This is also a good time to highlight another powerful upside to products Made In America: In all these manufacturin companies, everyone — from owners and engineers to the craftspeople who operate the machines and personally handle every workpiece — has a powerful, inimitable sense of pride in the work. Add to this the fact that, while pointing up to the sky and having the chance to say, “I made a part inside that jet!” is surely a privilege unto itself, to be part of producing a watch — an object that carries such great personal importance and value in the eyes of its owner — is a much-appreciated opportunity for them to share and highlight their dexterity, expertise, and dedication to a job done exceptionally well.
Special tools have been created, staff training has been held, and innumerable hours of time and effort have been dedicated to getting all the details just right in the American Documents watch collection – achieved by turning every American supplier’s very own expertise into watchmaking know-how.
From the ultra-modern milling machines used for case-making and hand-applied case decorations, we go to a rather more traditional manufacture. Overseen by a giant old American flag, some 150 lathes operate in one huge, open hall. Upon closer inspection, the machines, with their plaques and the neat typography on them, tell the story of their origin: They are all Swiss precision turning machines. With metal rods 30- to 50-feet-long being fed into them, these pretty much entirely mechanical machines can be set up to perform rod-turning tasks with exceptional accuracy.
It is here, in this “blast from the past” manufacturing company that the crowns for every Timex American Documents watch are made. The need to source such a small — although no less essential — part from a completely separate, dedicated supplier indicates the level of specialization required to produce the parts that we normally take for granted in watches. Sure, for a manufacturer — or company group — that is set up for the mass production of watches and only that, producing regular components is no challenge at all. However, Timex had to overcome such obstacles if it wanted to meet its ambitious goal of producing every part but the movement of its Timex American Documents watches — and meet its ambitious goals it did.
Watch hands and dials are a notoriously difficult-to-make part of any watch – something that in reality poses the greatest challenge to get right even for established, historical companies. It is no wonder then, that only a tiny fraction of brands – normally the smallest, ultra-high-end, independent watchmakers – are those who produce their own hands, while all others leave it to dedicated suppliers.
Timex has found an established manufacturer in Connecticut specializing in the production of stamped parts for as wide a variety of industries as one can imagine. They have machines that stand several stories high so as to be able to smash into thick sheets of metal with immense force, stamping out robust components at great speed and efficiency.
To make something as delicate as watch hands — a part that is stamped on almost all watches — and watch dials, they needed to work with Timex’s engineers to figure out a way that would allow them to make the two main hands as well as the sub-seconds hands with not only exceptional precision, but also the necessary refined aesthetics. The main hands are beveled and polished so that at least one side always reflects light back at the wearer — a testament to Timex’s focus on getting the basics absolutely right. Achieving this consistently in a manufacturer that normally works at an entirely different scale, however, meant a tireless fine-tuning of not only the amount of pressure applied, but also of the tools used to get the desired shapes.
Timex has selected a woodworking shop in Rhode Island to produce the wood presentation case of every Timex American Documents watch. CNC milled for a perfect fit and hand-filed for additional refinement; the goal was to make this exercise as complete as possible. When the very first American Documents watches were finished, Timex visited all suppliers in its home state to show the complete watches. That due attention was paid to the presentation of their work filled all those involved with even greater pride in this achievement.
After manufacturing, the individual components go to Timex, where the dials, hands, cases, and straps, as well as the Swiss quartz movements, are assembled into the finished watch, which is then ready for testing and, at last, to be delivered to its proud owner.
In essence, the Timex American Documents watch collection is a unique coming-together of outstanding American companies who have united in their efforts, know-how, and dedication to create a watch that can proudly say “Made In America” on its dial.
Available in four variants with 41mm wide stainless steel cases, the Timex American Documents watches are priced at $495 and you can learn more about the collection at the Timex website here.