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Brief History: New York Standard Watch Company

Including Serial Numbers and Production Dates

1885 - 1929

Jersey City, New Jersey

The New York Standard watch company, which also operated as the Crown Watch Company, was first incorporated in 1885 and operated in Jersey City, New Jersey. They should not be confused with the New York Watch Company, which was one of the predecessors of the Hampden Watch company. Although New York Standard made a variety of watches, it was primarily a producer of cheap watches sold under various brand and model names. They produced watches in the following sizes: 18, 16, 12, 6, 0, 3/0 and 10/0 in 7-15 jewels. They are, perhaps, best known for offering a unique straight line lever "worm-gear" escapement, patented by R. J. Clay. This led rise to their advertising slogan: "The watch with a worm in it."

New York Standard operated from 1885 until 1929 and produced over 8 million watches. Many of their models are quite common, while some are quite rare. Much of their production tended to be of lower-quality watches, and many lower-end models are not highly regarded by collectors.

Repairing New York Standard watches has become very difficult due to the lack of availability of parts for repair. In many cases it is simply not possible to locate parts and repairs for certain models are no longer practical.

Crown, New Era and William Penn Pocket Watches

New York Standard also produced several models of lower-quality pocket watches which were sold under the "Crown" and "New Era" names. The New Era models were a step above the "Dollar Watches" of the time, but were still very inexpensively made mass-produced 7-jewel movements. Most feature thin plates, non-compensating balances, and a lower level of finish and materials than were commonly found in many well-known American watch brands. These watches are marked "New Era, USA" in a variety of styles, and should not be confused with the "New Era" pocket watch model produced (briefly) by the Lancaster Watch Company, which are marked "New Era, Lancaster, Pa."

Pocket watches marked "William Penn USA" were also made by New York Standard. These were also inexpensive watches, featured several models with fake winding wheels. The winding and ratchet wheels were purely decorative... completely non-functional as shown in the photo below. This was done purely for the purpose of making the watch appear to be of a higher-quality level than it really was. An interesting piece of horological history, perhaps, but pretty hokey if you ask this watchmaker!

Other New York Standard Watch Company Model Names

In addition to the models already named, New York Standard also produced lower-grade watch models marked: Bay State, Crown Watch Co, Eldridge, Excelsior, Gloria, Hamlet, Hercules, Highgrade, Jefferson, LaSalle, Pacific, Remington, Rosemere, Solar, Tribune, Washington, Wilmington Special.

 

Early New York Standard Watch Ad for Worm-gear Escapement

Early New York Standard Watch Ad for Worm-gear Escapement.
By the way... if you see this same graphic on other web sites about NYS watches,
it's because they stole it from us!

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New York Standard Watch Company

New York Standard Serial Numbers and Dates

This table is NOT correct! This is the only published table of NYS serial numbers and dates we've seen, but we believe these numbers to be wildly inaccurate. Serial number information for New York Standard is incomplete and inconclusive. To the best of our knowledge, there are no complete serial number/date records available for New York Standard watches, and it appears that New York Standard did not use a consistent system of sequential numbers to identify their watches. Some watches appear to have a serial number, while others have a number which seems to describe size and model. Some serial numbers bear a prefix of unknown meaning. We would love to hear from anyone with more complete or accurate documentation on NYS serial numbers.

Year S/N
1890 600,000
1895 900,000
1900 1,200,000
1905 1,500,000
1910 1,800,000
1915 2,100,000
1920 2,400,000
1925 2,700,000
1930 3,000,000

Anecdotal evidence of NYS serial numbers and dates. On occasion we observe, or hear about, NYS watches which show evidence of date of manufacture, or date of purchase by the consumer. For instance, a dated inscription engraved upon the watch which provides evidence of when it may have been purchased. If you have anecdotal information about NYS watches, please send it and we'll include it here. Over time we hope to build a better understanding of NYS watches and dates.

Inscribed Year Size S/N Type
1888 18s 3F 339,XXX  
1890   513,7XX  
1890 0s 2,177,XXX  
1894 6s 2,276,XXX  
1895   144,325  
1899   1,062,XXX  
1914 16s 3,114,XXX Excelsior
IMPORTANT:

Be sure to use the serial number on the movement (the works) of the watch. Do not use the serial number from the case.

Can’t find your serial number in the table? Click here for an explanation and example of how to use our serial number tables.

Need help finding the serial number on your watch? Click here for instructions on how to identify and open most common case types.

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