Jeffrey Nashan, Montana Watch Company owner and founder, began his career in horology as a watchmaker specializing in the restoration of vintage timepieces. He became particularly fascinated with the history of early American wrist and pocket watch manufacturing, from back in the day when American companies dominated the field. When Nashan’s interests went beyond simple restoration and into the areas of design and manufacture he founded The Montana Watch Company and began what has become a passion to create truly unique, heirloom timepieces inspired by the designs of the early American watchmakers.
When Jeffrey and I moved onto the Bridger mountains in Livingston we met a rancher, who over the years has become family to us. He ran cattle on a 2.5 mile stretch of land that we drive through in order to get to our home. Farrell, the rancher, let us use his horses, before we had our own, and Keegan learner how to ride at the age of 5 on his ranch.
Over the last few years Jeffrey started running his own cattle and now runs his with Farrell. Jeffrey has completely embraced the rancher life and spends almost all of his spare time either with Farrell working on the ranch or making plans on how to manage cows, hay and bulls.
A couple of months ago Jeffrey decided to make a hand tooled belt with matching buckle for Farrell. It was the perfect gift for him as his old belt was worn out and many of the holes in the belt had blended together. He had his brand engraved into the buckle along with his initials. I have never seen Farrell so touched as I had when Jeffrey gave him the belt.
We all love Farrell and the rest of his family.
Last week, Jeffrey, Cole and I traveled to Boston to meet Seth, see his work in person and attend his art show at the Liberty.
When we arrived Seth was still setting up so we dove in and starting helping setting up his paintings.
Throughout the night Seth shared his brand new watch which was our interpretation of the Goldfish painting that was in above photograph.Another one of Seth’s brand new paintings. If you would like to see the progression of the Mercedes you can become a fan of his on FB and see it from sketch to finish.
It was great to meet Seth and see his work in person. We will be a part of his next show at the Liberty in November.
Jeffrey, Cole and I will be attending Seth’s opening this coming Tuesday evening. This will be the first time that we have seen his large pieces. If you are in the Boston area, stop by and enjoy Seth’s work. Jeffrey will also be giving Seth his own watch that he commissioned Jeffrey to create for him. It is one of our favorite watches that he has made. It is an interpretation of Seth’s goldfish painting.
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.
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.
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.
1920 Lug Machining
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.
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.
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 email@example.com, or leave a comment here, so you can be informed of our upcoming projects and events.
Our women’s Bridger Field Watches was featured on Gotham‘s blog. Our first tie on the site.
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.