Lifestyle

Who Says The United States Can’t Make Mechanical Watches?

Switzerland will always be master of mechanical timekeeping. With their immense history and tradition of precision, they have a head-start that seems insurmountable, even for Japan, whose tech and mechanical watch savvy is never to be underestimated. But Switzerland’s dominance doesn’t mean other countries can’t build an awesome watch and, more importantly, its movement.

Founded in Los Angeles in 2013, the Weiss Watch Company’s aim was to put some wind back into the sails of American watchmaking, which had been sitting in the doldrums after a heyday in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Though it’s certainly impressive to design and assemble a mechanical watch stateside from sourced parts, it’s nothing like the challenge of doing it from scratch with an in-house movement (finished from Swiss parts) and case, something that sets Weiss apart as the only US watchmaker creating their own watches and finishing movements by hand.

Making watches requires pedigree—you can’t just start arranging miniature gears, springs, and levers one day and hope they’ll somehow sync up with society’s accepted beats of time. But this pedigree is something founder Cameron Weiss has plenty of, having been trained by the masters at Audemars Piguet and Vacheron Constantin.

With watchmaking being as challenging an enterprise as there is, Weiss only has one model available, the Standard Issue Field Watch. Fortunately, it’s a good-looking one: a field watch available with a black or white dial, sized for contemporary tastes in a 42 millimeter case.

In the newly available white version, the Field Watch’s simple Arabic numerals and seconds sub-dial give it an almost-dress-watch aesthetic, but a closer look reveals its second markings and sturdier 316 stainless steel case with a 100 meter water resistance. In black, the Weiss Field Watch carries a more military-like vibe, magnified by its olive canvas strap.

Of course, the most remarkable bit about these watches is the insides. Finished in LA from Swiss parts, the Weiss Watch Company Caliber 1001 is made from a ETA 6497 base. If you’re not a watch nut, just know that means the Weiss handwound carries some credentials, which include shock protection and a 46-hour power reserve.

For now, the Field Watches are all that’re available, but we’re told that Weiss has two new models up their sleeve for the fall. We’re excited.


Ethan Wolff-Mann is an editor at Supercompressor. He currently has a heavy watch tan. Follow him on Twitter @ewolffmann.