Long-time readers of this blog know that I’m a big fan of old movements gaining new life (see our posts on Archer here). Following that thread, it should be no surprise that I’m a big fan of the idea that created the Wrocket, from R. Paige.
Before we get into the watch, though, it’s only fair to give you a brief into to the brand, as it’s a newer one many of you likely haven’t heard of. Of course, you may have heard of the guy behind the brand – Richard Paige, who along with being a fourth-generation watch maker, also founded a little watch site you may have heard of – TimeZone. Along with that endeavor, he also founded a handful of watch stores, as well as started an online repair school (which is still running here). He also created four other limited-edition watches that sold out, all via TZ.
So, what about this latest project of his, the Wrocket? That’s actually a combination of words (and worlds) – wrist and pocket. Of course, whenever ever we see those two words in proximity (at least as of late on this blog), it seems I’m talking about a trench watch. While those are cool, this is actually a much more ingenious idea. Paige starts with an antique “12 size” pocket watch movement (either from Elgin or Waltham, both American institutions of yore), which measures in at a very modern (well, for wrist watch sizes) 39.78mm. (If you want more information on the movements, check out this page on their site).
This movement is then housed in a steel (titanium is an option on this model) 44mm case (14mm thick) with 22mm lugs, which makes for a nice fit, without any huge air gaps. The case itself is nicely finished, with the serial number engraved on the non-crown side; the crown is gussied up a bit with a crystal set into it – a nice touch, and a nod to how watches of the era might have a bit of splash added to them. Also reminding us of the era are the lugs, which have a definite art deco look and feel to them. Set into those lugs will be one of the two included straps; our sample was a simple black leather one that was comfortable and paired well with the watch.
On top of the case you’ve got a domed sapphire crystal – and under that is where another bit of design uniqueness pops in. Just take a glance at the photos I’ve included, and you’ll see that those hands are like no others you’ve seen. I like how they add another bit of a repeating shape (the circle of the case), as well as adding an almost whimsical touch that seems to come (once again) from a bygone era. And, in practice, I found that they didn’t make it any more difficult to read time at a glance.
Those circles continue on in the sub-seconds hand, with the tail of that hand being a circle as well. And, set within the circular subdial as well. So, when you think about it, circles definitely abound in the watch, from the movement on up. Under those hands is another bit of nice design. Paige wanted his dials to reference the dials you’d find on the pocket watches these movements would come from, but he wanted it recognizable from across the room. So, while the numerals definitely take the shape we see in older styles, these aren’t just a plain enamel – they’re actually luminous, which you will not find on your ’20s pocket watch, that’s for sure.
Rounding out the rest of the dial you’ve got some simple bits of branding – neither unobtrusive or obnoxious (as Goldilocks put it – just right). This does leave the 3 o’clock area of the dial a bit sparse, which can give the watch a slightly unbalanced feeling. And, if this was using a modern movement, I’d definitely hit it with a demerit. But, when you’re using vintage bits like we have here, you work with what the original watchmaker gave you.
And speaking of that – Paige did have his work cut out when he decided to tackle this project. When using the vintage pocket watch movements, it wasn’t just a simple “find a case that fits and slap it in” like you might be able to get away with using a modern movement. Here, he actually engineered and designed a completely new winding system for the movement – one that utilized the original stem-crown-sleeve design. Though I can’t imagine it was an easy nine months (and three manufacturing passes), it’s effort that definitely paid off.
In the end, I really dug this piece. I also appreciate that we were loaned an Elgin-powered model for the review, being as I’m from the Chicago area. Great design aside, I think this is really an excellent way for someone to get a piece of American watchmaking history on their wrists, without running the risks and travails of finding these vintage pieces online or in an antique shop. To be sure, these movements won’t be nearly as accurate as what we have today, but I think they’re a wonderful way to keep in touch with some of the roots of where watches come from. It just so happens that these help to bridge the gap between the pocket and wrist watch – and I’m definitely a fan.
If you’re like me, head on over to the R. Paige site, and check out all that he has on offer. And even if this isn’t the perfect watch for you, let it stir your imagination some. Paige’s efforts here definitely show that our old watches can have new life breathed into them, and can be taken in directions their original creators probably didn’t even imagine. And, if you are ready to pick one up, head on over here and bring along at least $2,400. Or, if you prefer, you could have them convert your family heirloom pocket watch into a brand-new Wrocket as well (more details on that here).
Past the brands we’ve already covered (including R. Paige) let me know (via email or in the comments) if you’re aware of anyone else there putting old movements into new uses – I’d love to hear about them.