Our Watchmaking Partners | The Making of a Towson Watch

For over two decades, Towson Watch Company has pioneered American watchmaking with a specialized approach to the craft. Offering premium horological craftsmanship at a fair and accessible price. Our timepieces are designed and built in Towson, Maryland by the hands of our Co-Founder, Hartwig Balke, and his apprentices. Strictly using the highest-grade German and Swiss components that have been made exclusively for Towson watches.

ICKLER GMBH - CASEMAKER

Every part of a Towson-Ickler steel case is developed in Towson and manufactured in Germany. Collaboration and communication occurs at each step. This includes - design, construction, prototyping, parts, production, surface finishing/treatment, laser engraving, assembly, and quality control. Ickler’s experienced craftsmen use the latest high-tech CNC machinery, guaranteeing ultimate precision. When it comes to polishing the surfaces, assembling parts, completing watches, and thorough quality control, the watchmakers in Towson set the highest priority in human touch and intuition. The cases are crafted in-house, from solid blocks of stainless steel, pure titanium, 18 carat gold or platinum. We rely on a hardening process that involves the chemical incorporation of carbon into stainless steel. Generally speaking, the great advantage of such techniques is the fact that no layer is applied onto the steel that could possibly spall at a later point. 

Exhibition display of the Towson Recruit SW200-base Swiss Caliber

CADOR GMBH

Towson watch dials and hands are made with Cador GmbH in Switzerland. Mechanical production, electroplating, painting and printing all occur in-house at our collaborative workshops. Mechanical production includes stamping, embossing, welding, turning, diamond cutting, grinding and polishing. Then the CNC machine is used for drilling, milling, engraving and guilloche. We also have a CNC-measuring machine to deliver high accuracy. The electroplating stage includes the manifold surface treatments, like brushing and sandblasting. As for the paint shop, we use different types of paint and coatings. Transparent lacquers protect galvanic surfaces from oxidation and we create completely new possibilities through the addition of pigments. Full tones are mixed according to Pantone. The tampon printing and screen printing process are put into effect in air-conditioned and under clean room conditions.

The silver M250 in the first line of Mission Chronographs.

JOCHEN BENZINGER - ENGRAVING SPECIALIST

One of Hartwig's close friends going back to his early professional years as an engineer in Germany. Now known as one of the best dial-makers and guilloche artists in the world. During their early years of working in the craft, Hartwig would focus on the engineering of the case, George would obtain that COSC accuracy, and Jochen would apply his decorative mastery. We use Benzinger today largely for the Master’s Collection when working with sterling silver dials and skeleton movements.

18k Rose Gold Towson pocket watch with Unitas 6498 movement base.

PROPRIETARY SWISS MOVEMENTS

We work with our movement-maker in Switzerland to offer COSC-grade accuracy and highest-grade decoration. We design and assemble each component based on the standard ETA caliber. We then modify the structure and layout to fit our cases and intended utilities. All decoration, assembly, quality-control and testing occurs in-house.

Custom Benzinger skeleton rotor for Towson Mission M250.

For twenty years, Towson Watch Company was the only authorized watchmaker to repair and service Ickler-made watches. In many ways, the two firms are one, sharing the same values based in tradition and technique. Ickler is our watch-component maker, we are their watchmaker here in America.

TWC Co-Founders George Thomas & Hartwig Balke posing with their first Towson Watch Collection.

When our workshops were opened in 2000, a specialized relationship with Ickler GmbH was formed. Our guys would do the engineering and design in Towson while the smithing would take place across the pond. The idea was to bring together both forms of expertise to create high-grade collectable watches in America with affordable intrinsic value. Watches built for the feel of luxury with exclusivity and quality beneath the tool-oriented identity.

Mission M250 built for NASA astronauts on STS-99 space mission in 2000.

For a substantial period of his professional life, co-founder Hartwig Balke worked for companies focused on oil-rig blowout prevention and dust filtration systems. In 1989, he moved to the United States to open a subsidiary of a German hoist manufacturer. Establishing the need to be near an active seaport, the move landed him in Baltimore. 

His move to the United States allowed him to delve deeper into his passion for horology. He had an abundance of machines that could be used for watchmaking and manufacturing relationships back home in Germany. After several years of a successful specialized business in the oil industry, the same principle became the basis for the founding of Towson Watch Company. Our longtime partners in Germany have helped us standardize our unique process and pursue a design language that defines the TWC brand.

Hartwig Balke building a Towson Watch at the TWC workshop in Baltimore, MD. USA.

Every part of a Towson-Ickler steel case is developed in Towson and manufactured in Germany. Collaboration and communication occurs at each step. This includes - design, construction, prototyping, parts, production, surface finishing/treatment, laser engraving, assembly, and quality control. Ickler’s experienced craftsmen use the latest high-tech CNC machinery, guaranteeing ultimate precision. When it comes to polishing the surfaces, assembling parts, completing watches, and thorough quality control, the watchmakers in Towson set the highest priority in human touch and intuition. 

Benzinger Choptank from Towson's Masters Collection. Featuring blued steel cathedral hands accompanied with a blue lizard strap.

Due to the global digital society we live in today, it doesn’t matter to us where either of these processes take place. All stages of the craft involve the same minds located in different workshops. The methodologies involved in our approach have been developed together over the past twenty years.  It works similarly to the Swiss industry, where firms come together to help each other offer the best product. It is an exclusive relationship that Towson is incredibly fortunate to have as an American watchmaker.

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