The Towson Watch Company, founded at the beginning of the new millennium in 2000, is one of the few luxury watch brands who design and manufacture timepieces in the United States. When George Thomas and Hartwig Balke decided to create and manufacture their classical mechanical watch collection, they dedicated it to the region they loved so much, establishing it as the Chesapeake Class Watch Collection.
Fate introduced Czech-born George Thomas and German-born Hartwig Balke at an Irish pub in Annapolis in 1997. They found out they both owned sailboats, spoke fluent German and were men of business — Thomas as a chemical executive and Balke as the president of a company that makes hoists, cranes and other heavy-lifting equipment. They also lived near each other — Balke in Towson and Thomas in Lutherville. But that wasn’t all they had in common. It turned out both men shared a love of horology, the art of making watches and clocks. They became friends and, three years later, as Y2K menaced with ill-founded fears that all computers would crash at the dawn of the new millennium, they decided the time was right to go into business together.
The self-taught watchmakers have quietly built their business, Towson Watch Co., into a small but prestigious player in the watch industry. Together they have made a watch that’s been to space, restored one of the oldest watches in existence (now displayed in the Walter’s art gallery), and restored the pocketwatches of both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.