American Brand



By Gary Girdvainis

Ten years ago, business partners RT Custer and Tyler Wolfe created something new out of something old and brought the Vortic watch brand to life. Housing refurbished vintage American pocket watch movements into wristwatch cases crafted in the United States was a novel idea that brought renewed interest in an Americas watchmaking heritage, while simultaneously creating watches that could legitimately be called Made In the USA.

Ten years later,  a sister brand, Colorado Watch Company, joins the vintage-powered Vortic.

 Successfully launched on Kickstarter, the Colorado Watch Company is following the founding duos desire to build watches in the USA – in this case with a modern movement and the ability to scale from hundreds of watches per year to thousands.

Colorado Watch Company Field Watch Prototype, pictured in four options.

For us, Colorado Watch Company represents our desire to continue to do big, exciting things,” says RT Custer. “We know how to make hundreds of watches in America, and have been doing it with Vortic for nearly a decade. But what about thousands? What if we could create dozens of jobs, not just a handful? Colorado Watch Company represents our American Dream, and we like to dream big!”

As part of this expansion, the partners have relocated to a new facility in Fort Collins Colorado, and invested substantially in a series of machines and equipment critical to making cases and components for watches right in their own facility. Swiss lathes, five-axis CNC milling machines, automated pad printers and more have allowed the partners to take the next steps in American watchmaking.

Field Watch and GCT case machining process.

Initially, two case variations are offered; one is Tyler’s design (the 40mm Field Watch), and the other by RT (the 42mm GCT). Four variants of each are offered in total, each with two dial and two case options. 

The Field Watch

At 40mm with 20mm between the lugs, the 316L stainless-steel Field Watch will comfortably fit on almost anyones wrist. Its also slimmer than you might expect for an automatic watch at just 10.5mm due to the fact that the threaded case-back is recessed within the back and shaves off a couple of millimeters in height – a clever engineering solution for sure.

In the steel-case version, Colorado Watch decided to leave the subtle machining marks as a unique hallmark that adds an industrial effect while emphasizing that these cases were in fact made on-site.

The Field watch dial is machined and printed in Colorado.

Of course, these marks could be polished out and the makers could (and probably will) add different finishes in the future, but this clever bit of wabi-sabi adds an air of authenticity. DLC versions in black will not have the same effect and are polished before coating. 

Field watch and GCT back view, showing FTS automatic movement.

Inside the case beats an Americhron 7020 automatic-winding movement built by FTS USA in Arizona. Shock resistant, accurate, and beating at a frequency of 28,880 bph, the 7A20 movements have a power reserve of around 40 hours and were designed by a team of watchmakers, including FTSown Chief Technical Officer.

FTS automatic movement, showing balance assembly.

Above the movement, the stepped dials are available in a smooth white finish or machined steel. They are also crafted in-house at Fort Collins with integrated (not welded) dial feet adding strength and security to a notorious weak spot in almost any wristwatch. BGW9 lume graces the hands and pip at 12 oclock, while a domestically sourced sapphire crystal sits atop the case.

Even the screws and crown/stem combinations are made on site. Water resistance has been confirmed to 5atm with the non-screw-down crown, but expect a 10atm rating by the time they are delivered. Retail price is $995.

The Colorado Watch Company GCT Watch.


Designed by RT, the GCT is slightly larger than the Field Watch at 42mm, but much more wearable than its 49mm inspiration – the original Military pocket-watch conversion that became a favorite among Vortic collectors. 

In this modern homage to the original, the screw-down crown is relocated to the 12 oclock position, while the stepped dial features Super-Luminova that recalls the colors of the aged radium look of the military original.

Like the Field watch, the GCT case is available in the raw steel version or the black DLC. Similarly, the stepped dials are available in a flat black or machined variation. The same Americhron 7A20 movement beats inside and is visible through the exhibition back in all versions.

Water resistant to 10atm when the crown is screwed down, the GCT also retains some water resistance even when the crown is in the unscrewed position thanks to a gasket system that acts as a backup for the absent-minded watch enthusiast. Retail price is $1,395. 

Growing from Vortic to adding Colorado Watch Company while installing the machinery and expertise is no easy task. Neither is it easy to build an American watch manufacturer that can scale up to produce thousands of watches per year.

The GCT’s steel components.

Nevertheless, Custer and Tyler have taken another massive step in bringing watchmaking back to life in the United States and I congratulate them on their success and look forward to following their watchmaking journey wherever it may lead them in the future. Learn more at the Vortic Watches site.  



By Gary Girdvainis 

When Michael Bertucci left Timex to form his own eponymous brand, he had a goal in-mind: to build a micro-brand into a thriving American watch company. With Bertucci, he has done just that and much more, creating a watch company based on a combination of inherent values. Bertucci now holds multiple patents and offers hundreds of designs sold worldwide.

What brought Bertucci to where it is today is a clearly defined ethos to offer the ultimate field watch that almost anyone could afford. These two guidelines; functional field watch design and accessible pricing (mostly under $500), continue to drive each new design. 

The Retroform

Working from the inside-out, the heart of the Bertucci Retroform is the robust and accurate Ameriquartz cal. 7321 all-metal and jeweled quartz movement – in this case a custom designed variation specifically designed for Bertucci by FTS USA as the cal. 7320-B version.

The Bertucci Retroform Epic Field Watch

Bertucci’s customization? Michael wanted a movement without a date or the “ghost click” crown position common to no-date conversions. Accurate to a few seconds per month, the American-built movement’s center-seconds hand precisely strikes each hashmark on the dial as it tracks time. Held in-place with a custom designed movement holder, the D-3T also benefits from improved shock resistance.

Above the movement, the no-nonsense matte finished black and white dial is easy to reference and shows both 12- and 24-hour timescales, with Swiss lume on triangle markers above each numeral. Hovering over the dial are Luminous syringe style hour and minute hands, with an extended-tip arrow design for the center-seconds. Over all is a domed sapphire crystal that seamlessly melds into the bezel-less case body.

The D-3T features a 42mm by 12.5mm (add 2mm for the pass-through NATO strap) solid titanium case, is rated to 20atm water resistance and incorporates the patented Unibody lug system. 

Those unfamiliar with the Unibody design will appreciate the simplicity and ruggedness of the integrated lugs. Unlike the typical spring-bar or screwed-lug strap retention systems on most watches, the Unibody features solid fixed bars for the strap to pass through – effectively eliminating the possibility of a spring bar failure causing your watch to fall of your wrist.

While the titanium case exudes a retro feel, the flowing design without steps, crevices, sharp edges, or harsh angles calls to mind a rounded pebble shaped by years of wear in a running stream. There is no bezel, no boxed crystal, no chamfered lugs, nor any other interference in the flow of this organic design. Even the shoulders around the 4 o’clock crown merge seamlessly into the lines of the matte-finished case. 

On the Wrist

Lightweight and comfortable on the wrist, the Retroform can be held in place with a huge variety of strap options that are easily threaded through the Unibody case. Those unfamiliar with Bertucci watches should know that Bertucci (the man) is fanatical with regard to the quality of his straps – regardless of which materials are being used. You will be hard-pressed to find anything better in the field watch category.

 My own experience on test-driving the DT3 left me impressed with the lightweight comfort on the wrist, ease of reading the time, and security and comfort of the NATO strap I used during my review. I wore the watch biking, hiking, bowhunting, skating, playing with the dog, doing yardwork, and generally anytime I was dressed informally and appreciated the fact that I was wearing a watch designed in the United States for actual use and abuse.

If there is any caveat to the new Retroform Epic it may be that the matte finish titanium case is not impervious to the signs of use over time. That said, this is a watch that’s meant to be exposed to the elements. If a few scars are picked up along the way, chalk it up to experience and call it “customization.”  Retail price is $345 at www.ultimatefieldwatch.com 


Miami-based ArmourLite Watch Company debuts the Isobrite T100 Naval Series, a trio of solid, eye-catching 300-meter dive watches.

One of three new watches in Isobrite T100 Naval Series. Pictured is the Naval Mariner.

Known for its highly shatter-resistant Armourglass crystals and luminous dials that feature Swiss-built tritium self-illuminated micro-tube watches, ArmourLite offers sports watches under its own name and under the Isobrite monicker. 

The watchmaker offers the new Isobrite T100 Naval Series in three models: a blue-dial Naval Mariner, the black-dial Naval Amphibian (above) and the all-black Naval Destroyer.

The Naval Destroyer

ArmourLite builds each 44mm watch in the series using 316L stainless steel, which frames sixteen tritium markers that glow to provide more than ample illumination for evening and underwater visibility.

Each features a high-end unidirectional sixty-click ceramic bezel, a screw-down, double-gasket crown and a solid engraved caseback.

ArmourLite fits a reliable Swiss-Made Ronda 715Li quartz movement (with a 10-year lithium battery) inside, fully protected with a 300-meter water resistance rating.

The Isobrite T100 Naval Series combines specifications rarely seen in a steel-bracelet watch priced at $595. And at $549 on a rubber strap, it’s an even stronger high-value option for weekend boaters and divers.


Following the 2020 majority stake sale of Timex to the Boston-based hedge fund investment firm Baupost Group, the company has just sold its 84,886-square-foot headquarters complex in Middlebury, Connecticut, for $7.5 million to a partnership between Drubner Equities Florida LLC and Atlantic Management.

Views of Timex HQ in Middlebury, CT.

Where Timex sets up its new HQ and how will this affect the daily operations remains to be seen. We are awaiting a reply from our overtures to the brand and will pass along any updates as we are informed.

By Gary Girdvainis

Giorgio Galli’s CV includes over thirty years in the watch industry with designs and collaborations with numerous brands we all recognize. Today, as the creative director at Timex, Galli has launched a design that is so pure and elegant that it demands our attention.

The new Timex Giorgio Galli S2.

The eponymous release is called the GG(Giorgio Galli) S2 and it takes the Timex brand into new realms of movements, price-points, and unfettered design. 

The black dial with the notched metal ring is subtly elegant without the clamor of ostentation or affectation. Upon closer inspection, the attention to detail comes to light in the multi-faceted hour and minute hands.

To my eye the flat hands typical of so many affordable watches falls flat on me. When beveled, watch hands capture and reflect light, not only making the watches easier to read on a black background, but also adding a depth and panache to any watch in which they are installed.

Galli also made the right choice to eschew the date function on this watch. No-doubt the purity of this design would have been deflated by any distractions on this austere dial.

From the back you’ll note that rather than a threaded case-back Galli opted for a back held in place with six-screws. While it is more difficult to get higher levels of water resistance in this type of construction, it does look good to the eye and has the advantage of always having the case back oriented in the vertical position. Still, the GGS2 is water resistant to 50 meters, which is more than sufficient for a dress watch of this type.

The GGS2 also represents a new price point for Timex and is effectively double the cost of the nearest Timex I could find on the company’s website. Having said that, there is a lot of watch for the money embedded in this design.

The Swiss-made watch houses a Sellita SW 200 automatic winding mechanical movement, combines injection molded steel and titanium into the perfectly proportioned 38mm case, and features flat sapphire crystals front and back. Add to that a solid steel deployant buckle and a chemical resistant nitrile rubber strap and you end up with a lot of watch for $975. 

To Timex and Giorgio Galli I say bravo for creating the Black Tie(mex), a watch retailing for under $1,000 that would look right at home at any black tie affair.

Giorgio Galli wearing the watch he designed.