The Resurgence of Watchmaking in the U.S.
A little more than a century ago, America was the center of the watchmaking industry. Even the Swiss, who are the world leaders now, came to these shores to study how the Americans were making watches. Companies like Hamilton, Elgin, Springfield (later Illinois Watch Company) and more revolutionized how watches
Fast forward many decades, and now the Swiss (with the occasional German or Japanese brand in the mix) dominate the high-end timepiece market. There has, however, lately been a resurgence of American companies trying to do as much as they can here in America.
Here are a few of the brands you should know:
Roland Murphy, the founder of RGM, which
Price: Stainless $21,400; 18K Rose Gold $34,200.
Montana Watch Company
Based in Livingston, Mont., this watch company mixes Western designs with traditional watchmaking, to great effect.
Established in Detroit, Shinola brought industrial watchmaking on a large scale to the Motor City. Finally, Shinola has introduced automatic movements into several ranges, including the new Runwell Automatic.
Price: $1,095 to $1,295
Founded in Austin, Texas, by Austin Ivey to honor his aviator grandfather, TOCKR specializes in pilot’s watches. Featured here is the bronze D-Day watch, dedicated to 98-year-old veteran Alfred Pepper, using salvaged metal from the famous “That’s All… Brother” C-47 plane for the dial. A portion of the proceeds go to refurbishing this piece of military aviation history.
Vortic Watch Company
Specializing in refurbishing antique pocket watch movements and putting them in modern cases,
Price: $2,995 to $4,995
Weiss Watch Company
Cameron Weiss is a classically trained watchmaker in the Swiss system who
Price: $2,500, limited to 50 pieces.
Q&A: Jacob Arabo, Founder and Chairman of Jacob & Co.
Jacob Arabo, who immigrated to the U.S. from Uzbekistan with his parents when he was 14, is the embodiment of the American Dream. Arabo interned with a watchmaker when he was 16, and he always had the dream of making his own watches one day, but jewelry is where he made his name.
Worth met with Arabo in his New York headquarters for this exclusive interview to discover his rags to diamonds story.
Q: What was your experience when you first tried to work with the Swiss?
A: They brushed me off. It was very difficult to build a relationship with any of them as they were not interested and the prices were exorbitantly expensive, almost as a punishment for being American.
So, you created your watch another way?
Why did you
I still wanted to do something in the high watchmaking world, and Switzerland was and still is the place to do it. So, I went back and there were
And how is it going now?
Now that I have established a reputation for doing
How important is it that Jacob & Co. is an American/Swiss company?
I think being an American company
What do you think Americans can bring to the watch industry?
To Americans, anything is possible. This is something
What do you think Jacob & Co. does that is uniquely American?
I have a willingness to push the limits, to do things no one has ever done. And this is the American spirit. We do many bold things, but thanks to the Swiss side of the company, all of our timepieces are all based on traditional watchmaking principles and techniques. It’s a great marriage that works really well.