3D Printing Is Bringing Vintage American Watches Back


Vintage American Watches are making an incredible comeback, and they’re looking just as fashionable now as they did 100 years ago.

It’s no secret that antique watches are absolutely gorgeous timepieces. They’re so striking, in fact, that some artists take broken, abandoned watches and make Steampunk sculptures out of them! That said, have you ever wondered if worn out watches could be restored to function just as well as they did in their heyday? As it turns out, one startup company is doing just that, and they’re launching their own brand of vintage-style American watches to give collectors something to be excited about.

That’s right, thanks to the modern magic of 3D printing, the Colorado based company Vortic Watches is proving that what was once old is new again.

For anyone who is unfamiliar with the concept, “3D printing” is a revolutionary new form of mass-assembly that has garnered a lot of attention over the past few years. Formally known as “additive manufacturing,” the process involves a machine that is fed information of a 3D object generated via 3D imaging software, which proceeds to build the object by stacking layer upon layer of material until the item is created. In other words, the machine “prints” the object in a similar way your printer spits out a 10 page letter based on a Microsoft Word document you’ve created. Vortic Watches utilizes this technology to print brand new stainless steel cases and spacers for classic watches from brands such as Hamilton, Waltham, and Elgin. The result is a unique synthesis of old and new materials, preserving these age-old treasures with renewed utility and timely elegance. Were it not for Vortic’s efforts, these historic timepieces may have otherwise been discarded.

In truth, the art of 3D printing isn’t the only phenomenon of the 21st century that’s bringing vintage American watches back into the fold. Vortic Watches is a startup company that has not once, but twice been backed for its watch-making projects through the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter. For those who need a primer on what “crowdfunding” is, Kickstarter is a website that allows its users to donate money to various independent developers looking for the funds to make movies, collectibles, and just about anything else you can think of. Projects that don’t meet the goal determined at the beginning of their respective campaigns wind up receiving no money at all, but fortunately for Vortic, fans of American watches rallied behind the young company and successfully funded their mission within a matter of hours. No joke, their first Kickstarter campaign hit its goal on its first day!

Vortic’s current Kickstarter campaign is promising a new line of “Journeyman” watches, which is an entirely original series of 3D printed watches that aim to capture the look and feel of authentic vintage watches. As to be expected, Vortic advertises their watches as being made in America, with a New Jersey based company producing the 3D printed parts. As of writing, the Journeyman watch Kickstarter campaign has exceeded the $50,000 goal for the new watches by over 50% within its very first week. This may be no surprise considering the minimum pledge amount for one watch is $795 , but it goes to show the dedication of the vintage American watch community when success stories such as this pop up. Many moons have passed since these watches once hit their commercial stride, yet these classic timepieces have proven their indomitable appeal even a century and a half later.

Though Vortic’s work is awe-inspiring in its own right, it’s exciting to think of the potential within modern technology to revitalize these historic antiques. After all, when we consider that the advent of smartwatches is seemingly fading traditional timepieces out of the market similar to how smartphones replaced cellphones, it’s refreshing to see how a determined community is keeping the art of vintage American watches alive by the powers of 3D printing and crowdfunding. With technological advances moving faster and faster into unfamiliar territory as time marches on, it’s comforting to know these historic relics of American history won’t be going out of style anytime soon.