The Other Watch Company in Detroit

Posted on 24 June 2014 by Matt Himmelstein

Detroit Watch Co 1701 01

Like that Clint Eastwood/Chrysler Commercial from the 2012 Superbowl, Detroit is not done yet.  Shinola has done a good job in marketing their American Made roots with their quartz driven watches, and now the Detroit Watch Company is offering automatic watches made in the Motor City, though of foreign sourced parts.

Detroit Watch Co Pride of Detroit 01

There are two launch models from the firm, the 1701 (top) and the Pride of Detroit Aviator (above) series watches.  Each of these watches are being offered in a limited, numbered edition of 50 (50 each of the two 1701 color options).  Once the first 50 are sold out, the edition will continue without the “##/50″ numbering.  Both models are assembled in Detroit using Japanese Miyota movements and watch parts from Hong Kong and Germany.  The twin 44mm cases are in polished stainless, with brushed stainless sides, though the 1701 is a bit thicker at 13.5mm vs 11.9 for the Pride of Detroit.

Detroit Watch Co 1701 02

The 1701 is the dressier of the two options, a three hand watch with a subdial at 12:00 for power reserve, another at 6:00 for 24 hour time, and a date window at 3:00.  Inside the watch is the Miyota 9132 with a 40 hour power reserve.  There is a lot going on with the dial, but the choice of markings does a good job is keeping it from getting too busy.  The watch pays homage to Antoine Laumet de la Mothe, Sieur de Cadillac, the French explorer who founded the fort that would become modern Detroit.

Detroit Watch Co 1701 03

A major clue to the French history of Detroit is the Fleur-de-Lys, decorating the crown and the caseback.  The aviator gets a different caseback, but the crown decoration is shared DNA between the two models, as are the hand set and the style and finishing on the case.  Both watches also feature sapphire crystals and deployment clasps on the calfskin leather straps.  For the Pride of Detroit Aviator, the caseback features an image of the namesake airplane used to set cross country speed records in the wake of Lindberg’s historic flight across the Atlantic.

Detroit Watch Co Pride of Detroit 02

In addition to the changed caseback, the Aviator uses the Miyota 821A automatic, a three hander with date, but without the power reserve and 24 hour hand of the 1701.  The aviator also gets the traditional flieger-style crown, though the markings on the watch are more reminiscent of a field watch.  I think both models are attractive and fairly priced watches, well worthy of consideration, especially if you are looking for something assembled here in the U.S. of A.  detroitwatchco.com

Watch Overview

  • Brand & Model: Detroit Watch Company 1701 and Pride of Detroit
  • Price: $895/$795 respectively
  • Who we think it might be for: Anyone looking for “American Made” automatics
  • Would I buy or recommend it just on the photos?:  Yes, I like both models.
  • If I could make one design suggestion, it would be: I don’t need the logo on the second hand counterweight, but it is a small thing.
  • What spoke to me the most about this watch:  Clean, attractive designs.


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