was a former manufacturer and is a current brand of clocks
and alarm clocks
Early history as United Clock Company
Charles Stahlberg and others from Waterbury, Connecticut
originally formed as "United Clock Company" on 5 December 1885
in Peru, Illinois
, intending to manufacture clocks based on a technological innovation by Stahlberg. This innovation was patented by Stahlberg on 22 September 1885
(US patent #326,602) and involved the use of molded lead alloy movement plates with inset brass bushings as well as lead alloy gear assemblies. Shortly after being granted the 1885 patent, United Clock Company went bankrupt, and there are no known surviving examples of the patented clock.
Bankruptcies, reorganizations, and mergers
In 1887, the company reorganized under the new name "Western Clock Company." The company again went bankrupt, and was reorganized by F. W. Matthiessen in 1888 as the "Western Clock Manufacturing Company." In 1908, the company was granted a patent
for the "Big Ben" alarm clock
movement. This movement has a "bell-back" design, which means that the bell mechanism is integral to the clock's case. The company first brought the Big Ben to market in 1909. The company's name was shortened to "Western Clock Company" in 1912. In 1920, the Big Ben became the first alarm clock advertised nationally, with ads placed in the Saturday Evening Post
The modern trademark of the company, "Westclox," first appeared on the backs of Big Ben alarm clocks from 1910 to 1917. The name appeared on Big Ben dials as early as 1911. The trademark was officially registered by the company on 18 January 1916.
In 1919, Western Clock Co., Ltd., was incorporated. Twelve years later, in 1931, the company merged with Seth Thomas Clock Company, with both companies becoming divisions of General Time Corporation. The Westclox unit became known as "Westclox Division of General Time Corporation" in 1936.
World War II wartime efforts
In 1938, Westclox introduced their first portable travel alarm clock to the market. During World War II, Westclox and other General Time Corporation subsidiaries produced aviation instrumention and control components, compasses for the United States Army, and clocks for the United States Navy. From 1942 to 1945, Westclox ceased all production intended for domestic civilian sale and dedicated its production resources to the war effort, becoming a major manufacturer of fuses for military ordnance.
The Westclox company was a major manufacturer of dollar watches. They started production of an inexpensive, back-winding pocket watch in 1899, which was intended to be affordable to any working person and continued producing cheap pocket watches into the 1990s.
Late 20th Century developments
In 1959, Westclox introduced and patented their "drowse" alarm, which was the first of its kind powered by electricity, which integrated what is now more commonly known as a "snooze" function. Talley Industries acquired General Time in 1968. 1972 saw Westclox's introduction of the quartz movement
. In 1988 General Time was purchased by its management from Talley Industries. Another bankruptcy shortly followed, with the "Westclox" and "Big Ben" trademarks being acquired by Salton, Inc.