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Our Weekend in Montana Part II - The Montana Watch Company (modem burner s ) >>>

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Jittery Jim
May 03, 2006 08:42PM
So, here's part two, the on-topic part. Laughing out loud!
Back in the beginning of the year, when I knew I would be going to Montana I began to wonder about the Montana Watch Company. I had read an article or two about the company in the pages of Watch Time or International Watch in the past, but I never paid any mind to where they were located. I always thought the watches looked nice, but were a bit spendy (they start at more than double the PMW limit Eek! ), so I suppose that is why I did not think of it before. So, I popped out to montanawatch.com and found that they are located in Livingston, Montana, which happens to be about two hours from my parents! Suddenly, the trip took on a new meaning... Laughing out loud!
I emailed them and asked if they had a store (none was referenced that I could see) and if they allowed visitors. I received a very nice email back from Catherine:
"Thank you for your interest in our watches. We would love for you to visit our store. The retail portion opened up in June of 2005. We can also give you a tour of our facility. Please let us know when you will be coming, so our watchmaker could be here."
Laughing out loud!
So, I worked out some time off with work for May 1st and 2nd and let Catherine know that I would be stopping by on May 1st...
...which arrived two days ago. We headed out about 8:00 am and arrived in downtown Livingston shortly after 10:00. I was pretty excited, even though I knew I would not be leaving with a watch, it was still going to be very cool to see where they were put together.
Catherine said from her desk overlooking the lobby, "You must be James." Laughing out loud! She came down and introduced herself, about the same time a door behind the diplay opened and a young woman in a Montana Watch Company apron came out. Catherine introduced her as Keegan (sp?), their watch maker.
I was surprised to learn that it was just the owner, Jeffery Nashan, and her that did all of the work. She just happened to be in the right place at the right time. About four years ago, she was working with the owner's wife somewhere else, and he asked her if she would be interested in a different trade. She said yes and got her training from the owner!
We then went back into the workshop where they produce these watches. The first room held tools for some engraving, an area for where they regulate and test the watches for accuracy, all of their presentation boxes, and some other various tools (blueing titanium, for example). The next room was where most of the work was done.
The main room held Kegan's work area, as well as a couple of benches where they had tools for gold and silver plating, watch cleaning and general workspace. There were shelves with little storage drawers where they held movements, parts, etc. They produce about 250 watchs a year in total, and Kegan said they may some day go as high as 500, but not much more.
Here's how the watches go together: Their watches use an ETA movement for the Bridger Field Watch and the Model 1925. The Highline Aviator uses a Unitas movement. The cases are milled about 40 miles away in Hamilton, Montana, then delivered to the shop. If it is a "base model" then then Kegan puts the watch together, including the gold crown (which she makes) and custom hand made strap, which is done by a gent in Bozeman, about 26 miles away. The base model watches are undecorated, no engravings or other custom work. They mentioned that often times one will start with the base model, then in a year come back for a custom engraved movement, or perhaps case. All the engraving is done by hand by local artists. They also will do blued titanium cases, which they do in the shop, and can also do precious metals like gold and silver in the case or as inlays in the case. Custom dials can be done as well. They can really tailor a watch to the individual. We got to see several variations of their three available models (Bridger Field Watch, Model 1925 and the Highline Aviator), as well as a prototype case for a new tank watch.
It was very interesting to see all of this, even my mother, who knows nothing of watches, was facinated. They asked more questions than I did, often beating me to the punch!
After seeing these in person I have a whole new appreciation for the brand, especially the Highline Aviator. Even the base model was gorgeous in person.
I think I covered all of the main points, now on to the photos!
(I apologize in advance for the quality of focus on these photos; I was so excited that I forgot much of what I read about the S2 IS over the weekend. Additionally, if you are on dial-up and the photos are taking too long to load, I can also post thumbnails of the photos if enough are interested. Email me if you are and I can do so. )







This is their prototype for a new tank watch.

This one is a shame, I wish it was in focus! Some wonderful hand done engraving on a pocket watch.

Kegan's work area.





This dial is interesting as it says "Yellowstone Watch Company"...an early prototype, perhaps? Or a new model?

The watch pictured above. They also do custom dials, this one has the owner's initals and rubies set into the dial. They also showed us a Model 1925 with sapphires set into the bezel.

In this area they can do some of their own milling and engraving.

These watches in process of being regulated (or waiting to be).





Our hosts! Kegan and Catherine!

Here is the full brochure they had available. Click on the photo for a larger image.




















Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/28/2010 08:23AM by Reto.
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