Hartwig's Technical Requirements : MARTIN M-130

A look at the official Technical Specifications & Requirements Development Memo for the Martin M-130 Chesapeake Collection Chronograph. By the managing designer and engineer prior to manufacturing in 2018.

The Development-Cycle of Towson's Pilot Chronograph MARTIN M-130

Management Hartwig Balke & George Thomas

Engineering Hartwig Balke

Design Hartwig Balke & Patrick Ayoub

Assembly + Calibration George Thomas

Manufacturing Partners Ickler GmbH ,Cador GmbH, Estima 

It happened to be Memorial Day when Hartwig was walking from the domestic to international terminal at BWI Airport when he noticed a pop-up display of some antique cockpit instruments in a glass case. They were accompanied by framed articles describing the Martin M-130 “China Clipper”,  the historic aircraft that opened the skies above the Pacific to commercial flights. It was a plane that shrunk the world, skipping across the Pacific like a rock across a pond in an astonishingly fast sixty hours. This " flying boat" was built right in our backyard here in Maryland.

As an engineer from Germany, the story of the “China Clipper” was inspiring to Hartwig as he learned of yet another monumental industrial achievement that happened to occur right in his new backyard in Maryland. Nonetheless, what captivated him over anything in the pop-up display was this one particular 24-hour cockpit clock. It featured a striking contrast between the luminous numerals and black background. Its identity as a “tool” was clearly communicated, but at the same time, its purity carried a distinctively contemporary and appealing aesthetic.

This spontaneous moment at the airport instigated years of playful experimentation and casual visations to the Glenn E. Foundation, which housed many of the “China Clipper’s” artifacts. Ultimately, it produced  our signature pilot chronograph made in collaboration with commissioned restorers of the precious cockpit artifacts Hartwig saw at the airport.

Before boarding his plane back home to Germany, Hartwig snapped a quick photo of the cockpit instrument and proceeded to play around with it on photoshop for the following weeks. When he returned to the TWC workshops weeks later, he came prepared with a completed digital rendering of the original clock dial encompassed by a Potomac case. In addition, he printed out the dial onto a piece of cardboard and placed it within the physical steel case. The makeshift prototype showed instant promise. It was time to start digging deeper into the details.


  1. Movement purchase - Movement components are in TWC stock. Assembly must follow ETA standard requirements)
  2. Case: After finished drawings and final study, prototype required. First case prototype March - April 2017. 
  3. Dial: After final study detailed drawings are required in order to make the first prototype. First dial prototype February - March 2017
  4. Hands: Delivery time has to be checked in order make the tool for the final design of hands. For the assembly of the prototype off shelf hands can be used. 
  5. Watch: The first prototype of the watch has to be ready April 2018.

Product Use

The Martin M-130 is designed as a sports watch, it should be an attractive timepiece for an active, sports oriented, successful person with style. The watch should attract attention when visible. The watch should be an everyday item as well as being a timepiece that expresses the owner’s dynamic lifestyle and good taste for the extraordinary. 


The chronograph has to be clean and easily readable at night time. Hour, minute, and a constantly rotating second at 9 o'clock position. The stop function has a sweep second operation from the center, a minute counter at 12 o'clock and an hour-counter at 6 o'clock position. The chronograph should have Arabic numerals in a good readable contrast to the black dial background. The hour markers are dots with a luminous layer, at 12 o'clock is a luminous filled triangle to mark the 12 o'clock position at night time. The minute and hour hand are designed after the hand of an 1935 aircraft instrument. Recommended diameter 42mm, thickness 14.5mm. available. 

Functional Requirements

The watch case has to be in stainless steel. Edges need to be smooth and clean without losing too much of the original shape. Lugs need to be bent down in a way that smaller wrists are able to wear the watch comfortably and that end parts of the leather strap are still visible when looking straight down onto the face of the watch. The width in between lugs should be 20mm in order to install standard leather bands of different materials. The leather bands should be equipped with a single folding deployment clasp. The bezel should have a grove similar to the skipjack bezel, slightly bigger in diameter than the case mid-section. The watch should have a domed scratch resistant sapphire crystal and should have a two sided anti reflex coating. The back is closed and should bear the image of the China Clipper/Martin M-130 and customer important information such as the Ref. No., Serial No. ATM - rate and manufacturer’s name.

Technical Requirements : CASE

Case Material: stainless steel, sapphire crystal (Two side anti reflex coating) at the front 

Dimensions: Diameter 42mm, dimension between lugs 20mm, height 14.5mm

Three main components - Bezel, Midsection with lugs, caseback

  1. All three sections are screwed together. Bezel screwed, case back screwed onto midsection by 5-6 screws. Lugs are machined, Surfaces between bezel / midsection and case back / midsection are sealed by o-rings. 
  2. Crown with standard tube. 
  3. Caseback with etched image of the China Clipper and customer important information such as 5 ATM, Serial No., Reference No., USA, Towson Watch Company. 
A pilot chronograph inspired by the famous Martin M-130, also called the China Clipper, built at the Glenn L. Martin Corporation in Maryland. It was a plane that shrunk the world, skipping across the Pacific like a rock across a pond in an astonishingly fast sixty hours.

Mounting of the Movement

  1. dial and hands are executed from the front. Mounted bezel secures dial in vertical and horizontal direction. Winding stem secures movement from rotating. Movement secured through mounting plates (Briden) and screws to the case midsection. 
  2. Screws for the back have to be placed and distributed in a way that a 5 ATM water resistance is guaranteed. 

Technical Requirements : DIAL

Dial Material - brass

  1. Thickness - 0.5mm 
  2. Numerals printed.
  3. Dial background blasted in order to create a nice smooth surface. Minute circle printed, hour markers with luminous in the same color as numerals. 
  4. Date window should be at 9 o’clock in black background with red date number
  5. Dial feet diameter, location and length depending on movement Caliber 7750. 

Technical requirements - HANDS 

Material - steel or brass.

  1. Surface painted in the color according to color code Pantone 458U.
  2. The profile of the hands should be flat
  3. The center arbor should be in black. 
  4. The hands should be skeletonized, the back of the window should be filled with super luminova Pantone 458 U. Actual shape of the hands see PS-image. 

Sweep second should be painted according to Pantone 3265U. Length 0.5 mm longer than the minute hand. 

Arbor of the sweep second hand should be made from a softer material (brass) to be able to ream the seat according to shaft dimension.

Arbor and hand should be riveted together in a way that orbor does not turn during the reaming process. 

Technical Requirements : MOVEMENT

The movement needs to have 7 main functions - hour, minute, center chronograph, second.

Minute counter at 12h, hour counter at 6h, constantly rotating second at 9h and a calendar disc. 

The movement will be the self winding 1314 lines in a finish acc. to the Decor Code # 10 N/D/R in rhodium finish. 

Assembled in accordance to ETA Caliber 7750 standard requirement information.

Dimensions are 30mm, height 7.9mm according to ETA drawings. 

Rotor should be engraved with the TWC Logo in the middle of the rotor. Left from the logo has to be the word Towson and right from the logo Watch Co. engraved in New Times Roman as shown on TWC drawing (sketch). 

All visible screws need to be blued. 



The watch primarily should be a timepiece for everyday use to keep its owner updated throughout the whole day. The numerals should be large enough to read the time even when reading glasses are misplaced or momentarily not handy. The contrast between numerals and dial base should be strong enough to read time even in darker twilight conditions. Hands should create the same contrast without looking too bulky. The leather band needs to be elegant, sporty but at the same time resistant to wear and tear. The watch should be presented in a fine wooden box with the logo and brand name printed on the lining inside the lid. The documentation consists of an owner's manual and a warranty card. The owner's manual shows the watch as a schematic with description of the functions and how to operate each individual feature. The manual also describes all customer relevant information. 


The watch has to be reliable in such a way that the owner only wants to wear this model for everyday use. The owner should wish to put it on in the morning without thinking about winding or even adjusting the time. 


The owner wants to be complimented about the unusual dial design and the quality look of the watch even when showing evidence of wear due to everyday use. 

Ability of Changing Appearance 

The watch should not lose its attractive appearance when changing the leather straps in material and color when both were chosen in a tasteful and careful manner. Also, the use of a metal bracelet should increase the attractiveness and not take away from the appearance. 


The design of the case, case back, lugs, bezel, dial, hands and case engineering are not transferable to other manufacturers without permission of TWC's management and ownership. 

Risk Acceptance

Warranty is indefinite after the date of purchase directly from Towson Watch Company. See warranty card for exceptions, including lost, theft or intentional damage. Accuracy of a mechanical watch has to be explained in the manual. No warranty issue when daily accuracy is within +/- 16 s/d. 



Cases should be ordered from a manufacturer who operates according to ISO 9000 or a similar quality assurance standard. Recommended are Ickler GmbH or Fricker GmbH in Germany. A visit needs to be arranged with Reister & Nittel in order to check their capabilities. The quantity should be 50 pieces. 25 pieces with a polished bezel, satin finished mid section and polished back with edging and engraving. 25 pieces polished bezel and polished mid section. The cases should come with the right amount of screws to hold bezel and back, O-rings to seal bezel and back, crown and the right length spring bars to be able to install leather straps or bracelets. Holes in the lugs for holding the bands should always be located in the same, correct place that transition pieces for bracelets can be fitted later on without showing a space between case and transition pieces or make an installation impossible. Polished areas of the case need to be mirror finished without showing any polishing marks. The crystals have to be fitted already into the bezels. Case engravings (edging) have to be done in a way that it won't come off through day to day wearing (laser print). 


Dials should be ordered from a dial manufacturer who operates according to quality assurance standard ISO 9000 or a similar quality assurance standard. Recommended are Cador. Deutsche Zifferblattmanufaktur don't take orders anymore. 100 pieces with the black dial background.


Movements are in stock. The chosen movement is the Caliber 7750, finish is in accordance with ETA Decor code # 10 N/D/R. The amount in Stock are 100 pieces. from Serial No. 001 - 100. 


The hands should be ordered from Estima S.A. in Grenchen. The quality has to be discussed with Estima. Depending on delivery times Weber can be considered too, but so far TWC has no experience with this company. When Weber comes into consideration for ordering, samples have to be seen first. Weber will charge tooling costs whatever the shape of the hands would be. Estima has a catalog of standard shapes. If the total watch design allows a catalog shape design it is recommended to use these hands. This procedure saves time and tooling costs. Quantity should be 100 sets consisting of hour, minute and sweep second. 


Before starting production of the necessary quantities of above mentioned items, at least one sample of each item has to be delivered and inspected and if possible assembled to a prototype. This is the last chance to make minor changes to the case, dials and hands. Criteria for the case are screw holes for the assembly, sealing seats to guarantee 5 ATM, location of holes in the lugs in order for an accurate installation of transition pieces for a bracelet. 

Like the Pride II, an engraving of the original aircraft is etched onto the closed caseback. But unlike the tendencies of several modern brands, there are no bits of metal or fabric from the seat of the original aircraft hidden away on this watch. There’s no DNA from the first test-pilot to get off the water with the M-130. What you have is an authentic and inspired expression of a pilot’s watch that adds a dash of color and ever-more utility to an all too often monochromatic type.

The Martin M-130’s dial makes a quick connection to its source of inspiration, pointing to a blue-blood historical lineage of local industry that shaped how we live today. It was designed to replicate cockpit instruments of the 1930’s.  It is a practical yet abstract response to the typical design language found in modern pilot watches. It represents an evolution of the traditional, in which a vintage palette is woven into a proven structure of elements. But what results is a dramatically contemporary yet ageless feel.

Hartwig considered infusing some scrap pieces of the aircraft into the limited edition timepieces. He was even given permission by the museum’s curator to use a certain section of the aircraft’s wing for the chronograph’s subdials. However, this idea ultimately didn’t pan out because it just didn’t align with the artistic motives that prompted the project to begin with. There was no doubt that the project was intended to be playful, but there was no room for gimmicks. The source of inspiration in that cockpit clock was so strong that yes, it provided Hartwig a story to attach his pilot watch to, but it struck a much deeper chord than that.

As a German engineer for thirty years, he became an expert in an approach to design based on function. In other words, a certain instrument, like a watch or even a car, must exuberate characteristics that it can identify with because of utilitarian reasons. This principle was surely not forgotten by our legendary master watchmaker once he moved to America, but the reminder he received from the cockpit clock truly put him back into his roots. That cockpit clock demonstrated the beauty of engineering and function, where elements of design can serve two purposes that are contingent on one another, aesthetic and utility.

To shine light on the past, an artist must recreate it…

A commemorative watch pays tribute to its source of inspiration by appropriating it to new innovation and status-quo. The everlasting legacy of that inspiration becomes defined and takes its effect in a new medium. Hartwig was tempted to incorporate some physical relic of the aircraft into each timepiece, but chose to extend the significance of the Martin M-130 another way. He allowed the design language of the aircraft’s cockpit instruments to speak for itself in a contemporary arena. There was no need to alter existing artifacts. Just a need to remember the genius behind them. A horological work of art uses design to communicate the beauty of utility.

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