Monthly Archives: June 2011

The Making of the Model 1920: A video

For the first time ever we are sharing a video of how we make our watch cases.  In this instance we are working on the brand new Model 1920.  You can see he machining of the cases and lugs, and the creation of the coining pattern on the front of the case.  Please feel free to share it with any other watch enthusiasts.

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Making the Model 1920: The lugs

Manufacturing a watch in America is a dying art form, only a handful of companies in the states are still creating timepieces.  We are proud to be one of then and are dedicated to the idea of rebuilding the great American heyday of watch making one watch at a time.  Over the course of the next few weeks I will take you through the steps of creating the Model 1920, from the concept drawings to a final photograph of the base Model.  After many hours of research and planning the actual building of the prototype is under way.

Jeffrey created the Montana Watch Company out of his love for vintage timepieces.  He is drawn to the design elements that are prevalent during different eras.  Before he decides to create a new timepiece he researches resources looking at watches that strike him for one reason or another.  In this case he has pulled inspiration from watches manufactured in the 1920’s when a transition in style occurred.  The 1920’s started a period where watch design followed form rather than function.  Up until that time function paid a more important role in design.  A design shift moved away from wire lugs into a more substantial lug bringing another element to watch design.  The unique aspect of the Model 1920 are the hinged lugs.  This design presents a variety of challenges and here is how Paul and Jeffrey are dealing with the problem of creating square lugs and adhering them to the round case.

American Watch Manufacturing, American Watch, American Watches

Model 1920 Lug Design

The sketch of the lug design that Paul has drawn shows the radius of the cut out.  Each of the lugs starts out as a round piece of bar stock.  Each edge is then squared off and then the top and bottom radius is put into it. In order for this design to work the tolerances have to be minimal.

American Watch Manufacturing, American Watch, American Watches1920 Lug Machining
American Watch Manufacturing, American Watch, American Watches

Model 1920 Concentricity Check

Once the lugs are machined they go through a concentricity check, which is basically a sophisticated automotive gap tool.  The tolerances are checked and if one doesn’t meet the strict specifications it has to be discarded.

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1920 Lugs awaiting final operation

This photograph shows how each lug is cut from the round piece of stock metal.  Once the lugs are parted off they will be inserted into square holes which have been milled into the sides of the case.  A final process of vacuum brazing ensures invisible seems from the lug to the case.  Vacuum brazing is a metal-joining process whereby a filler metal is heated above and distributed between two close fitting parts by capillary action.  The filler metal is brought to slightly above its melting temperature and then flows over the base metal.  It is then cooled to join the workpieces together.  It is similar to soldering.

Check back in a couple of days and watch a video of machining the case.


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The Model 1920: A Sketch of our next watch

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Preliminary sketch of the Model 1920

For the first time ever we are sharing the creative process of designing and building a new model at the Montana Watch Company.  Over the next few posts you will see the entire process of designing and manufacturing a watch here in the USA.

Jeffrey recently created this sketch of the brand new Model 1920 that will be released in August.  He painstakenly chooses a font for the numbers and individually places them on the dial until he thinks that are in the exact spot.  Once he is satisfied with the dial design he sends it out to the dial manufacturer, here in America, and they create the pieces for him to work with.  Once he is happy with the design of the case and lugs he starts to work with our engineer/machinist Paul which is perhaps the hardest part of creating a new watch.  Each case and lug system comes with a unique set of problems to be solved, in this case they had to figure out how to manufacture a square lug from a round piece of stock and fit the lug onto a round watch seamlessly. The first prototype is being manufactured as I write this brief introduction.  Follow this post and see a video of the cases being manufactured in Manhattan, MT in a few days.

Every couple of years Jeffrey introduces a new watch model because he loves the design of different eras and enjoys creating a new piece with his spin on the era.  Many of our clients are collectors and enjoy collecting watches from different time periods.  He also loves the challenge of creating something from scratch and solving the various technical problems that inevitably occur when designing a case.

More to come…..

If you would like to be a part of that mailing list please send a note to Catherine at, or leave a comment here, so you can be informed of our upcoming projects and events.

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Gotham Blog & Montana Watch Company

Our women’s Bridger Field Watches was featured on Gotham‘s blog.  Our first tie on the site.

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The First Collaborative Piece between Seth Minkin & Jeffrey Nashan: Manju

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Bridger Field Watch created by The Montana Watch Company. First Collaboration piece with Seth Minkin

Seth Minkin

Original painting Manju by Seth Minkin

(I posted these photos as large as possible so you could see the details of both renditions of Manju.)

The client’s choice of accentuating texture and color by contrasting the satin stainless steel case with the copper dial, lugs and crown was a very unique and attractive choice with a truly distinctive look.
The process of creating such a piece is time consuming but definitely rewarding.  It started with Jeffrey superimposing the painting on the dial in Photoshop in order to show Alex and Seth how the engraving was going to be composed.  Once Seth and Alex approved the positioning of “Manju” (the subject) the design and the dial blank  were sent to our engraver who intricately rendered Seth’s painting onto a space about 1/50 of the scale of the painting.  The dial is just about an inch wide, each mark on the dial was made with a hand-held graver tool, adding form and shading by way of tiny lines and dots in the copper .  After many hours of engraving the final piece was sent back to Jeffrey where he took over the process again.  He turned each of the dial markers on a small lathe and riveted them to small pierces in the dial one at a time.  A mistake at any time during this process means restarting from scratch.  In order to get the satin finish on the case Jeffrey first polished the case on a buffing wheel and then finished it with a series of abrasive cloths until the finish is right .  The lugs are then bent and laser welded to the case.  At this point with all of the pieces on the bench in our studio in Livingston, Montana, Jeffrey begins assembly of the watch, including disassembling and recalibrating the ETA cal. 2824 movement according to his specifications.  Once the piece was assembled, timed, and photographed it was packaged into our custom made boxes and sent out to Alex.

Thank you Seth for introducing us to Alex and being so interesting to get to know and work with.  We are looking forward to meeting you and seeing your art in person at your show next month in Boston.   Alex, thank you for having faith in our ability to create a unique timepiece that you and your family will wear and enjoy for many years.

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The First Collaborative Piece: Manju

Manju by Seth Minkin

Manju by Seth minkin

I asked Seth Minkin to tell us a bit about how he approached the challenge of rendering Manju.  “The story behind the Manju portrait is similar to most pet portraits that I do- People love their pets! My friend Alex also happens to be a big pug fan in general. Four or five years ago, He requested that I meet Manju and discuss the commission. Upon meeting her, I could tell instantly that I would have no problem creating a great painting. She had so much personality and such a great look. Sometimes, a client can request a subject that may be challenging from my perspective because my end goal is always to create bold and exciting art. I like these challenges.”


Tomorrow we will host the watch that Alex commissioned Jeffrey to create.

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An Interview with Seth Minkin: Part III

5) Where so you see the relationship going in the future? What kind of interesting paths do you see opening up in front of the two of you?

This collaboration is a very special one and this type of project hasn’t been undertaken by a luxury brand before, so I feel that this gives us a unique edge.  The ability to represent art as an element of style in this way is truly special and, for discerning clients who have “seen it all,” this process guarantees that their final product will be one of a kind.  Jeff and I have a great working relationship and we are both really excited about the potential of this collaboration.  Ultimately, we both do what we do because we have a deep passion for creating beautiful pieces and working with interesting, worldly people who have an appreciation for what we do.  In working together, we have the opportunity to broaden our artistic visions.  For example, we have been kicking around the idea of creating a watch based on an image of a watch face that I create.  It would be my interpretation of a dial, painted on canvas, which would then go back to Jeff for his reinterpretation.  The ability to work with someone in this manner is especially exciting to both of us, as we are discovering how to work within each other’s area of expertise while pushing the boundaries of our own skill set.  In this sense, we can truly be creative without limits and produce incredible pieces that are sure to impress and inspire.

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An Interview With Seth Minkin: Part II

3) What interests you in the process of collaborating with The Montana Watch Company?

I really love watches, as do many of my clients and the potential to have my images be reinterpreted by other artisans is something I find to be very cool.  I also think that there is a great synergy between Jeff and I in the sense that we both appreciate each other’s work and there is a great deal of mutual respect between us.  I really enjoy the possibility of having a hand at the overall look and design of the time pieces themselves and, for me, it is exciting to take a huge painting that hangs on the wall and transform its imagery into something that a client has on them at all times.  This collaboration also adds a little bit of the practical for my clients.  It’s wearable art; the watch is a timepiece, as well as being beautiful; it’s another form of expressing their own passions and style.  And, most importantly, it takes the concept of customization, personalization and uniqueness to a whole other level.  The process of taking the subject of one’s commissioned art work and having that further interpreted in a timepiece is certainly as unique and personal as it gets.  For many of my clients who are not artistically inclined, this provides the opportunity to demonstrate their own style and also take part in the overall creative process.

4) A couple of your clients are commissioning you and Jeffrey to do pieces.  Can you tell us how a client goes about getting a piece made?

My clients have been very excited to hear about this collaboration, since many of them are also watch aficionados.  It just feels like a natural fit between what Jeff and I both do, even though this concept is wholly unique and hasn’t been done before.  The process of commissioning a watch starts with a client’s fascination towards a particular painting.  I work with Jeff to put together mock ups of different case styles and renderings in a variety of metals to give the client an idea of what the final product will look like.  From this point, Jeff handles the details of the actual watches, from assisting the clients in selecting which metals and adornments they would like to use, to choosing a band and many of the other aesthetic options that are available.  He and I go back and forth on some of these details, such as the way the image fits in the dial, placement of signatures, etc.  It is truly a joint effort in the way we work together and both of us have input throughout the process.  Of course, we both work for our clients and their input is of the utmost importance.  In the end, the final product is an heirloom quality timepiece with artistic integrity that meets with the client’s seal of approval.

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An Interview With Seth Minkin: Part 1

Seth Minkin and Jeffrey have just started a collaboration, where Seth’s paintings are artfully rendered onto the dials of Jeffrey’s watches.  I sent Seth a few questions about their collaboration and will be sharing his responses over the next few days.  We will have some photographs of their first completed piece on the final day of the interview.

1.)   Your studio is in an office building which is highly unusual for an artist. Can you talk about how you came to be in this situation and how you have collaborated with the firm?

I was initially introduced to this company through the CEO.  I met up with him while I still lived in San Francisco and he asked me for some ideas about the art in his office.  He was toying with the idea of having a mural of some sort painted on the wall of the office, but wasn’t sure this was the right approach, since the company was growing and they didn’t know how long they would be in the space.  We went back and forth quite a bit and, in the end, decided on two large paintings that were related to the company’s brand.  A few years later, I moved to Boston and the company had moved into a phenomenal new space.  They had just received a multi-million dollar round of funding and were in hyper growth mode.  They invited me to sit in on a project they had called “90 Days,” which was basically a collaboration between me, a writer and the rest of the team at the company.  The goal of the project was to expose what was going on within the company in relation to getting such a large injection of capital in an open, interesting and transparent way.  The framework for the project became a blog, which was based on a painting called “The Bento Box” which I created for the company.  Every day, a new blog entry was posted that corresponded to a piece of the painting.  It started off on day 1 with the painting being black and white and, as entries were added to the blog, each piece was rendered in color.  It was a great opportunity to work with an incredible team of people and to really match visual art with great writing and intellectual capital.  At the conclusion of the project, the CEO asked me to stay on board and paint in the office space full time as a way of encouraging creativity in the company’s culture.  It has been a great symbiotic relationship.  I have filled their space with my art and, in turn, I have been able to work within an amazing environment with very smart and talented people who give me instant feedback on my work.

2.)   Have you ever done any other collaborations?

When a client commissions a piece, my process is usually very collaborative in the sense that, having actually selected a subject, they are likely to have an opinion on the details.  In many cases, the subjects of commissions are close to the heart of the client and are not necessarily images that I have worked with before.  Therefore, it really helps to have an open dialog with a client to be sure that we are heading in the same direction.  I have been fortunate to have worked with some extremely talented clients over the years who are very creative in their own right.  These kinds of opportunities have been great collaborations and have enabled me to produce works that would have never come to life had these individuals not approached me.

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