Vortic Watch Company Recasts a Vintage Harley-Davidson Watch for CharityBy Keith W. Strandberg
When RT Custer, the co-founder of Vortic Watch Company, found an unrestored pocket watch made by South Bend Watch Company for Harley-Davidson in 1920, he called Revolution USA right away.
Custer, who just happens to be related to that Custer from the Little Big Horn, is creating modern timepieces from restored pocket watch movements manufactured during the Golden Age of American watchmaking, something that we here at Revolution admire and have been following closely.
When Custer told us about this watch, we immediately offered to collaborate on this unique piece. This special watch, valued at over $5,000, will be auctioned off starting in November, 100% of the proceeds to be donated to the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors (NAWCC) Museum. For more information, please visit www.vorticwatches.com/revolution-harley and bid early and often.
Custer found the movement sitting on a tray with a bunch of other vintage movements at a sale, and it was in passable condition, but the most important thing is that the movement, dial and hands were all original, including the Harley-Davidson logo.
Custer and his team started working on the watch, disassembling, cleaning, polishing and oiling the entire movement, replacing any parts that were worn with new old stock – Vortic takes pains to make sure all pieces and parts are from the same era. “If everything goes smoothly and we have all the parts, it takes four to seven hours to restore a vintage movement,” Custer explains. “We make them better than they were when they left the original factory. Most were not calculated to positions because they were pocket watch movements, but we adjust to all positions.”
After the movement is refurbished and the dial and hands cleaned, it is regulated and then cased in a 3-D printed titanium case.
“As a motorcyclist, and a Harley-Davidson fan, I was intrigued by this project,” says Keith W. Strandberg, editor-in-chief of Revolution USA. “To take this piece of watchmaking history, a Grade 429 pocket watch movement from 1920, made by South Bend expressly for Harley-Davidson, and to give it a second life, makes this timepiece incredibly different from anything else out there.”
“For me, it’s pretty awesome just to think about how this movement was made back in 1920 without all the modern technology we have now,” Custer adds. “We like to think we are salvaging, restoring and preserving pieces of American history. Everything we make is one-of-a-kind, but this watch is amazingly special. There is nothing remotely similar to this one. It will forever be the only one like it.”
The watch is so special, in fact, it was recently featured in a spread in the Harley Owners Group magazine, H.O.G.
The Museum of the NAWCC is the beneficiary of 100% of the proceeds of the auction. Located in Lancaster County, PA, once the home of Hamilton Watch Company, the NAWCC Museum is an incredible resource and definitely worthy of a visit, and your support.
“When we heard that our good friends at Vortic were partnering with Revolution to promote a fundraiser auction in support of their favorite cause, the NAWCC National Watch and Clock Museum, we got stoked,” says Tom Wilcox, Executive Director & CEO, NAWCC. “When we learned of the historic artifact Vortic was preserving and restoring in this project, our interests intensified. “The NAWCC is the world’s largest museum, research library, educational institution, and international community dedicated to clocks, watches, time, and timekeeping. We are committed to being the premier conservator, educator, and advocate for horology and everyone interested in the story of time.
“The NAWCC, Inc., a 501 (c) (3), charitable organization, appreciates Revolution and Vortic for their generosity and support, and is privileged to work with them in recognizing and celebrating Vortic’s resurrection of this 1920s machine with a heartbeat,” he continues. “The funds generated from this endeavor will further help us share the stories of time in new and innovative ways for the public to enjoy and appreciate watches and clocks.”
We here at Revolution USA are proud to make this slice of American watchmaking history available to you and to do a good deed at the same time.
How it’s up to you, dear Reader, to make this auction a success.