Regular readers of this site are probably pretty familiar with the basics of watch geography. Switzerland, Japan, Germany, and France all factor heavily into the various stories of contemporary and classic watchmaking that unfold in these pages. And of course the United States is no slouch, but when you think of watchmaking in the USA, I’m betting you don’t think of Bozeman, Montana. Bozeman is the home of The Last Wind-Up, a well regarded watch retail and repair shop in Big Sky Country. And no, Bozeman isn’t the next cultural center of the watch community, but it’s on our radar because the proprietor has done something a bit unusual in 2021, but is a real throwback to a much earlier period in American horological history. He’s made his own branded timepiece (the new venture is called DB Watches), for sale directly through his store. It’s incredibly charming, and a reminder of the days when it was more common than not to have a local watchmaker in your own town or city.
The watch business, it will surprise no one, has changed a lot over the course of the last century. There was a time when a watchmaker was a necessary part of the fabric of any community. Before the internet, quartz watches, and even standardization of time across the entire country, everyday people relied on watches (often of the pocket variety, if we go back far enough) and public clocks to know the precise time. The “neighborhood watchmaker” wasn’t an anachronistic or unusual thing, but like cobblers, tailors, and other tradespeople, they’ve become increasingly rare as we’ve fully entered a period where products and services are available on demand, to anyone, at any time.
The Last-Wind Up is an old fashioned watch service and retail store. A quick look at their website reveals that they’re an authorized dealer for Oris, Timex, and a number of other brands that will be familiar to most Worn & Wound readers, and they sell vintage watches as well. The heart of the operation, though, appears to be the watchmaking services offered by owner Dave Berghold. He’s a watchmaker with over 30 years behind the bench, who fabricates his own parts for vintage watch repair, and can fix up modern watches from any big brand, too.
We cover a lot of microbrands here, and in some ways this endeavor is very similar to any other new brand just getting off the ground. Still, there’s something about The Last Wind-Up and Berghold’s first watch, the Model I, that feels a little bit different. This is a modest and sincere effort, and feels like Berghold putting decades of watch knowledge and experience to use as a labor of love. The Model I draws on design traditions from the peak of American watchmaking, and Berghold has selected the components that make up the watch from the best options available to him. The case is German, the movement Swiss, and the strap is made from bison leather, a touch which feels appropriate given where the watch comes from. Even though this is a watch that has been assembled from component parts, the fact that it’s essentially the creative vision of a working watchmaker lends it a level of authenticity that some fly-by-night Kickstarter brands lack. Indeed, the Model I has taken time to take shape, largely due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Berghold has spent two and a half years working on this project, including a slew of delays over the course of the last 16 months.
The finished product, though, is impressive. The case measures 38mm in diameter, which is a wearable size for almost anyone, and the hand wound Swiss movement is on display through the mineral crystal at the rear (a sapphire crystal covers the dial). The hands are made in France and have a cathedral shape, and are filled with lume. They’re a good match for an old school dial that feels very much inspired by American pocket watches, with a railroad minute track and big Breguet style numerals. The most personal touch on the dial, and the entire watch, is likely the “Bozeman, MT” signature near 6:00. That’s an uncommon sight on a watch dial, and will surely have significance to The Last Wind-Up’s local customers.
Berghold’s initial component order to assemble the Model I allowed for a run of 50 watches, but they’ve been popular to this point, and he has more on the way to meet demand. He also told us that a new dial variant is forthcoming, and should be ready to ship in August. This one, he says, is in a more Art Deco style, with a silver matte finish and polished chapter ring on the inside of the hour markers.
The Model I is available now right here (although stock is limited) for $1,950, and of course if you’re in or near Bozeman, the watch can be seen at The Last Wind-Up’s retail location.
Update: We’ve received some additional images of the silver dial mentioned above, and it is indeed a more pronounced Art Deco inspired design, and quite striking in our opinion. Be sure to check out photos of this latest variant of the Model I in the image gallery below, and contact The Last Wind Up for information on ordering.