Before World War II broke out, American watches were some of the finest the world had to offer. While some historic brands including Hamilton, Waltham, and Bulova still exist, the companies no longer manufacture their timepieces in the United States. But don’t despair! Finding a fantastic American-made watch might seem like a challenge, but watchmakers are turning the tide and Horology is making a comeback in the United States. With that in mind, here are seven top American watch brands to consider.
American Watch Movements
While several companies are assembling their watches in the United States using mostly American-made components, American watch movements are still few and far between. Most American watches are built with Swiss or Japanese movements. There are a few exceptions to this rule: Padron, RGM, Keaton Myrick, Devon, and Kobold are among the top U.S. watch manufacturers to use American movements.
For true originals, Padron is among the top American brands to look into. This Minneapolis-based company designs and engineers its watches with its own components, including movements hand-assembled on site. Using surgical-grade stainless steel and fine sapphire crystal, Padron builds sleek, contemporary timepieces that appeal to men and women alike. The perpetual, high-beat mechanical movements are visible through the casebacks, providing even more unique appeal.
A full 90 percent of RGM’s components are made in America, with some parts being produced using antique machinery that is still operated by hand. Founded in 1992 by watchmaker Roland G. Murphy, RGM offers a variety of unique timepieces including some beautiful bespoke models. Not surprisingly, many of RGM’s watches offer a vintage aesthetic. If you’re after a quality diver’s watch or chronograph, you’ll find that this company has some wonderful pieces from which to choose. RGM Watch Company manufactures all of its cases, movements, and parts in a small town in Pennsylvania’s celebrated Lancaster County.
If you’ve always been fascinated by custom-made watches, then you’ll find that Keaton Myrick is a company that is well worth looking into. Based in Portland, Oregon, Keaton Myrick specializes in custom, hand-made timepieces; each is one-of-a-kind and certain to become a treasured heirloom. The company distinguishes itself by making its own dials, bridges, hands, and even screws; additionally, it occasionally takes on restoration projects. Keaton Myrick’s atelier relies on a unique combination of modern CAD systems and precision tools from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Hand-finishing is just one of this distinguished American watchmaker’s hallmark; Keaton Myrick promises to stay in close contact with each and every client throughout the production process. In case you’re wondering – this company really is an exclusive one: Keaton Myrick builds an average of just ten to twelve exquisite timepieces each year.
Functional, wearable works of art are Devon’s hallmark; its belt-driven time displays are unique – and uniquely American. Hours, minutes, and seconds are displayed on precisely interwoven belts that provide a mesmerizing departure from the everyday. Designed, developed, and manufactured entirely in the United States, Devon watches are in demand worldwide. In 2010, the Devon Tread 1 was the first-ever American watch brand to be nominated for the highly esteemed Gran Prix d’Horlogerie de Geneve in the Design and Concept Watch category.
Founded in 1998, Kobold originated as part of a Carnegie-Mellon University entrepreneurship class project. Its Spirit of America Automatic, introduced in 2008, was the first American watch to be serially produced in 39 years. Kobold’s aesthetic comes from its slogan, “Embrace Adventure.” Its beautifully crafted Phantom Tactical chronograph, Navy Seals X Black Ops, and Polar Surveyor models are just a few of the styles on offer. Today, Kobold is headquartered in the northwest Pennsylvania’s Amish heartland on a 170-year-old property called Merry Oaks Farm. All of its watches are assembled inside a historic barn that is open to the public by appointment, using components manufactured on site.
Detroit Watch Company
Like many other top American-made watch brands, the Detroit Watch Company uses Swiss Sellita and Eta movements and Japanese Miyota automatic movements in its timepieces. This company is a standout though, not just for its sleek, attractive styles, but for the fact that each and every watch it makes is cased and tested in-house. In keeping with the brand’s name, all of its models represent unique aspects of the city of Detroit.
While Shinola uses some foreign components including Ronda AG movements, it stands out as a leading American watch manufacturer simply for the fact that it is creating much-needed manufacturing jobs in its Detroit factory. Shinola makes exquisite, stylish timepieces for men and women, including some fantastic limited-edition models like the Canfield Cannonball, which celebrates America’s railroad system and the music it inspired. Sport chronographs, tachymetric timepieces, and dressy diamond watches are just a few of Shinola’s outstanding offerings.