If the smart phone made the wristwatch optional, it also gave men the opportunity to make a statement with less practical timepieces. The latest crop of high-end watches runs the gamut from Samsung's touchscreen Pebble, which relays emails to your wrist, to the Weiss Company's Field Watch, which is constructed by a century-old process, but each piece is fundamentally about revealing its owner's identity as a man of action. Navy and dive watches have risen in popularity along with timepieces inspired by automotive racing. In short, watches have gotten a bit burlier and a hell of a lot more fun.
Here are the best of the new breed.
Weiss Field Watch
Cameron Weiss is a young man with old-fashioned taste. The entrepreneur and engineer behind the Weiss Watch Company, 27-year-old Weiss finds inspiration in the sort of hard-working timepieces America was once famous for manufacturing. He frequently name-checks Waltham, Massachusetts, a blue-collar Boston suburb know as "Watch City," where the Waltham Watch Company used to produce a seemingly endless stream of spectacularly constructed and stylishly understated pocket watches. And he puts his company's money where his mouth is: Weiss Watches are manually wound and simply designed – with crystal backs so their savvy wearers can watch the balance wheel twitch.
The Weiss Watch Company currently offers precisely one model, a field watch that comes with either a black or white face. The handmade watches are easy to read and encased in enough water-resistant stainless steel to take a beating. Just beneath where a subdial counts the seconds, a useful feature on a watch designed with extreme simplicity in mind, are the words, "Los Angeles, CA." Domestic production is a point of pride for Weiss, who may well be building the Golden State's Shinola.
Standard Issue Field Watches (a modest name for a modest product) come with durable canvas straps and draws compliments from the sort of people who – like Weiss – are more interested in something martial and American than something shiny and Swiss. The glamour here resides in the history and the personal care Weiss takes in constructing each of his timepieces. Looks like Waltham went west. [$850; weisswatchcompany.com]