American Made Watches: 10 US-Based Brands Doing It Well

by   |  in Style Tips

In the 1800s and 1900s, America was an important part of the watch industry, having introduced several innovations. While this era is no longer, there are still many American made watches that are doing impressive things.

They don’t always get the spotlight, so in this article we’re rounding up 10 of the best American watch brands today.

We’ve included a mix of surviving heritage watchmakers, legacy brands that have been resuscitated by bigger companies, and new, exciting players who (fingers crossed!) may just usher in a new era of American watchmaking.

closeup of Timex watch on wrist with green strap and blue long sleeve shirt

10 Best American Watch Brands

US watch design doesn’t follow a greater school of thought, like Bauhaus German timepieces or disciplined Swiss classics. However, some common themes are nostalgia, making quality pieces attainable, and of course, entrepreneurial uniqueness. Let’s look at the brands!

Timex

Connecticut-based Timex was founded in 1854 as the Waterbury Clock Company. They were one of many watchmakers in Connecticut’s Naugatuck Valley, then the Switzerland of America. They’re one of very few still alive today, and the only one that boasts icon status.

They were known for taking European clock making and executing it using American mass production techniques. Today, Timex is still famous for democratizing good timepieces. They’re lines are design-forward and famously durable. The boisterous ticking of a Timex watch has become an iconic trademark of the brand.

Timex invented the brilliant Indiglo light, which was used by an office worker during 1993 World Trade Center bombing to successfully guide a group down 40 flights of lightless stairs.

They also have their finger on the fashion pulse. Timex’s collaborations with American designer Todd Snyder are stylish takes on classic templates. Examples include their military watch with a fashion-forward twist and the creative Beekman watch.

Prices range from extremely affordable to around $500. In Timex’s spirit of democratization, we highlight a versatile fan-favorite…

Timex Weekender

The Weekender series is everything you want in a Timex watch. It’s strong, legible, and comes in a variety of fun styles at an excellent price.

Timex Weekender Black Nylon Slip-Thru Strap Watch
$34.82

The Weekender series is everything you want in a Timex watch. It’s strong, legible, and comes in a variety of fun styles at an excellent price.

Shop Now Learn More
04/17/2021 08:36 am GMT

TIMEX WEEKENDER DETAILS

  • 38mm case
  • Fabric, leather straps available
  • Quartz movement
  • 30m water resistance

LÜM-TEC

LÜM-TEC, the showcase brand of Ohio-based Wiegand Custom Watch LLC, is known for robust and rugged-looking timepieces for the great American outdoors. Their watches are handcrafted in Cleveland, with a special focus on surgical-grade stainless steel cases. 

LÜM-TEC combines the personal touch of an American family-run operation with innovations rooted in practicality. Their proprietary MDV lume technology is achieved using several layers of Super-LumiNova and white-colored titanium dioxide.

Design-wise, LÜM-TEC watches have a bigger-is-better aesthetic about them. Often they’ll feature large cases or indices for legibility, or a bulky and sturdy build.

Their prices start at the $300 range up to a grand. Fortunately, one of their most quintessential timepieces falls into the former category.

LÜM-TEC G Series G6

This army tank of a watch features black titanium carbide coating for durability and an authoritative aesthetic. The matte black anti-reflective dial and sapphire crystal also add to the practical quality and tough build.

LÜM-TEC G Series G6
$299.00

This army tank of a watch features black titanium carbide coating for durability and an authoritative aesthetic. The matte black anti-reflective dial and sapphire crystal also add to the practical quality and tough build.

Shop Now Learn More
04/17/2021 10:37 pm GMT

LÜM-TEC G SERIES G6 DETAILS

  • 45mm case
  • Artificial leather strap
  • Quartz movement
  • 200m water resistance

Autodromo

Industrial designer and vintage car enthusiast Bradley Price founded Autodromo in New York City as a lifestyle brand inspired by automotive sports.

Often, automotive-inspired watches in history find their destinies in other callings. The Omega Speedmaster, for example, is more famous as a moonwatch. Autodromo watches are 100% designed with car-racing in mind. Unsurprisingly, they create the most authentic automotive watches out there.

When starting Autodromo, Price rooted his philosophy in the crossover appeal between horology and motorsports, and America’s love for car racing. The brand is proud of its American heritage, even building a fun and sporty Ford GT model.

Autodromo’s prices range from the upper $600 bracket all the way to the better part of $2k.

Autodromo Monoposto

The Monoposto is a quintessential and high-quality model. It features a strap constructed with Italian bridle leather, and the high-ticket Seiko NE88 chronograph movement. The design is clean, sporty, and masculine, inspired by vintage dashboard gauges.

Autodromo Monoposto
$1,800.00

The Monoposto is a quintessential and high-quality model that features a strap constructed with Italian bridle leather, and the high-ticket Seiko NE88 chronograph movement. The design is clean, sporty, and masculine, inspired by vintage dashboard gauges.

Shop Now Learn More
04/17/2021 10:38 pm GMT

AUTODROMO MONOPOSTO DETAILS

  • 43mm case
  • Leather strap
  • Automatic movement
  • 50m water resistance

DEVON

LA-based DEVON considers American spirit as one of their three pillars, along with innovation and luxury. After designing the Devon GTX supercar that set a one-lap speed record, founder Scott Devon invented the Tread 1 watch, which launched the brand.

This patented system uses interwoven time belts to display hours and minutes for a mix of distinct form and innovative function. The Tread 1 was nominated in the design and concept watch category by the Gran Prix d’Horlogerie de Geneve, which are the ESPYs of horology. They were the first American watch brand to achieve this. 

These luxurious and cutting-edge watches are often north of $10,000. We’re highlighting one of their entry-level Tread 2 watches. Tread 1s feature four belts, one displaying hours, two displaying minutes, and one displaying the seconds. Tread 2s feature two belts, one for the hours and one for the minutes, or the seconds depending on the model.

DEVON Tread 2 Nightmare Quartz

Despite being the “simpler” option, the Tread 2 Nightmare boasts a mesmerizing design and wears its complex engineering mastery on its sleeve. The black Nightmare version is more understated than the red Murder version, and both feature a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal.

DEVON Tread 2 Nightmare Quartz
$8,626.00

Despite being the “simpler” option, the Tread 2 Nightmare boasts a mesmerizing design and wears its complex engineering mastery on its sleeve. The black Nightmare version is more understated than the red Murder version, and both feature a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal.

SHOP JOMASHOP Learn More

DEVON TREAD 2 NIGHTMARE DETAILS

  • 44mm case
  • Leather strap
  • Quartz movement
  • 10m water resistance

Bulova

Bulova was founded in New York in 1857. It’s since been acquired by Citizen, but their main office is still in Manhattan’s Empire State Building. 

Two, of many, industry-changing innovations from Bulova include the Accutron, the world’s first electronic watch, and their proprietary ultra high-frequency (UHF) quartz movement. Vibrating eight times more frequently than the average quartz watch, this movement made Bulova famous for precision.

Bulova has created some of the most beloved American watch models in history. Even today, they continue to serve up unique collaborations, including their Frank Sinatra line and their Frank Lloyd Wright line.

While the Bulova Precisionist is the model most associated with their trademark UHF movement, the Lunar Pilot is their local legend.

Bulova Lunar Pilot

This classic sporty chronograph is famous for being part of the 1971 Apollo 15 mission. It features Bulova’s high-frequency, 262 kHz, quartz movement and a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal.

Bulova Men's Lunar Pilot Chronograph
$499.00

This watch is arguably a Speedy competitor at a much lower price-point and is the closest to the Speedmaster when it comes to historical significance and heritage.

Shop Amazon Learn More
04/17/2021 07:36 pm GMT

BULOVA LUNAR PILOT DETAILS

  • 45mm case
  • Stainless steel, leather straps available
  • Quartz movement
  • 100m water resistance

Shinola

As a brand, Shinola leans into the good ol’ American manufacturing aesthetic, so a lot of their watches have a delightful throwback quality about them. Even the name is taken from a vintage shoe polish company founded in 1877.

While Shinola uses European and Asian parts, the Detroit-based company assembles everything on US soil. In fact, Shinola has been lauded for bringing back Midwestern manufacturing jobs in the age of outsourcing. The result is a line of American-style watches at reasonable price points.

One of Shinola’s strong suits is their strap collection. The fifth floor of their building is an in-house leather factory where their artisans craft premium leather straps. 

Their Largo Aniline Latigo leather is rich and develops a handsome patina over time. So, we’re highlighting a watch that goes well with this beautiful watch band.

Shinola Runwell White Dial

This watch is simple and bold, and effortlessly goes with most casual and smart-casual looks. As marked on the legible face, it runs on “The Argonite 1069”, a movement known for its powerful motor and accuracy. Naturally, it comes on a Largo Tan leather strap, which has a comfortable nubuck back.

SHINOLA RUNWELL DETAILS

  • 41mm case
  • Leather strap
  • Quartz movement
  • 50m water resistance

Hamilton

Hamilton might be a controversial pick since they’ve been acquired by the Swatch Group. In our Hamilton brand profile, we describe them as a hybrid, American designs with Swiss construction. Still, the American watch-making industry wouldn’t be the same without Hamilton’s contributions. Even their most iconic models today get their roots from classic designs.

Hamilton was founded in Pennsylvania in 1892 and became the go-to railroad watch due to its reliability. They would go on to invent the world’s first digital electronic watch and launch the iconic asymmetric Ventura. They were an American treasure for decades.

Lovers of watches, movies, and music love the Ventura watch. We’ve highlighted the swanky leather strap version and the retro-futuristic Elvis80 stainless steel, but did you know it also looks great with Hamilton’s silicon strap?

Hamilton Ventura Elvis80 Silicone

The beloved mid-century Elvis watch takes on a slightly rugged tone with the Hamilton-embossed silicone strap. Since the case is so unmistakable, even the drastic strap change doesn’t take away from the iconic look.

HAMILTON VENTURA ELVIS80 DETAILS

  • 42mm case
  • Silicone strap
  • Quartz movement
  • 50m water resistance

Vortic

Colorado-based Vortic Watch Company combines horology’s best practices from the past and present, and the way they do it is nothing short of extraordinary. They take American pocket watches from the mid-1900s and fully restore them with the original movement, hands, and dial.

Then, they repurpose them into wristwatches by putting them in 3D-printed titanium cases.

The 3D printing happens in New Jersey and the assembly happens in Fort Collins, Colorado. So even more than the heritage brands out there, Vortic watches are fully American. They’ll even convert your pocket watch for you, which is great for pieces with sentimental value. 

Since they build custom watches in small batches, they don’t release watch “lines” in the traditional sense. Once a batch is sold, they’re gone forever. If you liked a sold-out series though, sometimes you’ll get lucky on eBay!

Their prices range from the $1500 range to $5000, but these guys are really unique timepieces.

Vortic Watches
starting at $1,500

Colorado-based Vortic Watch Company combines horology’s best practices from the past and present, and the way they do it is nothing short of extraordinary. They take American pocket watches from the mid-1900s and fully restore them with the original movement, hands, and dial. Then, they repurpose them into wristwatches by putting them in 3D-printed titanium cases.

Shop Now Learn More

Brew

New York-based Brew gets extra points for creativity. We’ve all heard of watches inspired by cars, diving, and even music instruments, but these watches get their inspiration from coffee. 

Founder John Ferrer’s designs are based on industrial coffee machines. The palettes focus on warm contrasting colors and a variety of accents and brushing.

The outcome is a line of distinct soft-edged, square-cased watches with a slightly retro feel. Ferrer launched a successful crowdfunding campaign to launch Brew in 2017. Soon after, Brew timepieces became an it-watch among hip collectors circles. This is mostly thanks to their popular Retrograph Collection.

Brew Retrograph Watches 

The Retrograph watches are unique timepieces, a chronograph style in which the subdials are the same soft trapezoid shape as the case. They come in expressive colors and are powered by the Seiko meca-quartz movement.

Brew Retrograph Watches
$395

The Retrograph watches are unique timepieces, a chronograph style in which the subdials are the same soft trapezoid shape as the case. They come in expressive colors and are powered by the Seiko meca-quartz movement.

Shop Now Learn More

BREW RETROGRAPH DETAILS

  • 38mm x 41.5mm case
  • Stainless steel, leather straps available
  • Hybrid meca-quartz movement
  • 50m water resistance

Oak & Oscar

Oak & Oscar was founded in Chicago as recently as 2015, and has already established a recognizable design language with in-the-know collectors. Most of their watches feature a stark matte sandwich dial with playful cut-out index designs.

They source their leather straps from Horween, a fellow Chicago-based operation and one of the oldest and most esteemed tanneries in the US. As good leather does, these straps age beautifully and wear in before wearing out. 

Oak & Oscar watches cost anywhere from $1500 to over $3000.

Fun fact: Founder Chase Fancher named the company after two things he loves: Oak-aged spirits and his dog, Oscar. Now let’s look at their Humboldt watch.

The Humboldt – Navy on Leather

This watch has a little bit of everything: a rotating 12-hour bezel, the trademark sandwich matte dial, and a Horween leather strap. It’s also powered by ETA 2892A2, a workhorse movement with a 42-hour power reserve.

The Humboldt by Oak and Oscar
$1,550

This watch has a little bit of everything: a rotating 12-hour bezel, the trademark sandwich matte dial, and a Horween leather strap. It’s also powered by ETA 2892A2, a workhorse movement with a 42-hour power reserve.

Shop Now Learn More

OAK & OSCAR HUMBOLDT DETAILS

  • 40mm case
  • Leather strap
  • Automatic movement
  • 200m water resistance

The Best American MADE WATCHES FOR YOU

It may be difficult to decide on just one American watch model, since they vary so much! With so many promising new brands, watchmaking in the US is more exciting than it’s been in a long time.

We hope you had fun learning about our favorite US-based watch brands. What are some American watch brands that you love?