Top 5 American Brands at WindUp Watch Fair San Francisco
 

Top 5 American Brands at WindUp Watch Fair San Francisco

4 min read
Safie Agar-Hutton

Categories

Industry News

Safie Agar-Hutton

Categories

Industry News

If asked to imagine a physical representation of the ‘watch world’, you might find visions of the snowy peaks of Switzerland naturally begin to spring to mind. That’s understandable, as Switzerland has somewhat established itself as the go-to home of timekeeping, but that’s not who we’re talking about today.

Some of the most treasured brands in the business are a little further afield, take America for instance, where the first of this year’s annual WindUp Watch Fair events is currently taking place. Now in its 9th successful year, WindUp began in New York City but has since expanded to Chicago and San Francisco.

WindUp Watch Fair Exhibit. Credit: Worn and Wound.

 
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The first 100% American-made watches were pioneered by the Waltham Watch Company in the early 1800’s. Up until this point, America had been largely reliant on supplies from England and Switzerland. Having produced millions upon millions of watches and other timekeeping instruments from 1850 to 1957, you could say that the Waltham Watch Company set the U.S.A up quite nicely for what would later be to come.

Now, with watch enthusiasts set to swarm on San Francisco’s Fort Mason Gateway Pavilion, we’ve compiled our selection of the Top 5 most exciting American brands attending.

  1. Brew Watch Co.

Brew Watch Co. at WindUp Watch Fair. Credit: Worn and Wound.

Built on the principles of ‘savoring moments in time’, Brew Watch Co. was founded in 2015 by Jonathan Ferrer. His first watch was dreamt up from a seat at his local coffee shop in New York City, romantic right? Finding himself perplexed by the barista’s reliance on nothing but a simple kitchen timer, Ferrer took matters into his own hands and began designing right there and then. His aim was to create a watch that could prove to be as useful as it was fun, and the result is the Special Brew, which was launched through Kickstarter later that year.

Things have come a long way for the passion project since then. For one, Jonathan is no longer running Brew from his NYC apartment with only his mum to help fulfill the orders. The current lineup features the Metric and Retrograph collections, as well as the 8-Bit Brew, a one-off chronograph design that blends the aesthetics of pixelated 80’s retro gaming with coffee. Don’t ask us why, but it works! This is exactly the kind of quirky brand we look forward to seeing at WindUp San Francisco.

  1. Zodiac

Zodiac at WindUp Watch Fair. Credit: Worn and Wound.

Speaking of quirky, next up are Zodiac. Known for pushing boundaries, Zodiac have decades of evolutionary design under their belts and have made a name for themselves over the years by using bold colour, exaggerated features and even mystery dials. Zodiac was founded in Switzerland back in 1882 but more recently, in 2001, they were acquired by Fossil Group which led to a change of scenery. With their headquarters now presiding in Richardson, Texas, but manufacturing taking place as before in Bienne, Switzerland, Zodiac artfully bridges the gap between luxury Swiss precision and creative American watchmaking.

In their words though, they’re “just getting started”. Having steadily re-emerged in the last ten to fifteen years, Zodiac seems to be going from strength to strength. Their latest release sees the Super Sea Wolf GMT reimagined for a modern audience and the bubblegum pink hues of the ZO9416 certainly align with last summer’s Barbenheimer aesthetics.

  1. Vortic Watch Co.

Vortic Watch Co. at WindUp Watch Fair. Credit: Worn and Wound.

 
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Now for a watch brand who do things a little differently whilst managing not to stray too far from tradition. Vortic have purposefully chosen not to reinvent the wheel, believing that actually, “we had it right the first time”. Their American Artisan Series watches capture the spirit of a bygone time by combining modern 3D printing technology with traditional pocket watches. These adapted wristwatches go beyond the realm of mere accessories, tastefully preserving snippets of American history for a new generation to enjoy.

As you might expect, restoring disused pocket watches to their former glory is no small task. For that reason, pieces are produced in strictly limited quantities. As well as happily providing commission-based work to individuals wishing to restore family heirlooms and trinkets from the past, Vortic’s Watch of the Week program ensures a new and unique piece is available for general purchase every single day. The catch? You’ve got to be quick. There’s only one available of each.

  1. and 5. 

Bulova and Accutron

    Bulova at WindUp Watch Fair. Credit: Worn and Wound.

    Sharing the joint 4th/5th place are Bulova and Accutron, two brands that are somewhat difficult to extract from one another, and for good reason. The story began in 1960 when Bulova released the Accutron. As the world’s first ever tuning fork electronic watch, the Accutron completely revolutionized watchmaking and took the industry by storm. It even came close to winning the ‘Space Race’ in 1965, before ultimately losing out to Omega’s Speedmaster. In 1965 the hype seemed to die down once and for all as quartz watches snatched the attention of watch enthusiasts looking for the next big technological advancement, it wouldn’t stay that way forever though…

    In 2008 the Japanese Citizen Watch Group acquired Bulova. They already had their own Eco-Drive solar watches well underway so it was clear that the Accutron would have to evolve in a way that firmly distinguished itself from the rest of the brand. In 2020, they did just that by launching the Accutron Spaceview 2020 which was equipped with a brand-new electrostatic energy powered movement. The dial of the newly evolved Accutron Spaceview 2020 was perhaps still the most remarkable thing, baring the logo ‘Accutron’ and establishing itself as a brand independent to Bulova. Both brands will attend WindUp this year, so whether you’re a space nerd, or an enthusiast sniffing out the next technical wonder, they’re surely worth visiting.

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    Safie Agar-Hutton

    About the Author: Safie Agar-Hutton

    As a passionate writer, working on the Magazine Team is a great outlet for my creativity. I joined WatchGecko in 2024 and enjoy the varied nature of my job, but my true motivation comes from delivering horological-focused content. My writing includes press releases containing important news from the biggest brands in the industry, timepiece reviews, and Top Choice pieces showcasing the best products from our online store. If it's watch related, I’ll write about it!

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