What springs to your mind when it comes to luxury watches?
You may immediately think of Swiss-made ones, right? However, Switzerland is not the only name in the game. In fact, best American watch brands also offer wearable art of works that wow a lot of watch collectors.
Before listing these famous brands, let’s find out something about the history of American watches.
- American Watchmaking History – A Brief Overview
- Best American Made Watch Brands – Top 15 List
- The Bottom Line
American Watchmaking History – A Brief Overview
Origin of the Watch
Origin of the Watch
During the 17th-18th century
The Swiss and British watchmakers ruled the watchmaking industry all over the world. And of course, this was not the time that American-made watches took off.
However, the poor quality of European watches gave impetus to the American watchmaking revolution in the 1850s, and Waltham was the birthplace of the first large-scale watchmaking factories.
American engineers in Waltham-based companies pioneered in adopting advanced machinery that can cut metal parts, thus producing watches with higher precision and efficiency. This enabled American factories to produce large numbers of premium watches. Leveraging this cutting-edge technology, Aaron Dennison founded the Waltham Watch Company in 1854, which manufactured the first quintessentially American-made watch.
Apart from Waltham, some noticeable names like Elgin, Illinois, and Hamilton were also widely recognized for their craftsmanship as well as the ability to make each part of a watch more efficient on a mass-production scale in the United States.
Finally, American machinery was successfully adopted by the Swiss. Some purchased tools in America while others produced new machines in Europe based on the original technology. The American watchmaking quickly disappeared.
World War I and II
This was a hard time for American watchmakers. The majority of American brands did not make any shift in the face of the market’s requirement for wristwatches instead of pocket watches.
Timex was only one company that rediscovered the historical legacy of the mechanical production processes in America and restored prestige to American watchmaking.
The collapse of the likes of Elgin, Illinois, Hamilton, and Waltham came as a signal of ending an era. American watch factories underwent gloomy days, though their legacy lives on through the family heirloom watches crafted a century ago.
After World War II
Though the American economy eventually recovered, people lost their interests in American-made watches. Instead, they opt for the Swiss and the trend stays unchanged today.
Best American Made Watch Brands – Top 15 List
Here we make a list of 15 best American watch brands that you should not overlook. Some of these brands still produce “made in America watches”, while others are headquartered in the USA with global supply chains.
Is there any watch brand that does a great job of combining quality and affordability? Yes, it is Bulova.
Founded in 1875 by Joseph, Bulova is a market leader in tuning-fork technology and one of the longest-running brands in the US watch. The brand stays focused on its original core principles of American craftsmanship and innovation. There is a balance of old-school masculine charm with modern sophistication in each Bulova watch that is hard to find in other mid-range brands.
Watches from Bulova can keep time better than both the mechanical and electric options available at that time thanks to its insensitivity to temperature changes and purity of tone.
They have a huge collection of sleek and classy timepieces that have left a mark in the watchmaking industry. Besides, some have also been featured in many films.
This list wouldn’t be complete without Hamilton, which was born in Pennsylvania and made its name for making pocket watches as accurate as railroad clocks. In World War II, there were no US watch brands except for Hamilton that survived. The reason was nothing but its outstanding quality. The brand has manufactured a bunch of iconic timepieces that comes at an affordable price partly due to the outsourcing of its movements.
Though Hamilton’s dial is “Swiss made”, its DNA is wholly made in the US. Thus, it’s no wonder why each model represents a balance between Swiss engineering and the American spirit. By the 1930s, Hamilton officially became a major watch supplier to four well-known American airlines (TWA, Eastern, United, and Northwest Airlines).
Timex is not only a leading American watch brand in the reasonably priced watch sector but also an early adopter of electronic timepieces. Unbeatable for their sophisticated designs and precise manufacturing, Timex undoubtedly stirs a certain feeling in watch enthusiasts.
Founded in 1854, this Waterbury-based manufacture produced pocket watches throughout the early 20th century, but till the 1960s, the brand took off. In 1970, Timex became one out of three branded watches sold in America. All timepieces are manufactured based on the technology of the US and Germany.
Whether you’re about to buy a watch as a gift or an heirloom that you can pass down from generation to generation, then Autodromo timepieces should worth your consideration. Autodromo is the brainchild Bradley Price and mixes vintage style and minimalist designs.
Watches from Autodromo were inspired by a prime era of car design when style, panache, and danger are the important factors in driving. The brand only releases one watch a year as they lay much focus on every detail, creating some incredibly eye-catching pieces.
Like some European counterparts, Autodromo creates a link between motorsport and horology. However, what makes Autodromo stand out from several European counterparts is that their watches are gimmick-free and easy on the wallet.
Founded in 2014 by John Tarantino, this New York-based watch company has gained a reputation for its eye-catching designs with exquisite twists and accessible price points.
Plus, the brand offers users the opportunity to customize their watch styles by choosing the favored dials, and color, strap, hands. This can be considered a competitive advantage of the brand compared to those who fail to offer equally affordable prices.
The brand tagline “Tradition refreshed” may encapsulate everything that people go for the brand. Up to now, Martenero has released a collection of seven models. With respect to the heritage brands that had been around for decades, the brand strives to keep traditional elements through the designs of original and contemporary timepieces, yet with a distinctly modern dimension.
Vortic Watches have a harmonious combination of modern 3D printing technology and vintage American designs. This Colorado-based watchmaker creates quintessential American timepieces by pairing the classic pocket watch with modern technology.
The watch case and band will be made new while the American movement inside and movement that powered an antique pocket watch are the same. Vortic is synonymous with quality, yet its prices make it digestible for watch collectors. Vortic makes some of the best American Made watches.
Shinola, founded by Tom Kartsotis, is one of the most well-known American watch brands with a constant commitment to crafting products. This Detroit-based brand has been well-known as a contributor to the increase in the number of manufacturing jobs (more than 500 US-based jobs).
Despite sourcing materials from Europe and Asia, Shinola designs and crafts its products in the USA with a team of more than 200+ artisans and workers. The production process combines meticulous handcrafting with the most advanced technology. Their watches are produced for both men and women at affordable prices.
If you are looking for absolute distinction, then Devon is exactly your great option. Devon watches are much more than simple accessories, they are truly functional works of art. They are entirely developed and manufactured in the United State, thereby catching the unique characteristics of the American spirit.
Led by a large enough talent pool, the brand is able to create their own movements with a sophisticated design that can’t be found anywhere else. What’s more? This US-based manufacturer is the only one to use interwoven time belts named the Tread 1 to display the hours, minutes and seconds in a unique way. It’s also worth noting that Devon is the first American watch brand to be nominated for the esteemed Gran Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève.
Weiss Watch Company
Weiss was born with the initial goal of resurrecting American old industry practices with the hope to restore the prestige of American watchmaking. There are a few watch manufacturers that make their own mechanical watch movements in American, and Weiss is included. Watches from Weiss Watch Company are handcrafted with the use of premium materials and old industry methods. Weiss focuses on finding many American parts and materials as possible for their timepieces.
They use the sapphire crystal on the front and back of the watch case, the gold standard for timepieces.
Weiss watches use manual wind mechanical movements (Caliber 1003), which are manufactured and assembled in the USA. The movement is hand-finished and assembled in the Weiss workshop in Los Angeles.
For those who are looking for the best American watch that money can buy, go with a timepiece from RGM. Founded in 1992 by Roland G. Murphy, RGM is one of the best American automatic watch brands.
This American watch brand uses hand-operated machinery to create their watches with a mission to preserve the tradition of American watchmaking while adopting innovative manufacturing. All of the movements, cases, and parts for watches are made In the USA and assembled in Pennsylvania based on a vintage aesthetic. Their processes are nothing but a testament to their effort to make history in watchmaking.
For the reason to buy an RGM watch, it has been highly appreciated over the years for the fine craftsmanship that has a combination of traditional methods and advanced technology.
Oak & Oscar
Founded by Chase Fancher, Oak & Oscar is not only known for their meticulousness but also their Horween leather straps. It’s only a few years since its inception, Oak & Oscar has asserted its place in the watch industry.
The source of inspiration for Oak & Oscar is from heirloom timepieces.
Watches from Oak & Oscar are manufactured and partially assembled in Switzerland while American is where everything else originates in, thus representing the best of American design.
Kobold is another name that contributed to the resurrection of watchmaking in the United States. Founded by Mike Kobold in 1998, the brand has quickly pulled themselves in the heartstrings of American watch enthusiasts. Up to know, they have released over two-dozen models and continues to become an inspiration for startup watch brands all over the work.
Kobold watches are specially designed for adventurers and folks in the field.
Two years after they validated their mission with enormous R&D investments in 2014, Kobold introduced the brand’s first watch to be assembled in the United States, the Spirit of America model. 2016 saw the release of the Spirit of American Automatic, the first serially made American watch in 39 years.
Founded in 2009, Hager is committed to creating high-quality automatic with the highest quality at prices that make it digestible for most consumers’ wallets. The brand makes its name for creating tool watches with classical styles. Currently, Hager has a collection of dive watches, pilot watches, and GMT watches. Although Hager sources components from other countries, their watches are entirely designed and assembled in their Maryland shop. One What is mostly noted about Hager is that it is one of the few brands that totally exceeds the price category, no matter what demographic and age.
Niall, founded by Michael Wilson in 2013, is a luxury watch brand being widely recognized for producing not only watches but also clocks, straps, and accessories as well. Despite being a newcomer, NIALL has made its name in the watch industry.
Niall watches were manufactured in-house with the help of advanced technology. Plus, they used their AML (Additive Micro Layering) process that has enabled NIALL to produce one-of-a-kind dial designs that cannot found anywhere.
Their non-movement components are wholly manufactured in America while Swiss automatic movements are imported from Eterna. With a handful of incredibly durable timepieces that feature a classic style, Niall is undoubtedly a great option for watch enthusiasts.
Brew Watch Co.
Founded by Jonathan Ferrer, Brew watches draw aesthetic inspiration from a universal experience — coffee breaks. Brew differentiates itself by producing watches with a special blend of warm tones, warm tones, brushing effects, and coffee culture. This highlights each part used to create their chic timepieces without any sort of gimmicks. Theoretically, watches inspired by coffee may seem gimmicky. However, with a knack for distilling this inspiration down to its essence, Ferrer ultimately connects watches with the daily ritual American people enjoy in a natural way.
The Bottom Line
We’ve rounded up here a list of American watch brands that are powered by highly accurate mechanical movements, and each watch is designed and manufactured following each brand’s principle. Thus, make sure to do some research before purchasing to find the one that matches your tastes among a huge selection of timepieces out there.