A Tale of Two Villages – Croton Watch Company

Is the origin story of this watch Swiss or Italian?

When I first moved to Croton-on-Hudson in 1986, I was roped into contributing a dollar to a raffle, and, lo and behold, I won Croton Watch! It’s been a prized possession of mine all these years.

The Croton Watch Company had its headquarters and assembly plant at 35 South Riverside Avenue in Croton.  

I’ve always wondered, though, how a watch company wound up in our wonderful little village by the Croton Dam, surrounded by the Croton River and Hudson River.

To satisfy my curiosity, I contacted Croton Historical Societywhich led me to articles in the Croton Cortlandt News dated Sept15, 1963, and Jan. 19, 1978.  

The newspaper clippings were a font of historical information about the company, which, they reported, was founded by Jacob Horton of Switzerland in 1878 

At that time, news of the new Croton Dam captured the world’s fascinationAccording to the articles, Jacob Horton looked at a map in the vicinity of New York City, took note of the Croton Reservoir, and said, “I’ll name it the Croton Watch Company.”

Soon followed the 1963 relocation of company headquarters and assembly plant to Croton-onHudson, with the watch parts still being manufactured back home in Switzerland. Did your automatic watch movement stop working? This is a sign that your battery is near the end of its life. It’s also a warning to address the issue and get Oakley watch repair as soon as possible.

Its 1963 product line ranged from an under-$20 timepiece to a diamondstudded wristwatch that would set you back $1,000 (equal to $8,500 today).  

All that is what I gleaned from the Croton Cortlandt News 

Former home of Croton Watch Company at 35 South Riverside Drive is now a medical office.

However,  according to another, presumably reliable, source, the watch company was founded not in Switzerland, but in New York City in 1878, and wasn’t known as Croton Watch Company until 1928. 

What’s going on? Which tale to believe?  

Here’s what I learned from the website of Croton Watch Company … 

Within the Italian landscape lies a city, historically known for the intelligence, strength and physical beauty of its inhabitants: Crotonea port city in Calabria, southern Italy. 

Established in that same town, known for its art, architecture and fashion, Croton watches enjoyed a reputation in the region as “a quality product made by talented watchmakers.” 

So, contrary to the urban legend spun in those 1963 and 1978 articles, the company, according to the website’s origin story, had its roots in southern Europe, not northern Europe, and settled in New York City in 1928.  

In 1963, when the company had outgrown its New York headquarters, it decided to move to a different Croton, hugging the Hudson River, a sister city in name to the Calabria port city. 

The South Riverside Avenue building now is occupied by NewYork-Presbyterian Medical Group. Croton Watch Company was sold in 1991 to a New Jersey firm named Nationwide Time.  

Their wide variety of Croton models for men and for women run from $700 to well over $1,000.  

If your budget allows, maybe the time is right to consider buying one. That way, wherever you may roamyou’ll never leave Croton behind. 

Pete Drexler is a retired CPA who enjoys studying the history of Croton-on-Hudson. 


  1. Hi! I am the daughter of Harold Horton, who owned the Croton Time Corp for many years. A lot of information in this story is wrong. If you would like to talk I am available.

    1. to: Mary Jane Horton
      from: Pierre Dupuy

      I have read Mr. Drexler’s April 2021 article on the US side of Croton’s operations.

      I have been trying to document the overall history of the Croton Watch Company. I find some documentation on its inception in Italy in 1878 but have come across a lot of fragmented and sometimes conflicting information so has been a somewhat frustrating process.

      Would be interested in communicating with you to get your perspective from the US Croton Time Corporation point of view.

      The above posted article by Mr. Drexler is the first time I have ever come across this US aspect of Croton prior to them being bought out by Nationwide Time Co. in 1991 and moving their HQs to New Jersey where Nationwide Time is located.

      Up ’till 1991 all the data on Croton that I have found has them based in Italy/Europe, and closely working with the Swiss watch company Nivada Grenchen, with no mention of any US office prior to that 1991 .

      Thank you,
      Pierre Dupuy

      Rineyville, KY

    2. Hi. My grandmother’s (my Nana) brother owned the company. I met him only once as an elderly gentlemen in NYC. Her married name was Davis, maiden name was Horwich (spelling?) which her brother changed to Horton. Originally I believe the family came from Hungary. I met my male cousin only once back East but I’m in my 80th year and don’t recall his first name. I guess we are related

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recommended For You

About the Author: Pete Drexler