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Over the course of their highly successful careers, Robert and Charles Ingersoll -- founders of one of the oldest American watch companies -- are acknowledged to have reached many milestones in the development and sale of pocket watches and wrist watches.
In 1880, the two sons of Orville Ingersoll -- a farmer from Michigan -- founded their enterprise in New York by producing and selling various articles for which they believed there was a general demand. Until that time, pocket watches were expensive luxury items, available to an exclusive few, because their manufacture entailed a great deal of highly skilled labor.
The Ingersoll brothers pursued ambitious aims: on one hand to sell watches to a broad public and on the other hand to offer reasonable prices while providing high quality. Alongside the existing hand-made watches, in 1882, thanks to Henry Ford, they succeeded in developing automated production, first for pocket watches and later for wrist watches.
Manufacturing high quality items under the motto of "One watch exactly like the other," they charged the very reasonable price of one dollar (a single day's wages at the time). This was how the so-called "Dollar Watch" or "Yankee" was born, of which over a million were produced. The advertisement for them, at the time, read: "The watch that made the dollar famous." The Ingersoll brothers achieved considerable success through their innovative sales policy.
By the end of World War I, Ingersoll was able to demonstrate sales of 50 million pocket watches along. Ingersoll customers included speakers of 20 different mother tongues. Even Mark Twain, whose "Tom Sawyer" and "Huckleberry Finn" embodied the quintessential image of the young American, was so eager to own a "Dollar Watch" that he sent his order directly to the company. Thomas Edison relied on his "Yankee" and even Theodore Roosevelt mentioned that while hunting in Africa he was described as "The man from the country where Ingersolls are produced".
The history of the United States is reflected in the Ingersoll legend. A legend that lives on!