There’s an old phrase that you’ve probably heard before that goes like this: the greatest things in life are free.
What a beautiful sentiment! When this phrase is said, it’s usually referring to intangible concepts like love or happiness. Today, however, we’re starting off with this phrase to gear up for a special episode where we take you inside Windup Watch Fair in New York City, which is free and open to the public.
We know not everyone lives near one of the three cities in which this world-renowned watch fair pops up, which include Chicago, San Francisco, and New York. That’s why we’re giving you a special tour!
In this episode, we follow R.T. as he visits some of his favorite brands’ booths at the fair, giving you an exclusive inside look at the exceptional craftsmanship on display. So if want to see some of the coolest watches you can get your hands on, come along in this article!
Windup Watch Fair
Going on its eighth year, Windup Watch Fair has become an annual tradition in New York City's watch industry.
In October, watch collectors, experts, and amateurs all congregate to buy, sell, and discuss the timepieces they wear. This year, there were more opportunities than ever to join in on the fun, and 60 different brands participated! As always, WindupWatch Fair is totally free to attend.
“Today we're at the Windup Watch Fair here in New York City. It is the largest micro brand and independent wristwatch industry fair, and it’s free and open to the public. They do it in New York, San Francisco, and Chicago every year, but New York is the biggest. We're gonna do a quick walkthrough of the show to show you what it's like if you couldn't make it, and show you how and why we do these shows. Come on!” - R.T. Custer
Photo cred 📸 @wornandwound
For three days, Windup Watch Fair creates a welcoming space for watch enthusiasts and retailers to connect. Whether you're a seasoned collector or just starting out, this incredible expo welcomes everyone.
A Quick Rundown of Our Favorite Brands at Windup Watch Fair NYC
Now that you’re marking your calendars for next year’s fair, let’s talk about some of our favorite watch companies at Windup. We would love to talk to you about every watch from all of the unique brands here, but in order to save time, we’re just going to visit a few of our favorites.
First up on the tour, we have Oak & Oscar out of Chicago. These guys are an independent American watch company that started out in 2015 and are continuing to craft some of the most elegant, durable luxury watches you can find. Their booth at WindupChicago was absolutely gorgeous. Not to mention their brand is named after the founder’s adorable puppy Oscar. We highly recommend checking them out!
Based in New York, Stella is an independent watch brand founded in 2019 by two business and watch aficionados, Marcella Dolan and Stephen Rowley. The pair reside in New York, do all of the designing themselves, and manufacture their watches in Switzerland. These guys had some of the most eye-catching watches in the entire fair, especially with their gorgeous dials!
Benjamin Lazarus and his two brothers established the New York-based company Benrus, which was named after the first syllable of Benjamin's name and the last syllable of the family name. These three young men started out by pooling $5,000 to begin importing Swiss watch movements and encasing them in New York.
They established their company's headquarters in the historic Hippodrome building, which is located in the city's jewelry area and is widely recognized as the current "heart" of the city. The original location of the company's headquarters is still serving as such today.
Today, BENRUS is focusing on limited-edition reissues and cutting-edge designs to ensure that it remains a timeless classic. These guys have a mission similar to our own, so we loved getting to check out their booth and see all of their vintage-inspired watches.
Bespoke hails from Oakland, California, and manufactures everything right here in the USA. Some of these watches are among the most unique we have seen, so they’re worth checking out if you’re in or near the Oakland area!
Vieren was established in Toronto in 2020 through a partnership between two titans of industry. As a management consultant, Jess spent her 20s advising major brands. However, by age 30, she decided to follow her heart and launch her own company.
After twenty years in the fashion industry, designer Sunny Fong wanted to try something new. The renowned Canadian fashion designer always wanted to create a watch with a square face as a tribute to the one he received as a high school senior. Sunny infuses VIEREN's avant-garde designs with his modernist aesthetic and attention to detail in the areas of form, function, and fashion.
Together, they unite the pinnacle of luxury watchmaking with cutting-edge fashion design so that everyone can enjoy life's most momentous occasions in style.
Photo cred 📸 @wornandwound
Founded in New York, Brew is not shy about its obvious connotation to everyone’s favorite caffeinated morning beverage.
Founder and designer Jonathan Ferrer describes his company’s mission as similar to taking a morning coffee break. We all look forward to that moment of peace we have to ourselves amidst a busy schedule, and that’s what his brand philosophy is all about — savoring that brief moment of peace.
Brew’s watch collection is designed to celebrate all of our enjoyable coffee experiences. A distinctive blend of warm contrasting hues and a variety of brushing effects characterize this collection, which was inspired by the aesthetic of commercial espresso machines.
The use of these contrasting hues and materials draws attention to the fine craftsmanship that went into making these watches. Their venting on the sides, back, and top gives them an industrial look, not unlike that of an espresso machine. If you’re a coffee lover, you need to check these watches out!
Abingdon is one of the most unique brands we’ve seen, and it started at a dinner conversation in 2006 between a group of women pilots and mechanics.
Pilot and owner of Abingdon, Abingdon Mullin, heard her colleague’s repeated desires for a watch that was not only functional and fashionable but made for women and decided then and there that she would create the first company that makes watches for women, by women.
They pride themselves on being the only quality watch brand designed for adventurous women, and these watches are definitely built for function, not fashion.
These quality timepieces maintain excellent functionality in the toughest of conditions. Whether you’re running, mountain biking, scuba diving, or skydiving, Abingdon is the perfect watch for adventure.
Many years ago, while visiting Loch anOrdain, a lonely loch in the Scottish Highlands, founder and architect Lewis Heath had the idea for a watch company that could merge contemporary design with traditional craft.
Photo cred 📸 @wornandwound
Today, all 15 team members that make up anOrdain are working together to push the boundaries of design. Located on Glasgow Green, its home is the historic Templeton Building, which was once a carpet factory that provided work for graduates of Glasgow's prestigious art school. In a similar vein, anOrdain relies on Scottish ingenuity and skill to create its products.
In 1916, Claude Lyons established the Vertex Watch Company. Born in London in 1885, he entered the watch industry at the tender age of 17. With his intelligence and inventiveness, he quickly became well-known as a top-notch jeweler and watchmaker.
In 1912, he borrowed one thousand pounds from his father-in-law to start Dreadnaught Watches, which he paid back within a year. Then, he started Vertex four years later. From 1916-1972, Vertex built top-of-the-line wind-up watches but sadly had to close after the rise of quartz watches.
Vertex is re-incorporated by Claude Lyons' great-grandson, Don Cochrane, signifying the revival of this historic company and the beginning of a new era in watchmaking 100 years after the company was founded. Today, Vertex does much of what we aim to do at Vortic, which is resurrecting the brand and restoring beautiful, antique timepieces to all of their former glory.
What to Expect from the Future of Windup Watch Fair
This quick tour was only a tiny preview of all the awesome stuff happening inside Windup Watch Fair 2022, so if you weren’t able to make it this year, there’s still some mystery on what to expect next year!
After touring the whole fair and seeing all that these amazing brands had to offer, R.T. spoke with Blake Malin from Windup about what the future of the fair looks like.
“I think, certainly for a consumer-focused event, this is the largest. And I think what's so great about this is that it's just a wide spectrum of just something from everybody, regardless of style or price point. It's all under one roof.” - Blake Malin
There’s no denying that Windup is growing, but with so many independent watch brands wanting to participate, we were left wondering if they had any plans for expansion into additional cities.
“So this year, we really grew Windup quite a bit with the new event in Chicago and larger events pretty much across the board. So San Francisco will get larger next year, and I think New York — we're gonna definitely come back here! I think we're definitely looking to expand to additional cities in the future. People really want us to go to Texas. People really want us to go to London, so I don't have anything concrete quite yet, but there will be more in other locations for sure.” - Blake Malin
You heard it here first, folks! Wind Up Watch Fair may be coming to a city near you in the future.
Stay in Touch with Vortic Watch Company
That’s a wrap on Windup Watch Fair 2022!
We had a blast showing everyone what our watches look and feel like, and we can’t wait to do it again. So if you've been wondering how our watches might look on your wrist, shows like these are your chance to come and have a look! Visit our website to find our schedule for when and where we will be attending trade shows.
At Vortic Watch Company, we don’t just make watches, we restore pieces of history. Vortic takes timeless, antique pocket watches and reimagines them as incredible, one-of-a-kind wristwatches. We take pride in our process, and we think that care is present in the quality of our products.
Subscribing to Custer & Wolfe's YouTube channel will keep you informed on all things Vortic. There, we'll keep you up-to-date on everything that's happening with us, including our warehouse growth, production process, and ideas for creating an impactful business!