WRIST WATCH GUIDE
Watches made for the everyday adventure.
Article by Ryan Williams @ptexjournal
In his pursuit to tell stories of the great American watchmaking past, he turned to vintage gauges and aviation from which to pull design inspiration for his namesake brand in a thoroughly modern way.
The watch. For some it can be the most personal item and staple of one’s wardrobe, for some, a passing thought - a tool to tell the time, and for some it can be something not even worn or owned.
Note: Styles may vary as watch pictured is an original model.
In the digital age we have the time in the palm of our hands – or in our pockets - on our phones, which most everyone carries. Having everything – time included - automated and in our faces, we as a society have slowly faded away from the staples that once defined our look. What was once a pocket watch or a nice wristwatch is now a smart phone or a fitbit. The need to dress up (mostly) and impress in all areas of life has gone the direction comfort, complacency and has become a necessity only at the workplace. To me, this is the same thing with handmade and higher-end watches. What once acted as a piece to show a man’s pride now can be used to calculate how many calories burned or how long you slept. And to boot, it looks like a 3D printed gismo on your wrist. But who am I to call fashion out over utility, or vice versa… As with everything else, the old still has it’s place and some people still cling to the classic pieces that once defined generations. If only people would stop wearing pajamas on airplanes. The Weiss watch, namely the Special Issue Field Watch, latte dial, to me is the ultimate throwback to the glory days of US pride in product. All cases and dials are conceived, developed, engineered, manufactured and finished by hand in the good ole USA (Los Angeles, California). Upon discovery that such a watch existed I decided to do my homework, being the mild watch geek I am…I found that Weiss Watch Co. was the only watch company in the United States doing so. And after further investigation I also found that it’s mainly one guy finishing each watch by hand: Cameron Weiss. I loved the look; I thought the large (42mm) stainless steel case was a great all-around size and the color of the dials / bands was spot on. Simple: white with a cordora canvas olive drab band, black with a cordora canvas olive drab band, and latte (a light tan), with an oiled leather band. I opted for the latte dial and couldn’t wait.
The watch arrived with much anticipation on my part. It came in a nice wooden box with a handwritten note from Cameron Weiss welcoming me to the Weiss watch family. I took my time looking at every single aspect of the watch. From the sapphire crystal back, with an open case so the detail of the intricate movement can be seen, to the beautiful color of hand painted dial. The dial is crafted from high-grade red or naval brass, with hand painted and printed details. The dial is one solid piece, void of any welds. The mechanical movement, spring bars, case back screws, buckles and hands are all made in Switzerland and hand finished in the LA studio. All the while looking at this watch for the first time, other than online (the watch is now available in a handful of retailers across the US and now Japan) I couldn’t help but think, I love this watch and I haven’t even put it on. The classic look of the case, the allure of the old school wind mechanism to keep it ticking, something about it was love at first sight. So I did what every self-respecting weirdo would do, I wore it for 30 minutes, put it back in the box and would stare at it every evening when I got home from the office. I didn’t wear it. I was worried I would scratch it, even though it has a sapphire crystal face, I didn’t wear it.
The U.S. was responsible for bringing large-scale production of watches to the world. It was U.S. based companies that created the machines to be able to produce the wristwatches on a mass scale and to make the production of a watch repeatable and with the precision. By WWII, these companies had been sold to overseas holdings and watch making in the U.S. had faded away - until a few years ago when Cameron returned home to his native California. He’d spent a fair amount of time in Switzerland training under the master watchmakers at Audemars Piquet and Vacheron Constantin and decided to start hand-making watches in the USA. Cameron is the first person to hand craft timepieces in the United States since the early 1900s – he’s a renaissance man in his own right.This “back to the basics” approach to quality was a driving force in my decision to purchase the watch itself - that someone spent time and care to make something that was designed to be worn and used daily. Then it clicked: Why the hell is it in a box in the safe? It was made to be worn, to be used, to be wound every morning. It was designed to become part of my person. So I got it out of the safe and I wear it nearly everyday.
I watched a video of Cameron being interviewed. You can tell by the tone in his voice, his inflection, the look in his eyes - he loves what he does. It’s clear that making each watch is a source of pride. I heard that some days he spends 12 hours at a time at his workbench – not even stopping for lunch or a snack. Now thatis dedication to his craft. What sets it apart from other watches? Reputable Swiss brands? Or other brands with U.S. ties like Shinola of Detroit or RGM Watch Co. of Lancaster Penn.? To be honest I see watches as a little bit different of an item, since they are so different and personal. To me it’s all about what you like and less about the cost or the look. I love the look of the Rolex Datejust and I am comfortable paying the price to own one - but that’s my desire, my tolerance for that price point. That doesn’t mean that the watch doesn’t do something that the Timex at the store next door doesn’t do, it still tells the same time etc. It’s all about what you like and want. That being said, the thing that stuck out to me over most other watches (at this price point at least- $1250) is that it was handmade in the USA and if I really wanted to I could call the guy who made it up and BS with him. That added a factor to me that wasn’t attached to the other watches, 1. In its price range, and 2. Made in the USA. It’s just a ton of bang for a little bit of buck. I got #027 of the field watch, and I can say I wear it nearly everyday and it has held up and will for generations to come. Cameron has assured all Weiss watch owners of that by the high quality materials that went into making the watch itself. The movement will continue to keep accurate time for years. When my daughter was born I half expected to pass along a Rolex or something of the like to her when she is old enough to appreciate is, but now I am thinking that the Weiss tells a better story, a more sentimental one. So I hope one day she wears it with pride, just like I do today.