Vortic's Watch Testing Machines in Cleanroom

Building a Watch Company - Special Edition Watches & Changes to the Heritage Program


One of the biggest challenges but greatest joys of running Vortic Watches is how truly unique and rare the pieces we put out are. 

We make our artisan watches in a way that’s the opposite of an assembly line. Every watch has its own history, and you’re not going to find another person sporting the same watch as you. They’re truly works of art. 

For those who don't know about our process, we take original antique American pocket watch movements, dials, and hands and update them with modern exteriors right in our workshop in Colorado. 

Preserving these pieces of history in a way that’s functional and practical is an art that’s taken years to master, and we’re committed to continuously refining our process. We regularly put out new editions, including military editions fashioned from pocket watches for the United States Army Air Corps.

When you wear a Vortic watch, you’re wearing a piece of history as much as a time-telling device or a fashion statement. Ready to learn more about what we’ve been up to at Vortic? Let’s get into it!

How Vortic is Increasing Production 

Striving to bring as many one-of-a-kind watches as we can to you has always been a goal of ours. We’re happy to say that we’ve just taken another step in that direction. We’ve been waiting to put out a new watch a day, seven days a week for a while, and while we haven’t gotten to that level yet, we’re super close. 

“We call it the watch of the day. We started Monday through Friday, then we added Saturday. So that's six days a week …  The plan is to get to seven watches a week. That's 365 watches a year. Rinse and repeat, that's really the business model for Vortic and our pocket watch conversions.” – R.T. Custer

Plus, we’re going to be incorporating more sizes — we’ve primarily been putting out 12 size, so we’re pumped to be adding more size 16 size watches. 

American Artisan Series Assembly

Besides these one-of-a-kind pieces in the American Artisan Series, we’re also excited to reintroduce and put out some new editions of some old favorites. If you’re trying to decide which Vortic watch to buy, you certainly have options. We’ve revamped and remastered rock-n-roll-inspired Red Rocks watches, railroad-grade pocket watches, and more.

Reintroducing Railroad Grade Pocket Watches

We’re really excited to be bringing back these pieces of transportation history. If you don’t know about how railroad-grade pocket watches were made or used, let us fill you in on what makes them special.  These devices saved lives by providing train operators with an accurate means of keeping time. 

Without accurate time measurement, there were potential accidents and crashes, and many trains did have disasters when their devices weren’t accurate. So, watchmakers applied every bit of knowledge they had to make railroad pocket watches with unique features. 

V1 Vortic Railroad Edition

One, in particular, was a safety lever that made it impossible for conductors to accidentally change time as they placed their watches in their pockets.  

“Railroad Watches [were] the best America could do. They put … everything that they learned over the hundred years [of making watches] ... into the railroad watches because those were so important for time keeping [and for the] schedules on the railroad.” – Tyler Wolfe

While the history is really cool, the actual production of the railroad edition was challenging because of the safety features of railroad-grade pocket watches. Honestly, that’s why we had to shut it down, which we were really disappointed about at the time. 

“We used to make the railroad watches [but] we kind of shut them down… [They were] so difficult to make, bordering on, ‘We can't make them.’ They would take so much time, for each and every one.” - Tyler Wolfe

But we’ve now refined and hopefully mastered a new way of creating them, in addition to tweaking some of the specs and features. We couldn’t be happier that we’ve found a way to bring these watches back to you. They’re truly one of a kind. 

“We’ve updated them. With our V3, we can customize each case specifically for the movement inside of it, [and] with our interchangeable setup that we have on the mills, we can make it perfect. We also reduced the diameter. We had a 51, maybe even 51 and a half for the old railroad. So now they're down to 49 millimeters. They’re [also] more waterproof.” - Tyler Wolfe

These rare and valuable pieces are a part of our national legacy, yet they’re also functional and practical, usable and shareable. And that's what we’re all about at Vortic— taking those precious pieces out of hiding and giving them a new life.

The New Military Edition 

Our new military edition will go live on November 11, and this is going to be something to watch. We’ll likely announce the edition in late October at the Wind Up Watch Fair, so stay tuned!

Our military editions are fan favorites for a good reason. We create them using salvaged antique American-made pocket watches that were crafted for the U.S. Army Air Corps. Whether you’re a military buff or not, it’s amazing to carry a functional, practical historical relic on your wrist. 

V3 Vortic Military Edition Watch

Plus, $500 of every sale is donated to Veterans Watchmaker Initiative, which trains veterans to become professional watchmakers. We’ve already raised $100,000, and we’re looking forward to more!

Besides being for a good cause, we do love to create a look for you to wear that makes a statement. We like our style to evolve continuously and feel fresh and new. That will be reflected in the upcoming edition. 

“[The previous editions] look fairly similar. We kept the engineering pretty consistent between those three versions. But this year we updated everything: engineering, fixturing, [everything]. It’s gonna be pretty neat, a little bit different, and super cool.” – Tyler Wolfe

We’ve done three editions of the Military Edition so far, and they are all fairly similar watches inside and out. This time we decided to switch things up, which is exciting for us, and we think you'll really enjoy it too.  

Our New Red Rocks Edition Watches

Another awesome offering that’s in the works is another Red Rocks edition. Again, if you’re a long-time fan, you know how we’ve partnered with the historic Red Rocks Amphitheatre to craft special edition watches. 

We gifted a bunch of Hall of Fame editions to gift to music legends including Jackson Browne, Steve Miller, and Jimmy Buffett. It was such a cool experience going backstage and meeting some of those icons. If we go backstage again, we won’t forget to film it and show you some of that behind-the-scenes action. 

Right now, we’re in the contract process of partnering with the amphitheater, and we’re dreaming up some pretty unique ways of incorporating that venue’s sense of place and history into the watches. 

“We're going to attempt — I don't know that we're gonna be able to do it — but we're going to attempt to incorporate actual red rock from the amphitheater into the dial rocks. [Unless the rocks disintegrate.] We might mix it up and disintegrate it on purpose. Mix it up … and then press it into the shape we want it to be. But [that’s] TBD.” – Tyler Wolfe

Will we make that happen? By now, we know to expect the unexpected! Either way, you can count on this one reflecting that unique combination of ruggedness and rock-n-roll that draws visitors from around the world to the stunning Red Rocks Amphitheater. 

Revamping the Vortic Heritage Program

If you’ve been with us for a while, you know that we don’t just source and restore antique watches and parts that we find. We have a really cool service for folks who have their own pieces to upgrade, and our convert your watch service is part of what defines our brand.

Vortic Watch Lifestyle Photo

It’s one of our most prized programs, and it’s been an absolute pleasure helping countless customers connect to their predecessors and heritage, bringing new life to those stories that should never be forgotten. 

“Why do we do what we do? We do what we do to preserve American history and make it relevant today. That's really important to us. It’s also really important to us to preserve people's personal histories when they do have grandpa's watch.” – Tyler Wolfe

We’ve seen that, as much as we like these projects, the way we’ve been going about them isn’t sustainable in the long term. They say “quality over quantity,” and that’s the way we’re going here at Vortic. 

We know there will be folks who are a little disappointed that things are taking longer or that we can’t fit them in, but it’s for the best possible reason — we’re committing to always maintain high standards of integrity. We don’t want to rush things. 

“There's no one else that does what we do. … We're gonna flip the script on it, and instead of just kind of squeezing one in where we can, we're gonna focus on it and make it one of our, our top priorities. We can only do so many. So when we do it, we do it right. And we serve those customers with insane levels of quality and integrity.” –  R.T. Custer

We want to give that bespoke service and artist’s touch to your pieces. And now, we want to bring that storyteller’s touch too. To do this well, we have to limit the number of watches we do and get to know you and your story.

“We're changing the … process. [It’s] almost like an application form, where you submit your pocket watch to work with us. We're gonna ask the story behind it. Was it your grandfather's? Was it your grandmother's? Was it your great, great uncles? Where did this come from? How much do you know about the family story? We love that. We'd love to help tell that story, too, if you're okay with that as a customer.” – R.T. Custer

Do you have a piece of history you want to give new life? Don’t let one of your loved ones’ pocket watches sit gathering dust. You can give it new life by wearing it as a restored, functional piece of history.

Check Out the Latest Video On More Custer & Wolfe

Thanks for joining us as we continue to grow and evolve at Vortic Watches. We’ve always placed the story of each piece and the value of personal connection at the forefront of our company. We value our connection to you, and we strive to uphold our high standards of excellence for every piece we make.

If you want to know more about our new editions and upgrades, watch our latest video, Building a Watch Company: Special Edition Watches and Changes to the Heritage Program, now! And don’t hesitate to let us know what you think. We love hearing your thoughts and reactions to the changes we make. 

To stay up-to-date with all things Vortic, subscribe to the Custer & Wolfe YouTube Channel.

You can also keep track of the new editions by subscribing to our email newsletter, checking out the watch of the day by following us on Instagram, and keeping an eye out for a sneak peek behind the scenes at Red Rock Amphitheater in future videos.

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