[Editor's note: American Watch Wednesday came on Thursday this week.]
You don’t really think of Detroit, Michigan as a budding American Geneva, a new center of watchmaking prowess, do you? In fact, what do you think of when you hear the words Detroit and watches used together? I’ll bet even money you think of the brand, named for an old shoe polish brand, that produces watches, bikes, and other products for the hip crowd.
We’ll get to them them soon, but today I’m talking about the Detroit Watch Company. Detroit Watch was conceived and founded by a married pair of Detroit designers, Patrick and Amy Ayoub. Patrick has been a designer for 30 years, and dabbling in watch design, doing original pieces for different brands, for a dozen. Amy is a 25 year veteran of the studio art. Watch aficionados that they are, and dreaming of their own brand as we all do, a few years ago they decided to pull the trigger on a new brand.
For the name of their brand, they looked no further than the magnificent city out their door. And they continually look to the same source for inspiration for their watches.
The watch on my wrist right now, the 44mm Pride of Detroit Aviator, was inspired by Detroit native (and oil millionaire) Edward F. Schlee and the Stinson-Detroiter monoplane he named “The Pride of Detroit.”
Pride Of Detroit Aviator
Schlee and a pilot friend, Billy Brock, attempted a circumnavigation of the world in the aircraft in September 1927. Although unsuccessful in that attempt, the two set other records with the monoplane. The watch features a laser engraved image of airplane on the case back.
Another Detroit inspiration is the Pontchartrain 39mm. People usually associate the name Pontchartrain with New Orleans, but Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit was built along the Detroit River to protect the French fur trade from the British. The fort was named in honor of Louis XIV’s Minister of Marine and Colonies, Louis Phélypeaux de Pontchartrain.
Detroit 1701 Ponchartrain 39mm
Then there’s the Limited Edition chronograph, the M1Woodward. M1-Woodward is known as Detroit’s Main Street, named for Augustus B. Woodward, the man who looked to recreate Paris in America in redesigning the city after a disastrous fire in 1805.
Detroit M1-Woodward Detail
And so you see, the city of Detroit is still an inspiration for the watches of Detroit. It lends names, design inspiration, even the Detroit Fleur-de-Lys so Patrick and Amy Ayoub can produce these American-built watches.
The M1-Woodward's Crown with the Detroit Fleur-de-Lys