Vortic Teams up with the Veterans Watchmaker Initiative to Create the Military Edition

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Vortic has announced an exciting and truly worthwhile new partnership, and, naturally, a new series of watches to go along with it. The partnership is with the Veterans Watchmaker Initiative, a nonprofit organization that watch lovers should absolutely familiarize themselves with. The watches that make up the new Military Edition collection are made from pocket watches that were commissioned by the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. Let’s dig into this interesting new project.

Vortic Military Edition 

  • Case Material: Titanium 
  • Dial: Black 
  • Dimensions: 49 x 58mm
  • Crystal: White’s Crystals custom domed glass, made in San Francisco
  • Water Resistance: 5 ATM 
  • Crown: Push/pull  
  • Movement: Hamilton 4992B
  • Strap/bracelet: Leather, canvas  
  • Price: $4995
  • Reference Number: n/a
  • Expected Release: November 11

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As many readers no doubt understand all too well, there are currently more vintage watches that need to be serviced than watchmakers available to service them. The current boom in watches among those of us who consider ourselves enthusiasts came after a long down period for the industry, when there weren’t a lot of people choosing watchmaking as a profession. If you’ve sent a watch out for service and had to wait months for its return, you’ve felt the crunch many have that is a result of an aging and diminishing count of master watchmakers. Even the fact that you likely had to put your watch in the mail is evidence of this: the days of the “local watchmaker” in every small and medium-sized city has gone the way of the cobbler, and the blacksmith. 

This is where the Veterans Watchmaker Initiative comes in. The VWI is the only technical school in the country dedicated exclusively to disabled veterans. Their mission is simple: teach war veterans the traditional art of watchmaking. The hope here is that the watchmaking skills gap can begin to be closed through the training of new watchmakers, while also providing veterans with meaningful work. The watchmaking industry has history taking on challenges like this; the VWI is modeled after a similar school run by Bulova in the years following World War II. Bulova’s school was a major success for a time, but ultimately closed once quartz timekeeping became ubiquitous, and demand for traditional watchmaking skills started to drop. 

Watches in the Military Edition collection are restored, in part, by watchmakers from the VWI. To further enhance the military themes here, all watches in the collection are sourced from true military issued timepieces, namely the AN5740-1 pocket watch (also known as the “Master Navigational Watch”), built to the specs of the Army Air Corp during World War II by Elgin, Waltham, and Hamilton. 

Dials, as seen here, were standardized to meet military needs, and featured a 24-hour scale with simple white markers against a black background. The handsets are notable for the length of all three hands, as well as their high-contrast white color. These watches were meant to be almost rudimentary in nature, as the pilots who used them did so in literal life and death situations. Railroad grade movements were incorporated for reliability, with a design meant to keep nothing in between the pilot and the telling of the time. 

Vortic has cased these historic movements and dials in blacked-out, DLC-coated titanium, and they look great. All Vortic timepieces have an interesting dichotomy happening between the very old and the very modern – the inner components of the watch, of course, are antiques, but Vortic uses modern American manufacturing techniques to make them wrist-suitable, and they can be surprisingly adventurous in design, creating watches that have not only a ton of wrist presence but also some flair. 

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With the Military Edition watches, the sizing comes in at 49mm in diameter. Now, that’s a large watch, and some wrists will not handle it, but Vortic has taken steps to make the Military Edition case as wearable as possible. The watch’s lugs are short, and sloped to contour the wrist gently. Also, the titanium used in the case is extremely lightweight, allowing the watch to wear easier throughout the day. Finally, the 12:00 crown that is common to Vortic watches helps keep the whole thing balanced. Imagine a traditional 3:00 crown on a watch that’s perhaps 20% larger than whatever you’re currently wearing, and you can see the benefit of having that particular component facing another direction. 

The first edition of the Military Edition timepieces is limited to just 50 watches, sold at $4995 each. Sourcing the antique components for these watches has taken Vortic several years, and to standardize this initial run, each watch among the first 50 makes use of the Hamilton 4992B movement. Vortic is officially launching the collection on November 11, Veteran’s Day, which seems entirely appropriate.

Because of the nature of what Vortic does in the watch industry through the repurposing of long-unused pocket watches, they have a unique window into American history that other modern watchmaking brands don’t. Our military history, and the role watches play in that history, is an undeniable offshoot of that, so it makes a lot of sense for Vortic to partner with the VWI. The watches that come out of this project will undeniably be of interest to Vortic’s core audience, and will hopefully reflect a long term partnership that can do real good not only in the watch community, but the larger veteran community as well.
Vortic Watch Co.
Fox News Clip on the Military Edition

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Zach is a native of New Hampshire, and he has been interested in watches since the age of 13, when he walked into Macy’s and bought a gaudy, quartz, two-tone Citizen chronograph with his hard earned Bar Mitzvah money. It was lost in a move years ago, but he continues to hunt for a similar piece on eBay. Zach loves a wide variety of watches, but leans toward classic designs and proportions that have stood the test of time. He is currently obsessed with Grand Seiko.
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