Company on December 23, 1885. We have not yet located a clock by United Clock Co. (which is different from the United Clock Corp. of Brooklyn, NY, a maker of electric clocks in the 1930's - 1960's).

Stahlberg's ideas were patented on September 22, 1885 as US patent #326,602. His patent describes the process of making gear assemblies of lead alloy with hard metal acting parts. This patent also describes the casting of the movement plates from this lead alloy, with inset brass bushings for the pivots!

After United Clock Company went bankrupt, it was reorganized as the Western Clock Company in 1887. After another bankruptcy, it was reorganized by F. W. Matthiessen as The Western Clock Mfg. Co. in 1888. In 1912 the name was shortened to Western Clock Company. In 1916 the trademark "Westclox" was registered, but the name had appeared on the backs of clocks as early as 1909. In 1930, Western Clock Company was merged with Seth Thomas Clock Company as "General Time Corporation", and in 1936 it was renamed the Westclox Division of General Time Corp. In 1968, General Time was acquired by Talley industries, and in 1988, General Time was bought from Talley Industries by the current management. In 2001, General Time declared bankruptcy, and the trademarks Westclox and Big Ben were acquired by Salton, Inc.

"On August 7, 2001 we acquired all of the trademarks, molds, intellectual property, rights and patents related to the Westclox(R), Big Ben(R) and Spartus(R) brands for $9.8 million. " Salton Inc · 10-K · For 6/29/02

"WESTCLOX, BIG BEN AND SPARTUS BRANDS - On Aug. 7, 2001 Salton announced that it acquired the trademarks, other intellectual property assets and molds, intellectual property, rights and patents related to these brands for $9.8 million of the Westclox(R), Big Ben(R), and Spartus(R) brands from the bankrupt General Time Corporation, until recently, the largest producer and marketer of alarm, wall and occasional clocks in North America." Salton Inc · 10-K · For 6/29/02

"GENERAL TIME: Salton Acquires Timekeeping Brands For $9.8MM

Salton, Inc. (NYSE:SFP) announced the acquisition of the Westclox(R), Big Ben(R) and Spartus(R) brands from the bankrupt General Time Corporation, until recently the largest producer and marketer of alarm, wall and occasional clocks in North America.

Under the terms of the acquisition, Salton has agreed to purchase all of the trademarks, molds, intellectual property, rights and patents related to these select brands. In addition, Salton agreed to purchase inventory related to these brands held in the U.S., Europe and Canada. Additional financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Leonhard Dreimann, Chief Executive Officer of Salton, stated, "Leading surveys rank Big Ben and Westclox, second only to the Timex(R) brand of time products in terms of name recognition and customer satisfaction. Following the close of this transaction, Salton's Home Decor Division, Salton at Home, will control three of the World's leading timepiece brands that will solidify our growing position as a leading marketer of time products in the U.S. and Europe. Looking ahead, we are excited to market this expanding line of time products in North America, as well as in Europe through our newly acquired European distribution network." Troubled Company Reporter Thursday, August 9, 2001, Vol. 5, No. 155

"Sale of Time Products Business - On July 18, 2007 Salton, Inc. ("Seller") and NYL Holdings LLC ("Buyer") entered into an Asset Purchase Agreement as amended on August 23, 2007 ("Agreement"). The terms of the Agreement provided for Buyer to purchase Seller's clock inventory and certain time products related trademarks and tooling and molds. The closing occurred in October 2007, when all inventory was transferred to Buyer".

"The assets included in the Agreement totaled $2.8 million in inventory, net of reserves, and less than $0.1 million in tooling as reflected on the Company’s balance sheet as of September 29, 2007. There was no book value for the trademarks. The assets were sold at book value."From a 10-Q SEC Filing, filed by SALTON INC on 11/13/2007.

During most of 2009, there was no web site at westclox.com. This is still true as of September, 2011.

NYL Holdings has a web site whose header includes Westclox, Baby Ben Classic, Big Ben, Westclox Tech, and Ingraham since 1831. It has links to various types of clocks (wall, alarm, travel, other) but if you click on any of the links, a popup window appears asking for a user name and password. So apparently the web site isn't for the public to use. As of September, 2011, the web site says at the bottom:

© 2008 NYL Holdings LLC   |   99 West Hawthorne Ave. Suite 514   |   Valley Stream, NY 11580

(516) 256-3240

 

Westclox Hours of Work

1889 At least 60 hours/week
1903 57 hours/week
1908 Hours shortened to 9 hours/day or 54 hours/week. But no Saturday afternoon work in summer - an innovation at that time.
1918 Saturday afternoons off all year round. Westclox one of the leaders in this change.
1920 8 1/2 hours/day M - F, 4 1/2 hours on Saturday (47 hours/week)
1927 8 hours/day M - F, 4 1/2 hours Saturday (44 1/2 hours/week)
1933 Stopped working Saturday mornings. (40 hours week)

References:

Tick Talk April 23, 1937, p. 8.
Tick Talk September 1952, p. 4 - 5.

The February 20, 1923 Tick Talk reports on the Westclox workers' opposition to a proposed 8 hour/day law. If passed, workers would would work 8 hours/day M - F and 7 hours on Saturday, instead of the 8 1/2 hours/day M - F and 4 1/2 hours on Saturday. A vote was taken by the Women's Problem Committee, and 2176 voted in favor of the current schedule (against the 8 hour law) and 49 voted for the 8 hour law.

 

Company Names and Dates

December 23, 1885

United Clock Company

May 14, 1887

The Western Clock Company

July 7, 1888

The Western Clock Mfg. Company

October 13, 1908

Board of directors resolved to change company name to Western Clock Co.

June 11, 1912

Stockholders approve name change to Western Clock Co.

November 12, 1930

Stockholders of Western Clock Co. approve of plan uniting the company with Seth Thomas Clock Company by the formation of a holding company named General Time Instruments Corporation

Late 1936

Westclox Division of General Time Instruments Corporation

1968 General Time Corp. bought by Talley Industries.
1988 General Time Corp. was acquired from Talley Industries by management
2001 General Time closes all operations and the trademarks Westclox and Big Ben were sold to Salton. Inc.
2007 NYL Holdings LLC buys Westclox from Salton, Inc.
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