The Chesapeake Collection: A History & Future of Industrial Achievement

Towson Watch Company is one of the oldest American-owned mechanical watch firms that still exists today, having been founded by Hartwig Balke & George Thomas in 1998. The master watchmakers moved to America in their early retirement, first conceiving the company together at a sailor's pub in Annapolis, MD. Hartwig brought his expertise as an engineer and George as a horologist. They sailed the Chesapeake Bay while rapidly developing the Towson Watch Brand, and unknowingly, the Chesapeake Collection that would come close to a decade later in 2010.

When one begins to understand the makeup of the Towson Watch Collections, the locally drawn inspiration may strike a chord. The Choptank takes from the tonneau-shaped lighthouses resting along the Chesapeake Bay’s tributary rivers. The timeless utility of 1800’s crabbing vessels lent to use of the vintage decor for contemporary appeal on our current Skipjack GMT. Naval Academy midshipman kept coming to our showroom in Baltimore, MD., wanting that premium American timepiece for the everyday, so we gave them the RECRUIT vs CADET. 

The diverse array of timepieces offered in the Chesapeake Collection materialize the identity of Towson Watch Company as an independent American firm with a traditional localized approach to the craft. A conjunction of today’s local talent with the industrial achievement of our past. Restoring the manufacturing and artisanal innovation that has occurred here in our backyard. A legacy that happened to bring the USA to where it is today.

The history and inspiration drawn from the Chesapeake Region acted as a catalyst for the development of Towson Watch Company. The Pride II celebrates these foundational roots of the brand, having the same shape as the TWC Shield logo. The Pride of Baltimore Schooner built in 1977 was America’s official sailing ambassador, built here in Baltimore, MD. A reproduction of it continues to sail the harbor today. When standing atop the mass looking down at the bow, one will see the same shape found on our Pride II timepiece.

Both the triangular stainless steel case of the Pride II timepiece and the logo signify the nautical background of our founders, Hartwig Balke and George Thomas. Sailing the Chesapeake Bay developed their connection to the region and its history, and thus, the development of their company was directly fueled by a desire to shine light back on the once glorified industrial port cities like Baltimore. For two European engineers with the dream of starting a watch company together in America, there was a certain appeal to the Chesapeake Region that reminded them of their hard-working culture back home. Just this time, they were in a place that gave them the ability to build something special from the ground up. 

It wasn’t until the first Pride II timepiece was made in 2007 for the TWC shield we know today to be made the official logo of Towson Watch Company. Hartwig Balke and his collaborator on the project, Patrick Ayoub, wanted to explore their capabilities as horologists. Exploring with shape allowed Patrick to test the boundaries of symmetrical design while it gave Hartwig an opportunity to deploy his engineering expertise under his own terms. The five-radius triangle of the Pride II and the case’s perfect encapsulation of the automatic movement will forever go down as one of the great American innovations in horology. There will never be a timepiece that has an appearance or history like it.

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