Every year at WatchTime New York, we host a number of industry panels throughout the Saturday session. These panels serve as a sort-of bookmark throughout the day and are a great chance to hear watchmakers themselves, industry pundits, and various members of the horological cognoscenti discuss the world of watchmaking as a whole.
An American Movement, our final panel of the day starting at 4:00 p.m., is brought to you by Gear Patrol and is moderated by WatchTime Editor Logan R. Baker and Gear Patrol Associate Editor Oren Hartov. The panel will provide an intimate look at the proliferation of independent, small-scale watch brands based in the United States over the past few years. Often run by passionate watch enthusiasts, these so-called “microbrands” are able to take risks in design and production at a much more accessible price point than larger, more well-established companies. These brands, represented by Brew Watch Co. from New York City, Monta Watch from St. Louis, and Oak & Oscar from Chicago, are also a source of hope for a greater revival in American watchmaking, a once-prominent industry that has remained near-dormant for decades.
Here’s some background information on these three brands — though longtime WatchTime readers should be familiar with them — that will be featured during the An American Movement panel at WatchTime New York 2018 (Saturday tickets still available, click here to get yours now).
Oak & Oscar
Founded by former commercial real estate analyst Chase Fancher, Chicago-based Oak & Oscar is likely the microbrand you’re most familiar with. Fancher and his small team have released three highly-limited watches in successive years, starting with the time-and-date only Burnham, followed by the Sandford GMT and, finally, last year’s Jackson Flyback Chronograph. Imbued with trademark Windy City flair, the Jackson is a manual wound flyback chronograph with column wheel and a stacked register. Earlier this year, they unveiled two new iterations of the Jackson in Batch Nº1 that were only available to owners of previous Oak & Oscar timepieces. It’s initiatives like this that have helped the brand earn a national following and its place in the upper echelon of American indies. Read our profile on Chase Fancher and Oak & Oscar here.
Monta is the brainchild of Michael DiMartini (who will represent the brand at WTNY) and Justin Kraudel. Based out of St. Louis, the twosome offers some true Midwestern, horological credentials. DiMartini is the founder of Everest Horology, an online aftermarket supplier of rubber and leather straps as well as other watch accessories, and Kraudel was the founder of the RedBar St. Louis chapter, which is where he met DiMartini and where they hatched their plan to start Monta. The brand currently has three watches in its portfolio: the Oceanking, its take on a traditional divers’ watch, the Skyquest, a GMT model, and the Triumph, a time-and-date only field watch. Read our recent review of the Oceanking here.
Brew Watch Co.
The New York City area is able to claim Brew Watches and its founder Jonathan Ferrer as residents. The name might give it away, but Ferrer’s design inspiration doesn’t come from typical horological concept fodder like high-speed automobiles or jets, rather from the ubiquitous and quirky coffee-maker. However, instead of what you might find in the corporate office break room, Ferrer draws from luxuriously vintage Italian espresso machines that feature a blend of contrasting colors and textures. Based on the idea that a coffee break is the meeting ground between hard work and relaxation, a place where the mind can recuperate the creative energies lost during the day, Ferrer built out his brand with funding through Kickstarter and officially launched the company in 2015. The HP-1 line is Brew’s current and most popular offering, with the hero piece being the blacked-out Darkbrew. Click here to learn more about Brew Watch Co.