Westclox suspended the production of consumer clocks and watches on July 31, 1942 to make material for World War Two. An alarm clock shortage developed, so early in 1943, the War Production Board (WPB) authorized Westclox to make a conservation model alarm clock. The WPB specified using 7 pounds of brass for every 1000 clocks instead of the normal 300 pounds. Westclox (or the WPB) named this clock “Waralarm”.
For more about the alarm clock shortage, see The Clock that Caused a Near-Riot published by the Westclox Museum.
The first model Waralarm has a case of molded wood fiber (similar to cardboard but with a rougher texture), lacquered black. (Even though the W.P.B. specified a reduction in brass, the fiber case saved a lot of steel).
The Waralarm has a Westclox model 66 movement (the 66 was used for lower priced alarm clocks such as Bingo, Keno, General and Spur). The first Waralarm clocks have a bell alarm (as do other clocks with the model 66 movement), but most fiber cased examples have the cost-reduced buzzer alarm described in Patent 2360589.
The first fiber cased Waralarm clocks (ca. April 1943 to July 1943) have the following “early” features:
- Bell alarm. The hole in the back panel for the tab of the buzzer alarm is empty.
- $1.65 maximum price on a paper label on the back;
- Front movement plate is brass, back plate is steel;
- No date stamp on the movement;
- Minute hand has a brass hub;
- Dial doesn’t have a lip around the edge to help secure the glass.
The standard features of most fiber case Waralarm clocks are:
- Buzzer alarm. Tab of buzzer alarm is visible in the hole in the back;
- $1.65 maximum price imprinted into the back;
- Steel movement plates, gears are steel except for brass escape wheel, balance wheel and shuck pinion;
- Movement has a date stamp;
- One-piece steel minute hand (no hub);
- Lip around dial plate to help secure glass lens;
Variations I’ve observed:
- A few have steel clicksprings; these must have proved unreliable, as brass clicksprings are usually seen;
- A few have been observed with a steel balance wheel, but most have a brass balance wheel.
I’ve seen three different sets of markings on the backs of fiber case Waralarm clocks:
- $1.65 price sticker on the back (ca. April 1943 to ca. July 1943);
- $1.65 price stamped into the back, does NOT say PAT. PDG. (ca. August 1943 to November 1943);
- $1.65 price stamped into the back, says PAT. PDG. and MADE IN U.S.A. (ca. December 1943 to the end of production).
Type 1 has curved arrows above the winding keys, types 2 and 3 have straight arrows.
The oldest date I’ve seen on a fiber cased Waralarm is September 1943, and the newest is March 1943.
The fiber cased Waralarm was made for about a year (ca. April 1943 to ca. April 1944), then replaced by the Metal Case Waralarm.
April 1943 Westclox Tick Talk magazine
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