Once highly regarded, the American watchmaking industry fell in stature decades ago. Recently, however, there has been an uptick in American-produced watches that either utilize Swiss movements or construct their own in-house calibers.
By Logan R. Baker
1. Geoffrey Roth
The American Southwest isn’t exactly known as a hotbed of horology but since 1998 Geoffrey Roth has been churning out high-quality—and handmade—watch designs with the help of workhorse Swiss ETA movements. His first effort, the HH1, took him two years to complete. Now, the Geoffrey Roth Watch Engineering Collection offers five distinct models with case metals ranging from 18-karat gold to Damascus steel. Prices start at $5,700 and more information can be found here.
Since 2012, Niall has focused on bringing the American heartland a watchmaker to be proud of. The Kansas City–based watchmaker, founded by former aerospace designer Michael Wilson, produces American-made watches with Swiss movements inside. Highlights from the Niall collection include “Panda” dial GMTs and a timepiece inspired by the American military, the One.M. Prices start at $1,850 and more information can be found here.
3. Oak and Oscar
You may have noticed this brand popping up throughout your social media feeds, but Chicago-based Oak & Oscar offers something far more interesting than the other microbrand kickstarter watches that seem to have tripled in number the past few years. The two limited-edition timepieces, one time-only with date and one GMT, that have been produced so far have featured a limited Swiss Soprod movement with a fresh and memorable dial design. Combine that with a founder that has been involved with each step of the process, an endearing name (the brand is named after the founder’s fondness for oak-aged bourbon and for his dog, Oscar), and this is easily a watchmaker on the rise. More information can be found here.
Devon doesn’t shy away from ingenuity. The Grand Rapids–founded and California-based watchmaker creates avant-garde timepieces that echo an electro-mechanical aesthetic not often seen in the conservative Swiss watch industry. The brand uses small motors that power treadmills to slowly move the time across the dial. The brand made headlines across the web two years ago when they released a watch to coincide with the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens that is inspired by Darth Vader and an Imperial TIE Fighter. Prices start at $10,000 and more information can be found here.
RGM is perhaps the closest American analog for the Swiss watch industry. Founded in 1992 by Roland G. Murphy, the brand is based in what could only be described as the homeland for American watchmaking, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania—the former home of Hamilton Watch Company. Trained in Switzerland, Murphy has dedicated his career to the furtherment of horology in America. Hand-polished components exist side by side with modern technology to create completely in-house-made movements. This year, the brand celebrates its 25th anniversary, the 10th anniversary of its first in-house mechanical movement, and the fifth anniversary of the brand’s third in-house movement. Perhaps most noteworthy, the brand is well known for producing America’s first in-house tourbillon. More information can be found here.