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.
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 becomes 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.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. In 1959, Westclox introduced their "drowse" alarm, 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. in 2001.
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Westclox Wall Clocks (21)