LA’s Best Watchmaker Just Released a Mechanical for Under $1K

‘Less is more’ has never been a more apt descriptor

August 21, 2018 9:00 am

The watch, like the wheel, cannot be reinvented. But it can be refined.

Reduced weight. Enhanced materials. Smoother edges. The kind of nuances that are only apparent to someone who has put thousands of hours into staring at the damn thing.

Like local watchmaker Cameron Weiss, who trained at the venerable Wostep school in Switzerland before launching his own mechanical watch brand in Los Angeles five years ago.

That brand, Weiss Watch Company, specializes in field watches priced around $2,000. Sometimes the casing is gold, other times stainless steel. The faces change, but the mechanics and movements are precisely machined in a small workshop in an industrial space near Toyota Motors in Torrance.

Typically, his watches have come with a rather robust 42mm casing. But his newest model, now available for preorder, slims the case down to 38mm and starts at just $950.

“I think it’s perfect for that style of watch,” says Cameron. “The proportions between the bezel and the dial diameter, the thickness of the case, how thick the lugs are, the taper of everything. There’s a lot that goes into the design — even of a simple watch like this — and those proportions are very important.”

Weiss (2 images)

To maintain the classic good looks of the original while slimming down the case, Cameron and his machinist removed volume from everything, right down to the lugs. But that’s not what accounts for the more accessible price point. Rather, the savings come from the Caliber 1005 movements: they make use of parts tooled in Switzerland, whereas the Caliber 1003 that features in Weiss’s more expensive models is built from components he machines himself.

“The case, the dial and the strap are still made here in Los Angeles,” he says. “But the movement parts are made in Switzerland and then assembled here.”

Because Weiss is a small shop that only cranks out around 2,500 models a year, each of the watches takes about 35-80 hours to complete, with most orders filed on a bespoke, one-of-one basis. That said, a limited number of the new 38mm Field Watches will be available on sale at Stag and Barney’s in the next month or two.

Nota bene: Weiss is looking to expand their team. If you’re interested in watchmaking, Cameron is interested in hiring an apprentice to learn the trade and work for the company. You’ll need a passion for watches, a love of details, and be highly adept at noticing your own mistakes and fixing them. “With watchmaking, every little minor imperfection is extremely important,” says Cameron. “So being a very judge of your own work is vital.”

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