This is a very interesting time for watch making in the United States, it seems. We have seen a few companies based in the US who are doing at least some part of the creation of the watches in the US (think RGM, Shinola, Hager, KM Independent as a few). Another name can be added to this list of American’s taking on watch making: Weiss Watch Company.
Mr. Weiss, the man behind the company, is a WOSTEP trained watch maker having attened the NG Hayek School of Watchmaking. After graduating he continued his training in Switzerland and went on to work for two major watch brands in Switzerland and the USA. As with many of us he has noticed an increase in the price of Swiss watches and an absence of watch making in America. The inspiration for the foundation of the company goes back to the roots of American watch making. As Mr. Weiss states:
I find it fascinating to think back to a time when watches were tools, when there were no iPhones or Androids to tell time, watches were utilitarian pieces of equipment and there were no quartz alternatives.
As he sees it (and it is an accurate representation) the quartz revolution provided a low end while Swiss watches continue to be the upper crust of the watch world; there is little middle ground.
There was no longer a middle ground for the American watch industry that was creating reliable, “tool” watches for a modest price.
That became the goal behind Weiss Watch Company: providing reliable American made watches at an affordable, middle-ground price. And there is more going on here than a simple assembly of parts; movement sourced here, case sourced there, etc. The movement for the first watch is Swiss: the venerable ETA 6497. The movement is assembled, tested and regulated in the Weiss Watch Company office in the US. The cases, on the other hand, are not sourced from Switzerland or China and do not come out of some mass market catalog: they are manufactured right here in the USA.
The cases are made from 316 Stainless Steel and for this first model patterned after WWII era timepieces “where less is more.” The dials share the same inspiration from that time and come protected with a sapphire crystal on the front and back of the watch. The straps for the watch are made in the USA as well using canvas fabric. They will come in black, sand, blue or red. There are additional components made in the USA as well, including o-rings, dials, minute and hour hand and the travel case. Quite an impressive list.
So, what will it take to get your hands on one of these made in the USA watches? The price point for the watches will be $795 for the watch, strap and travel pouch. A modest investment for a watch made, assembled and tested in Los Angeles. The release date is set for May 29th. If you are in the San Francisco area you can get a live look at one of the Weiss watches June 1st at a one-day pop-up market. The market runs from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm and is located at 111 Minna Gallery, 111 Minna St., San Francisco, CA 94105.
Hopefully this first model will prove to be successful and allow Weiss Watch Company continue to develop and make watches in the USA and continue the growing interest in returning watch making to the United States.
by James Enloe
images courtesy of Weiss Watch Company
*Weiss Watch Co is of no relation to w&w editor, Zach Weiss.