With the exception of a few passionate and motivated indie brands, North America doesn’t have much of a watchmaking industry anymore. It began slipping after WWII and was more or less obliterated by the Quartz Crisis in the ’70s. Great names like Bulova and Hamilton are now owned and run by overseas brands, while others like Elgin and Waltham are flat-out gone. Still, if you know where to look, you can find some great old American watches from back when we were once one of the greatest producers of timepieces in the world.
Bulova 666 Diver
What we like: Bulova earned a reputation for building tough-as-nails tool watches for the American military during WWII, and extending that tough manufacturing acumen into the ’60s and ’70s Bulova made some exceptional chronographs and divers, like this 666 (referring to its 666-foot depth rating). At 35mm it’s on the smaller side, but with the black dial and faded numerals, it’s a refined take on the rugged diver over all.
From the seller: Case is in very good condition over all with minimal signs of use and wear. Rotating bezel is in good condition with signs of wear throughout. Dial is in good condition, showing slight flaking to the luminescent elements of the hour markers and hands
Elgin Cal. 532
What we like: The Elgin watch here looks to be the model issued to the Marine Corps around WWII, and features ELgin’s 532 hand-winding calibre, a bona fide Made-in-the-USA movement. This watch appears to have a heavy dose of patina on the case and dial and is said to be all original, and has undergone a recent service by the seller.
From the seller: Dial is original in natural patina condition. Comes with a two-year warranty. This watch has been recently serviced.
Hamilton Stainless Steel Chronograph
What we like: This ’60s Hamilton chronograph may have Swiss-made innards, but the watch still comes from the beloved formerly-American watchmaker before it was acquired and moved to Switzerland in 1971. The gray dial and red accents mesh well, and the cushion case and rotating bezel are emblematic of chronograph design from the era. Appropriately, it comes on a red and blue NATO strap.
From the seller: 40mm cushion-shaped case heavy and thick design with round shoulders. With elapsed time bezel, round pushers and screw down case back.