This page is about miscellaneous items about clocks and watches. I have also published a Kindle book, Timely Tales and Tidbits about fascinating things about clocks and watches. It is now in print through Kindle.
TIME AND ETERNITY
Old clocks have a way of reminding us of time and eternity. On a church clock in Chester, England is this poem:
The clock of life is wound but once, and no man has the power
TIME AND TECHNOLOGY
Is It Really Better Now?
With machines and mass production, millions of timepieces are produced. But think of the tiny parts and the machines designed to make them. We say that technology has come a long way.
In 1885, David Glasgow, the vice president of the British Horological Institute, wrote in his book "Watch and Clock Making," these words:
But there are certain things which cannot be done economically by machinery even at this stage, and screw-making seems to be one of them. In Mr. Wycherley’s factory, I saw a man making screws in an ordinary hand-throw: he turned down the body of the screw, tapped it, rounded and burnished the end, tapered the head, and cut it off in fifteen seconds. These were bar screws, pillar screws took a little longer; he made three of these a minute, repeating this operation while I watched him, and he appeared to be in no hurry over his work. If then a man can make by hand in this way 1,800 good screws in a day of 10 hours, watchmaking can gain little by having them made by a machine; indeed, a screw-making machine was superseded by this man.
It would be interesting to find out how many screws are made today on modern machines. Is it more than what was witnessed in 1885? I found an interesting bit of information that surprisingly takes us back in time before the above quote and across the ocean.
Charles Vander Woerd, then the mechanical superintendent at American Watch Co., invented the first automatic screw machine in 1871. The first few machines made were a smaller version used to make jewel screws. This machine, however, could be set up to make any size watch screw, from tiny jewel screws to the case screws used to hold the movement in the case. There were 45 of these machines built at a cost of $2,000 each between 1871 and about 1876 to be used in the screw making department at Waltham. The 30th machine built was exhibited in Machinery Hall and attracted the attention of crowds of visitors for the whole duration of the great Centennial Exhibition held in Philadelphia in 1876. This was the first international exhibition where the products and methods of the American System were displayed. A single operator can readily attend six or more of these machines and produce 50,000 to 60,000 screws per day while by the older method a man might make 1,200 to 1,500 screws per day with a little aid from a boy. The basic design of this machine was copied by other watch factories. In 1895, the Waltham Screw Co. made some for their own use and the B. C. Ames Co. in Waltham made some almost 50 years after it was invented. None of these later copies exhibited the fine finish workmanship of the original. The Waltham Watch Co. featured this machine in company advertising as late as 1919. This machine represented the triumph of Charles Vander Woerd's mechanical genius.
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