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The Best American Watch Brands
2020-08-24By Simon de Burton & Olivia Michel

Thinking of buying a luxury watch from an American watchmaker? Swiss-made might be the gold standard, but Americans also have an impressive horological history. Below we round up the best American watch brands to buy your luxury timepiece from now.

Timex

Once known as The Waterbury Clock Company of Connecticut, Timex brought the luxury of personalised timekeeping to the masses during the 1880s. It introduced the first inexpensive pocket watch and, under the management of Robert H Ingersoll, created the Yankee, also known as the dollar watch, which sold 40 million units.

Waterbury became known as the Timex Corporation in 1944, and the Ingersoll dial name was famously used on the Mickey Mouse watches made under licence from Disney. In honour of the company's legacy, opt for the Waterbury Traditional Automatic, a classic favourite with a 42mm face and a stainless steel bracelet.

Waterbury Traditional Automatic, $269 from Timex


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Bulova

Then there’s Bulova, the innovative New York brand founded back in the 1870's by Joseph Bulova. The brand is known for developing the first fully electronic watch with a proprietary tuning-fork based technology, and also has a long standing relationship with space travel.  Most notably, following collobroations with NASA, a Bulova timer was placed in the Sea of Tranquility during the first moonwalk.

The Bulova Computron harks back to the style of 1970s, and infuses some of the watchmaker's most nostalgic shapes with modern elements including an LED display with dual time zone capabilities.

Bulova Computron, £229 from Jura Watches

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Hamilton

Possibly the most famous US watch brand of all is Hamilton. Founded in 1892, it became the main watch supplier to the country’s fast-expanding railroad network before going on to produce military and marine timepieces.

Now owned by the Swatch Group – and therefore officially Swiss – Hamilton is still regarded as American because of the Hollywood movies in which its products have appeared since its cinematic debut in 1932’s Shanghai Express. Other star turns include Pearl HarborThe Pink PantherSuperman2001: A Space Odyssey and Elvis Presley’s Blue Hawaii in 1961 in which the King wore the radical, shield-shaped Ventura.

In 2014, Hamilton supplied a special version of its Khaki Field model for use in Interstellar, starring Matthew McConaughey and Jessica Chastain. McConaughey plays a NASA pilot called out of retirement to find a new planet that humanity can escape to. He gives his Hamilton to his daughter, Murphy (Chastain), and communicates with her from the “fifth dimension” through the watch.

Now Hamilton has produced a limited-edition replica of the so-called Murph watch with a special box based on the “tesseract” from which the pilot sends his message, and the word “Eureka” printed in Morse code on the seconds hand.

Hamilton Khaki Field Murph Auto, $995 from Hamilton

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Tiffany

US jeweller Tiffany is first and foremost known for its diamonds and silver jewellery; famous American families such as the Astors, Vanderbilts and Morgans have sported Tiffany designs and it was the Flagship New York jewellery store that made an apperance in the classic Audrey Hepburn film Breakfast at Tiffany's

But the company's watches deserve equal attention, especially the sleek, square-faced models from the 1837 collection, which references the founding date of the iconic brand and sports a more classic look instead of adopting the signature Tiffany blue watchface.

Tiffany 1837 Makers Square Watch, $6,900 from Tiffany.

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Shinola

The newest American manufacturer of all, Shinola, takes its name from a defunct shoe polish firm and has been producing watches in the American manufacturing hub of Detroit since 2011 - although its leather straps are sourced from a Chicago tannery that has been in operation since 1905. Described as an "American success story" by former US President Bill Clinton, the first watch to be released to the market by Shinola was The Runwell in March 2013 - and the limited edition model sold out in just one week.

Clinton, who bought 14 of Shinola's products, was not the only public figure to endorse the American brand - in 2016, former President Barack Obama presented a custom Shinola watch to the then UK Prime Minister David Cameron, complete with an engraved US presidential seal.

Shinola Runwell Men's Watch, £495 from Ernest Jones



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