The New Waltham Watches: An American Classic Returns with a Modern Swiss Twist


Waltham is a name well-known to American aficionados of vintage watches and clocks. This fall, the quintessential American watch brand — absent from the United States since the 1980s — returns to that market with new Waltham wristwatches that call to mind the brand’s long and storied history but are also decidedly modern.

The Waltham watch brand traces its origins all the way to 1850, when visionary entrepreneur Aaron Lufkin Dennison founded the first industrialized watch and clock manufacturer in Roxbury, Massachusetts. (Lufkin’s interchangeable parts and assembly-line process would later be adopted by Henry Ford for the fledgling automobile industry.) Four years later, the company moved to the town of Waltham, which gave it its name. Many watch-world milestones followed, including a Waltham pocketwatch famously owned by President Abraham Lincoln, groundbreaking railroad watches, the construction of Waltham’s own astronomical observatory to test its timepieces’ precision, and the first wristwatches used by the American armed forces. Sir Ernest Shackleton and Robert Peary donned Waltham watches in their historic expeditions to the South and North Poles, respectively, in 1909, and a Waltham dashboard clock famously accompanied Charles Lindbergh in the Spirit of St. Louis on the first non-stop transatlantic flight in 1927.

In 2011, the majority shares of Waltham International SA — which moved production from the U.S. to Switzerland in 1954, and since the 1970s has made timepieces chiefly for the Asian market — were purchased by Italian-American entrepreneur Antonio DiBenedetto. Under DiBenedetto’s leadership, the company has this year introduced new, Swiss-made Waltham watches, inspired by vintage Waltham timepieces and by the brand’s pioneering spirit, that will be available to a new generation of American watch enthusiasts. The new Waltham portfolio begins with the Waltham Aeronaval Collection, which consists of two new models, each with three distinct executions. The Waltham XA (Solo Tempo) is a modern-day version of the watch chosen by Lindbergh for his historic Spirit of St. Louis flight. Like its predecessor, the watch has a small-seconds subdial in what is today considered an unconventional position, at 12 o’clock. The other Aeronaval watch, the Waltham CDI (GMT) echoes the design of the Waltham dashboard clocks fitted on board U.S. Naval aircraft flown during World War II; its GMT function is enhanced with a so-called “civil date indicator” in the dial’s center. Each of the collections is available in three decidedly contemporary versions: Pure, with titanium G5 cases; Eclipse, two-tone with titanium/black PVD; and Blackmatter, in all-black PVD-coated titanium.

 

Waltham XA Pure - angle
Above and below: Waltham XA Pure
Waltham XA Pure - front
Waltham XA Pure - back
The engraved caseback of the Waltham XA Pure

In addition to the titanium G5 used for the cases, the characteristics common to The Waltham XA and the Waltham CDI watches include the use of ceramic bezels, vulcanized rubber straps and titanium G2 deployant clasps, and the very contemporary, multi-layered dodecagonal case design, with bold and dramatic angles, that makes the watches distinctive from other military-influenced sports watches. The Waltham Aeronaval XA watch, considered the flagship of the new collection, has an immense 47-mm case, which is water-resistant to 300 meters, and contains the Swiss-made mechanical movement Caliber W.DB-001, based on a Dubois-Dépraz 14060. The dial boasts an embossed “W” pattern on different colored backgrounds, which plays off the angular case design The minute hand is angled slightly upward, and the applied indicators and numbers are coated with Super-LumiNova for enhanced legibility. The ceramic bezel is made of zirconium oxide., and the sapphire crystal has a nonreflective treatment. Prices for the Waltham Aeronaval AX are $5,500 for the Pure version, $5,650 for the Eclipse, and $6,000 for the Blackmatter.

 

Waltham XA Blackmatter
Waltham XA Blackmatter
Waltham XA Eclipse
Waltham XA Eclipse
12 Responses to “The New Waltham Watches: An American Classic Returns with a Modern Swiss Twist”

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  1. Randolf Foster

    I have a Waltham with a numer XC025-065 on the back. It needs a crystal. How much is the watch worth? Is it worth replacing the crystal/

    Reply
  2. John Lind

    I get the impression people who recognize the “Waltham” name in North America expect mainstream department store quartz watch prices competitive with the sub-$200 Seiko and Citizen quartz one finds inside their watch displays. Given the mechanical Dubois-Depraz complicated ETA (??) ebauche movements being used, among other aspects of them, I’m not surprised at the market price point. It’s clear these Waltham, as a brand, are not targeted to that market, but to a much more upscale and smaller one, competing with Tag Heuer, Ball, Longines, Rado and Omega. Some of the folks who have responded here would also complain about their prices being much too high. I’m no watch snob, and these Waltham are well above the price point of what I’m willing to pay for a mechanical watch. On the other hand, I comprehend full well its price point and target market and wish Waltham success with it.

    Reply
  3. Unfortunately the watch is available in only two stores in the world, and the website is difficult to find via a simple search.

    As others have mentioned, the price is $4000 too expensive.

    Finally, an email to customer service has been unsuccessful.

    Waltham may be finished before getting started…

    Reply
    • Dear MC, thank you for your comment that give us the opportunity to explain why we are celebrating our return in USA after decades starting from the 2 Cellini’s boutique in New York: Cellini is one of the most reputated jewlery in NYC and USA, but soon we will grow our presence in other cities of the States.
      The price could appear expensive, but if you consider the high-end material combination, the overall performance, the peculiar angular design, the mechanical movements quality and the 5 years guarantee probably our new collection offer one of the best price/quality ratio within the market. As for our past, we work to give the market something unusual and valuable: Waltham is a legendary name, and the aim of this new sollection is to create a new important step ahead in our history.
      If you want to get in contact with us for any other further question, don’t esithate to use my personal mail above.
      Enrico, Marketing, Waltham International SA

      Reply
      • Robert Marks

        Enrico, I don’t know if you will be able to read this, but I came across your post here, and there’s something I wanted to point out.

        I recently came into possession of my great grandfather’s Waltham 610. The watch was made in 1889 (and was one of the first 1889 models off the line). It isn’t anything special – it’s a seven jewel movement, which makes it the most basic model. It’s been well used for at least 60 of the years it’s been around, and the case shows it. Assuming the prices from the mid-1910s are accurate, the movement would have cost less than $10 (around $100 today).

        I had it restored, and it is right now ticking happily away beside me. My great grandfather was a tailor – he probably couldn’t afford a 17 jewel watch or a railroad grade watch. But he could afford this, and Waltham made it for him. And Waltham made it so well that it is still around today, around 116 years later – quite literally, my local watchmaker told me that it’s a high enough quality that it doesn’t need more jewels…it will just keep running fine regardless.

        Waltham was a legendary name because it made the best watches in the world, and it made them for EVERYBODY. My great grandfather could not have afforded your watches now. Neither can I. You’ve made watches here for the high-end market, but not for the rest of us.

        Where are the new Waltham watches for the tailors, I wonder?

        Reply
        • WatchTime

          Thank you for the interesting comment, Robert. Let’s see if Enrico reads it.

          Reply
        • Robert, I really appreciated your comment, and thank you for that. You are right: Waltham became legendary thanks to its ability in combining unbeatable quality to affordable prices. When we took over the management of the Company, we considered this value – so strongly instilled within the brand’s DNA – with huge respect; the same we put in considering the incredible brand’s past and history, so unique for what it meant for an entire industry. That’s why we decided to avoid any temptation to change the course of the brand’s life and to ‘respect’ all the roads that led it until today: as, in example, the fact that Waltham became Swiss in late 1950 or that, since the beginning of the 1980, it was transformed into a luxury brand manufacturer by its at-that-time japanese owner Heiwado (in 2000 they produced the most expensive watch of that time: the ‘Radiant’, covered by 150 carats of diamonds). For these reasons, when 4 years ago we acquired the majority of the Company with the intention to bring the Waltham brand back to its Country of origin, we thought the best thing to do was to ‘continue the road’, while retrieving elements from the past: Waltham today is for high-end market but with a price really unusual for the excellent quality and performances it offers, and with a 5-years-guarantee that is not yet the ‘life-time’ Waltham used to apply to its watches but that is a first step in that direction. We are writing a new open future and who knows? perhaps this future will bring forth a new concept of Waltham luxury watch for you, tailors and many other. Thank you. Enrico

          Reply
  4. Somerville99

    Personally I think they are crazy. The Waltham name means absolutely nothing except to older people and watch historians. It was a great name but to expect today’s buyers to spend 6-8k for a modern interpretation is unrealistic. At this point they just another old time brand charging thousands for another look a like watch.

    Reply
  5. Robinoz

    I like it, it’s just a little different from other watches and the price range is reasonable.

    Where all these hundreds of watch companies manage to sell their watches is anyone’s guess. However, it does mean those of us who love watches have plenty to choose from.

    Reply
    • Try “Sinn” , “Hanhart”, ” Muhle” etc. They are still small watch companies that are not afraid to say that they use ETA movements, their watches cost from 1500€ to 3000€ max and they do exactly what they should. They keep the time and look great too!!!

      Reply
      • Spiros, you gave me the occasion to talk about the heart of a Waltham watch (and forgive me if I don’t exploit every single element, in any case described on our website http://www.waltham.ch). Believe me, we aren’t absolutely afraid to describe our mechanical movements. On the contrary! We are very proud of the mechanism we built together with Dubois-Dépraz, probably the best Swiss watch complication manufacturer ever, that supported us in re-creating the 3 mythical clocks movements we choose to inspire the new aero-naval collection (as you probably already know, one of them was on board of the legendary Spirit of Saint Louis). This engines are nested into Titanium G5 cases, closed on the top by a 3mm sapphire glass to guarantee a 30bar/300mt water pressure resistance. Indubitably, the brands you mentioned makes very good watches that, as you said, “keep time and look great too”. Simply, for us this is not enough. Enrico

        Reply
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