Monday, July 15, 2024


Present day Rockford Watch Company opened near the Rock River in Rockford, Illinois. the factory’s vivid history includes a number of contrasts: years of great prosperity followed by market competition and insolvency in 1896, followed by successful reorganization headed by Jacob Franks and Max C. Eppenstein in 1901. a fire in July, 1903, followed by a lightning strike in September, 1903, destroying the chimney, boiler house and large part of the machine room. Some months later lay-offs were announced. After producing nearly a million pocket watches, the factory closed in 1915.

Trial of the century newspaper: Jacob Franks, again, made the headlines in 1924 when his son—14 year old Bobby Franks—was kidnapped and murdered by two wealthy students enrolled at the University of Chicago. Nathan Leopold Jr., (19), and Bobby’s cousin, Richard Loeb,(20), committed the murder to “see what it would feel like.” It was then characterized as the crime of the century. Crime and Punishment must not have been required reading at the University.

RWC pocket watch circa 1900


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