Blending Old Wisdom with New Vision

An interview with our president, Spencer Shattuck. He talks about his unique relationship with TWC's original founders and how he plans on growing the legacy of their life's work.

MY BIO

My name is Spencer Shattuck. I am 23 years old from Baltimore, MD. I have been a watch collector and enthusiast since an early age, and in the Spring of 2021, was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to continue the great legacy of TWC. I have been the sole owner and President since then. 


1. How did you first get into making watches?

Well, my role at TWC doesn’t involve much watchmaking, except for removing straps and casebacks on occasion. As much as I appreciate and love the craft, I have too much respect for it to involve myself in our watchmaking process. I leave it to our master watchmakers, Hartwig Balke and George Thomas, and their apprentices who have trained under them for years. To design a TWC timepiece and then actually build one, an immense amount of training and expertise is required. I am here to generate more awareness and appreciation for what these artisans have dedicated their life’s work to. 

Despite my minimal role in the watchmaking itself, I do have a storied history with it. Back when I was just 12 years old, I was fascinated with horology. I was actually able to spend a week with Hartwig and George at the TWC workshop learning about their approach and process to write a project about watchmaking for school. Into my highschool years, I drifted away from watchmaking itself, and became very passionate about the overall industry. It’s been over ten years since my week with the TWC founders, and now I can proudly call myself the president of this amazing company that was responsible for my initial introduction to watchmaking. 


2. Do you have a “normal job“ or is this your full-time passion?

A few months prior to my graduation at Johns Hopkins University during the Spring of 2021, I purchased TWC from Under Armour’s founder, Kevin Plank. Ever since that moment, I’ve committed myself to this company 100%. It is what I do every day and night. I’ve always been an entrepreneurial person with dreams of growing a brand. I’ve been lucky enough to find myself in position to do just that at such a young age. A dream come true that I plan on taking full advantage of. 


3. What do you like best about owning your own micro brand?

For years, I wanted to start my own watch company. I wanted to design my own watches, grow a brand and produce pieces unlike anything else. When the opportunity to acquire TWC came to me, it only took me a few days to realize that I didn’t need to start my own microbrand. Right in front of me, wasn’t just an established company that makes incredible timepieces, but quite literally, the original American microbrand. TWC vests a history of 25 years, boasting remarkable innovations and designs that are treasured by niche horological collectors. What I enjoy most about owning THIS microbrand, is the fact that much of this history has yet to be discovered by the masses. It is a hidden gem that is only bound to present itself in a dramatic way. The foundation has been solidified for decades. Now it’s just time for me to illuminate the collecting value and quality of TWC timepieces to the world. 


4. Which of your watches and/or straps is your favorite?  Are you also a watch enthusiast of other brands?

My favorite watch in the TWC collections is always changing. It’s amazing how the custom variants we provide for each model, including the various straps and hands, change the overall appeal of the watch. I can wear a Mission Chronograph every day of the week with a different strap and it will never look the same. Nonetheless, currently my favorite watch of ours is the Choptank. When wearing it, it truly does feel like an instrument of horological art. A pendant on the wrist. Every aspect of it is perfectly designed, and the unique elements between the case and dial romantically flow with one another. 


5. What advice would you offer someone that was interested in creating their own brand of watches?

Every watch brand must legitimize itself through its innovation and ability to be different. For TWC, we carry this natural “difference” through our long history, founders, and just the simple fact that there aren’t many luxury watchmakers in the USA. However, we also separate ourselves by not being afraid to make what we want to make. Many brands are fearful of breaking the status-quo, designing or even marketing what could be considered unordinary. This halts innovation. A brand must be true to itself, while taking constructive criticism, advice and trends into consideration.


6. What do you think really sets your watches apart from others?

When handling a TWC timepiece, you feel the handmade quality of it. One can almost sense traces of its construction, knowing that this was specifically made for one individual. The hours of work that went into its making can actually be felt in a tangible manner. A TWC timepiece offers the best of the best in watchmaking at an accessible price point. Our founders always said, “TWC is an affordable Patek.” This is because as far as our cases, hands and dials go, they are quite literally produced in collaboration with the same family-owned Swiss workshops that these premier Swiss companies use. And then for our movements, we reveal the additional work we put into their decoration with an exhibitionist caseback for almost every model. We don’t cut any corners, and you understand that when handling a TWC timepiece.


7. What are some things that you wish everyone knew about you and your work? 

I want to expose the history of this brand to more people in the watch community and outside of it. Show people that there are alternative options that carry far more value than your traditional brand names that mass-produce what I like to call, “consumer luxury” at an unreasonable price-point. I want to expose the problematic perception of luxury in the world today, which is the idea that luxury no longer represents the highest quality and exclusivity, it rather represents status-symbol and image. I believe that ultimately, people do want the “best of the best” when paying luxury prices. It’s not actually about flexing a status symbol. Those that truly want luxury, want the highest quality and the most exclusive items. That is what independent watchmakers like TWC provide, handcrafted watches that have been designed and built by experts that will last forever and keep remarkable time. Not to mention that each is limited to 100. 


8. Any interesting brand trivia? Any personal info you’d like to share?

TWC has put a watch in space, the Mission Chronograph. It was worn by Commander Thiele on NASA’s STS-99 mission in 2000. This chronograph was commissioned by astronauts aboard the Endeavor aircraft at the time, as they wanted an American-made chronometer to accompany them. Our watchmakers produced 20 of these original Missions, and many of them were worn in space for months. Some now lie in various horological museums, representing American innovation in horology. 


9. What future plans do you have for your brand?

I plan to scale the awareness of TWC significantly while simultaneously increasing wider appreciation for independent watchmaking. As already stated, I’d like to shift attention away from the “consumer luxury” that largely dominates the market because it puts a false perception of what luxury is in people’s minds. Despite this larger vision, I will always continue to stay true to the principles our co-founders established two decades ago. Which include the limited production of 100 for each model, strictly using parts from our long term German and Swiss manufacturers, and continuing to use Swiss movements that guarantee no more than +/- 12 seconds a day. Of course, we are an American brand, and we would like to bring as many elements of the watchmaking process to the USA as possible, but we will not be jeopardizing quality in that pursuit. It will be a long gradual process to eventually be able to make a TWC watch completely in-house, but it is certainly achievable. And we have a better opportunity to do that than just about anyone. 


10. I noticed you began leading Towson Watch Company right after graduating from Johns Hopkins, at a fairly young age. What benefits do you think your youth brings to the company?

TWC was founded when our founders, Hartwig and George, retired and moved to America to sail the East Coast. When they met each other at a pub in Annapolis, Maryland, they discovered a shared passion for watchmaking and decided that in their retirement, they would do what they loved. Hartwig was an engineer at Volkswagen for 30 years and George was an expert pocket watch restorer. Together, they specialized in each of their skill-sets to produce TWC watches. However, what was always missing was a businessperson. Someone that could actually turn their work into sales. For 20 years, the two of them built the brand purely through the watches themselves. But as we all know, a brand needs more. And that’s why I’m here. I still get to work with our founders everyday, taking in their wisdom and exposing it to the masses. Just like Hartwig and George partnered to specialize in their expertise, I am partnering up with them to intertwine old wisdom with new vision. 


11. I also noticed that you provide custom in-house cases and movements. Would these watches be considered made in America?

For most TWC watches, we design and prototype the case in-house, and then send them to our proprietary manufacturer in Germany who produces the cases for us. Then they are returned, finished, decorated and engraved in-house. For some, like the Mission Moon, we drill the date reset application on the left side of the case ourselves. For some models such as the Pride, the case was fully designed and manufactured in the USA. As for our movements, we have had exclusive contracts with ETA for years, and just recently Sellita. They make proprietary movements for us, and then once received at TWC, additionally decorated and modified in-house. We also do custom guilloche and engraved rotors with our collaborator and friend, Jochen Benzinger in Germany. 


Question - WHY TOWSON WATCH COMPANY?

Towson Watch Company has pioneered American watchmaking for over twenty years. A TWC timepiece represents exclusivity at its core, and embodies the craftsmanship, detail and quality of what true luxury “ought to be.” The mastery of our watchmakers and the passion of our new young leadership ensure a lasting legacy for the brand and our customers. 

The TWC brand represents the quintessential image of high-grade mechanical watchmaking in its purest form. Owning a Towson Watch means that you own a piece of a larger story. A story beginning with the time, work and creativity vested in the timepiece’s making, and ending with the collectable value of it for years after it’s retirement. Owning a TWC timepiece means owning a piece of unique art embedded in American watchmaking history.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Interview with THEDAILYRECORD - https://thedailyrecord.com/2022/02/07/23-year-old-ceo-brings-youthful-passion-to-towson-watch-company/ 


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