J.N. Shapiro has certainly made a splash in the watch world with their claim that the appropriately named Resurgence timepiece is the first watch fully made in America since 1969. It’s a disputable claim, but looking at the details it’s hard to see how it couldn’t be.
The U.S. was once a juggernaut in watchmaking thanks to brands like Hamilton, Elgin, and the Waltham Watch Company. For one reason or another, these manufacturers faded in the U.S. with Hamilton’s production moving to Switzerland in 1969 shortly after their purchase of the Buren Watch Company as the final nail in the coffin.
The “Made in USA” badge is contentious and bold especially since it technically isn’t true under American law. In the U.S., for a product to claim the label, “the product must be ‘all or virtually all’ made in the U.S.” This essentially means that “the product should contain no – or negligible – foreign content,” according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
These laws are some of strictest in the world, or at least in comparison to Europe. For the Swiss-made badge, a watch only requires a minimum of 60% Swiss parts.
Does the J.N. Shapiro meet these strict criteria? Yes and no. Hairsprings and jewels required for the correct function of a watch are almost impossible to find in the U.S. Initially, during the prototyping stage, Josh Shapiro and his team sourced hairsprings from Precision Engineering in Switzerland and also found jewels from external sources, according to Hodinkee. However, they did discover an American company that could manufacture the jewel bearings and a company that produced hairsprings.
The mainspring of the Resurgence is Swiss though. However, Shapiro explains that by the FTC’s own rules, a toy made in America can use Japanese batteries and still qualify. A mainspring is a disposable power source similar to a battery, so Shapiro believes that the same rule should apply. Not to mention that altogether the components made outside of the U.S. make up around 1.78% of the components. You could certainly argue that number is negligible.
The movement was created by a team of eight watchmakers, including Shapiro. Work on the prototype began in 2019 which at first began as a project aimed at using old Hamilton watch components in addition to what they could produce in-house. This was eventually abandoned as they shifted towards producing everything in-house. They crafted 148 out of 180 components in their Inglewood, California workshop while the rest of the components were sourced from American companies.
The design of the watch started with the dial. J.N. Shapiro invested millions of dollars into the needed equipment to create the stacked thin layers of the dial with a variety of patterns available for customisation. These options include different dial colours, 3-D spade hands, and indice options ranging from Roman to Hebrew. It’s an incredible bespoke offering.
The dial uses three patterns to achieve its hypnotic effect. On the outer ring is the barleycorn pattern, the four central sectors feature the Infinity basketweave, while the sub-dial takes on a miniaturised moiré pattern.
The 38mm case is 8.7mm thick, though there are other sizes upon request, and arrives in a variety of metals that you can match or contrast with a variety of dial colours. Case options include rose gold, 18k palladium white gold, tantalum, or stainless steel.
Along the side of the case is an engraved barleycorn pattern which is uninterrupted by screws. This kind of decoration was common for fine pocket watches, but has since been rarely used.
Depending on the combination of materials and colours, prices range from $70,000 USD to $85,000. You’ll also need to provide a 33% non-refundable deposit with the total amount paid before delivery. Orders are expected to reach clients by the end of 2023. The production is limited to around 30 pieces per year.