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"The Chicago" 039 (46mm)

Regular price $1,596.00 Sale

This watch is one-of-a-kind. When it's sold, it's gone forever.

Watch Description

The "Chicago 039" is the 39th one-of-a-kind piece in Vortic's "Chicago" line of the American Artisan Series 2.0. Each AAS watch contains the original movement (timepiece), dial (face), and hands from a vintage (1880’s – 1950’s) pocket watch made by one of the original great American watch companies. Vortic uses cutting edge technology to preserve an important part of United States history in a strikingly attractive and functional way. 

This watch features a water-resistant, titanium 3D printed case with a raw, matte finish and a knurled, copper alloy crown. The 12-sized movement correlates to Vortic's 46mm case diameter and the mechanics of the movement are visible through the Gorilla Glass crystal of the exhibition style, stainless steel back. 

The open face configuration movement places the small seconds at 6 O'clock with the crown at 12 O'clock. The original, blued steel, "whipped spade" style hands point to an excellent condition, unique metal dial. It is rare that we see a dial made from actual precious metals, so this sterling silver dial stands out. The silver has a much softer look than nickel flashing, and the classic styling makes it even more desirable. The numerals are angled, sans-serif, raised silver with a dotted minute track in the margin.

Originally produced by the Elgin National Watch Company in 1911, this "347" grade movement is in excellent condition. It bears the "G.M. Wheeler" marking, signifying a higher level of decoration and performance over the basic 347. George M. Wheeler was the first treasurer of the company and helped get the business off of the ground in the 1860's.

From a Vintage Elgin advertisement: "The man who wants an accurate watch, at a popular price, should buy the G.M. WHEELER grade Elgin - The Premium Middle-Priced Watch."

The movement has nickel plated bridges and main plate decorated with straight Geneva stripes and circular graining, decorated winding wheels, a fully jeweled gear train (17 jewels) with gold jewel settings, a gold center wheel, gilt lettering and balance cock decoration, adjustment to positions, a Mosely nut regulator, and a 3/4-plate bridge design.

All product and company names, logos, brands, and other trademarks featured or referred to within Vortic's products and services are the property of their respective intellectual property rights holders, if any. Those intellectual property rights holders, other than Vortic, LLC, are not affiliated with Vortic, LLC, our products, or our website. They do not sponsor or endorse our materials.

Watch Specs

  • Manufacturer: Vortic Watch Company
  • Product Year: 2017
  • Warranty: Vortic 2-Year Revolving Warranty
  • Watch Dimensions: 
    • Diameter = 46mm
    • Height = 12mm
    • Lug-to-Lug = 55mm
    • Lugs = 22mm
  • Case Finish: Raw Titanium
  • Crown/Hardware: Knurled Raw
  • Crown Location: 12 O'Clock (Open Face)
  • Water Resistance: 1 ATM
  • Crystals: Anti-Fingerprint Gorilla Glass
  • Case Back: Exhibition, Stainless Steel
  • Hands: Original Blued Steel
  • Strap: Leather

Movement Specs

  • Original Manufacturer: Elgin National Watch Company
  • Jewels: 17j
  • Size: 12s
  • Function: Manual Wind
  • Power Reserve: 36-42 Hours
  • Finish: Nickel

Why?

Truly American MAde

2-Year Revolving Warranty

U.S. Watchmaking History
About Elgin National Watch Company
About Vortic Watch Company

The United States has a rich history of manufacturing the best watches in the world. The greatest challenge for the watch industry is longevity, and these movements have passed the ultimate test of time by maintaining their integrity for over 100 years. Vortic is able to preserve the legacy of American watchmaking in the 21st century because of the unbelievable standard of quality that was commonplace during this era.

Many individuals are not aware that the United States was the leader in mechanical watch manufacturing during the late 1800's and early 1900's. Prior to this, watches were produced one-at-a-time and each part of a watch was made by one individual (mostly in England and Switzerland). The industry was not optimized to meet demand, and Americans seized the opportunity to manufacture watches in a new way that would encourage widespread use of timepieces, and pocket watches in particular.

American companies invented countless tools and machines for cutting metal parts that allowed them to make a superior product for a reduced price. Additionally, this advanced machinery developed for watch parts quickly spread to other industries. In fact, many believe that this is what led to America's reputation for industrial prowess in all forms during the 19th and 20th centuries. The original great American watch companies were known for their skill, craftsmanship, and ability to produce each part of a watch more efficiently, more accurately, and on a larger scale.

Eventually, the Swiss adopted American machinery with great success, and the introduction of cheap, disposable, battery-powered, quartz watches in the 1960's led to a rapid decline in demand for quality mechanical watches. The art of American watchmaking quickly vanished and each historic company was ultimately purchased by foreign investors.

The Elgin Watch Company (pronounced “El-Jin”) was not only the largest watch manufacturer in the United States, it was the largest watch manufacturer in the world for almost 100 years. The company often used a depiction of Father Time as a logo in advertisements and company documents. Total production over their 100 years of operation reached nearly 60 million watches, which is almost 50% of all jeweled watches produced in the United States!

At one point the company was making 7,500 watch movements a week, had 2,300 employees, and the main factory (largest watch manufacturing facility in the world at the time) had 583,343 square feet of floor space. The company was involved in both world wars; first training men to make watch repairs in the field for the First World War, then switching over all production to support the troops with military watches, marine chronometers, fuses, and other precise instrumentation for WWll.

The Elgin National Watch Company was founded in 1864 in Elgin, Illinois, just outside of Chicago. That year, organizers of the company took a trip to Waltham to recruit watchmaking talent and walked away with seven machinists/watchmakers (sometimes referred to as Elgin’s Seven Stars). One of these seven (Charles S. Moseley) would become the first superintendent of the Elgin watch factory. The company’s main goal was to produce a high quantity of high-quality watches for a reasonable price, and they did this by inventing brilliant machinery and highly efficient systems of interchangeable parts.

Initially called the National Watch Company, the organizers were later to become some of the biggest names in the American watch industry: J.C. Adams, P.S. Bartlett, D.G. Currier, Otis Hoyt, and Charles H. Mason. With financial backing from former Chicago Mayor Benjamin W. Raymond, the factory for the National Watch Company was completed in 1866, and the company officially changed their name to the Elgin National Watch Company. The Elgin name remained until the company stopped producing watches in 1968, but the fabrication of watch movements in the U.S. ended some years before that.

Elgin attempted to diversify its manufacturing as demand for quality pocket watches declined and quartz watches, as well as low priced foreign alternatives, were introduced. However, without the demand for their core business, watch manufacturing, the company eventually went belly up. The main factory in Elgin, IL was completely torn down in the mid-1960’s, although a few satellite campuses survived longer.

While known for making quality watches for a reasonable price, sometimes referred to as the “working man’s watch,” Elgin’s high-end watches rivaled the best. The machinery that Elgin created to mass produce quality mechanical watches was some of the most advanced of its time. Elgin watches remain extremely popular with collectors today, and there was such a large quantity made that parts for repair are relatively easily to find.

The Vortic Watch Company is a high-end wristwatch engineering and manufacturing company based in Fort Collins, Colorado. Their inspiration lies in pairing classic watchmaking techniques and traditions with cutting-edge, modern technology.

After conceiving the company in Pennsylvania and attending Penn State, the founders relocated themselves and the business to Fort Collins, Colorado. The move was originally conducted to pursue career opportunities prior to full-time employment opportunity with Vortic. However, the pair fell in love with the location and decided to officially base the company in Fort Collins.

Since its founding, Vortic has been recognized by the likes of the New York Times, NPR, The Boston Globe, WatchTime Magazine, About Time magazine, and many other publications for their work in preserving United States history. Additionally, Vortic watches have been inducted to the NAWCC museum in Columbia, PA as well as the Charles River Museum of Industry in Waltham, MA.

The company is currently applying its product-focused attitude, unique aesthetics, and fresh ideas to creating additional products and perfecting their trade.