I very rarely get excited about the packaging of a watch; hey its a box… If there is an accessory in there, a watch roll, a tool, spare straps, then it is a nice bonus. But when I pulled the Vortec Boston 48 out of it’s shipping box to reveal the outer packaging, string wrapped and wax sealed, I instantly felt like I was unwrapping an old school product, even though it was shipped vial UPS next day from ½ way across the country.
And old school this watch certainly is, as well as large, but I will get to that later. The 51mm case (yes, I will still get to the size later) is a very modern 3D printed stainless steel though it really does look antique, especially with the bronze finish. It is two semi-circular parts, held together with a pair screws at noon and 6:00, sandwiching the movement and dial between a pair of large Gorilla Glass crystals. This may be the first time I have seen Gorilla Glass specified for a traditional watch. It has a long of use in smartwatches because it is resistant to damage, and here there is an oleophobic coating that should keep oil smudges down.
The view through the front to me is reminiscent of a clock dial, with the large Arabic numerals, the second hand sub dial at 6:00 and the blued hands. There is no lume in the watch, which is appropriate for such a retro looking timepiece, but even in moderate light the watch is very easy to read. The branding on the front of the watch is not Vortic at all, but rather Waltham, referring to the movement in the watch.
And this is really where the magic of the watch, and the reason for the size, comes into play. There are lots of large watches out there with very standard size movements in them. The size of the case becomes a fashion or marketing choice. But the Vortic Boston 48 (a one of a kind watch, by the way, all all the Vortics are up to now) needs all the real estate it possesses in order to house the re-purposed pocket watch movement. The Vortic Boston 48 uses a Waltham Vanguard movement, with 19 jewels, circa early 1900s. Waltham was an American watchmaker, perhaps the first to manufacture watches using standardized parts on a assembly line.
The 51mm case is a fair bit bigger than anything I typically wear, but it never felt comically large. The watch is heavy, but no where near what you might get with an overbuilt diver in stainless. With the two part construction of the case, I was very careful around water, even for the simple task of rinsing a coffee cup. The brand does not list a depth rating, but the owner mentioned he has gotten his wet, he just does not recommend submerging it.
My one quibble with the overall look of the watch, and it plays into the size as well, was with the crown. In what looks like brass, it might age to match the look of the case, but out of the box it looks too modern, especially with the knurled grip. The grip is helpful, since this is a hand wound movement, but the crown also extends a fair bit, and it can come in contact with the back of my hand from time to time. There is a round crown style available with the custom build, and that is probably what I would opt for with a watch of this ilk. Since these are all custom watches, the brand is happy to make these swaps for you before the watch is shipped out.
The strap is another place where the execution does not match the look, at least to me. Don’t get me wrong, I think the strap itself is fine. But it feels too light and basic for a watch like this. I want something thicker, with more personality to the clasp. Vortic lets you pick your strap, and of the three options, the natural distressed leather would be my pick, but I would probably go with a beefier 3rd party strap, perhaps even a leather NATO strap. There are other, smaller case options available (though the movement size partially dictates your options) and for something in the mid 40mm range, the strap may be a fine match.
But to be totally honest, these two issues are very minor ones for me with this watch. Sure, if this were a few $100 and mass produced, I would not let them slide, but the Vortic Boston 48 is essentially a custom built watch for $2,995. And since they don’t charge a change fee for the crown, this wouldn’t be an issue if I were buying one. As for the strap, the cost of a nice one is not very significant, and it really opens up the avenues for even more personalizion of the watch. The Vortic Boston 48 is about the movement, and the case and dial to show off the movement, and in these three areas, the watch knocks it out of the park. Vortic Watch Co.
- Brand & Model: Vortic Boston 48
- Price: $2,995
- Who we think it might be for: Your watch collection is screaming out for a real heritage piece.
- Would I wear one myself based on what I’ve seen?: It is much bigger than what I would normally wear, but I would wear this one.
- If I could make one design suggestion, it would be: Different crown and beefier strap.
- What spoke to me the most about this watch: Such a pretty movement.
Tech Specs from Vortic Watch Co.:
- Movement: 100 year old (ish) Waltham Vanguard with 19 jewels
- Functions: Three hander, sub dial second hand
- Case: 3D printed stainless steel
- Crystal: Gorilla Glass with oleophobic coating
- Water resistance: Not specified (submergence is not recommended)
- Lug width: Not specified
- Straps: Leather
- Diameter: 51 mm
- Thickness: Not specified