FORT COLLINS, Colo. — The past year has made us reflect on better times, and in many cases, the importance of family.
You're in good company with a Colorado watch maker turning precious heirlooms into wearable pieces of American history.
For R.T. Custer and Tyler Wolfe, American-made watches are timeless.
"We don't make watches. We tell stories," says Custer. "These are stories of times past 100 years ago. These are heirlooms."
The two college buddies started Fort Collins-based Vortic Watches about seven years ago, after researching American pocket watches from the early 1900's. Now, they literally turn those old pocket watches into wrist watches.
"Everything inside the watch is old," says Custer. "So, first we have to refurbish or clean and restore that old pocket watch movement inside."
The restoration process is a lost art, and it requires a precision to get the hundreds of tiny pieces ticking together perfectly.
"The movement, the dial and hands, that's a piece of American history that the scrappers or the pawn shops are just basically throwing away," says Custer.
"Once the movement is restored, then we manufacture the case, the crown, the glass, the leather. Everything on the outside of the watch is modern and new."
Vortic Watches only makes a few hundred watches a year.
"Nothing we do here is mass produced," says Custer. "Nothing is assembly line. One person takes one watch from start to finish. And, many are wearable family treasures passed down for generations."
"You're not buying this watch just to tell time, and you're certainly not buying it to you your heart rate or something crazy like that," he says. "This is a statement piece. It's a conversation piece."
But, it isn't easy finding people with the skills to make all those gears as good as new. So, they donate each year to the Veterans Watchmaker Initiative which trains military veterans to rebuild the timepieces.
"Every year we launch this, the military edition, on Veterans Day," says Custer. "And, we donate 10% of all revenue from the product to the school in Delaware."
It's their way of reigniting American ingenuity with a symbol of perseverance we can see every day.
The week of March 15, Vortic Wathces will release a one-of-a-kind watch each day at noon.
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