America was formerly the bastion of real style. The hats, suits, shoes, and accessories that were worn on a daily basis by the wealthiest country on the planet previously set the tone for the entire fashion world. Once globalization struck, all that changed and more manufacturers moved their processes overseas to save money on labor. Today, people in Milan see the hottest western styles long before they reach American shelves; and even locating a watchmaker that works domestically can be a challenge. Finding one that’s good is next to impossible.
Though most of the big names in style and function have taken their watchmaking across one pond or another, there’s some smaller operations located in the United States who do all of their work in the home of the Whopper. True, the movement is typically constructed elsewhere, but otherwise these artisans are looking to bring back the glory days of America; when having something made here was a seal of quality. Forsaking those who have forsaken us, we wanted timepieces that had that New America smell, and so we located the 15 best American-made watches from brands whose colors don’t run.
Smith & Bradley Springfield Field Watch
Daily Heroics: Watches are a dying art. As such they come with the price tag of any rare craft. The weighty expense of a real American watch is undercut here, as Springfield seeks to offer up a basic EDC timepiece that’s meant to cost a little, but give you years of service while put through the wringer. Superluminova markers, a domed sapphire crystal, and real Swiss Ronda Quartz movement, the Springfield is a working watch you’ll want to wear with a tux.
Minuteman MM01 Black Dial DLC
Extreme Force: Each MM01 comes from the hands of a craftsman who is completely CMW21 certified, giving them the skills, background, and the horological education to create a tactical piece that can also be worn to a job interview. Large and minimal, there’s no cluttering chronos or special crown materials. It’s stainless steel from North Carolina that happens to have a little ETA 955.112 Swiss movement going on behind the scenes.
Throne 1.5 x Brooklyn
Spit & Vinegar: Go with the deep black version or spice it up with a band that adds a little color, the 1.5 celebrates the real people of Brooklyn. A working class town with a working class watch, the beauty of this watch isn’t wasted, but it is overshadowed by the black 316l case and real Swiss movement. Classy and severe with no numbers on the dark dial, light disappears into the sapphire crystal, never to be heard from again.
Majestic: The ascent is where Purple Mountain’s Majesty meets the infinite blue. Inspired by the ascension of humankind to the top of the world and beyond, the rounded numeric indicators are a calming counterpoint to the almost electric blue of the face. Hacking movement chops away seconds with Miyota 9015 movement that ticks at 28,800 beats per hour. Accessorize and change the size as needed, this is one exhibition case you’ll want to show off.
Filson Mackinaw Field Watch
Bedfellows: The Mackinaw isn’t a true Filson, but that isn’t to say it’s a foreign job trying to pass itself off. Instead, it is made by Shinola in their factory, which might explain why it resembles some of their timekeepers so closely. Whatever the genesis, it’s still USA-made and a treasure to behold. The sapphire crystal fights off scratches and the back is locked down tight, preventing any ingress or jostling to disrupt the functionality of the watch. Truly meant to be capable of going into combat, there’s Argonite movement behind that brushed stainless face.
Worker Approved: The Brakeman uses a PVD gunmetal finish as the tip of the iceberg when it comes to impressive features. Dig below the surface and you’ll find a set of Swiss components that are hand-assembled to create some of the smoothest Argonite 715 quartz movement we’ve ever seen outside of the ski chalet. Not only is the Brakeman itself made to impress, the Hadley-Roma Horween leather strap on which it sits is a domestic piece from Florida that shows the same US workmanship and quality as the watch itself.
Hager GMT Traveler
Around the World: We’re not going to fault GMT for naming this “Traveler” as it is made for tracking multiple time-zones for those who live on planes, trains, and rickshaws. Built entirely for the professional who has to be in two places at once, it is easy to adjust and won’t miss a second no matter where you are or where you’re going. Made for business and casual wear, it can live in your carry-on.
Vortic Boston Series
Traditional: Most American watchmakers have a Boston version because Beantown is largely considered the birthplace of the first American watch. The big numerals on each face with a chrono giving you laps at the bottom harkens back to the earliest watches, but crack the back and you’ll find even more vintage mechanics to adore. Most of the parts are the same used by the Waltham Watch Company, giving this an American pedigree that goes beyond the aesthetic.
Weiss Standard Issue Field Watch
Grab Your Gear: Any military that would issue such a fine piece of equipment is likely deeply in debt. Nonetheless, this is anything but “standard” as it is the result of more than 100 Swiss parts being artfully combined into a Caliber 1001 automatic movement system. Hand-finished and assembled in the city of angels, the case and backing are created from a single piece of steel for a more cohesive look that makes it feel like a single mechanism.
Oak & Oscar The Burnham
Pure Simplicity: The Burnham’s name is derived from Daniel Burnham, an architect and city planner who knew quality when he saw it. The same is true of the watch that bears his name. Swiss automatic Soprod movement offers accurate time, but the tiny, unobtrusive, understated look of this watch is the real story. A scant 22mm in size with a basic Bespoke sandwich dial treated with Super-LumiNova BGW9, The Burnham gives you an accessory that is never invasive.
Groundbreaker: Kobold has never before made a watch with quartz movement, but here it is. In dedication to the aviation pioneer and inventor Samuel Pierpont Langley, the Langley offers up a standard aviator look with the option of turning it into a dive watch. It comes with your choice of uni, or bi-directional bezel, DLC (Diamond Like Coating), and bragging rights that it hails from Pittsburgh.
MK II Watches Fulcrum
A History of Violence: The Fulcrum isn’t another dandy on a band. It was created out of watch research from the Vietnam War. Combining the luxurious ideology of Rolex with hardier intentions, the Fulcrum is undoubtedly a working piece, but it has more than a little marrow tying it to true combat timepieces. As such, its Soprod A10 movement and anti-magnetic shielding make it a hard clock to stop, and the beadblasted finish make it a difficult accessory to forget.
RGM Model 107
Guiding Light: The reasons to buy the Model 107 could fill pages. Automatic 21 jewel movement, a Rhodium finish, and that classic pilot look that is ready for the biplane days. What it lacks in flash, it makes up for by being sturdy as hell. Sapphire crystals both front and back keep it safe and protected from vibration or interruption. The lack of fanfare and ornamentation on the 107 is proof positive of the true strength behind such a simple face.
Niall One.S Deep Blue
Refined: The Deep Blue took three years of work and countless manhours to get it right, but right it is. There’s several “One” models in Niall’s lineup, but the S is a special beast. Given 316L steel for the frame and then treated with a DLC smearing, it’s shockingly sturdy, and more beautiful than any picture could convey. Corning glass at the front along with a single offset chrono on the side, there’s never a bad time to wear the Deep Blue.
Devon Tread 2 Murder
The Reaping Hour: As a company, Devon seems to have a deep-seated hatred of all things normal. While the semi-steampunk aesthetic doesn’t appeal to everyone, there’s no denying the strange, esoteric make-up is worth noting, if not wearing. Done up in red, black, and silver, this is actually a redesign from Scott Devon (company founder) after he felt the Tread 2 didn’t ring all the bells he had hoped. With sapphire glass and the glorious band movement Devon is known for, we say this was worth the trouble.