My name is MUSASHI66 and I am a watch addict.
Some time ago, I bought my first Vortic Watch. What I really wanted was to have my late uncle’s old Soviet pocket watch converted, but they couldn’t do it easily. So, I got something else.
Vortic salvages American pocket watches from early 1900's and converts them into one-of-a-kind wrist watches. They don’t destroy pocket watches or cases - they usually get orphaned movements after pawn shops buy the old watch and melt the case for gold. Even for heirloom conversions - if you bring your own watch for conversion - process is non-destructive and reversible.
The cases they make are 3D Printed titanium - super fancy. They just introduced billet titanium or billet bronze cases as well.
They also have a super sweet watch builder right on the website, I can spent an hour picking through options.
So, I got a size 16 pocket watch converted to a 49.5mm wrist watch. Original watch was made by Illinois in Springfield, back in 1918. It has a full Montgomery dial which revolutionized railroad pocket watches of the day. I opted for a blue strap, copper crown and raw titanium finish. Here it is, in all its glory.
Back of it is even cooler - Gorilla glass so you can see that glorious movement.
I likes it so much, and my wife really liked them too, that I decided to get her one as well. I found her a feminine one, in size 12 (46mm) with a cream dial, gold numbers and a very intricate set of hands. Her’s is an Elgin, another Illinois manufacturer.
For her, I went with a bronzed titanium case, gold crown and tan strap.
Well, I’ve been desiring a bronze watch lately, so I decided to go with one of their new billet bronze models in 46mm. Guess what - I was able to find an A. Lincoln movement made by Illinois in 1918. Now, all I need is an Autocrat movement from 1918 to complete the trifecta of the movement they offered. Abe Lincoln wore an Illinois with an Autocrat movement, cool piece of history.
It is on order - their custom watches take 4-6 weeks or so, because they send every movement to a watchmaker for a complete breakdown, ultrasonic cleaning and they have parts replaced by new-old-stock parts to stay 100% USA made. This time I did solid bronze case, copper crown, and natural leather strap. The case will get a patina with use and will lose the shine in a month and it will match the super distressed patina on the dial in a little while. I like the sterile dial a lot, and the kanji-inspired numerals are awesome. I might try forced patina process with a boiled egg - I haven’t decided yet.
I will get two more watches from them to complete the set - as soon as I can find a 1918 Autocrat movement made by Illinois, I will get one of their billet titanium cases with black straps probably, something like this
And then, I want a real, lever-set railroad watch. I’m torn - I sort of want it to be Illinois, like this
But, Illinois didn’t offer up/down indicator complication, and I really want one of those. Waltham and Elgin made them - see the complication under 12? Today it would be called power reserve, but it was called up/down back in the day.
I love winding it every day, I love seeing what makes it tick, and I love the history behind it. American manufacturers made 100 million of these nice, jeweled watches between 1880 and 1930 - that skill is now gone, and the enamel dials, hand painted dials, and machined movements are non-existent.
I can’t wait for the new one to arrive - we are going to Rome for Christmas, but it won’t be ready by then. Bummer.