A COLORADO COMPANY IS PRESERVING HISTORY BY SALVAGING ANTIQUE POCKET WATCH MOVEMENTS AND REIMAGINING THEM AS FUNCTIONAL WRISTWATCHES.
Vortic Watches have transparent backs so you can see the timepiece’s original inner mechanisms at work. PHOTO BY DARREN SQUASHIC/COURTESY OF VORTIC WATCH COMPANY
WHAT TO DO WITH THAT POCKET WATCH your great grandfather carried that’s been lovingly passed down through the generations? Vortic Watches, a small-batch restoration company based in Fort Collins, specializes in bringing heirloom timepieces back to life.
Vortic Military Edition. PHOTO BY DARREN SQUASHIC/COURTESY OF VORTIC WATCH COMPANY
A startup founded in 2013 by R.T. Custer and Tyler Wolfe, the company uses both traditional and cutting-edge watch-making technology to convert antique pocket watches into sophisticated functional wristwatches. “People from all over the world send us their old pocket watches,” Custer says. “We’re preserving their legacy.”
Vortic rescues antique American-made pocket watch movements, dials and hands from the 1880s to the 1950s found at estate sales and auctions and combines them with modern crowns, glass and cases made with aerospace-grade titanium. At the Vortic workshop, each movement is disassembled, cleaned, oiled and calibrated. Once reassembled, the original inner workings are visible at the watch’s back, from rose gold gears and ratchet wheels to decorated bridges and gold-plated balances. The final touch: straps crafted from artisanal Horween Shell Cordovan leather.
Each year on Veterans Day, Vortic releases its most coveted custom offering, the Military Edition. The watches are constructed from salvaged AN5740-1 pocket watches that were originally manufactured for the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. Crafted to meet exacting specifications, these timepieces were used by navigators on B-17 and B-24 bombers as stopwatches, to pinpoint location and, of course, to accurately tell time. For each piece sold, $500 is donated to the Veterans Watchmaker Initiative, which helps military veterans become watchmakers.
In the company’s Watch of the Day program, Vortic posts a single newly restored timepiece each day of the workweek. These reimagined pieces sell out almost instantly.
The Vortic watch you buy may have once belonged to a 1940s army lieutenant or a 19th century railroad conductor. Each watch has its own story to tell. “We don’t make watches,” Custer says. “We build conversation pieces.” 517 N. Link Lane, Fort Collins, vorticwatches.com