An American Original | Independent Watch Brand

Direct-to-Consumer

Towson watches are exclusively sold direct-to-consumer. Every watch reference listed on the “shop page” of this website is currently available for purchase. Orders are typically fulfilled within one week of payment. Shipments are insured and require a signature. 

Depending on the availability of a reference, customers may have the ability to choose a unique serial number (engraved on the back of the case - No.1 - 100) or additional custom-options by inquiring once the purchase order has been made. Every watch reference currently listed has assembled inventory and may or may-not be eligible for further customization aside from the strap. 

Towson Watch Company used to strictly sell its timepieces out of select authorized retailers, but shifted to a direct-to-consumer approach in order to foster stronger customer relationships and offer a more accessible entrypoint to premier independent watchmaking here in the United States. Most importantly, it gives our watchmakers more freedom to make the timepieces they want to make without being restricted by the standardization that retailer distribution imposes.

Direct-to-consumer allows us to continue our handmade, personalized approach to the craft of watchmaking, while simultaneously scaling its widespread appeal. TWC isn’t just a watch brand, it’s your watchmaker.

our history

Towson Watch Company was founded at the beginning of the new millennium by two gentlemen whose passion was working with mechanical timepieces. After 40 years of experience repairing high grade watches, repeaters, chronographs and making his own tourbillon watches, George Thomas, a master watchmaker met his partner Hartwig Balke, a graduate in mechanical engineering and talented watchmaker, by chance in an Irish Pub in Annapolis, MD. After sailors’ small talk, Thomas and Balke soon discovered their common love for high grade mechanical watches.

To create something special, mechanical instruments of beauty and precision, was always their dream. Thomas built his first tourbillon pocket watches, displayed now at the National Watch and Clock Museum in Columbia, Pennsylvania, in 1985. Years later, in 1999 Balke made his first wrist chronograph. It was worn in outer space during the first mission in the new millennium, the STS-99 Mission. He was commissioned by NASA astronaut, Commander Thiele, to produce this chronograph. The mission specialists wanted an American chronograph on their American space mission. A second watch, worn during the same mission, is also on display at the Columbia Museum.

“I started life as a watchmaker in 1948, 58 years ago. Hartwig started out as an engineer. We work together well because he essentially does the design and engineering work that I can’t do. But I’ve had a lot of experience doing restoration of antique watches for museums. These are 200 to 300 year-old timepieces. We have both ends of the technical spectrum covered, from current engineering to an understanding of watchmaking 500 years ago.”

– George Thomas (2006)

Now over twenty years old, Towson Watch Company is a significant part of American horology, and can legitimately claim a knowledge and experience of historic and contemporary watchmaking. This is thanks to the combined expertise of George Thomas and Hartwig Balke.


"Employing the finest Swiss mechanical components, Towson Watch Company brings together the best components from around the globe to create masterpieces worthy of a spot in any enthusiast's collection. Designed with the active, elegant professional in mind, Towson Watch Company watches are instruments of function, beauty, and unconquerable quality. Built to resist water and scratches, each timepiece boasts durability that rivals its beauty. Whether custom-created to one’s specifications or pre-designed, our master watchmakers pair together the perfect combinations of dials, bezels, hands, cases, and crystals to create the ultimate examples of style, elegance, and sport."

– TWC Bio (2006)

Pioneers of 21st century American watchmaking, George and Hartwig established their brand as a premier independent mechanical watchmaker in the United States. They would consistently help shape the growing microbrand space throughout the first decade of the 2000's, specifically here in America where today, we are blessed to see the rise of more brands like us building fine timepieces at home.

The three signature TWC collections - Chesapeake, Mission, and Master's - have persisted for over 20 years, with the continued evolution of classic references seeing no end in sight. This deep history, the mastery of our watchmakers, and most importantly, the timepieces, speak for themselves. These three elements of the TWC brand ensure a lasting legacy and story for the brand, its collectors and investors.

Hartwig
Balke
Hartwig Balke

A German engineer-turned-master watchmaker who co-founded Towson Watch Company. This professional engineer continues to run the TWC workshop today, passing down his unique set of talents, design principles and techniques to the next generation of TWC watchmakers. It is absolutely necessary that these foundational principles of the brand developed by Hartwig are retained and applied to every TWC timepiece made. If you schedule a visitation at our showroom, you may just be lucky enough to run into him. Quite a treat for all enthusiasts and admirers of the craft.

“These days, you don’t need a watch at all. There are clocks in your car, on your computer, in your phone. But I think a good mechanical wristwatch is the only kind of jewelry a man can wear without being tacky.”

Before moving to America in 1989, Balke held many high ranking positions among companies which catered to the oil & nautical industries of both Germany and the United States. For a substantial period of his professional life, Balke worked for companies which focused on oil-rig blowout prevention and dust filtration systems. In the 1980’s, Balke took a position with an American company in Germany that made dust control equipment & filtration systems for oil rigs. His duty was to engineer the filtration systems that were responsible for cleaning the air which ran through the rigs’ massive turbines. In 1989, Balke moved to the United States to open a subsidiary of a German hoist manufacturer – another company in the oil industry. Establishing the need to be near an active seaport, the move landed him in Baltimore.

George
Thomas
George Thomas

George Thomas was born in Prague, Czech Republic  in 1930 and grew up in Prague, Vienna and Zurich. In 1945, he apprenticed with a watchmaker in Prague. To escape the communists in 1948, he went to Panama and worked in Panama City for an agency servicing all major brands of timepieces. In 1951, he moved to San Francisco where he worked for a part-time as a watchmaker, and full-time in the plastics and chemical industries. While working in that industry he invented a process of molding sawdust into rustic outdoors dishes called “Stonewood.”

During that period he never lost his interest in timepieces and spent some of his spare time restoring antique and complicated watches. Among his accomplishments was the restoration of the world’s oldest known signed and dated watch from 1530. The watch belonged to Phillip Melanchton, an associate of Martin Luther. He also restored the world’s smallest watch made in 1860 for the Czar of Russia.
George has made 4 tourbillion watches, 3 of which are in the NAWCC museum in Pennsylvania as well as a Carousel watch also in the museum. There are few craftsmen left in the world capable of making a complete watch from scratch, part by part.
Jochen
Benzinger
Jochen Benzinger

A fundamental figure in our brand's history and current watchmaking, playing a large part in the production of some of our most exclusive timepieces, including the Half-Skeleton and Special Edition Choptank. This German engineer was one of Hartwig's close friends in his early professional years as an engineer. At an early age, the two would build watches in their free time and learn to become master horologists together.

In regard to sourcing base components, our founders have always said, "TWC is a collection of artists." Jochen is a perfect example of this, now known worldwide as one of the best dial-makers and guilloche artists there is. During their early years of working in the craft, Hartwig would focus on the engineering of the case and movement modifications, George was responsible for getting TWC timepieces up to that COSC standard and accuracy, while Jochen would dial in his engraving specialties.

While Hartwig, George and their apprentices remain working in America at the TWC workshops, Benzinger works for us at his workshops in Germany. Though not locally located, he will forever remain a TWC watchmaker and for the most part, a celebratory founder of this historic brand.
Antonio
Vestpoint
Antonio Vestpoint

Trained goldsmith and a recent graduate of the TWC Watchmaking Apprenticeship. After a short time as a Science Research Fellow for DePauw University, this young and ambitious talent chose to pursue his childhood passion of gemstones and ornate jewels. Spending the next few years working both at the counter, and in the back of jewelry stores and Baltimore City pawn shops.

After serving hundreds of hours during 2021-2022 at the TWC workshop learning and familiarizing himself with our unique approach to the craft, Antonio is now capable of completing final assembly and testing himself. A vital asset to the TWC team going forward.
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Defining
the Brand
Defining the Brand

The TWC brand is defined by our watchmakers. Artisans who consciously avoid cutting corners to produce intrinsic horological value with meaning. When one looks down at their Towson watch, they simply admire the handmade craftsmanship and care that went into its making.



Our
Mission
Launching the Brand


TWC has been around for a long time and is prominent in niche timepiece circles, yet years of stagnant marketing activity now begs for modernization and changes. The luxury watch market isn’t an easy space to compete in, and the dominant European players we all know well tend to keep us independent brands in the shadows.

The mission of rejuvenating this once-great American industry pastime is starting to see widespread momentum due the history and watchmaking TWC has to offer. The value of our watches is completely vested in their material, technology and craft.

Unlike any other watch manufacturer with the same quality and attention to detail as TWC, we seek small margins to provide our customers with an accessible and justified price that is only dependent on the intrinsic horological value of the watch itself.



Your
Signature
Our Mission

A TWC timepiece tells the story of mechanical watchmaking in its purest form. A story with roots vested in creativity and skill, blossomed through work and time. This story, read through the dial of a TWC timepiece, has a merit with everlasting value and relevance. While the world continues to modernize, our love for fine mechanical watchmaking will forever prevail.

Why? Because enthusiasts, collectors and casuals will always have a deep appreciation for the handmade craft. The craft entails a unique level of exclusivity. As in, we can only put this level of care into the making of so many watches. The meaning of a fine timepiece is built upon the story of its making, and why that in itself, is so valuable. A story that most luxury watches can't tell.



Watchmaking
Process
Watchmaking Process

Design and assembly strictly takes place in-house at our workshops in Maryland. For over 25 years, we have had the pleasure of working with the best component manufacturers in the world, the same used by the most exclusive Swiss watch brands. However, our proprietary contracts allows us to use these specialty artisans abroad as TWC watchmakers. Each TWC case, dial, hand, and movement manufactured for us in Switzerland and Germany was designed and prototyped by our watchmakers in Towson prior to their making. These components are strictly reserved for TWC timepieces. Further modification, decoration, engraving and adjustments then occur in-house prior to final watch assembly and testing.

TWC has had an exclusive contractual relationship with ETA since its founding and recently with Sellita. Each and every TWC timepiece is powered by one of these top-grade Swiss movements. They have been reconstructed and repurposed for our cases, and further modified as well as decorated by our watchmakers in-house.
“We make our own prototype here and we have a very special casemaker. We ask if they can make the case we want, then we order them. We also design the dials and the watch face so that everything comes together. We experiment with different types of hands so that the whole watch appeals to our tastes. Then we make a final determination about what we want to go with for a specific style. We go the dial-maker and say, “We want a dial like this.” We go to the case maker and say “we want a case like this.” We look to the quality of everything, even the movement.”

“When we say we buy an ETA movement, sure we do, but they are upgraded to our standards. If we decide to make a watch with an up and down indicator or some other feature we have the capability to add that feature; We make the feature ourselves on a prototype and then have the special parts and pieces made by others. We have the capability to design and make movement features that are not standard.” – George Thomas.
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