Colorado Watch Company: A new watch brand made in the USA!
The Vortic Watch Company, which we told you about in a previous article, has just announced the launch of its first sister brand—the Colorado Watch Company. On 26 September 2023, the company launched two new, fully modern wristwatches for pre-order on Kickstarter, the popular social-funding site. The watches are made in the USA, primarily in Colorado and Arizona, using automatic movements assembled in the USA. As of today, 27 September 2023, the project is 75% funded! Please note that the watch photos in this article illustrate prototypes and not the final product.
Colorado Watch Company : A 10 years dream
Vortic and Colorado Watch Company cofounders R. T. Custer and Tyler Wolfe are finally showcasing the watches they’ve dreamed of making for the past ten years: “We’re excited to showcase the manufacturing capabilities we’ve built here in Colorado across the ten years of running Vortic, and we’re stoked to share what’s possible given our new collaboration with Fine Timepiece Solutions in Arizona,” said R.T. Custer, Co-Founder & CEO. The facilities at Vortic (parent brand of the Colorado Watch Company) are simply incredible, and the work that the two young entrepreneurs have accomplished in recent years is impressive. A new machine for making the dials (the ones you see in the photos are painted prototypes) had just arrived when I was there. The co-founders decided to launch their new company on the Kickstarter platform to gauge enthusiasm and support for their new brand of watches and gather feedback from customers, fans and admirers on everything from product design to marketing and sales methods. This is also what they asked us when we tried the watches at their factory, what we liked, what we didn’t like.
“The initial question we asked ourselves was, ‘Can we build a watch at scale in the United States that’ll last a lifetime and that can start at less than $1,000?’ As small business owners, we’re creating these watches for ourselves just as much as we’re making them for our customers,” commented Tyler Wolfe, Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer.
The Colorado Watch Company’s “Field Watch” and “GCT Watch” have been available for pre-order on Kickstarter since September 26 and will be available until October 26, 2023. The goal is to raise $250,000 US ($335,000 CDN) in those 30 days, and at the time of writing they’re 75% of the way there.
What is the difference between the “Field Watch” and the “GCT Watch”?
Here’s a quick explanation to help you differentiate between the two watches produced by the Colorado Watch Company and recognize these terms when making future purchases. Firstly, both watches are military style. The watches come with rubber or fabric straps.
What is a “Field Watch”?
Field watches were originally created for the Second World War by the British Ministry of Defence. These watches had to meet very specific specifications. They had to be water-resistant, readable even in the dark thanks to the use of luminescent material, and, of course, robust. The hand-wound movements had to be regulated to chronometric standards. The dial had to be black, with twelve Arabic numerals, and the small seconds positioned at 6 o’clock, to ensure maximum legibility, and they were supplied on a pigskin strap or a fabric strap. (Source: Le Petit Poussoir (in french))
What is a “GCT Watch”?
A “GCT Watch” uses the designation G.C.T., which stands for Greenwich Civil Time, used by the US Army from 1924 to 1952, when it adopted the term Greenwich Mean Time. It consists of displaying the 24 hours on the watch in two superimposed dials (the 24 under the 12 and the 18 above the 6). This model pays tribute to Vortic’s “Military Edition” watch at a more affordable price and in larger quantities.
Involving customers right from the launch
“We want our customers to be part of this company from the start. We want you to really feel something when you put these watches on. You’re not just buying a watch, you’re supporting our American Dream. You’re joining a community of people who want watches to be made ‘here… not there,’” Custer added.
Watches that will follow you all your life
I had the chance to try the watches out in person, and they are magnificent. You can feel the quality of the product. These are watches that are made to last, not like a so-called smart watch (Apple Watch, Samsung Galaxy Watch, Google Pixel Watch, etc.), and most importantly, they are repairable (trust me, you don’t want to spend $600 on a watch that won’t last you more than 3 years). They’re a good weight, but not too heavy and not too big—the initial sizes are 40 and 42 mm. The team also asked us for feedback on how to improve their prototypes.
The “Field Watch” of the Colorado Watch Company
The Field Watch by Colorado Watch Company is 40 mm in diameter and comes with a white or metal dial and a steel or DLC black case. It will retail for US $995. It is available for US $795 to the first 100 “early birds” and US $895 for the next 30 days only on Kickstarter.
“I designed the Field Watch for me. I’m a guy who wants to be able to wear my watch anywhere, anytime, doing anything, and never have to worry about it. I also wanted to make something at an attractive price point to where I’m at in my life. As a guy who just turned 30 and bought my first house, I really don’t want to spend more than $1,000 on a watch,” said Wolfe.
The “GCT Watch” of the Colorado Watch Company
The GCT Watch by Colorado Watch Company is 42 mm in diameter, comes with a black dial, and a steel or DLC black case, and will retail for US $1,395. It is available for US $1,195 to the first 100 “early birds” and US $1,295 only on Kickstarter.
“The GCT Watch has been a dream of mine ever since we released Vortic’s Military Edition in 2019, said Custer. “I asked Tyler if he could make me an ‘homage’ to one of our own products; something that is inspired by the great history of the US Army Air Corps, and looks like our highly collectible limited editions, but that’s smaller, lighter, super durable, and has a modern, automatic movement. This is it. It’s finally here!”
An 87% Made in USA watch!
The dials, cases and most of the other metal components such as the crown and buckle are made in the Fort Collins, Colorado factory. Custom black rubber straps will be made in Minnesota and sapphire crystals in New Hampshire. In terms of cost, the new Field Watch is 87% American, with 48% of the costs coming from Colorado and 23% from Arizona.
For the movements and final assembly of the watches at scale, Colorado Watch Company has partnered with Fine Timepiece Solutions (FTS) in Fountain Hills, Arizona. FTS brings to the partnership an American-assembled automatic movement, built using components sourced from all over the world. FTS also offers final assembly and quality assurance to watch brands at scale; something very attractive as the Fort Collins based-company team is currently small.
You can access the Kickstarter campaign by going here and clicking on “pre-order now”. This link will allow you to see renderings of the final products, images of the actual prototypes and videos of the manufacturing process.