Hartwig Balke, one of the founders of Towson Watch Company

The Choptank triple calendar chronograph draws its inspiration from the industrial heritage and distinctive style of the Chesapeake Bay. The beacons that have historically guided ships through the Choptank River, installed during the height of America's industrial growth, now stand as symbols of maritime history in the Chesapeake region. These beacons, strategically placed to illuminate the path for vessels navigating through shallow waters at night, served as sentinels of safety and direction.

Our team of watchmakers sought to capture the essence and practicality of these beacons in a horological masterpiece, giving rise to the Choptank timepiece. The project had a dual purpose: to explore new dimensions of shape within watch design while paying tribute to maritime heritage. The Choptank's case design takes cues from the industrial "screwpile-style" of the Chesapeake Bay beacons. This distinctive design element not only echoes the iconic appearance of the lighthouses but also embodies their utility and charm. Just as the lighthouses were designed with both functionality and allure in mind, so too is the Choptank watch, marrying form and purpose.

The journey of creating the Choptank began with Hartwig, who, seated at the bow of his boat, sketched the initial concept on his pad. He translated the bulbous yet inviting shape of the lighthouses into the watch's case, rounding the corners and flattening the ends while preserving the beacon's essence. After refinement, the prototype sketch of the Choptank's case emerged as a testament to the beacons' significance to Hartwig and fellow sailors. To truly honor the beacons' importance, the Choptank watch had to be more than a mere accessory; it had to be a functional tool. Thus, the decision was made to employ the 7751 movement, transforming it into an annual-calendar moonphase chronograph. This choice not only brought the story to life but also allowed the Choptank to mirror the value of the river beacons, offering sailors the epitome of mechanical horology's utility in an elegantly designed instrument.

Artisans believe that the true essence of their work should manifest in the final creation. This belief is why the Mission dial, with its guilloche pattern extending to the case and aligning with the tonneau shape, was seamlessly incorporated into the Choptank's final design. Beyond its function as a useful tool for sailors, the watch's value lies in its representation of Hartwig's desire to break free from conventional norms. Having spent a substantial career as an engineer in the automotive sector, Hartwig's approach to watchmaking had adhered to strict standards of consistency, efficiency, and functionality. This pragmatic approach had its merits, but it also left little room for experimental ideas.

However, the Choptank marks a departure from this traditionalism. It showcases Hartwig's commitment to preserving the fundamental principles of design while also allowing himself to explore uncharted territories. Every component of a watch, according to Hartwig, must have a purpose, just as tools are designed for their functions. Nevertheless, he harbored an innate aspiration to illuminate the inherent elegance of these "tools." The Choptank embodies this aspiration, combining utilitarian efficiency with an innate sense of grace, embodying the natural elegance of a functional instrument.

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