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The need for a updated second edition so soon after the first, highlights the gaps in this fascinating story. Much new information has come to light; some given by readers, descendants and enthusiasts. Whilst it by no means fills in all the gaps, it helps take a significant step forward.
There may be many different reasons why you are reading this. Perhaps you came here from my story about the Hampden Watch Company prior to 1930, or perhaps you have an interest in old Russian watches. Whatever the reason you’re welcome and I hope you find the story of interest.
The sub title says 'Continuing the Hampden story' if you are interested to follow that thread here is the link. www.hampdenwatches.com
The foreword comprises two unequal parts. Part one is a synopsis of the period before and after the Dueber-Hampden works closed in Canton Ohio. Briefly how the factory came into existence and the effects upon employment in the city when it closed just before the Great Depression set in. Part two sets out to paint a picture of the Moscow environment into which the Canton equipment was plunged. For this task I have enlisted the help of others whose understanding in historical and sociological terms is greater than mine.
When the city’s leaders of Canton heard about John Dueber’s offer they wasted no time in promoting their city. Canton is the administration centre of Stark County in northeastern Ohio, approximately 60 miles south of Cleveland and 24 miles south of Akron. It was founded in 1805 on the West and Middle Branches of the Nimishillen Creek. It was incorporated as a village in 1815, as a town in 1834 and as a city in 1854.
Moscow is named after the river that runs through it, the Moskva. It began as a medieval city and developed into what was known as the Grand Duchy of Moscow, an administrative region ruled by a prince. The grand duchy preceded the formation of Russia as a nation. It replaced Kiev as the most powerful territory in the area during a time when cities were under constant threat of attack and invasion
In 1926, Heinrich Kann, the prominent pre-revolutionary specialist watchmaker, wrote in his book, 'A Brief History of Watchmaking'...
During the commissions visit to America, pragmatism prevailed and finding the bankrupt Dueber-Hampden (and Ansonia Clock Co.), plant up for sale the Soviets, through Amtorg, purchased patterns, machinery, tools and stock.
The pre-contract negotiations were brokered between Bodrov and the company Receiver Raymond Loichot. In the following letter you can see that Loichot is using Albert Dueber (the former owner and President of Dueber-Hampden) as an advisor. Although he had sold the company back in 1925 he would have the kind of business expertise Loichot needed. Indeed the two men were also friends and associated in other business ventures.
Just to complete Zubkov's story. He would work with Bodrov on the prestigious State Bearing Plant being built in Moscow with American assistance and he travelled to the US in that regard. By 1938 he was back in the watch industry working as deputy head of quality control at 2GCHZ. Like many who had outside contacts, he to was arrested for spying and executed that year. He was rehabilitated on October 4th, 1989.
To date no more is known of Dreyer and his family; his likelihood of surviving in Nazi Germany would have been slim, had he stayed. So far there is no evidence of him being a holocaust victim, or of emigration to any of the likely places.
“The Trust gave a banquet for us at the Grand Hotel on Tuesday night.The hotel really is a “grand hotel” and was formerly occupied by the royalty. The banquet had all the trimmings and was not over until 3 in the morning. The orchestra was wonderful and during the evening played many American tunes.
They plan to setup the machinery in the one completed wing at once and we will instruct there. We arrived in Moscow, Sunday March 15th, and were served lunch at the station. We were then taken in Ford taxi cabs to our apartments, 3 mile apart. I haven’t seen any of the other Canton people since we left the station.
Mr Fravel, the Zubkoffs and myself are on the second floor, and six other Canton men are on the first floor of this home. It was formerly owned by the aristocracy and was confiscated by the government. It was built in the 17th century and the walls are 3 feet thick. The heating and plumbing are not the best but they are modern. The bath tub is carved from one piece of marble.
I haven’t done anything this week but sit around here and read. It’s so cold here. I can’t go outside and it’s so hard to walk on the rough sidewalks. The boys go out and wander around the city. The language is absolutely impossible to learn and when you can’t talk to anyone it’s hard to get around. I’ve been waiting all week for someone to take me to the bank to get some checks cashed.”
"Comrade Goodenberger The Five Year Plan of our industry called for the construction of the Watch Factory in Moscow.This Five Year Plan has been carried out during the past year and a half, by cooperating with the American specialists and especialy with you Comrade Goodenberger.During this period we built our factory and started production with an average output of 250 watches per day for the beginning.We are greatly indebted to you comrade Goodenberger, for these accomplishments.During this time you succeeded in conveying to us all your great knowledge andexperience in wathcmaking, acquired by 40 years of actual work. You helped us in learning the Plate Department, so now there are no secrets left whatever in the work of this department.During your stay in the U.S.S.R. you undoubtably realised that all our aims and wishes have no other goal but to create better life for the mankind on the earth, for which purpose our Five Year Plan is serving.We are sure that on your arrival to U.S.A. you will try to relate to the American workers the whole truth about U.S.S.R. - about our life, our work and our aims and to reveal the lies about U.S.S.R. spread by our enemies.
The workers of the Plate Dept. First State Watch Factory, Moscow, 19th August 1931.
“Many of our demands were adopted in the pIan for organizational-technical measures. But not one of the demands were fulfilled. The equipment was not put in good condition; it is more run down today than it was before. The work tools are of even worse quality today. All this has led to deplorable results. In our section, the established performance norms are fulfilled by only 58%. The earnings of Stakhanovites to say nothing of other workers, has declined. The turnover in personnel has reached extreme proportions. More and more Stakhanovites are leaving the plant”.Anyone hindering the progress of the Stakhanovites could be accused of, in effect, being a traitor. For example if you were in charge of quality and rejected pieces you could be deemed a wrecker. If you took a machine off-line for maintenance, you could be seen as a wrecker. If you had legitimate contact with foreigners you could be a spy. This divisive state of affairs came to a head with the onset of Stalin’s Great Purges when “wreckers” and other “enemies of the people”, which included wreckers, socially hostile elements, spies, and saboteurs all fell victim of the 1937-1938 terrors.
In 1935 the “All-Union elder” Mikhail Kalinin signed a decree awarding The First State Watch Factory the name of Kirov after Sergei Kirov.
• 1941 - 1948 Ivan Bocharov.
• 1948 - 1954 Nikolay Gurevich (director Chelyabinsk 54-69).
• 1954 - 1961 Alexey V. Kazantsev.
• 1961 - 1967 Boris Potapov
• 1967 - 1968 Boris Prokopevich Klimov
• 1968 - 2000 Anatoly I. Goncharenko
By the spring of 1942 the rest of the equipment has been moved from Kazan and in June it is reasonable to assume that the plant was fully operational. In addition to purely military production, there was full-scale production of watches caliber Type-1. During 1941-42 local people were trained in various specialties for the factory. Immediately after the threat of the German forces was removed from Moscow, 2GCHZ began to revive and re-employ the skilled workers that had remained in the Moscow region. The Director of the restored factory was Sergey Tarasov and later V. I. Sergeyevich. After the war ended most of the Type-1 equipment remained in Chistopol. The factory brand would eventually be known as Vostok (Boctok). In reality there was a whole raft of other work going on behind the Vostok doors.
Much LIP source material courtesy of Nick Downes.
An American worker in
The Soviet Watch Industry
- No foreign imports, thus no competition.
- Workers were only recently allowed to change jobs: to do so even now means loss of certain benefits.
- A very high standard of labor in the industry. This may be partly due to the fact that Russian women do much of the heavy work mining, road-building, pneumatic drill operating, etc., so when there’s an opportunity for clean, precision work such as the horological industry offers, they try extra hard to do their best. Thus the industry attracts a very high class of labor.
- Rigid discipline is imposed on the workers and they accept it willingly.
- Unity of purpose through central direction. plus the encouragement and drive of management and political pressure, exhortation and propaganda.
- Complete freedom from labor problems and disputes such as strikes. There is no word in the Russian language for “strike.”
- Criticism by fellow workers for any form of slackness on the job.
- Wages set mainly on an incentive basis.
- Watch component quality is high, proving the skill of toolmakers and machine setters.
- Production is held to a very few types of movements and complete watch designs.
- Unlimited capital is available.
- High profits which go into the national treasury.
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