The Vortic Journeyman

A Contentious, American-Made Watch Movement Gains Momentum


July 20, 2016 Watches By
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When news broke of California-based watchmaker Cameron Weiss’s new American-made watch movement, the Caliber 1003, the watch community was skeptical, decrying the movement as a modified version of the ETA/Unitas 6497 already used in Weiss’s entry-level watches. According to Weiss, the similarities between the two were intended to create an interchangeable replacement for the ETA movement after the Swiss company stops supplying parts and movements to third-party watchmakers.

Though the design of the two movements are similar, the real achievement here is that, according to Weiss, the watch is comprised almost entirely of parts made by him and other suppliers in the USA. (The hairspring and jewels are currently sourced from Switzerland.) Aside from using the movement in his own American Issue Field Watch, Weiss plans to supply the movement via his new supplier arm Precision Pinion Technology to other watch brands — like young upstart Vortic Watch Co.

Vortic, which is based in Fort Collins, Colorado, has been creating watches in the US since 2014 by taking old American pocket watch movements and encasing them inside 3D-printed stainless-steel cases. While the brand has relied on vintage watch movements, their new Journeyman Series, announced today, will include three watches with modern movements: two with either a hand-wound or automatic version of Eterna’s Caliber 39 and, more notably, a “Power Reserve” version utilizing Weiss’s Caliber hand-wound 1003 and featuring a power reserve indicator on the dial of the watch. All three watches will use a case made from 3D-printed titanium and a “grand feu” enamel dial, which involves adding and baking multiple enamel layers to the watch dial.

The Journeyman Manual-Wind, Automatic and Power Reserve will cost $995, $1,795 and $1,995 respectively, with discounts offered to those who back the project via Kickstarter. If you’re in the market for two unique takes on an ETA movement, or one movement that can claim to be American-made, at a price some $500 cheaper than Weiss’s option, they’re worth a look.