When Josiah Percy Stevens was 17 years of age, he moved from Savannah, Georgia to Macon, Georgia to work for a very well-known jeweler in the area. After three years of learning about jewelry making, a young Stevens made his way to Atlanta where he got a job working as a watchmaker for the largest jewelry store in the city. While Stevens was renting a bedroom above the jewelry store, the company failed and was forced to close.
With financial support from several of his friends, J. P. Stevens was able to purchase the former business. In 1877, the business was reestablished under the name J.P. Stevens & Company. With five years of successful business under his belt, Stevens traveled to Lancaster, Pennsylvania where he purchased the Bowman watch factory and all of its materials. Stevens also purchased the Springfield Watch Company of Massachusetts. While Stevens was purchasing these business and their supplies, he also interviewed and hired several men to go back to his factory and work for him.
Once back in Atlanta, Stevens’ new pocket watch factory was established in the second story of the building where his jewelry store resided. Stevens and his superintendent Mr. Todd began designing a new watch. The Bowman watch was the predecessor of what would be known as the Stevens watch. The two pocket watches were similar in that they were the same size-16, had damaskeened plates and were stem set; however the Stevens watch only had one plate jeweled whereas the Bowman was fully jeweled.
There were only 174 genuine Stevens’s watches that were manufactured by the company at this time. Steven was forced to close his factory after three seasons of battling employee retention due to the intense Atlanta summer heat.