No one knows how difficult it is to manufacture in America like the people who actually do it.
Los Angeles-based workshop, Weiss watches is the perfect example. Its founder Cameron Weiss, is passionate about reviving US mechanical watch manufacturing.
“Making my timepieces in America is important to me because I am very passionate about watchmaking, and I believe this is the best way to resurrect the industry in the US,” Weiss told Business Insider.
He quickly ran into some issues.
The watchmaking industry left the US a long time ago, taking all the infrastructure that supported it. That means very few watches can actually be labelled “Made in the US,” as that FTC demands that it be made with “all or nearly all” American-sourced components.
To get around that, Weiss essentially had to develop his own methods to build these parts in the US. He started a new business for parts: Pinion Precision Technology. It produces parts mostly by machine, but there’s difficulties there too.
“The biggest challenges of producing a complicated product is that we are machining components at machine shops that have never dealt with watch parts before,” Weiss said. “The finish of our components is more important than other industries like aerospace, as these inconsistencies will affect our product.”
Weiss purchased a lathe machine that can make multiple types of parts for watches, to bring some of the machining in-house. Weiss even had to develop a new shipping process, as the parts are so fragile they cannot simply be thrown into a box and shipped. Weiss hopes to some day supply American-made parts to other US watchmakers seeking the coveted FTC designation.
“Creating is not easy, and since we are a global economy, it may not fit every industry to make each part of their product here,” Weiss said. “I think it is important not to lose sight of the product – for us, we are focused on creating a timepiece to last generations.
Weiss’ challenges highlight potential obstacles to President Donald Trump’s plan to restore American manufacturing.
Trump recently held the largest yet of his White House meetings with high-powered executives, assembling 24 CEOs to discuss how to make more products in the USA.
But beyond discussions, Weiss shows that companies will have to invest significant capital to make ‘made in America’ happen.