Who Is Vortic Watches And What Do They Do?
Founded by two college buddies who were into watches and 3-D metal printing, Vortic has evolved into one of the most interesting American watch players in just a few short years.
They originally sought to convert old, well-made, and still highly accurate American-made pocket watch movements into modern-day wristwatches by casing them in their own 3-D printed cases.
Since then they’ve evolved their offerings and are even seeking to make new high-quality watches in the USA once again.
They’ve been featured in the likes of WSJ and Revolution Magazine and continue to grow their footprint from their Fort Collins, Colorado headquarters.
Current Collections & Offerings
As of mid-2022, there are five distinct services and product offerings:
- American Artisan Series – As seen in this article
- Railroad Edition – Made from vintage railroad grade movements
- Military Edition – Expected in November 2022; will use antique US Army pocket watches & benefit Veterans Watchmaker Initiative
- Convert Your Watch – Exactly what it says
- Accessories – Includes straps, watch boxes, and other branded merchandise
Overall, it’s a pretty stellar lineup from such a young brand. Going forward, I am most interested in the development of U.S.-made watches at an affordable price point. But for now, we can jump into what got them on the map: the American Artisan series.
Vortic’s American Artisan Series
This series offers watches from a number of vintage pocketwatch manufacturers, including but not limited to:
- Waltham Watch Company- “The Boston”
- Elgin National Watch Company – “The Chicago”
- Illinois Watch Company – “The Springfield”
- Ball Watch Company – “The Cleveland”
- Hamilton Watch Company – “The Lancaster”
- Hampden Watch Company – “The Canton”
- Burlington Watch Company – “The Burlington”
- Rockford Watch Company – “The Rockford”
If it’s not obvious by the list above, the model name is derived from the vintage movement it employs.
Each pocket watch movement and its original dial are taken from the original housing and disassembled, cleaned, reassembled, serviced, regulated, and recased into a custom-made Vortic watch case, resulting in what is essentially a brand new watch.
Price Of The American Artisan Watches
As each watch is unique, prices vary based on factors including rarity and condition. Generally, though, they seem to range in the $2,495 to $3,995 range, with each of the individual listings being quite detailed.
When I originally wrote this review circa 2017, “The Boston” was priced at $1,588. Since then, the brand has grown in popularity and expanded its facilities with the goal of meeting the outsized demand.
Vortic has also faced (and won) an extended court battle following a lawsuit from Hamilton, who claimed the custom watches caused “consumer confusion.”
What You’ll Get With Your Vortic Watch Order
I was very impressed with what I received and how personalized the package was. From the wax seal on the packaging to the detailed document describing the vintage movement in the watch, no detail was overlooked.
What’s In The Box
I know that packaging does not add to a watch’s function, but for me, it’s an integral part of the buying and ownership experience.
A brand like Omega has gone relatively HUGE on their boxes and packed a lot of polish and punch in them. The same can be said for Vortic with respect to polish and brand identity in their packaging and presentation.
The watch came wrapped and wax sealed, encased in a custom-embossed wooden box. The watch was wrapped around a canvas pad, which gave off a nice vintage vibe and a highly polished one. I was impressed!
In addition to the above (and more importantly for us watch geeks), there were two documents. The first was an authentication card, and the other was a “Watchmaking Certificate.”
The latter document was very detailed and highly interesting. The watch I received, for instance, has a movement from 1935 and contains 17 jewels. There was a wealth of other information, too much to list here.
This really connected me to the history of the piece I was about to have on the wrist.
Finer Details Of Vortic’s The Boston
Packaging aside, the customization continued on to the strap with a nice embossed Vortic icon and the lettering “Built in the United States, for Vortic Watch Co.”
The real star of the show is the perfectly encased vintage movement, with both the dial and movement sides having large Gorilla glass. As with all exhibition casebacks, I could just stare at a movement for days, and this vintage piece was no different!
The dial’s patina really showed some age and character, whereas the movement looked brand new. That said, it had a lovely vintage vibe thanks to the refined detail work etched into the plates.
The Vortic case itself is rustic and very solid-looking. Surprised as I was to think so, this is a great marriage of old-school chic and new-age 3D metal printing technology. The merging of these two produced a visually appealing and solid look.
Again, that movement is like looking through a window back in time. Very impressive.
At 46mm across, this is no small piece, but it was highly wearable with its downward sloping lugs.
The Boston model’s main dimensions are:
- Case width: 46mm
- Case depth: 12mm
- Lug-to-lug width for strap: 21 mm (please note the need for custom straps to accommodate the crown, this may be a consideration)
Other interesting measurements that are important for a Vortic watch are:
- Lug-to-lug: 54 mm
- Case to crown: 54 mm (slightly different as crown is at 12 o’clock)
- Lug to crown: 59 mm
Vortic Watch On The Wrist Review
Vortic Watch With Small Seconds Complication
I was very happy to wear the piece for the few days I had it, making me even more excited to get my custom piece made soon!
Being a fan of traditionally small watches, both new and vintage, I was pleasantly surprised at how wearable the watch was on the wrist. I think this comes down to three main points:
- Downward-sloping lugs
- Top-mounted crown
- Lightness (much lighter than I expected)
- Each watch is unique and captures a great time in American manufacturing
- Fits very well on the wrist for its size
- Great talking piece
- Lots of bang for the buck considering it’s a 100% American-made piece
- Offered with a 1-year revolving warranty
What could be more American?! A vintage, American-made movement at a baseball stadium.
- Regardless of how well such a large case size sits on the wrist, it’s still a bit big and may not be to everyone’s tastes
- The case is NOT waterproof to any degree, would only be rated to 1 ATM
- The need for custom / altered watch straps to accommodate the top crown
Final Thoughts Of Vortic Watch Co. – “The Boston”
I’m of two minds on the watch for a final recommendation.
On the one hand, it’s sad to see old pocket watch movements being uncased and used this way. But that’s the romantic in me, as the original cases are beyond repair in many instances. Furthermore, the vast majority of people have only sparse use for pocket watches.
On the other hand, it’s fantastic to see these watches being brought back to life again as functional pieces of American history, doing the job they were made to do! America was the great mass manufacturer of watch movements over 100 years ago, so it’s great to see this legacy honored in such a contemporary and innovative way.
Although not to everyone’s visual taste, I highly recommend a Vortic watch to any watch fan, history fan, or those who like things made in the good ole US of A.
I’m looking forward to receiving my requested piece and making it a cornerstone of my casual watch collection.
To see the latest innovation and collections, please visit VorticWatches.com.