Checking in with Martenero

There’s something of a watch making revival happening right now in the U.S. and Martenero is right in the thick of it. 

The New York based company was launched earlier this year by John Tarantino and Matt O’Dowd and I got to sit down with them recently to try on a few of their watches and chat about what they’re up to. 

First though…The story of American watch manufacturing is really the story of the decline, and perhaps, the return of American manufacturing as a whole. Once, the U.S. was home to tons of watch factories like Waltham Watch Company in Massachusetts and Hamilton in Lancaster, PA. As watch making moved over seas, those companies closed or were consolidated and with them, almost all the experience and knowledge of watch making disappeared. But, a few new companies like Shinola, Throne, Weiss Watch Company and Martenero are bringing American watch making back, and it’s pretty great to to see.

Of course the holy grail for a few of these companies is an automatic movement that’s made in the U.S. For watch purists this will be a big moment when it happens, though I’m sure there will be tons of speculation about quality. While I think this would be pretty cool to see, right now it’s just basically out of the question. There isn’t a labor force skilled enough to pull off a U.S. made movement. And that’s ok.  

Right now Martenero uses an automatic movement that’s made in Japan. The cases are made in China and all the parts are brought together and assembled here in New York. This allows them to offer a high quality automatic watch that is very reasonably-priced and also, most importantly, a level of customization that few other companies can offer.

The watches themselves are very handsome with a dial that gives a nod to the past while also looking very contemporary as well. It’s a modern watch for a modern man. I’m partial to the Ace but really love the “warning track” dial on the Founder.  

Customers can go onto the Martenero site, pick a model then choose dials, hands and straps. Tarantino and O’Dowd showed me some new looks their working on as well, a 38mm case, new case colors and a few other dials too. I can’t share pictures but I can say I was really impressed with what I saw. 

Both Tarantino and O’Dowd were watch industry outsiders when they got started and it’s pretty impressive how they’ve worked to build a company that has such huge potential to change the watch game here in the U.S.