When Did This Custom Die Out?(Watch For Retirement)

As a collector of old watches, I frequently see watches on ebay, which were given as a retirement gift. Usually, the back of the watch case will be engraved with something like: “Presented to Joe Blow, for 50 years faithful service to Lipshitz Co., June 12, 1939”
I have been to quite a few retirement parties, and never saw a wristwatch presented to the guy. When did this custom die out?

How many people work for a company for so long?

I’ve worked for a variety of companies that gave little awards for different anniversary dates, like a big glass paperweight at 10 years and so on, but I’d guess there aren’t enough 50 year retirees to bother with a special program.

I got a (very cheap) wristwatch for my 25th year anniversary. I took it back in to the boss on the day after and showed him that it had already broken. He stopped the anniversary awards program immediately…he wanted to appear to be magnanimous on the cheap, which is very hard to do.

The company I work for used to give an engraved clock to everyone on their 5th anniversary, and a certain amount of cash (or a gift certificate, I’m not sure) for each five years after that. Nowadays, they give you a flier with gifts you can choose from on each milestone anniversary. I don’t think there are any special gifts when you retire, but they will buy a cake and have a reception for you in the lunchroom if you wish.

We had a lady this year who just hit her 40th anniversary. She started right out of high school, so it’s possible she could hit 50 if she chooses. Even 40 years seems pretty rare, though. She chose a ring for her gift, but, since it’s not engraved or anything, you’d never know it was a gift for years of service at work.

When my dad retired from RCA in the 80s, they gave him an option to get a watch or a nice clock. He took the clock. The custom seems to be in decline, mostly because people don’t retire in the traditional sense like they used to. My dad was born in the 20s. He joined the marines, went to college, got a job at RCA, hated it every day, stopped doing it in the 80s and got a clock. Most people don’t do that anymore.