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.