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Home Car Culture Packard plans a comeback, starting with a watch

Packard plans a comeback, starting with a watch

James Ward Packard also was into watches, and one he designed sold for $1.8 million.

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In 1899, James Ward Packard bought a Winton motor car, but found it lacking and, since both he and Alexander Winton resided in Cleveland, he was able to express his disappointment to the car’s maker.

As the story goes, after several interactions between the men, Winton responded, “if you’re so smart, maybe you can build a better machine yourself.”

So, with help from his brother, William Doud Packard, that’s just what happened. That same year, in November 1899, the first Packard motorcar was road tested. Winton sales peaked at 2,458, units and the company closed a few years later, in 1916. Meanwhile, Packard became known for producing among the world’s finest automobiles, luxury vehicles cherished during the Roaring ‘20s and beyond.

Packard production continued into the late 1950s.* 

James Ward Packard designed a pocket watch that in 2010 sold for $1.8 million at auction | ABlogToWatch.com photo

Did you notice the asterisk at the end of that previous sentence? It’s there because there are plans for a car company comeback, which is more likely than ever because of the new federal vehicle regulations that encourage such things, albeit on a limited-production basis.

That comeback is being kicked off, however, not with a car but with a watch, which in some ways is quite fitting.

Back a couple of centuries ago, the Packard brothers were inventors and manufacturers, primarily of electric products. James Ward Packard liked watches, collected them and even designed them.  According to the packardamerica.us website, “he frequently commissioned Swiss watchmakers to make his designs, including one of the most complicated pocket-watches ever made.”

That was the Vacheron Constantin Packard Grande Complication pocket watch, which in 2010 sold for $1.8 million at a Christie’s auction.

The new timepiece, of which 50 will be produced, is called the 1899 Model A. They are priced at $1,899 each, with 25 percent of that amount being donated to the National Packard Museum.

The American-produced wristwatches have a 40mm diameter dial featuring the Packard script. The watches are numbered, with the option for Packard owners to have the watch engraved with the serial number of the buyer’s car.

For details, visit the PackardAmerica.us website.

Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

5 COMMENTS

  1. My grandfather’s automobile manufacturing business produced it’s last car in 1924 and closed in that year. Winton Engine Corporation, also owned by my grandfather, which had the Diesel engine patents, was sold to General Motors in about 1929/1930.

  2. Thanks for the heads up on the watch. I reserved one immediately. Always enjoy your well written columns. We communicated a year ago regarding your orthopedic surgeries as a child. How they holding up? Kind regards Mark Anderson

  3. The Packard script on these watches is a registered trademark of Packard Automobile Classics aka The Packard Club. Packard America is using the script without permission and refuses to even discuss a licensing agreement. We at the Packard Club are exploring legal action against this company. I thought you should know. Craig Handley, President, Packard Automobile Classics

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