Westclox Chronology

1884 Stahlberg and others arrived in Peru, Illinois from Waterbury, Connecticut to make clocks based on Stahlberg's idea. Small factory established in back of Brylski's Department Store. First produced 1 clock per day, then 3 or 4 per day, gradually increasing. Started with 8 people.
1885 Three story brick building erected. Production up to 25 clocks/day. United Clock Company incorporated Dec. 23, 1885. Only 4 inch movements made then. Patent #326,602 granted to Stahlberg on Sept. 22, 1885.
Ca. 1886 Alarm clocks made with dial "Presented by G. William Schlichten, Co. LaSalle, Ill." Mr. Stahlberg gave alarm clocks to employees for Christmas inscribed on back "One of a hundred clocks that cost $10,000."
1887 Bankrupt & reorganized. Western Clock Co. incorporated May 14, 1887.
1888 Bankrupt, reorganized by F. W. Matthiessen. The Western Clock Mfg. Co. incorporated July 7, 1888.
1889 Ernst Roth appointed general manager, serving for 34 years. 81 Employees. Old clocks "recalled" and remodeled for 75 cents each.
1895 - 6 50,000 units (largest order to date) for Nine O'clock Washing Tea.
1896 America, F. W. (later Ironclad), Framed Clock introduced. 200,000 clocks produced by 100 employees. 2 inch movements introduced.
1899 Pocket watches introduced.
1901 Production capacity 1,000,000 alarm clocks per year (500,000 units actual production). 285 employees.
1902 Gaston Leroy joined the company April 21.
1905 George Kern (Big Ben inventor) hired. 1,150,000 units (3500/day) produced by 410 employees.
1908 First of the Big Ben patents granted. On October 13, 1908, the board of directors resolved to change the company name to Western Clock Co. (but not approved until 1912).
1909

First year of Big Ben sales - 28,261 sold this year.

The trademark Westclox was first used this year (but not registered as a trademark until 1916). It appeared on the back of the Ironclad in 1909, on the backs of Big Bens from 1910 through 1917. It appeared at the bottom of some dials as early as 3Q 1911.

1910

Big Ben officially introduced to the market. First advertisement Sept. 24, 1910 Saturday Evening Post, p. 39. 146,099 Big Bens sold this year. 2 million units (total) produced by 880 employees.

First year of Baby Ben sales - 4,783 sold this year. It used a modified two inch movement.

1911 391,620 Big Bens sold this year.
1912

baby Ben style 1 (regular movement) first sold.

Stockholders approve name change to Western Clock Co. on June 11, 1912.

1914

3.5 million Big Ben alarms sold to date (according to March 21, 1914 Saturday Evening Post ad).

Advertising manager Gaston LeRoy died in battle in France.

1915 baby Ben officially introduced, first advertisement Sept. 25, 1915 Saturday Evening Post, page one. 3.3 million units produced by 1370 employees.
1916 The trade mark "Westclox" was registered. The registration states that the trade mark had been in continual use since November 1909.
1917

Innovative workers' benefits introduced. Paid life insurance and a safety committee.

Westclox name first used in advertising to make line known. Clock dials were consistently marked "Westclox".

1918

Quarter Century Club organized for longtime employees (15 initial members).

Big Ben's price increased to $3.00. Big Ben Style 1a (dustproof) model introduced.

1919

Western Clock Co., Limited, Canada incorporated as a subsidiary.

"First Aid for Injured Westclox" published.

1920

Luminous clocks in full production.

4.1 million clocks and watches produced by 1870 employees.

Western Clock Co., Limited begins operations in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.

1921

Pocket Ben first advertised. Bluebird introduced.

Night classes in math, drawing and slide rule offered for employees.

LaSalle Tool Co. purchased.

1922

New 5 story addition to factory. New Canadian plant occupied.

Wood cased Monitor introduced.

1923 Administration building under construction across the street from factory. Bunkie introduced.
1924 Ernst Roth died while serving as president and general manager.
1925 6.5 million clocks and watches produced by 2700 employees.
1926 LaSalle Tool Co. sold.
1927

Big & Baby Ben style 2 (first base model) introduced.

Ben Hur introduced.

1928

Pink, blue and green crackle finish Bens introduced. Tiny Tim introduced.

Sterling Clock Co. of Meridan, CT was purchased.

Company park, tennis courts and horseshoes courts built.

1929 3058 employees (peak number of employees before depression).
1930

Stockholders of Western Clock Co. approved of plan uniting the company with Seth Thomas Clock Company by the formation of a holding company named General Time Instruments Corporation (November 12, 1930).

Westclox pioneered unemployment benefit program.

3 LaSalle series (Dura Case) models and Tom Thumb introduced.

1931

First electric clocks introduced (Big Ben electric, uses Sangamo synchronous motor).

Pull wind automobile mirror clock introduced.

Bantam, 3 luminous LaSalle (Dura Case) clocks introduced. Chime Alarm (Big Ben style 3) introduced.

General Time purchased Hamilton Sangamo Corp.

1932

Electric wall clock introduced, using the first Westclox designed manual start synchronous motor.

Baby Ben style 3 introduced. America electric, Black Knight introduced.

1933

1908 employees on July 1 (minimum number of employees during depression was 1779).

Handbag watch, Ben Bolt electric, Fortune, Hustler introduced.

1934

Canadian plant built new addition.

Pickwick introduced. Style 4 Big Ben and Baby Ben introduced.

2312 employees.

1935

Stromberg Electric Co. purchased by General Time. Westclox safety record - 11 million hours without a lost time accident - 1st in nation.

Ben Franklin electric, Country Club electric, LaSalle alarm clock, Tide introduced.

1936

Name changed to Westclox Division of General Time Instruments Corporation. 2800 employees. R. D. Patton first employee to reach 50 years of service, he started 1/1/1886 at 13 years of age.

Style 4 Bens introduced.

Wrist Ben introduced - 1st Westclox wristwatch. Fortune luminous, Greenwich, Silent Knight, Table Clock (world w/stars) introduced.

1938 Travalarm, Spur, Orb introduced. Style 5 Big Ben electric Chime alarm introduced.
1939 Style 5 windup Big Ben and Baby Ben introduced. Leland introduced. Westclox Ltd., a United Kingdom subsidiary, formed.
1940

Max Schlenker appointed chief engineer.

Production started on mechanical fuse parts for government.

Ellworth Danz joined Westclox April 2, 1940.

1941 3700 Employees.
1942 All non-war production ceased July 31.
1943 Waralarm in molded wood fiber case produced. OPA max. price $1.65. Does not bear Westclox name. 7 pounds brass per 1000 clocks instead of normal 300 pounds.
1944 616 Westclox employees in the armed forces.
1945 Over 7 million fuses produced in addition to more than 1 billion parts produced for arsenals and other manufacturing companies. 679 Westclox employees in the armed forces. 1,355,189,616 parts made for war use.
1946

Normal production resumed in plants worldwide.

Westclox Proprietary, Ltd. organized in Melbourne, Australia.

Logan electric, Raven introduced.

1947 4000 employees. Westclox clock and watchmakers school organized.
1948

200,000,000 clocks and watches produced by Westclox to date (5,000 boxcars full).

New Scotland plant produced first clock 21st September 1948.

1949

Style 6 Big Ben and Baby Ben introduced.

Name change: General Time Instruments Corp. to General Time Corp.

Scotland plant producing 10,000 clocks/week.

Moonbeam flashing light alarm clock introduced.

1950

Scotland has made 1,000,000 Westclox.

New edition of "First Aid for Injured Westclox" published.

1951 4,000 employees.
1952 Westclox awards first engineering scholarship.
1953

Plant in Athens, GA to be built for production of synchronous clocks (plant completed 1954).

Australian plant discontinued.

1955 Clock of tomorrow introduced - used a new single key wind chime alarm movement.
1956

More than 4,000 employees produced 40,000 timepieces/day.

More than 40 million Big Bens and 28 million Baby Bens had been produced to date.

Style 7 Big Ben and Baby Ben introduced. New Big Ben single key wind movement.

1958 "Baby Ben Sequin" introduced to honor the 69 million Big and Baby Bens of the last 50 years.
1959 53 millionth Big Ben produced - Westclox commended by House of Representatives.
1960 Baby Ben single key wind movement introduced.
1961

First automated clock assembly line. New plant in Toluca, Mexico under construction.

Stock numbers changed from old type (e.g. 790-LB) to IBM type (e.g. 35048).

1964

Style 8 Big Ben and Baby Ben introduced.

Auto clock production transferred to Athens, GA. Est. 1.8 million/year.

1966

Auto clock manufacturing to be moved to new Davidson, NC plant. Athens plant to be consumer only.

First mention of Gadsden, Alabama plant.

1968 General Time Corp. bought by Talley Industries.
1974 Big Ben Solid State introduced.
1979 General Time moved its headquarters to Norcross, GA.
1980 Style 9 Big Ben and Baby Ben introduced. LaSalle-Peru factory closed March 31.
1986 Fred Pistilli joins General Time
1988 Fred Pistilli and four colleagues implemented a management buyout from Talley Industries. This positioned Pistilli as president, CEO, and principal owner of General Time.
1996 General Time Corp. acquired Spartus.
1997 November - Banc One (formerly Bank of Chicago) became majority owner of General Time.
2000 President and CEO Fred Pistilli retired after 14 1/2 years at the helm. Plant owners decided to send manufacture of all keywound and analog electric clocks offshore. Production at Athens, GA plant (last remaining US plant) stopped in October.
2001

Style 10 Big Ben and Baby Ben introduced. Reproduction Moonbeam introduced.

June: General Time Corporation announced it was closing its entire operation. Facilities in the United States were the headquarters in Norcross, Georgia and the factory in Athens, Georgia. The distribution centers in the United Kingdom, Canada, and Hong Kong were closed as well.

August: Salton, Inc. announced the acquisition of the Westclox, Big Ben and Spartus brands from the bankrupt General Time Corporation,which had been the largest producer and marketer of alarm, wall and occasional clocks in North America.

2002 October: Westclox products are available online from Salton.
2007 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.

 

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