In the present-day, the luxury watchmakers that survived the crisis are experiencing an explosion in popularity. A common thread in their marketing campaigns is often heritage and centuries-old tradition, of which there is plenty when speaking of American watchmaking.
It is this fact, coupled with an ever-increasing demand for made-in-USA goods, that we believe presents fertile ground for the following American watch brands to thrive in.
best watch brands in usa
1. Vortic Watch Co.
Of all the American watch brands we bring you today, Vortic Watches are probably as close as you will get to a watch truly “made in the USA”.
They begin with vintage American-made pocketwatch movements. These are fully restored by US watchmakers while still maintaining the original dial, hands, and movement. The cases are titanium, 3D printed in New Jersey, and later assembled in their Fort Collins, CO headquarters. Additional components, such as the crown, strap, case inserts, and casebacks, are all also manufactured throughout the US.
Vortic like to highlight the fact that each of their watches are unique, a claim often seen in the watch space, yet I do believe it to be genuine. This claim gains even more credibility when you play around in their Watch Builder. With this web-based tool you can fully customize your watch, individually selecting the vintage movement (Elgin, Waltham, or Illinois), titanium case, crown metal, and strap. They also have pre-configured (and ready to ship) models in their online shop.
P.S. Paul Anthony actually owns one of these! Check out his picture-packed review of the Vortic American Artisan Series
Autodromo Vallelunga Chrono. Autodromo.com
As suggested by the name, Autodromo watches possess a clear influence from cars, particularly those in the so-called “golden age of motoring”.
All of their pieces are designed in-house, with vintage cues and minimalist themes being evident throughtout their diverse model line. Their watches have become so intertwined with the automative community that, in 2018, Ford commissioned them to design a wristwatch to sell along with their Ford GT Supercar.
Although admittedly a greater watch enthusiast than a gearhead, we have been keeping an eye on Autodromo for quite some time. Their Group B series, which draws aesthetic inspiration from the Group B rally cars of the mid 1980s, have always piqued our interest.
It’s not easy to accomplish the look of the integrated bracelet without looking like a Genta copycat, but Autodromo has managed it rather successfully.
Their titanium & steel cases possess sharp angles, a protruding sapphire crystal, and muted-tone dials with bright indices and hands. A bold combo indeed that achieves an exceptional look.SHOP FOR AUTODROMO ON AMAZON
3. Devon Watches
Devon Tread 1 On The Wrist. Devonworks.com
For those craving to stand out from the crowd while still supporting American watchmaking initiatives, look no further than Devon Watches.
The Pasadena, CA based company has managed to penetrate the often snobbish watch industry with a shot out of left field. Their electro-mechanical pieces are like no watch that has ever been seen before, and according to their founder Scott Devon, this was always the objective.
The Devon Tread line of watches, with its innovative Time Belt System, embodies ingenuity and is a clear deviation from traditional watchmaking. While battery-powered and rechargeable, their timepieces contain mechanical elements that cycle a series of belts to display the current time front and center, yet still in an analog fashion. As if their initial concept wasn’t daring enough, Devon has also previously introduced a Star Wars version of their Tread 1 line. This insane combination of new age horology with fantasy is certainly something to behold, but not easily wear, with its 61mm case diameter.
Edgemere Reserve Dial Options. Martenero.com
Based out of Brooklyn, NY, Martenero has been steadily garnering attention (and wrists) in the micro-brand space.
Their mantra, “Tradition Refreshed”, looks to incorporate the modern aesthetic into the age-old watchmaking tradition. Most importantly, they aim to do this at an accessible price point, an objective often discarded by fledgling watch companies.
With all of their current models sitting comfortably under the $700 mark, many of them even under $500, we would argue that they’ve been prosperous in their endeavour.
In the early days, Martenero offered a BYO (build-your-own) experience on their site for their introductory Ace and Founder models. The consumer had the option to select the dial, hands, and strap combinations to their liking.
With more recent models, while you can still pick from various dial options, the customization options have been pared back. And rightly so! It is my belief that while the wearer should have some say in how their timepiece looks, it is Martenero’s vision that establishes the identity of the brand. And by looking at their recent Edgemere Reserve models, this vision is truly sharp.SHOP FOR MARTENERO ON AMAZON
5. Shinola Watches
Like some of the other brands mentioned here, watches are not the only products that Shinola brings to the table. Along with his & her’s watch model lines, Shinola also offers bags, jewelry, and bicycles.
But to understand the essence of Shinola, one must glance past their virtual storefront and into their story. Looking back to 2012, within the walls of an abandoned building in rock-bottom Detroit, Tom Kartsotis saw opportunity. It would be in that building where the massive state-of-the-art Shinola watchmaking facility would be built.
Shinola Watchmaker Assembling A Timepiece In Their Detroit HQ. Image: Shinola.com
Sticking with the “Made In Detroit” motif, it only made sense to staff the facility with locals as well. To achieve this, Shinola partnered with Ronda AG to offer advanced training to their local teams in the art of movement and case assembly.
This does indeed entail that their watches are not 100% made in the USA; the number of American watch brands that can claim this can probably be counted on one hand. But it does exhibit a commitment to quality, and if it’s anything like their pledge to rebuilding a community, Shinola will continue releasing robust and trendy timepieces for decades to come.SHOP FOR SHINOLA ON AMAZON
6. Weiss Watch Company
Weiss Watch Co. Limited Edition Gauge Watch With Light Green Dial. Weisswatchcompany.com
The Weiss Watch Company, founded 2013 in Los Angeles by Cameron Weiss, is another one of the few American watch companies who have proclaimed “100% made in the USA” watches their mission.
While they are not there yet, it’s safe to say that they’re getting close. With each model release, they have been successful in increasing the amount of domestically-sourced products that go into each of their wristwatches.
The problem encountered by Weiss Watch Co. and other American watch brands with similar objectives, is the lack of US-based suppliers for many of the specific components that go into watches and watch movements.
The demand for these components had wittled to nothing over the last century, and the suppliers went with it. The few remaining players were left looking overseas for cheaper solutions.
Luckily, tides have recently started to shift, and home-grown is becoming more desirable. This newly created niche opens a void to be filled, and paves the way for future newcomers to build entire US-made watch companies on.
7. RGM Watch Company
The Breathtaking Pennsylvania Tourbillon Dial. RGMwatches.com
Roland G. Murphy is an American watchmaker through and through. Clasically trained in Switzerland, he founded RGM in 1992 with a wide breadth of watchmaking and watch restoration experience.
Since inception, Murphy has applied his skills and knowledge to re-plant the seeds of grassroots American watchmaking. The first US-made serial production tourbillon is attributed to RGM.
They are also recognized as the first American watch company to design and manufacture their own movemements since Hamilton Watch Co. closed its doors in 1969.
RGM maintains production models with a base price just north of $2000, while also offering a more bespoke experience for their higher-end pieces like the infamous Pennsylvania Tourbillon.
Produced completely in Lancaster, PA, this made-to-order tourbillon leaves little to be desired when compared to similar complications manufactured in Switzerland. It’s made with the same time-honored materials too, like German silver and black polished steel.
The highlight has to be their handmade tourbillon cage though – a feast for the eyes of watch nuts everywhere.
8. Brew Watch Company
Brew Watches Retrograph With Blue Dial. Brew-watches.com
The Brew Watch Company comes out of NYC with some inspiration that I (and probably most of the US) hold dear to their hearts – a bold cup of Joe.
Despite the fact that they got their start on Kickstarter, Brew watches have now become established in the micro-brand community of watches made in the USA. The company’s founder & designer, Jonathan Ferrer, touts inspiration from industrial espresso machines. One look at their chronographs and you’ll see it too.
The cases have a rounded square profile and are presented in steel. The dials are characterized by symmetrical chronograph subregisters, also with rounded square contours, and minimalist hour & minute indices.
The detail-oriented will also notice individual graduations for the first 35 seconds of chrono runtime – ensuring precise timekeeping for ideal extraction of an espresso shot.
9. Kobold Watches
Everest-Rock Dial On Kobold Everest LE. Koboldwatch.com
Kobold is another brand making strides towards the rebirth of watchmaking in the United States.
Its founder, Michael Kobold, learned the craft from master watchmakers in Germany. Yet Kobold’s objective was always geared towards the resurrection of American watchmaking, and the brand’s evolution clearly highlights this intent.
In 2004, they authenticated their mission with significant R&D investments. Only 2 years later, they would release their first model to be assembled in Pittsburgh, PA with European components. Fast forward 8 years, and Merry Oaks farm is inaugurated as the first watch case manufacturing facility in the US for over 50 years.
Michael Kobold’s own summit of Mt.Everest, along with a series of cameos in feature films, helped garner even more attention for Kobold watches. The Kobold Phantom featured in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, and 2012 saw the release of a model possessing a dial made of rock from Everest’s summit. The spirit of exploration has now become synonymous with the brand, as have their line of rugged and eye-catching sports watches.
10. Oak & Oscar
Oak & Oscar Jackson Chrono Blue Dial Variant. OakandOscar.com
The Chicago-based Oak & Oscar watches came to be when founder Chase Fancher found himself in a bit of a rut in his life. Unsatisfied with his current employment, Fancher set out to pursue his passion for watches and product design.
While he admits that his goal is not specifically to produce “Made In America” timepieces, Fancher rectifies his objective to manufacture high-quality, desirable watches with American heritage. Well, the proof is in the pudding.
Oak & Oscar’s first two models, the Burnham and the Sandford, both sold out. The Jackson Chronograph, one of their current offerings, has also been wildly successful.
It boasts a dark grey or blue dial with contrasting subdials and splashes of signal orange throughout. The steel case, housing a robust Swiss-made Eterna movement, extends the muted color theme.
A high-quality Chicago Horween leather strap puts the final touch on this chrono, ensuring that age and wear will only make this timepiece more sightly.