American watchmaking has been a fairly recent fascination of mine. I’ve always considered myself patriotic but the American watchmaking scene is small and consists mostly of American assembled watches rather than true artisanal watchmaking. However there is a brand I’ve been following that is changing that. Weiss watch company is leading the charge on a mission to restore prestige to American watchmaking. They’re producing watches that are not just assembled but also manufactured in the United States. Handcrafted movements that are hand jeweled, machined, plated, and finished all in their Los Angeles California workshop.
Its mission is what first drew me to the brand but the “Los Angeles, CA” on the dial is what really made me a fan. I’m a Southern California native and something about seeing that on the dial hooked me. Cameron Weiss the head watchmaker and founder does not look like your typical watchmaker. He drives to his workshop in a vintage Land Rover or Bug and sports a clean beard with long brown hair. His overall look, as well as the design of his watches, give off strong American west coast vibe. Although he’s based in California now, he cut his watchmaking teeth in Switzerland. He’s been trained at WOSTEP (Watchmakers of Switzerland Training and Educational Program) as well as worked at Audemars Piguet & Vacheron Constantin. Determined to bring his watchmaking know-how back to the States he opened Weiss Watch company in 2013. Since then they’ve progressed from assembling swiss parts and putting them into American watches to designing, manufacturing, and assembling a truly American made watch.
One of their newer watches and my personal favorite is the American Issue Field Watch Ultralight Limited Edition with an aluminum in house movement. The Caliber 1003 is a watch movement unlike any other I’ve seen. Its black anodized aluminum really allows the polished screws and jewels to pop. The specific alloy used—7074 aluminum—not only helps the watch live up to its name “Ultralight” it’s also a tribute to Southern California’s rich aerospace history. The metal is normally used to make aircraft wings and fuselages. This is a very durable material and should hold up just fine on your wrist. The link to aerospace is a common theme with this and other Weiss watches. The case is made of Grade 5 Titanium utilizing the same metal as airframe and engine components. While the watch looks old fashioned this a cutting edge, ultralight, and ultra-durable field watch.
The watch is designed as a traditional field watch and could easily be from the middle of the 20th century. It has a hyper legible and no-nonsense design that makes it a great casual everyday wearer. It looks as if it would be right at home under the cuff of a Pendleton flannel while chopping up some wood for a bonfire on the beach. That’s not to say it lacks versatility though. The polished bezel and large polished sword hands against the deep navy blue dial allow you to dress it up a bit if you so desired.
Made to order by Cameron Weiss on a workbench in Torrance, CA this watch will set you back $2,800 + $85 if you want it engraved. This is on the higher end for a traditional field watch but you’re not just paying for a collection of parts. I’ve always found it hard to compare watch prices for this very reason. Two watches that look the same and function the same can be very different because of their stories. The story of this watch will resonate more strongly with some than others. It is extremely appealing to me for instance as I happen to be a born and raised Californian watch lover. With a Weiss watch you’re getting an heirloom-quality timepiece, designed in the USA, handcrafted by a family man on a mission. That mission, again, is to bring prestige back to American watchmaking. With this American Issue Field Watch, I think he’s on his way. Limited to 100 pieces, get it while you can.
More information available here.