Vortic vs. Swatch

Vortic Springfield 256 dial

Vortic video ahead! Much of the head-to-head below is pure cringe — PERSONALLY, I LOVE THE SWATCH GROUP! It suffers from the typical YouTube disease of stretching a five-minute explanation into a half-hour marathon, but it might be worth your attention. If you don’t like watching videos, here’s the scoop . . .

Vortic takes Hamilton pocket watches from the World War I era, fixes them up and puts them into Colorado-made wristwatch cases. I am a Vortic owner. I’ve visited the tiny workshop in which they work. I’m a fan.

Vortic Springfield 256

The Swatch Group is not a fan.

The Swiss conglomerate owns Balmain, Blancpain, Breguet, Ck Calvin Klein, Certina, Endura, Flik Flak, Glashütte Original, Harry Winston, Jaquet Droz, Léon Hatot, Longines, Mido, OMEGA, Rado, Swatch, Swiss Timing, Tissot and Union Glashütte. And Hamilton.

Gerald Ford wearing Pulsar watch

Back in the 70’s, the American-owned and operated Hamilton brand – famous for supplying the U.S. military with millions of timepieces –  bet its life on LED watches. After their Pulsar sub-brand’s spectacular rise and flame-out, Hamilton sold Pulsar to Seiko and the mothership’s remains to the Swiss.

The Swatch Borg assimilated Hamilton and now uses the brand as a skinsuit beneath which they sell watches made from Swiss and, ahem, overseas components.

Vortic Springfield 256 side

Swatch is pissed off that Vortic re-cases Hamilton pocket watches. They don’t think that a watch made in the United States by the original Hamilton factory should be permitted to retain brand recognition. That should belong to the modern globalized conglomerate known as Swatch Group.

Vortic Watch Co. logo

This morning, Vortic is defending itself in Federal court. It’s the most one-sided contest humanly imaginable. Were I a billionaire, I’d fund Vortic’s defense. Since I’m not, I’ll be voting with my pocket: no more Swatch group stuff for me.

[Click here for Hamilton vs. Vortic – Background, Update]

5 thoughts on “Vortic vs. Swatch”

  1. But they aren’t advertising ~as~ a Hamilton, is it just that they say it’s a Hamilton movement? I’m not a lawyer but I don’t see a case. Just a movement. (Hah! …I’ll show myself out for the remainder of the day.)

  2. So I presume the guys making complete chassis for older Corvette and Camaro bodies, and all the other pro-street mod guys are in violation of copyright laws? Is putting a 350 Chevy into a ’32 Ford illegal? Are they relying on Disney and its seemingly infinite copyrights to merge over into the watch business? I guess if I find an old Omega that is dead on arrival and slap a $7.50 quartz movement in the back (yeah, yeah, sacrilege) that Omega will hunt me down if I put it on Ebay.

    1. One of the key cases in this area involved a guy selling remanufactured Champion spark plugs. It makes sense for a brand to want to ensure that I don’t pass off their product as ‘new’ when I’ve tried to fix it, but I don’t see how that can be an issue here.

      And yes, some automakers care about this – that’s why a Singer is a Porsche 911 reimagined by Singer.

  3. I’m watching this case with interest. Swatch appears to not be concerned with optics in this case, and lost a minor sanctions hearing, needlessly irritating the Judge and giving Vortic a small win. Additionally, Swatch lost its ability to keep various documents under seal, providing the public with a small victory.

    I’m hopeful Vortic prevails, as it seems difficult to confuse Vortic’s product with Hamilton, and I’m pretty sure no one cross-shops a Khaki Field Watch with anything Vortic makes. Based on the response to cross motions for summary judgment, Vortic appears to have a reasonable claim.

    More broadly, I also wish there was an anti-SLAPP type of statute to enable small companies like Vortic to avoid being threatened by deep-pocketed established companies looking to continually raise prices while decreasing quality. Vortic’s decision to fight rather than fold in a ‘bet the company’ proceeding from their side indicates they’re not cowing to pressure. Ideally a jury will agree with them, as Swatch’s sole piece of evidence supporting its claim that consumers are ‘confused’ is an email to the customer help line wondering about a vintage Hamilton watch.

    https://casetext.com/case/hamilton-intl-ltd-v-vortic-llc-1

    https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/6123973/115/hamilton-international-ltd-v-vortic-llc/

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