Joseph Gann opened his small watch repair shop in the Jewelers Building in downtown
Boston in 1933, during the height of the Great Depression. His previous employer
could no longer afford his $48 per week salary, but wanted to keep him at a rate
of $15 per week. Joe thought he could do better on his own.
With his fine quality workmanship and his outward personality, he quickly built
a large following of jewelers in the Boston area who brought in their customers’
watches for him to repair. Joe had to work seven days a week to complete all the
jobs he had, and watches need constant winding to make sure they were running on
During World War II, watch production halted completely, and his reputation as a
master watchmaker grew as he would take parts from old watches and rebuild them.
Joseph Gann’s repair shop expanded into wholesale jewelry. With eight watchmakers
working for him, Joe took frequent buying trips to New York City and Philadelphia,
returning with suitcases and duffel bags packed full of jewelry. Joe employed a
staff of salesmen traveling around New England selling his merchandise.
Joseph Gann with his wife, Rae, and son, Herbert, in the store 1948