Our ongoing series, “Faces of the Industry,” explores some of the biggest and most influential names in the modern watch industry. This time, we’re turning our sights to Cameron Weiss. Weiss belongs to a new generation of trailblazing watchmakers. While establishing himself in Switzerland would’ve been the obvious choice, Weiss decided to return to the US, ultimately setting up shop in Los Angeles. Weiss wants to restore the reputation of American watchmaking, and he is succeeding.
As is the case with many watchmakers, Weiss’ fascination with watches has a long history. As a child, he enjoyed taking mechanical timepieces apart. He was in complete awe that a collection of tiny components could work together to display the time. However, at the time, it didn’t occur to him that human hands had put all those parts together. Years would pass before Weiss discovered the watchmaking profession. After learning about the seriousness and prestige of watchmaking from a watch collector, Weiss was catapulted down a path that would lead to him becoming one of the biggest names on the American watch scene.
A Foundation Built on Swiss Tradition
In 2010, Weiss enrolled in a WOSTEP (Watchmakers of Switzerland Training and Education Program) course at the Nicholas G. Hayek Watchmaking School in Miami. The WOSTEP Foundation is based in Neuchâtel, Switzerland and flies their own master watchmakers over to America to teach pupils the art of Swiss watchmaking. After graduating, Weiss was offered a job at Audemars Piguet in Le Brassus, Switzerland. There, he refined his craft and realized he’d like to create his own timepieces. Weiss returned to the US, continuing to work for Audemars Piguet in New York before accepting a position at Vacheron Constantin in Beverly Hills. At the same time, he was tinkering with his own creations. However, when it came to founding his own brand, Weiss had always imagined himself settling down in Switzerland. He eventually realized that the watch industry wasn’t looking for another Swiss brand and that he could make a greater impact by staying in his home country.
Starting the Weiss Watch Company
Weiss had many motivations for remaining in the States. It felt more authentic to him and offered unique challenges due to a lack of component suppliers. He also attended pop-up events for small American denim brands and saw the passion that goes into a home-grown company with a focus on true craftsmanship. Furthermore, he received positive feedback about his watches, encouraging him to continue down the path he was on. He learned that, while many people found mechanical watches fascinating, they were turned off by their astronomical price tags. Most people simply don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on a big-name Swiss timepiece. Armed with that information, Weiss found his niche: creating high-quality mechanical timepieces at affordable prices. Weiss and his wife, Whitney, officially established the Weiss Watch Company in San Francisco, CA in 2013. Their efforts were quickly rewarded. The first ten watches sold out within a month of the company’s foundation. The couple soon found themselves moving into a small apartment in Beverly Hills before landing at their current location in Torrance, CA in 2016. Perhaps the greatest challenge they faced early on was finding the right suppliers for the raw materials needed to create a watch.
At the same time, they recruited Grant Hughson to oversee the production of components. While her husband is bent over his workbench, Whitney handles all the company’s marketing efforts. Their success has taken them to the shelves of prestigious stores like Barney’s and Mr. Porter. All the while, the Weiss Watch Company has remained true to their goal of offering high-end watches at reasonable prices.
What Weiss Watch Company Watches Represent
The Weiss Watch Company stands for American ingenuity. Their designs are heavily influenced by old diving gear and vintage aviation instruments, particularly those from the 1950s. Their current standard catalog includes 3 collections. First is the Weiss 38mm Standard Issue Field Watch with a stainless steel case and the manual Weiss caliber 1005.You can choose from a black, white, latte, blue, or green dial. The black and white editions come on a textile strap and cost $1,150. On the other hand, the latte, blue, and green versions are mounted on a brown Horween leather strap and sell for $1,250.
The next collection is the 38mm Automatic Issue Field Watch. As of publication, this line only contains one timepiece. It is very similar to the Standard Issue version, though it features an automatic caliber and a railroad minute scale. However, the most obvious difference between these two timepieces is the position of the small seconds dial: While the Standard Issue watch has its small seconds at 6 o’clock, the subdial has shifted to 9 o’clock on the Automatic model. You can call an Automatic Issue Field Watch your own for $1,850.
The final series is the Weiss 42mm American Issue Field Watch. This timepiece is available with a yellow gold or stainless steel case.It gets its power from the manual in-house caliber 1003. The yellow gold version comes with your choice of a black or white dial and is worn on a black leather strap. It’s currently the most expensive Weiss watch, with a list price of $8,950. The stainless steel version offers more dial options, including black, blue (a limited edition), latte, white, and green. Depending on the strap, these watches demand either $2,400 or $2,500.
Beyond the 3 main collections, there’s also the limited edition Weiss 42mm Gauge Series with the in-house caliber 1003. Weiss was inspired to create this timepiece after a road trip from LA to Charleston, SC in his 1971 Land Rover. There are two versions of this special watch: one with a light green dial and another with a black dial. The light green edition is limited to a run of 21 pieces, while there are 50 copies of the black model. The final total of 71 watches is a nod to the production year of Weiss’ truck. Be prepared to spend $2,500 on the variant with a black dial.
Overall, the Weiss Watch Company occupies a unique place in the watch industry. As a result, Weiss has the freedom to explore the relationship between Swiss craftsmanship and American ingenuity. I, for one, can’t wait to see what the future has in store for this young brand!