The History of Dudley Timepieces
By Brother C.
Julius Clark from his book
"Masonic Timepieces, Rings, Balls & Watch Fobs"
"King" of pocket watches and the most sought after is a Dudley Masonic Watch
made by a Mason for a Masonic purpose.
Wallace Dudley was born in 1851 in St. John, New Brunswick Canada. He began his
career as a horologist at the age of 13, when he became an apprentice to a maker
of ship chronometers in Canada. Some years later after completing his
apprenticeship, he moved to the United States and joined the Waltham Watch
factory in Waltham, Mass., where he was employed as a model maker.
moved around from one watch factory to another gaining knowledge and
experience. He went to Springfield, Ill., where he was connected with the
Illinois Watch Company, and later moved to South Bend, Indiana, where he joined
the South Bend Watch Company as superintendent. His next move was back east to
Chambersburg, N.J., to work for the Trenton Watch Company. From 1906 to 1920,
he was designer and superintendent of manufacture at the Hamilton Watch Company,
Lancaster, Pa., but left at the age of 69 to fulfill his dream of establishing a
watch factory. It is believed Mr. Dudley had seen the the M. Tobias & Co. watch
made in England with the two Masonic emblems in the balance cock.
interested in Freemasonry, he was a member of both York and Scottish Rites, the
Nobles of the Mystic Shrine and the Tall Cedars of Lebanon.
According to his daughter, he started working on his first Masonic watch 15 - 20
years before he patented his design.
1918, Dudley started to work on a Masonic watch with its bridge plate in the
form of Masonic symbols (a slipper, plumb, trowel, level, square, compasses, the
Letter "G" and a Bible). These emblem parts were machined by Brother Willis R.
Michael. Dudley later applied for and was granted design patents dated June 29,
W. Adams and John D. Wood, local retail jewelers and both Masons, became
Dudley's partners. On May 20, 1920, they applied to the state of Pennsylvania
for incorporation. The letters patent were issued June 7, 1920. The amount of
capitol stock of the corporation was $5,000.00. Property was acquired at South
West End and Maple Ave., Lancaster, Pa. The original project of the company
was to design and build a 14 size, 19 jewel, 14kt. solid gold watch, which is
referred to as a Model 1, were being produced. By 1923, the Dudley Watch
Company, faced with dwindling sales and heavy competition from other companies
producing smaller watches, decided to go ahead with the development of a 12
size, 19 jewel, 14kt. gold filled watch, which was referred to as a Model 2,
The Model 2 differs from its forerunner by having a silver colored Bible
mounted, so as to cover the bevel pinion which was previously exposed. This
watch used the wheels and escapement design from the Hamilton models. At full
production the company employed 18 - 20 men including Arthur and Clifford
Dudley, sons of the founder. As it was primarily an assembly operation, the
employees were all high-skilled watchmakers, most of whom had worked in the
Hamilton Watch Company. Those men with Masonic background were given
preference. Once production began, sales became the problem, and a salesman
named Bostwick started out on the road. The price of the watches varied with
the styles cases, top line ranged from $125.00 to $250.00. By late 1924, the
company was heavily in debt and management was trying desperately to find a
solution to its problem. On February 28, 1925, a petition was introduced in the
U.S. District Court in Philadelphia that the Dudley Watch Company be adjudged
bankrupt, mostly due because the new wrist watch had been introduced on the
market. After leaving the Company, Dudley was in serious difficulties. He had
invested all his available capitol in his brain-child and at the age of 74 found
himself out of work and nearly broke. He accepted a job at Hamilton Watch
Company as a mechanic where he continued to work until 1931, retiring at the age
February 8, 1938 Dudley died at Lancaster, Pa. Nearly 60 years after Brother
Dudley's business was declared bankrupt, his dream has come true and today his
watches are considered very rare and its a privilege to be an owner of a Dudley
pocket watch. In the 15 years that Dudley watches were produced in Lancaster,
less than 2,600 watches of the Masonic design were made.