Hat tip to Jorge Merino of Timezone.com
Based in Bozeman, Montana, the eponymous watch company recently released their B1 Hellcat collection, named after the WWII U.S. Naval fighter.
Founder Christopher Wardle‘s (no relation to Christopher Ward) vision was to have the watches entirely designed, assembled and controlled locally, and there is nothing wrong with that. Furthermore, the company is involved in philantropy: they support the national Smokejumper association with a donation of USD 55 per sale of dedicated watches.
I always applause local business ideas, but I was slightly less enthusiastic after visiting the Bozeman Web site and checking out the catalogue.
First of all, I am not sure if the photographs shown on the official Web site are suppose to reflect the real products, but a lot of numerals and theodolite scales are way to small to be readable. Some of the hands are overly slim, and often too short to allow optimal analog reading. Take the picture above: the seconds hand ends 2 mm before the minute track.
My second issue has to do with the pricing: their cheapest model comes at USD 5,500, which is hardly a “competitive figure” if one compares them to RGM, another US-based watchmaker. The B1 Hellcat is currently the most affordable model, being pre-sold at USD 4,600.
I understand the Bozeman watch company only releases a limited number of each collection every year (from 50 pieces to a few hundred), which explains how the investment in tooling would impact on price. That being said, they opened their second showroom in July 2010, so they must surely have a fan base in the U.S.A.