Montana Watch Company 1930 Hand-Engraved Timepiece Review

Montana Watch Company 1930 Hand-Engraved Timepiece Review

Montana Watch Company 1930 Hand-Engraved Timepiece Review Wrist Time Reviews

"American made," the term certainly doesn't mean what it used to. "American made" was once a source of pride and indication of quality and value. Since the industrial revolution the US has time and time again affirmed itself as the prime innovator of high technology, manufacturing efficiency, and innovation. People in America always wanted stuff that was made here, and unless a good was highly specialized, we would look to foreign-made goods with skepticism. Now in 2011 much of that has changed.

The world is now different for better or for worse. Different being the key term, especially here in the US. A combination of factors including high labor costs and globalization have resulted in the US manufacturing ideal to be withered away significantly. During the 1970s and 1980s the automotive industry unfortunately damaged the reputation of US manufacturing beyond repair. The Japanese and Germans started to steal much of the show, and more recently the Chinese have swooped in to replace the majority of manufacturing when it comes to the most basic, non-perishable good. I guess the US is still good at making food. So what does "Made in America" still mean?

Montana Watch Company 1930 Hand-Engraved Timepiece Review Wrist Time Reviews

I think the term has even higher value today that it ever has. Especially when something is an American made high-end functional craft. These are probably among the most rare items and are highly collectible - just look at the auction market for antique American made furniture. When at a store seeing something "made in America," it makes me stop and think, and feel grateful. Items such as that feel increasingly rare. So what of our craft and creativity? Where is the art of Americana.

It is out there, and I am no expert on where to find it. Here in Los Angeles you don't get a whole lot of stuff that feels distinctly "starts and stripes." Wearing this hand-engraved in America Montana Watch Company timepiece is clearly an exotic choice. This feels like a fancy cowboy watch, and it is. Montana Watch Company is a brand still new to me, though I have a lot of respect for the niche product they offer. American designed watches with US art and Swiss movements. Unlike brands like RGM, Montana isn't trying to focus on movements, but rather the more decorative elements of watches such as the case, dial, and strap.

Montana Watch Company 1930 Hand-Engraved Timepiece Review Wrist Time Reviews

Montana Watch Company 1930 Hand-Engraved Timepiece Review Wrist Time Reviews

This model is from the 1930 collection and comes in a sterling silver case with mother-of-pearl dial. The hands and crowns are 14k gold while the strap (on this specific piece) is hand-made and decorated. The Western style decoration on the watch feels like it is poured over the art-deco era design of the case like a rich maple syrup. It is sweet with detail, and is unlike a lot of what you'd find from Europe in terms of style. A nice watch for a wealthy cattle rancher perhaps.

The remarkable parts of the watch are in the decoration. The case and dial design alone are attractive, but nothing inherently unique. The Montana Watch Company touch is all about the master engravers applied Western single-point engraving in deep relief over the sterling silver case. The brand offers a series of engraving styles, either preselected or up to the tastes of the customer. The detail and emotion in the work is very thorough. According to Montana Watch Company, their people are trained in a number of engraving techniques in order to offer the most designs possible.

Montana Watch Company 1930 Hand-Engraved Timepiece Review Wrist Time Reviews

Montana Watch Company 1930 Hand-Engraved Timepiece Review Wrist Time Reviews

At 33mm wide by 53mm tall, the case is a nice hefty size. The brand offers other cases styles as well. The watch has a sapphire crystal (could be AR coated) over the dial. On this model the dial is a very beautiful mother-of-pearl. It is really a gorgeous example of the material. On it are printed Arabic hour numerals. The dial is clearly very classic in its design, but I wish there was a bit more contrast with the hands for slightly more optimized legibility. They aren't too bad though, and there is little bits of lume applied on the tips of the hands. Seconds are shown via a subsidiary seconds dial.

Inside the 1930 watch is a Swiss ETA 2895 automatic movement visible through an exhibition caseback window. Montana Watch Company even had the rotor custom engraved which is a lovely touch. All the decoration really grows on you if you don't like it a lot at first. Like I said, Montana Watch Company has a range of 1930 collection watches. They mix up materials and decorative styles. It is worth checking out the variety on their website.

Montana Watch Company 1930 Hand-Engraved Timepiece Review Wrist Time Reviews

Montana Watch Company 1930 Hand-Engraved Timepiece Review Wrist Time Reviews

Attached to this model is a hand-made leather strap. I like how the artist's signature is on the back of it. The soft leather strap has a high quality feel to it, like a nice gun holster or baseball mitt. More traditional straps as well as American Bison leather straps are also available. Price for this model is in the $16,000 range - and they can go up to about $26,000 if you choose to include a few diamonds.

Montana Watch Company puts a good look on the face of American crafts. As a watch maker I feel they add nicely to the home-grown offerings we have here in the US - and I don't think anyone will complain about their use of Swiss movements.

  • Greg

    I think Liberace could just about pull it off and get away with it. Anyone else probably less so……

    • pat I.

      It’s like a class ring for your wrist.

  • Wolf

    My ideal US watch is an RGM cal 801 in a custom-engraved case from Montana Watch Company. Someday…someday.

  • Shaun

    Jaw dropping piece. And after visiting their site, I am being haunted by visions of the Highline Aviator 11.

    • Shaun,
      Thanks for taking the time to visit our site. The Aviator is a great piece. If you decide you would like to try one on please call Catherine and we can arrange to send one to you.
      Melanie

  • Ariel,
    Thanks for the thorough review of the Model 1930. We appreciate you taking the time to experience one of our watches and share your thoughts with your readers!! Many thanks. If your readers have any questions I will be checking the comments to answer any…..
    Melanie

    • S.

      I am new to this, so this might be a foolish question, but Do they retain their value? What is their resale value? And is this company related to the 2 other watch companies nearby?

      • Yes they do retain their value, as the Montana Watches are in more demand as more people find out about our small watch manufacturing company. We are related to the Rocky Mountain Watch Company, which manufactures quartz watches in a similar vein as the MWC, however we are not related to any other watch companies. If you like a more classic style without hand engraving or other embellishments please visit our site to see our seven base models and a variety of ways that people have customized them.

  • Ulysses

    One can’t fail to be impressed by the amount of care and attention lavished on this watch. You wouldn’t get bored staring at this watch for hours because there’d always be something new to see. That said, I have never admired that “Old West” style. It just seems too ostentatious; something your grandparents might like but lacking the elegance of some European designs. I suppose that’s what makes it uniquely American though. I’d guess the price is justified considering how much effort has gone into making it, and that it obviously can’t be mass-produced, but frankly i’ve seen watches like this in antique shops for far less, so if you wanted to get a watch with this look it probably wouldn’t be too hard to find and would save you a lot of cash.

  • Steve

    Basically it looks like a very tacky Reverso or Cartier Tank except much more expensive and an off the shelf ETA movement ( I doubt this was modified at all) as opposed to a JLC one. Also unlike RGM who makes their own movements this is definitely not an American Made watch. I can’t see who would buy this other than some 90 year old cattle baron.

    • The watch of a meat baron… I like that.

      • pat I.

        The kind of watch you wearing while sitting in your lounge chair of your Mansion enjoying a brandy and a nice cigar.

        You check the time, shiver and call out, “Jeeves I have a chill. Please throw another orphan on the fire”.

    • CJ

      You do know that RGM is not completely American Made. Do you also know that RGM doesn’t manufacture the complete movement. The MWC is the only US company that manufactures it own cases. They have never pretend to make there own movement. It is all assembled in Livingston. Why don’t you visit them.

      • Next time I am in MO I will check them out.

      • CJ,
        Thanks for the clarification. We do welcome EVERYONE to stop by our shop in Livingston, Montana to see exactly what we do and where we design and manufacture our watches. As you stated we do not manufacture our own movements, Jeffrey does disassemble each one and then re-calibrates them in the studio. We love when people stop by…..

  • Chris

    I’ve had an affection for Montana Watch Company pieces for years. The style is definitely not my own, and the prices are high. Still, I grew up in the west and I could see wearing this in Rapid City or Big Sky. They’re beautiful in their own way.

    As far as fine watches with the Western aesthetic, this is really all there is. Most of what we see is European in make and style. I’m grateful for something different.

  • dshon

    Here’s a fun game for this site: post a pic and review of a watch, and give commentors a chance to guess the correct MSRP among three or four choices. I’m guessing that very few commentors would have guessed $16k for this one. My guess would have been $6k.

    • Good idea.

      • Michael

        When you think about the fact that both the case and band are hand engraved, I feel the price is very justifiable. Are they for everyone? No. To hand engrave metal by hand with that much detail must take hundreds of hours. Someone has to pay a master engraver to do work.

        They also offer more basic timepieces at lower prices. I believe their entry level Bridger Field Watch sell for around $3,500.

        I own one, love it and have never second guessed the purchase. I agree they are not or everyone, but they are extremely well made pieces. They actually make pieces that cost much more than the reviewed one. They sell 18k gold pieces for somewhere around $50k.

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  • Well, the rotor decoration is beautiful. Not sure I’d have the chutzpah to pull of the watch as a whole, though…

  • Patek Calatrava

    I think the watch is gorgeous. I love the retro style, a throwback to the classic watches of my grandfather’s era. I always felt that if I could find this vintage style in a large modern size, I would buy one. The price here is a bit high, though…otherwise I would get this watch. It looks great!

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