When it came to be the best in the field of watches, the Swiss always brought their A-game and won it. However, in recent years, they have been slumping behind, and other countries have been trying to take their place. Asia is the biggest market for Swiss watches has incurred fewer sales since the 2016-17.
Since the birth and rise of smartwatches have taken place, mechanical and quartz watch brands alike are facing a hell of a lot of change in the market. The United States of America is the most predictable and quite market of watch lovers, and buyers is changing with time too. Americans now prefer to wear homegrown brands.
American watchmaking has so far remained dormant since the 1940s when prominent watchmakers were forced to turn their factories to wartime production. The Swiss who were neutral during the Second World War capitalized, and American watch brands never recovered from this. American buyers got perfectly comfy with their Rolexes and their Seikos.
In 2011, Shinola woke some of those buyers up with watches that used Swiss quartz movements but were put together in a Detroit factory. A small army of brands then followed suit. The most significant trend, though, has been great for consumers. The result for buyers at the tail end of 2018 is more exceptional watches at every price range. Coming into 2019, these are a few great American brands and watches to keep an eye on.
Sensing from the name, Autodromo watches indeed possess an evident influence from cars, particularly those in the so-called “golden age of motoring”. Most of their pieces are designed in-house with vintage cues and minimalist themes being evident throughout their diverse model line. Their watches have become so much in sync with cars, that Ford commissioned them to design a wristwatch to sell along with their Ford GT Supercar.
Their titanium and steel cases come with sharp angles and muted tone dials with bright indices and hands. A bold combo that achieves an exceptional look.
Their Mantra has been “Tradition Refreshed”, and they have delivered on it by delivering out pieces that incorporate the modern aesthetic into the age-old watchmaking tradition. The high point of this brand is that they provide this at a reasonable price. When Martenero had just begun their journey, they had come up with a Build-Your-Own experience on their site for their first Ace and Founder models. A consumer opting for this could select their dials, hands and strap combinations of their liking.
3. Shinola Watches
Shinola is one of those few companies that not only sell watches but also a range of jewellery, bags and bicycles. In an abandoned building in rock-bottom, Detroit is where a Tom Kartsotis saw an opportunity of creating a watchmaking facility which is now a state-of-the-art place in the US.
Their watches are no 100% made in the US; the number of American watch brands that can claim this can probably be counted on one hand. But it does show high commitment to quality, and hence Shinola will continue releasing robust and trendy timepieces for decades to come.
4. Brew Watch Company
Even though they got their start on Kickstarter, Brew watches have now become established in the micro-brand community of watches made in the USA. The company’s founder and designer Jonathan Ferrer touts his inspiration from industrial espresso machines. One look at their watches and you’ll know why.
The fanatics will notice individual graduations for the first 35 seconds of Chrono runtime- ensuring precise timekeeping for ideal extraction of an espresso shot.
5. Oak and Oscar
Oak and Oscar is a Chicago based company that was found when Chase Fancher found himself in a bit of a rut in his life. Unsatisfied with his current employment, Fancher set out to pursue his passion for watches and product design. He admitted once that he never intended to produce “Made in America” timepieces accurately.
Oak and Oscar’s first two models, the Burnham and Sandford, sold out. The Jackson Chronograph, which is their current product, is also widely successful.
6. Hamilton Watch Co.
Even though the original US-based manufacturer went out of business in the late 1960s, the Hamilton brand was rebirthed in Switzerland at the beginning of the 21st century. While the contemporary collection of timepieces now boast the Swiss Made pedigree, their heritage of American watches still reigns as the inspiration for their designs.
Today Hamilton still enjoys its status by appearing on the hands of lead actors playing characters in the ‘Interstellar’ and the ‘Martian’. They have also expanded into extreme sports by becoming the Official Timekeeper of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.
7. Weiss Watch Company
The Weiss Watch Company was found in 2013 in Los Angeles by Cameron Weiss. It is again one of the companies that have encountered the lack of US-based suppliers for many of the specific components that go into making the watch parts. Luckily, tides have recently started to shift, and home-grown is becoming more desirable. This newly created niche opens a void to be filled and paves the way for future newcomers to build entire US-made watch companies on.
8. Devon Watches
Devon watches one of the few companies that are entirely homegrown in the United States. It began in Pasadena, CA and has managed to penetrate the often-snobbish watch industry of the country. Their electro-mechanical pieces are like no watch that has ever been seen before. Their founder Scott Devon aimed at achieving this.
Devon has recently introduced a Star Wars version of their Tread 1 line. This insane combination of new-age horology with fantasy is certainly something to behold, but not easily wear, with its 61mm case diameter.
9. Vortic Watch Co.
Of all the watches mentioned in this article, this is probably the closest that you will find to be “Made in the USA”. The US makers restore these watches, and they maintain the original dial, hands and their movements. The cases are of titanium that is 3D printed from New Jersey and later assembled in their CO headquarters. The additional components are brought in from all over the US.
10. RGM Watch Company
RGM is short for Roland G. Murphy, who is an American watchmaker. Trained in Switzerland, he founded RGM in 1992 with a full breadth of watchmaking and watch restoration experience. They are also recognized as the first American watch company to design and manufacture their movements since Hamilton Watch Co. closed its doors in 1969.