Saturday, December 26, 2020

Making American Watchmaking Great Switzerland.

Okay,  a little back story and some inside baseball.  Following Hamilton, Waltham is perhaps the best known of the "original" made in America watch companies. Hamilton was slowly diluted and ultimately acquired and moved lock, stock and mainspring to Switzerland and is now part of the SWATCH Group. Despite what their crack marketing team would have you believe  the brand today is about as American as Nutella - you can buy it here, but you'll most likely go for strawberry jam or peanut butter. 

Waltham has had a much bumpier passage. It has been traded back and forth like a slightly damaged (not in mint condition) Spiderman Amazing Fantasy #15. 
Courtesy of Wikipedia
Sure, it's interesting, it has historical "what's it", but because it has been neglected, it is not going to fetch "new/mint in mylar" prices. A few folks tried to take whatever goofball idea that they had and slap the name Waltham on it and hope it would sell. And this has proven that there is more to a successful watch brand than simply a well-known brand name.

One thing that is known is that the Waltham name has been registered in one form or another by a few different entities, but the word around the campfire is that the actual rights to use the name in the manufacture and sale of watches belongs to one unique owner based in New York, and according to the TESS search system, it is M. Z. BERGER & CO.

So when news popped into the Tempus Fugit mail box this Boxing Day morning that the Waltham Depollier (or the Field & Marine) watch will be coming back - like Return of the Jedi (props to Mohandas Dewese - that's Kool Moe Dee to you), I was curious.

Here is the info just as it arrived -
Courtesy of Watch Angeles

The forerunner of the Dive Watch is coming back!

All dive watches watches owe their existence to the Waltham Depollier Waterproof "Field & Marine" Watch, the watch that started the waterproof market. 

In February 2021 a new chapter of the biggest story in American Watchmaking - Waltham Watches - will be Crowdmanufactured by Watch Angels.

Follow the project on our social medial channels and sign-up to participate.

And this is where, gentle reader, I have to admit that I am a bit, well, scoobied. Does this mean that the "Angels" at Watch Angels have struck a deal? Does it mean that the watch will bear the Waltham name, or the Depollier label?

And truly confusing, why use both names?

They are currently operating out of a website labeled:

And good news for all of you out there who believe in pixies - a truly nationalistic tag line to appeal to real red-blooded Americans -

Making American watchmaking great again.
And then if you read the top menu language, that apparently means - Making American watchmaking great Switzerland.

Well, we will wait, and we will see.

In the meantime, for those of you seeking some interesting background on a real Waltham Trench Watch from a trained historian and actual archeologist, I highly recommend Dr. Jack Carlson's entry in A Man & His Watch.  Just promise me you won't buy it from Hodinkee ; )

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