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History of Timepieces Celebrating American Heritage

Tradition, Innovation and Timekeeping

In early May 1869, the famous First Transcontinental Railroad was completed. The 1,907-mile long rail linked the West and East coasts. The incredible transportation network connected one of the largest countries and the cities of Cleveland, Ohio and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania together and solidified America as a global manufacturing superpower. And the key to this successful rail network whether in the 1800s or today is timekeeping.

To celebrate American heritage, Govberg Jewelers looks at the two cities’ rail and horological histories.

Cleveland

BALL Watch

Ball Watches

Webster Clay Ball was born in Fredericktown , Ohio in 1846 and was the first jeweler to use time signals, introducing time accuracy to Cleveland. He was appointed Chief Inspector for the lines and his inspection standards encompassed 75 percent of the railroads throughout the country. In 1891, two trains collided in what is known as “The Kipton Disaster”.

The accident could have been prevented if the one conductor just looked at his pocket watch. Officials enlisted Ball to develop an inspection system, and he established a uniformity previously unseen in rail timekeeping. The company today has a range of choices, but the pieces always contain precision and accuracy, like their founder would have wanted.

American Watchmakers Clockmakers Institute

AWCI logo

Because of Cleveland’s roots in rail and in effect horological history, the American Watchmakers Clockmakers Institute (AWCI) is located in the city. The AWCI began over 50 years ago and promotes horology through education, certification programs and business services.

The forums on the site include technical discussions and parts requests. If you’re looking to learn more about watches from professionals and collectors, the site and the institute is a must-see.

Philadelphia Area

Hamilton

Hamilton Watch Ads

The company started in 1892 near Philadelphia in Lancaster, Pennsylvania aka Amish country. The first series of pocket watches were created for railroad professionals to provide an accurate reading of the time, since railroads operated on various times.

A vintage Hamilton ad reads, “Over one-half (56%) of the railroad men on American railroads where Official Time Inspection is maintained carry Hamilton Watches.”

Govberg Jewelers

About Govberg Jewelers

Long recognized as a premier watch provider, Govberg Jewelers is filled with a rich history and an American watch heritage that grows each year. The first store opened its doors in 1916 on South Street in Philadelphia, opened by Albert and Sam Govberg. Their expertise was in watch repair and diamonds, providing exceptional service to the people of Philadelphia.

Today, under the dynamic leadership of Albert’s grandson Danny Govberg, who proudly works alongside his sons, Brian and Marc, this iconic jeweler has a reputation of delivering exquisite watches, beautiful jewels and concierge-level service far beyond the Philadelphia city limits.

RGM Watches

RGM Core of Engineering Watch

Self-labeled as “America’s Premier Watchmaker,” there’s not really a better term for the Mount Joy, PA-based Company. It’s surprising such an accomplished watchmaker could be based in Central Pennsylvania, but with Hamilton only about 20 miles away, it’s a bit more believable.

The history of RGM only goes back to 1992, but the company takes inspiration from the 1880s, what they consider to be the great age of modernized watchmaking. In their current collection, there is a tourbillon and three in-house made Calibers.

About Katie VanEtten
Katie VanEtten is currently on the staff at International Watch Magazine and is excited to be writing for the Govberg Jewelers team. With a background in advertising and design and limited working German proficiency, she admires the minimalist approach of any NOMOS Glashütte piece, especially the Tetra.

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