Longtime readers of Worn & Wound know that we’re pretty fond of Vortic and the unique way they tie history, mechanical watchmaking, and modern manufacturing together into a product that’s completely distinctive. The brand exists to quite literally preserve American watchmaking history through their converted pocket watches, and that’s a big deal. Today, Vortic has launched something a bit different. It’s still, technically, a converted pocket watch. But rather than the end result of the conversion being a wearable wrist watch, what we have here is a conversion into, of all things, a pocket watch.
No, this is not an April Fool’s prank. This is an honest to goodness “new” pocket watch, made right here in the United States. Vortic co-founder R.T. Custer tells us that to his knowledge, this is the only pocket watch made in this country since Hamilton ceased production on the 992B in the middle of the last century. So, it’s a real product that you can purchase today, and also a bit of trivia. It’s also just an incredibly cool idea.
The pocket watch, dubbed the Chicago Railroad 039, is made from a salvaged Elgin railroad grade pocket watch. As they always do, Vortic took the original dial, movement, and hands and built a case around them, but for this piece they used a block of solid bronze and have left out those pesky lugs (don’t worry, you won’t need them – a vintage pocket watch chain is included with the Chicago Railroad 039).
This is a lever set movement, so Vortic has produced this watch with their removable bezel so the setting mechanism is protected when the watch is in use, but easily accessible when needed. The watch is actually waterproof with the bezel attached (but swim with it at your own risk – that’s not really this watch’s vibe, anyway). The movement, as you can see, is visible through the display case back, and it’s absolutely stunning. There’s really nothing like a vintage pocket watch movement.
The Chicago Railroad 039 is available today, and it’s a unique piece, like all Vortic watches. Vortic tells us they might make more of them depending on feedback, but it won’t be a regular occurrence. The Chicago Railroad 039 has a price of $ 3,995. Vortic