Henry B. Fried, Dean of U.S Watchmakers, dies at 89


Few people qualify as living definitions of that word. But Henry B. Fried, horologist extraordinaire, dean of America’s watchmakers and JCK horology editor for half a century, was one who did. Henry ­ “Call me Henry, never Mr. Fried,” he always said ­ died in his sleep March 10.

An avid student of horology, which he called “the most marvelous science in the world,” Fried’s knowledge spanned from 17th century lantern clocks to the latest quartz watches. Everyone from small-town jewelers to government officials, dictionary writers to Disneyworld officials sought him out for advice on timepieces. And he enjoyed sharing his knowledge. He was an author, lecturer and teacher whose students reached from New York City to Nagoya to Nairobi.

The son and grandson of Polish watchmakers, Henry Beryl Fried was fascinated even as a tot with “taking apart watches and clocks.” When his father died in a post-World War I typhus epidemic and 13-year-old Henry left school to work, it was only natural that his first job was with his brothers at a firm on Maiden Lane, then Manhattan’s watchmaking center.

He quickly earned a reputation (as he wryly recalled years later) as “a hotshot young man who did all the work that others couldn’t.” He drove himself to learn all technical parts of the watch industry. What he didn’t learn from skilled Italian, German and Swiss coworkers, he taught himself, even buying a French/English dictionary to translate a French book on watchmaking. Not surprisingly, he was named head watchmaker of K.K. Importing Inc. when he was only 19.

Sportsman, educator: While creating a career during the day, Henry was setting records after work as a state champion racing bicyclist. When his bike was stolen, he turned to cross-country running and became a winner in that sport also.

His 34-year teaching career began in 1938 when he beat 200 contestants to become the New York City Board of Education’s first licensed teacher of watch- and clockmaking. He ran the horology department of the George Westinghouse Vocational and Technical High School for decades. He was so committed to education that just after World War II, he started the day teaching high school students at 6 a.m., spent the afternoon teaching veterans and taught at a private horological school at night. And he still found time to launch a veterans rehabilitation program in watch and clock mechanics.

In 1942, he began to write regularly for Jewelers’ Circular-Keystone. It was the start of a five-decade association ­ interrupted only briefly in the early 1950s ­ and yet another career, as a prolific writer, editor and technical consultant. He wrote 14 books (including many industry standards), hundreds of articles for domestic and foreign trade and consumer magazines, and many booklets and pamphlets. He also prepared slides and tapes on watchmaking. It’s believed he wrote more about horology than any other American past or present

Henry also drew almost all of his own technical illustrations; was a consultant-contributor to the Random House Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Dictionary and JCK Jewelers Dictionary; appeared on TV and radio; and was a horological consultant to many industry and government organizations.

He was “a collector of all forms of horologia,” as he once put it. He rarely wore the same wrist watch twice, and his apartment was jammed with all sorts of watches and clocks, including water clocks, wooden cylinder clocks, even one with a tiny canon that ‘boomed’ when sunlight hit a magnifying mirror. “The soft ticking of all those timepieces was very comforting,” said one recent visitor. His private library on horology was one of the finest and most comprehensive anywhere; given to the AWI library, it now is called the Henry B. Fried Library.

Henry’s interest extended beyond the world of horology. He adored opera, always buying season tickets, and was devoted to his family. He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Tina, as well as a daughter, four grandchildren and five great grandchildren. A son is deceased.

Memberships, honors: Henry helped to launch the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors and served as president of the New York City Horological Society, the American Watchmakers Institute and the New York State Watchmakers Association; vice president of the Horological Institute of America; and technical director of the American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute. He also was an honorary member of many state and several foreign watchmaker associations.

Among his professional honors, Henry was the first American to receive the Silver Star of the British Horological Institute and was the first recipient of the NAWCC’s highest honor, the Henry B. Fried Award. He also was named Man of the Year by the Watch Manufacturers & Distributors Association, received an Outstanding Achievement Award from the United Horological Association of America and was named a Fellow of the American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute. Just last year, the signature landmark at the new AWI headquarters in Harrison, Ohio, was named the Henry B. Fried clock tower.

At the family’s request, AWI has set up a scholarship fund in his memory. Contributions should be made to the “ELM Trust Henry B. Fried Memorial Scholarship Fund,” and sent to AWI, 701 Enterprise Drive, Harrison, OH 45030.


Some 200 guests raised more than $500,000 for UJA-Federation of New York at the organization’s annual Diamond, Jewelry and Watch Division dinner. The event at The Pierre honored Charles Bond and Jacques Roisen for years of dedicated service to the industry and to charitable groups.

Bond, publisher of JCK for the past 22 years, also heads Chilton’s Jewelry Group. Roisen is a partner in the firm of Michal, Ferman, Roisen and Ferman, a De Beers sightholder.

Guest speaker was Ambassador Colette Avital, Consul General of Israel in New York. Benjamin Siebenberg, president of AM-Gold Products, and Matthew Fortgang, president and CEO of M. Fabrikant & Sons, are division chairman and co-chairman respectively. Babette Goodman Cohen, co-chairwoman of the board and president of I.B. Goodman Mfg., was dinner chairwoman.


Charles J. Winston was named vice president of operations in the U.S. for D.G. Jewellery of Canada. Winston oversees merchandising and marketing of the company’s diamond jewelry to volume users in the U.S.

Americanstone Diamond Inc. promoted Marguirette Pope to executive vice president and hired Bernie Kaye as vice president. Kaye was formerly with Cash America International Inc.

OASIS (Organization of Associated Salespeople of the Southwest Inc.) named Jan Holland-Malcolm exhibitor services assistant for the OASIS Gift Show. Previously, she owned her own freelance event company in Phoenix, Ariz.

Debra C. McDonough joined the World Gold Council as communications director. In this new position, McDonough is responsible for all trade and consumer communications. Most recently she was vice president/general manager of Erno Laszlo/Specialty Fragrance Group, a division of Elizabeth Arden Co.

Sid Phillips of Dundee, a Chicago-based advertising specialty and premium watch company, was named president of Chelsea Marketing & Sales in San Diego. He will relocate his offices to Chelsea’s headquarters and will oversee the company’s advertising specialty and premium watch division. Chelsea distributes MHR, Mondaine, Tam Time and Ventura timepieces.

Fred Reffsin was promoted to president of Heuer Time & Electronics in Springfield, N.J., TAG Heuer’s U.S. subsidiary. He was formerly executive vice president and general manager.

Ken Erikson joined American Gem Corp., Helena, Mont., as vice president of sales and marketing. The company mines, cuts and markets the American Sapphire from Montana.


Antonio C. Bonanno, a leader in the field of gemology for more than 50 years, died March 28 after a long illness. He was 79.

During World War II, Tony Bonanno created a special vocational training program to teach lapidary and gemology to disabled veterans. He founded one of the country’s first schools of gemology, the Columbia School of Gemology in Washington D.C., more than 40 years ago, as well as one of the first gem-testing laboratories, the National Gem Appraising Laboratory. He served as director of both until becoming ill.

Bonanno, who co-authored four books in the field of gemology, was co-editor of National Jeweler’s gemology column from 1986 to 1994. He founded the Accredited Gemologists Association in 1974 and was active in many local, national and international gem, mineral and lapidary organizations.


Jeweler Carl Harold Page, 83, of Scottsdale, Ariz, died Feb. 23.

Earle E. Rosenblum, founder of Earle Rosenblum Jewelry in Houston, Tex., died Feb. 28.

Raymond J. Karst, 87, longtime jeweler and watchmaker in St. Louis, Mo., died Feb. 15. Karst and his brother, Sylvester, founded Karst-Friton Jewelers in 1932. He opened his own store in 1950 and retired in 1982.

Marvin S. Kaatz, 80, of Paradise Valley, Ariz., a retired jeweler, died Feb. 15.

Burton Joseph Jr., 80, of Des Moines, Iowa, executive vice president of Joseph’s Jewelry stores, died in February. His grandfather opened the store in 1871.

Donald “Duck” Weber, 70, of Teutopolis, Ill., died Feb. 15. He and his brother, Henry, took over the family’s clothing and jewelry store in 1950. Sons Kurt and Kevin now run Weber’s Jewelry; son Todd operates jewelry stores in Robinson and Charleston, Ill.

Harold Warren Kull, 74, of Columbus, Ohio, retired from Kull and Sons Jewelers, died March 13.

Elizabeth Harris Dodds Taggart, 89, of Ringgold, Ga., who was in jewelry sales for 50 years, died March 1.

Percy S. Swartz, 89, of Scottsdale, Ariz., a retired jeweler, died March 8.

Theresa Power Normand, 56, of Baton Rouge, La., former owner of Klassic Kustom Jewelry store, died March 9.