In the first half of the 20thCentury, America was on the forefront of the watchmaking industry, producing exceptional timepieces rivaling –some would even argue surpassing – those made in Switzerland. After World War II, however, the industry fell apart, and today there are very few honest American wristwatch brands still in existence. Most of those still around have long since been bought up by the major European conglomerates – and their espoused American heritage is purely for marketing and nostalgia.
Not so with Kobold – a brand of American designed timepieces founded in 1997. The brand is independently owned and operated in Pennsylvania, and is truly an American success story. Originally started as a class project at Carnegie Mellon, founder Mike Kobold brought his brand to life at the beginning of the Internet boom, where his timepieces were well-received and achieved instant recognition. While their movements are Swiss, the bulk of components that go into a Kobold timepiece are American made, including the cases and a number of other components – most of which are assembled in the United States. They also recently opened up operations in Nepal, where some of their expedition pieces are assembled by Sherpas.
Kobold Phantom Chronograph
Kobold watches are thoroughly and delightfully American, and their hefty tool watch designs have been proven in the field on every continent and beneath the ocean. Kobold has connections with explorers Philippe Cousteau and Ranulph Fiennes – serious explorers who require seriously rugged timepieces on their expeditions. As with any genuinely capable timepiece, Kobold wristwatches have achieved popularity with armchair explorers and collectors world-over.
Kobold Phantom Black Ops Chronograph
One notable Kobold enthusiast was the late actor James Gandolfini, who passed away this week at age 51. Gandolfini was perhaps the brand’s single biggest fan, having bought dozens of the watches for his cast and crew whenThe Sopranoswrapped in 2007. He later became an ambassador to Kobold and helped design their popular Soarway Seal model – so named (in jest) for what the large actor would look like in a wetsuit.
James Gandolfini Kobold Advertisement
For more information on the Kobold brand, and to check out their collection of over two dozen timepieces now available, check out their site, HERE: http://koboldwatch.com/en
Words by: James Lamdin– A vintage watch connoisseur and founder of analog/shift (www.analogshift.com) , an online boutique for a curated selection of exceptional wristwatches.