Both Adam and I have been spending the past few months with Detroit Watch Company‘s 1701 Classic watch. Although both of us spend more of our time around shops, the trail or traveling, we both agree that there is nothing wrong with strapping on a classically designed timepiece for a night on the town. This isn’t the first time we’ve mentioned DWC on the website. In fact, we’ve mentioned them on Instagram and Twitter as well. Why? There aren’t many watchmakers who claim to make their watches here in the USA. Good looks and made here? Say it is so.
This review is about more than where the watch is made, but with Pride of Detroit slapped on their Aviator Series trickling down into their entire line, how could we not address it properly. The 1701 was designed by Patrick Ayoub, Owner and Creator of the company. Partnering with his wife Amy, the pair have been creating gorgeous pieces of wrist candy since 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. I should also note this isn’t Patrick’s first foray into the world of watches. Along with a strong design background working with several automotive brands such as BMW, VW and Chrysler, he has been a part of creating original timepieces for over 11 years.
All of their watches are designed in-house in Detroit, the drawings are then sent to Switzerland, Germany or Hong Kong (depending on the project), parts are then shipped back to DWC for final assembly. With that said, although every piece of the watch isn’t Made in America, Patrick has created an American company that he is pouring his hard work into bringing jobs and economic growth to this country. We can cheers to that.
So let’s start talking about the 1701, shall we? When the watch arrived at our office, I instantly knew I was opening something of fine quality. The outermost black box is stamped center mast with an English Gothic ‘D’, letting you know where it came from and company logo. Tucked inside is a handsome, leather-wrapped box holding the watch wrapped around it’s pillow, and a user manual showing authenticity, serial number and inspection approval. These are the types of items you come to expect from a $795 watch. This price point takes you out of the minor leagues and gets you to step up to the plate for the first time. After wearing it for only a few moments, I found myself saying things like, “This would be a great first watch for the new Collector” and “It sure feels nice to wear”.
Each unit is built by hand, in Detroit, in limited quantities. Patrick and Amy wanted the DWC experience to be unique. That is very apparent once you get the 1701 on your wrist. The attention to detail is something you’d expect to see on a much more expensive timepiece.
If you’ve already skipped over the text and reviewed all the images, you are probably wondering why the face reads, “Antoine Laumet de la Mothe, Sieur de Cadillac”. The 1701 pays homage to the original beginnings of Detroit. Antoine was a French Explorer who lived from 1658-1730. In 1701, he founded Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit, the beginnings of modern Detroit, which he commanded until 1710.
The 44mm x 11.9mm polished stainless steel case makes the 1701 a “big watch” by most Collectors. 44’s are often referred to as pocket watches on straps. I can’t completely disagree with that but, I am not about to call this a pocket watch and neither should you. That phrase should be reserved for those 65mm monsters you see at the mall kiosk.
“The attention to detail is something you’d expect to see in a much more expensive timepiece.”
The sapphire crystal has an anti-reflective coating and carries a 5 ATM water resistance. The Miyota Caliber 812A automatic movement is found in a number of watches in this range for a reason. It’s extremely reliable and easy to repair if ever need be. It’s self-winding with a 40-hour power reserve, operates using 21 jewels and 21,600 vibrations per hour. The next level up would be something of Swiss making with 28+ jewels that is found in watches sufficiently more expensive.
The fleur-de-lis (or Lys) is pronounced across the back keeping up with it’s French founding father. For those who don’t know, fleur-de-lis in French translates roughly to, “flower of the lilly”. It also makes an appearance on the crown in white surrounded by black. The crown, although good to look at, is something I didn’t care much for. It looked far too much like Mont Blanc’s signature to me. The company name, model and serial number are also etched into the case back. Five recessed screws hold the case together.
After a few weeks, I developed a love/hate relationship with the 1701 deployment clasp. The odd combination of leather and metal don’t mesh well to my wrist. I kept feeling like the watch needed to make up its mind. Enjoy the thick, plush leather strap that makes you look oh so good, or get on with it and give me all metal all the time. Deployment clasps have become very popular as of late, giving watch lovers the perfect combo of strap comfort and clasp security. Technically, the clasp worked with flaw and did its job with shining colors.
Another albeit minor gripe, was the placement of the strap loops. The strap has two loops that keep the end tucked away against itself. One is fixed as you can see just right of Adam’s thumb, and the other has slid down to the case. Having one sewn into place isn’t a bad idea, it just needs to be a little farther down the strap. Being so close to the clasp made me feel like I could easily tear it off every time I had to twist and shove the strap end through it.
It’s easy to see that both Patrick and Amy have spent their entire lives designing goods. The details surrounding the entire watch look perfect. From the stitching on the strap to the broadsword like hands, the elegant ‘D’ swinging at the bottom of the sweeping second hand and the framed date window all work as a team. It carries a nice weight and looks great dressed up or down. With nearly an 8-inch wrist, the watch size felt right at home. Did anyone else catch the subtle blue coloring of the second hand? Nice touch.
Both hands and number indices carry a small amount of luminosity. I say that with reservation as though the lume is there, it isn’t much. It’s enough to make out the time if you look closely just after exposing it to light, but then again this isn’t a divers watch.
After months of hard use, the watch is working without flaw. These photos were taken just before writing this review. As you can see the watch still looks as perfect as it arrived. There are no visible scratches on the sapphire crystal, the strap is holding up well and the crown push/pull mechanism is working in order. That may seem like an odd thing to say but having tested a few other Made in USA watches recently, this is the first one the crown didn’t fall off in my hand after only minor use.
What you need to take away from this timepiece is that you are buying a labor of love from a couple that want you to love whats on your wrist. They are proud of their designs, proud of their homeland in Detroit and want you to have the same pride of ownership. You could do far worse in this price range and the 1701 makes a great Collectors watch for the new or continuing Aficionado.
You can pickup your very own 1701 on their website right here. Be sure to let them know we sent you and leave us a comment after yours arrives letting us know what you think. Until then, it’s time for a glass of whiskey, cigar and some tunes on the 12 inch. Cheers gentlemen!
(Thanks to Adam Bendig for these wonderful photographs)
Dressed up or down, the 1701 brings classic good looks and collection worthy details. Add it to your watch case, show it off at your next party and enjoy owning a piece of American hard work.