Just in time to celebrate America’s birthday, we’ve gathered timepieces from fourteen watch companies based in the United States. The number of such companies currently designing and distributing wristwatches has expanded dramatically in recent years as so many more Americans discover the satisfaction of collecting and owning well-made timepieces. While many of these firms source their components or entire pieces overseas, more than a few now assemble their watches domestically. A precious few watchmakers are wholeheartedly working to increase their in-house manufacturing abilities, and we are seeing a slight uptick in such activity.
With this relatively short list (there are scores of U.S.-based watchmaking companies) we hope we inspire you to make a patriotic gesture as you seek your next wristwatch.
Detroit-based Shinola is re-introducing its American Coin Dial Collection, a limited-edition run of 87 custom coin dial watches in three Shinola styles – the Runwell (top image), the Brakeman and the Birdy. Designed to commemorate important moments of United States history, the timepieces use coins as dials. Coins used here include the Mount Rushmore Commemorative Coin, Fort McHenry Commemorative Coin and the Perry’s Victory Commemorative Coin, among others. The Coin Dial Watches are $1,200 and available on https://www.Shinola.com.
RGM founder and namesake Roland Murphy was recently inspired after he saw an unusual pocket watch on display at the NAWCC Watch and Clock museum in Columbia, Pennsylvania. Made by the American Watch Company in 1859, the enamel-dialed watch gave tribute to American Chess Master Paul Morphy, who received the watch from the Testimonial Committee of the New York Chess Club. RGM this year remade that dial for a limited edition collection of wristwatches, called Chess in Enamel. Instead of the usual Roman numerals on the dial, various chess pieces represent the hours and are finely done in red and black. RGM chose to create an enamel dial with similar chess pieces indicating the hours. The 43.3mm steel-cased watch also marks the first time RGM has released a double-sunk Grand Feu enamel dial in one of its models. Inside it is RGM’s own American-made Caliber 801 manual-wind movement.
Price: $13,900 in steel. Platinum or gold cases by request. http://www.rgmwatches.com
Kobold’s new Soarway 44 (above) is this Pennsylvania-based adventure company’s slimmest ‘tool’ watch, and among Kobold's most affordable. The watch also features the recognizable Kobold Soarway case. Measuring 44mm in diameter, the stainless steel case is produced in-house at Kobold’s idyllic Merry Oaks Farm workshop, where the watch is finished and assembled. The uni-directional rotating bezel is available with a single, engraved luminous circle with luminous hour makers, or with a countdown or count-up minute scale. The watch is also available in two grades of finish: matte or a hand-applied with alternately brushed and polished surfaces. Inside is a Ronda quartz movement with GMT indication. Prices: $1,450 (existing Kobold customers) and $1,950 (new customers). http://koboldwatch.com/en
Geoffrey Roth Watch Engineering
A jeweler and self-taught watchmaker (who happens to also be a pilot, engineer and collector of vintage Alfa Romeo cars), Roth sources his own materials and builds the cases of his timepieces in his Scottsdale workshop. He powers them with ETA automatic movements. Many of his pieces are hand-engraved and most mix old-world horological expertise and American contemporary design. For this HHS/D diving watch design, Roth added sculpted lugs to a stainless steel or marine bronze round case. The watch’s 43-mm scalloped unidirectional (patent-pending) bezel is almost completely silent. The dial displays ceramic polymer inlay for minutes and hours and a 4-millimeter oval-inlay sapphire crystal at 12 o’clock, set over SuperLuminova. The diver is water resistance to 1,000 meters. Price: $8,500 (steel or bronze or any combination of the two) and $8,950 (with AlTiN coating). http://www.geoffreyrothwatchengineering.com
This Maryland-based maker of tough and affordable sporty watches now offers this stainless steel Aquamariner with a domed sapphire crystal, black dial, engraved steel unidirectional rotating bezel with a choice of black, midnight blue, or (our favorite) burgundy bezel insert. Inside the 300-meter water-resistant 41mm stainless steel case beats an automatic Miyota movement with a 42-hour power reserve. Other elements include slender, elongated beveled lugs with classic lines, and an anodized aluminum screw-down winding crown tube. The interchangeable bracelet and NATO strap also makes the watch highly versatile, and Hagar notes that the watch allows the wearer to adjust of the bracelet without using any tools. This allows it to be worn and comfortably over a diving suit. Price: $450 http://www.hagerwatches.com.
Towson Watch Company
For more than sixteen years watchmakers George Thomas and Hartwig Balke have been creating customized luxury watches from their facilities in Maryland. (Their small watch company recently attracted the interest of Under Armour founder Kevin Plank, who, through his financial company Sagamore Ventures purchased a 25 percent stake in Towson Watch Co.)
Among Towson’s newest models is this Bay Pilot, a 42mm steel-cased manual-winder with a handsome pilot style black dial. Inside is an ETA 6498 caliber powering a small second subdial and fully visible from the clear sapphire caseback. Price: $2,450. http://towsonwatchcompany.com
Founded by New York designer and Red Bar (NYC) regular Jonathan Ferrer, this design-focused maker of affordable dress watches recently launched its first automatic model, a 38mm cushion-cased model dubbed HP-1 (for high pressure brewing) with a robust Seiko NH35A automatic movement. The black PVD-cased version, pictured here, is fittingly dubbed ‘Darkbrew H1 Automatic.” Brew Watch also offers the HP-1 in rose gold-PVD or steel case and bracelet. Savor the flavor. Price: $595. https://www.brew-watches.com
Waldan’s new “S” version of the New York-based firm’s 3986 Chronograph takes the existing Waldan chronograph case shape and COSC-rated ETA 7750 movement to the next level to create a new look for the brand. Bold in black and red, the 42mm titanium case is enveloped in diamond-like carbon (DLC) to create an almost scratchproof sport look that breaks ground for the brand without losing Waldan’s core identity. The “S” reflects son-of-the-founder Andrew Waldan’s own touch of modern style while keeping all the best elements of the traditional Swiss-sourced, U.S.-based brand. Price: $12,500. (https://waldanwatches.com/shop/)
Detroit Watch Company
The Pontchartrain Blue timepiece at left honors the home city of the Detroit Watch Company, founded in 2013. The firm explains that the name is derived from Le Detroit, French for ‘the strait,’ which eventually came to identify Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit and the surrounding area. After 1751 the area became known simply as Fort Detroit.
The watch’s 39mm polished steel case is fitted with an automatic Sellita SW200 movement with date window. The handsome blue dial features Arabic numerals and a stylized D logo on the dial and one end of the seconds hand, while the crown displays a black and silver Detroit Fleur-de-Lys.
This Fort Collins-based company, founded in 2013, combines cutting-edge metal 3-D printing with antique, American-made pocket watch movements to create bespoke wristwatches. This Springfield 028 is the 28th one-of-a-kind piece in Vortic's Springfield collection within its American Artisan Series. The 46mm watch features a water-resistant, titanium 3-D printed case and a round, nickel crown. The restored 1923 Illinois Watch Company 405-grade movement inside is in excellent condition, and is visible through the Gorilla Glass crystal of the exhibition style, stainless steel caseback. The dial here offers blued steel hands atop a metal dial with Roman numerals. Vortic notes that the movement has nickel-plated bridges and main plate decorated with wide, straight Geneva stripes and circular graining. Price: $1,845. (https://vorticwatches.com)
This St. Louis-based watch company fills a red-white and blue color scheme perfectly with its Fieldhouse Blue watch, a 40mm GMT model that displays a second timezone at the six o’clock position. This second time zone, in 24-hour format, is fully adjustable through the crown's core functionality. All this ability is powered by an automatic Eterna Caliber 39 series movement (with generous 65-hour power reserve) that Niall makes its own by adding its own rotor decoration and by adjusting a few other assembly functions. Niall also utilizes U.S.-sourced Corning Gorilla glass for all its crystals; Niall’s quick-change straps offer endless customizable options. Price: $4,450. See https://www.niallluxury.com.
Los-Angeles-based Reactor watches has teamed up with famed marine life artist Robert Wyland to create a special limited edition watch that is the first from the brand to use an ionized multi-color effect on the case. It may not quite be the red, white and blue of this week’s holiday, but this watch certainly is colorful. The watch utilizes Reactor's trademarked Never Dark system, which combines tritium illumination with SuperLuminova. The beefy 48mm case is 17mm thick, so this is a substantial timepiece on the wrist. Powered by the Miyota 9015 three-hand, 24-jewel automatic movement, the watch is a thousand-meter diver with a 4.5mm thick sapphire crystal. The watch comes with a signed, original mini-abstract watercolor painting from Wyland's coral reef color series. Only 225 pieces are being built. Find out more at http://www.reactorwatch.com or http://www.wylandstore.com. Price: $2,500.
This family run, Ohio-based company builds watches for other well-known brands, but also offers a broad collection of quartz and automatic sporty watches. Per the company name, Lum-Tec specializes in its own hi-visibility luminescent treatments to numerals, hands and other dial markers. This Combat B24 Carbon is a 43mm model with a carbon composite case with a titanium core and caseback and 200 meters of water resistance. Inside is a Miyota automatic movement with hand winding and hack feature, topped with an extra-thick sapphire crystal. Price: $925. See https://www.lum-tec.com.
Myrick makes his own handcrafted watches, using his own caliber, at his atelier in Oregon. He attended the Lititz Watch Technicum and then gained his WOSTEP certification, AWCI certification and LWT Diploma. After he graduated, he worked at a Rolex USA service center, and today creates finely finished manual-wind watches called 1-in-30, a reference to the total number he will make of this design. With three-quarter plates and German silver dials, the watches recall the austere, frosted-finished styles seen at German watchmaking companies. He also repairs or restores high-end watches. See http://www.keatonmyrick.com.