Pitkin Pocket Watches

1838 -1852


When their jewelry business in Hartford, Connecticut closed in 1837, brother’s James and Henry Pitkin started a turning point in the history of watch making. Their goal, as thought out by Henry, was to start manufacturing pocket watches by machine.

The brothers built their own machinery and imported parts to manufacture their movements. Parts imported by the company were the hands, hairsprings, dials and balance jewels. The company did, however, make their own cases which were gold and silver. The brothers managed to put out their first product, a watch that was 16-size and had a ¾ plate, in the fall of 1838. The initial fifty pocket watches produced by the company we named after Henry Pitkin, but the company later stamped its watches H & J. F. Pitkin. In 1841, the Pitkin Watch Company relocated to Fulton Street in New York, but struggled due to being surrounded by companies that provided a cheaper product.

By 1845 the brothers had no choice but to focus solely on producing watch cases as opposed to a complete pocket watch. Amariah Hells, a longtime employee for the brothers, continued to run the business until he retired in 1852 after Henry was committed and his brother James died.

A closeup view of a W Pitkin Hartford Dial

A closeup view of a W Pitkin Hartford Lever fusee Pocket Watch Movement

Images provided by: oldwatch.com