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American and Swiss Watchmaking in 1876

Reports to the Intercantonal Committee of Jura Industries on the manufacture of watches in the United States, 1877

By Jacques David

1877, 86 pages, ill

In 1876 Jacques David, who later became the director of Longines, was sent to the United States to investigate American watch factories. When he returned he wrote a 108 page manuscript report which gives detailed information on Waltham and Elgin watch production. His summary was that the Swiss watchmaking industry would be destroyed unless immediate action was taken. For 2 months David's warnings were ignored, and he then presented a second report damning the Swiss makers for not taking him seriously. The Swiss eventually headed his advice, rebuilt their industry and regained control of world watch production.

Because the Swiss were concerned that Americans would view these reports as industrial sabotage, only a few hand-written copies were made and the reports were suppressed for 115 years until Longines published a facsimile in 1992.

This translation of "Rapport a la Société Intercantonale des Industries du Jura sur la fabrication de l'horlogerie aux Etats-Unis" is probably the most important document in the history of modern watchmaking.

It is the only book to describe in detail how the American factories made watches, from the raw metal to the finished, cased movement. And it is the only book which explains American factory organisation, quality control and standards of interchangeability.

A superb analysis of the state of the Swiss industry and the effects of American competition. Written by the person responsible for the recovery of the Swiss industry and its re-organisation around machine mass production.

This annotated translation of the French manuscript is provided as an Adobe Acrobat PDF file:

Illustration: Waltham Watch Company exhibit at the 1876 Philadelphia exhibition.