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The History of Louis Levin & Son, Inc.

Louis Levin was born in Russia in 1886. As a young man in Russia, he had been apprenticed to a watchmaker to learn the trade, which, at that time, included learning how to repair watches and clocks and how to do fine engraving. By the time he was 18 years old, he concluded that he had learned as much as he could from his teacher and decided to emigrate to the United States. Arriving in New York, he was fortunate to quickly obtain employment at some of the fine jewelry shops where highly skilled watchmakers were on the staff. By 1906 he was employed by G. W. Fairchild & Sons in Bridgeport, Connecticut as a horologist. He also did some engraving at that time; but after seeing the class of engraving being done at A. Wittnauer & Company in New York, he gave up all thought of becoming a first rate engraver. Later, after seeing a help wanted advertisement by Cowell & Hubbard Company of Cleveland, Ohio he responded to the ad and enclosed a sample balance staff to indicate how highly skilled he was. The foreman of their watch repair shop replied by letter, telling him: "I am frank to state that your sample is better than average but it is inferior to what we produce in our own shop. " However, the repair shop was in need of additional watchmakers and the foreman offered him a position, one which he accepted even though it meant a cut in his salary. There, under the guidance of Mr. George E. Lee, the foreman of the watch shop, he improved his horological education and skills by being able to associate with two outstanding technicians at the Webb C. Ball, Company, Mr. A. F. Abel and Mr. L. N. Cobb. In the ten years Louis spent working in Cleveland, he took full advantage of the wonderful opportunity to learn from his association with some of the finest technicians in the country. In so doing, he constantly improved his horological skills, and was on his way to becoming an exceptionally skilled horologist and mechanic. His son, Samuel was born in New York City in 1907 and his daughter Ann was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1910. Both children would later hold important positions within Louis Levin & Son, Inc.

In 1920, Louis moved his family to Los Angeles where he opened his own watch repair business at 747 South Hill Street. It was here, in Los Angeles, that Sam received his early horological training while still a student at Hollywood High School. Already an expert draftsman before starting his horological education, Sam went into his new studies with enthusiasm for both the theoretical and practical aspects of watch repairing. His drafting skills and his ability to visualize complex mechanisms were to become major assets for the fledgling firm. By 1923, Louis Levin had become a well known and well respected horologist in Los Angeles and his reputation was spreading. In 1923, he organized a mass certification examination for watchmakers by the Horological Institute of America. This was one of the largest groups to have ever taken the Horological Institute of America test and Louis was one of those taking the test. The following year, Samuel graduated from Hollywood High School in Los Angeles. He then completed his Watchmaker Apprenticeship training under the critical and exacting supervision of his father. Though he continued to successfully follow watchmaking for a few years, his real interests and talent were in the areas of mechanical design, the manufacture of timing mechanisms, and the making of duplicate parts for watches and intricate precision tools.

In cooperation with Harold Gatty, the navigator on the famous Wiley Post - Harold Gatty round-the-world flight of 1931, Samuel Levin designed the Ground Speed Indicator (GSI) used by these aviators. The Levins also manufactured that device as well as preparing the special navigational watches used by Gatty. Subsequently, a number of these GSI's were constructed and used by the U.S. Army and Navy while others were sent abroad. The one used on the 1931 flight was presented to the Smithsonian Institution. By 1932, Samuel had become a partner in the business. From the beginning, these two men demanded of themselves the nearest thing to perfection in all of their work. Their knowledge, expertise and mechanical skills were widely recognized and they contributed greatly to the national effort to establish and raise the standards for the profession of Horologist throughout the United States. In 1934, Louis and Samuel became active in the newly formed Horological Association of California, with Samuel Levin becoming the Secretary of the Los Angeles Guild. In an article published in the April, 1940 issue of Horology magazine, Samuel Levin, editor of the magazine, recounts the history of Horology magazine as follows:

"Early in 1934 a few well known California horologists met in Fresno, California and decided to form the Horological Association of California. They incorporated the organization, drew up by-laws and started several guilds in the principal cities of the state. It was recognized from the start that the new organization, as well as other similar organizations, needed a technical journal to supplement its activities.

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© Louis Levin & Son, Inc., 1917 .All rights reserved
13550 Larwin Circle
Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670 U.S.A.
Tel: (562) 802-8066 - Fax: (562) 802-3778

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