In 2010, we introduced a new wristwatch model created for him and her - the Pride II. In this journal, we discuss the development of a signature TWC timepiece that is just as unusual as it is beautiful.
While the appearance of the Pride of Baltimore Schooner has never quite been equaled on the water, there is a timepiece on the wrist that shares the same language - the Pride II. A special edition that symbolizes the industrial innovation that has occurred in our distinctive region. It pays tribute to the Pride of Baltimore II, the official sailing ambassador for Maryland to the rest of the world, and the infamous Baltimore Clippers she recalls.
Featuring a clean and tasteful black or silver dial, the Pride II is powered by the reliable ETA 2892 automatic movement. It is enclosed by a solid case back featuring a plush engraving of the iconic sailing yacht that inspired it's making. It was fittingly conceived and still today produced right in the ports of Baltimore at our workshop in the city, right near the shipyard where the Pride II of Baltimore was built.
TWC founders, Hartwig Balke and George Thomas, weren’t looking to create a new model when they contacted French Canadian industrial designer, Patrick Ayoub. Co-founder of another American brand, Detroit Watch Company, Ayoub’s background is diverse, including stints in automotive design at Volkswagen, BMW, and Daimler-Chrysler. TWC had turned to Ayoub for a fresh look for the brand’s emblem. “George and I often say that we collect artists,” says Hartwig Balke. “We met Patrick three years ago. He had done watch design before and our Towson Watch logo needed to be made more distinctive. I asked him if he would do me the favor of cleaning up the logo and he said, ‘No problem.’ When I saw the logo shape he came up with I thought to myself, ‘That’s a nice shape. That could be a watch case.’ I drew up a few lines on the shape and asked Patrick what he thought about it.”
The next day Ayoub called Balke and told him he had something special. “He said, ‘I have a present for you. Go to your computer and see,”” Balke recalls. “It was the first layout of the watch. I said ‘Wow! We have to make this.’ That was the beginning of the project." Now all that TWC’s leaders needed was a theme in keeping with the rest of their line. Inspiration didn’t strike immediately. But in fact it could be said that the genesis of Balke’s idea for the new watch was more than three decades in the making.
As a Baltimorean and avid sailor himself, Hartwig Balke had followed the exploits of the City’s prized ambassador. In search of an appropriate logical icon upon which to theme TWC’s new watch, Balke had a brainwave.
“We have our Skipjack, Bay Pilot, Choptank, Potomac models,” Balke affirms. So we were looking for a Chesapeake Bay theme. I had the Constellation (USS Constellation, the famed 1854 Baltimore Sloop-of-war war which would be the last sail-only warship designed for the US Navy) in my mind and Thomas Point (a renowned 1875 Chesapeake Bay Shoal Lighthouse) and other things. Then all of a sudden because I’m a sailor and I like ships, I thought of the Pride of Baltimore. It’s absolutely beautiful!”
After agreeing on the name we arranged a meeting with the Pride of Baltimore organization and discussed the idea to name this model after the Pride of Baltimore II. Janet Cadlo, director of development for Pride of Baltimore Inc., the non-profit organization that operates Pride II, recalls Balke walking into her office in 2008 with the idea for the watch.” “I was floored! He sat down and we talked for quite a while and he said he needed a photo of the Pride II so that we can put an image of it on the watch.”
Balke was quick to make another creative request. He wanted an image of Pride II to use as the basis for an engraving on the watch’s caseback. Caslo suggested the work of commercial photographer and longtime Pride of Baltimore II chronicler Bill McAllen. It’s one of the many touches that make TWC’s Pride II watch stand out. It is etched into a screwed down stainless steel back made from an anti allergic material. Longitude and latitude indicates the location of Towson Watch Company.
“It’s a very generous gesture” says Caslo enthusiastically. Captain Jan Miles is equally enthusiastic about the connection of the sailing machine and time machine. “Id there one vanity that I have it’s that I admire the heck out of watches,” he admits. “And I suppose that the same kind of passion that has helped us keep alive the tradition of tall ships sailing and Baltimore Clippers in particular must have played a dominant role in how a lot of the traditional watchmaking processes and concepts have been preserved.”
Aye’ Aye’ Captain. And through TWC’s efforts there’s now an American watch that unites the iconic profile of the Pride of Baltimore II with a distinctive new timepiece, bringing together the traditions of historic sailing and watchmaking.