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Reviving the American Watchmaking Legacy with RT Custer of Vortic and Colorado Watch Company

When it comes to horology, few names are as synonymous with the revival of American watchmaking as RT Custer. In a recent podcast episode, we are taken on a journey through the intricacies of crafting timepieces that blend historical significance with contemporary style. Custer, the founder of Vortic and Colorado Watch Company, shares his experiences and ambitions, providing a rare glimpse into the art of watchmaking.

The narrative begins with the origins of Vortic Watch Company. The idea sprouted from a simple question: Could a watch be truly American-made? Custer explains how the company came into existence, transforming century-old American pocket watches into unique wristwatches. Each piece tells a story, a slice of history reborn on the wrist of a modern consumer. The meticulous process of upcycling these vintage watches into wearable art requires expertise, passion, and a deep respect for the past.

But the ambition didn’t stop there. Custer’s Colorado Watch Company represents his leap towards larger-scale production. He discusses the importance of transparency in sourcing, and the utilization of the AmeriCron movement—a testament to the brand’s commitment to quality and integrity. The collaboration with Fine Timepiece Solutions and Titan Watch Company in India illustrates the complexities of modern watchmaking and the global interdependencies within the industry.

The podcast delves into the challenges of restoring vintage watches, underscoring the delicate balance between preserving originality and ensuring functionality. Custer shares the journey of these watches, from being undervalued heirlooms to coveted collectibles. The conversation touches upon the skill gap in the industry, the need for educational initiatives, and the Veterans Watchmaker Initiative, all pointing to Custer’s dedication to nurturing the next generation of watchmakers.

Perhaps one of the most captivating segments of the episode is the recounting of Vortic’s legal battle with Hamilton and the Swatch Group. Custer’s story of resilience in the face of a potential crisis demonstrates the strength and determination required to navigate the treacherous waters of intellectual property law in the watchmaking business.

The podcast also explores Vortic’s expansion plans, including the ‘Journeyman Series’—a line of custom, high-end watches that will feature Swiss movements and innovative dials. The concept of ‘industrial Americana’ aesthetic is particularly intriguing, suggesting a fusion of tradition and modernity that resonates with watch enthusiasts.

Finally, the episode concludes with Custer’s vision for the future. His dream of an American-made luxury landscape, where stories and history are interwoven into the fabric of the watches, teases listeners with the promise of upcoming releases. The mention of a special military edition watch linked to a significant anniversary leaves us eagerly anticipating what’s next for Vortic and Colorado Watch Company.

As the podcast comes to a close, it’s clear that RT Custer’s tale is more than just about timepieces—it’s about passion, precision, and the pursuit of the American watchmaking dream. His efforts to revive the legacy of American horology are not only admirable but essential in keeping the craft alive for future generations to marvel at and cherish.