Switzerland may be the cradle of high watchmaking but the Vortic Watch Company is looking to bring back glory to America’s horological heyday. Based in Fort Collins, Colorado, the young, entrepreneurial watchmaker is dedicated to reviving classic American watchmaking codes and traditions by creating compelling and evocative timepieces that are laden with nostalgia yet made authentically novel through modern technology such as metal 3D printing.
It all began on a golf course of Penn State University where the three founders, JT, Frank, and Tyler conferred on the qualities they sought in a timepiece. As industrial engineering majors, they shared a natural affinity for manufacturing and wanted a watch that was truly made in America, not merely assembled there. More crucially, they wanted a timepiece that would evince the quality of being characterful and singular, that couldn’t simply be bought off the racks.
During their time at university, they had discovered that their metal 3D printed prototypes for a design project possessed a very distinct and unique look and wanted to accomplish their watchmaking goals by fusing the past and the present, combining the cutting edge technology of metal 3D printing with stunning, antique American-made pocket watch movements. Recognising that many of these antique pocket watch movements were discarded from their original precious metal cases, they found vigor in restoring and preserving these beautiful pieces in a functional way, delivering an achingly desirable package of American watchmaking heritage and technological zeitgeist. Their movements are salvaged from the likes of Elgin, Waltham, Hamilton and Illinois antique pocket watches which were otherwise destined to be scrapped for the precious metal value of their cases.
By reverse-engineering vintage parts, they were able to create a wrist watch case that housed the movements in the same way their original pocket watch cases did. They continued to develop this process, culminating in the arrival of their very first range, “the American Artisan Series” launched on Kickstarter in November 2014 which raised over $40,000 in just 30 days, exceeding expectations and turning their passion into trade.
Today, the Vortic Watch Company has implemented a new “Custom Build” web application, essentially enabling customers to design their own America Artisan Series watch comprising The Chicago, The Boston, The Lancaster and The Springfield, offering a cavalcade of design options from which one may cherry pick such as case size, finishing, hardware style, colour and movement. But here’s the icing on the cake; Vortic lists an inventory of one-of-a-kind dials so be sure that your watch isn’t just personalised but a truly unique if not bespoke piece.
Once you’ve finished designing the watch, you can commission it to be built through an intuitive checkout system. The watchmakers at Vortic then construct the watch according to your specifications in their Northern Colorado facility. Additionally, multiple “build updates” will provide an insight to the creation of your watch along the way and allow you to select specifically the movement you would prefer in your watch. Now, how’s that for a conversation starter?
Try it here.