Spotlight on Vortic Watch Company Watchmaker Derek Crane

You can’t rush time, but as Derek Crane at Vortic Watch Company knows, you can restore it.

Derek Crane
Photo by Steve Glass.

The virtuoso of minutes and moments, Derek Crane is a man who understands the impeccable choreography of time better than most. On stage with Rusty 44, he drives the rhythm with his stand-up bass, underlining the imperative of never missing a beat. Off stage, he’s got his monocle set on the gears and springs at Vortic Watch Company in Fort Collins, salvaging antique pocket watch movements to make big, bold contemporary wristwatches for the modern man. Since clocking in as a watchmaker in January 2019, Crane has breathed life back into over 1,000 heirloom timepieces for Vortic’s American Artisan Series. Captivated by this dance with time, we decided to grab a seat and a minute or two with Crane. Here’s what he had to say.

Like an artist, I have all these tools at my disposal and I get to be expressive.”

It’s almost like I am so in tune with time, it is ingrained in me. I know when 15 minutes have passed. When someone asks what time it is, I can always guess it correctly.”

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America isn’t investing time in watchmaking anymore. It is a lost art. For the ones who are, it’s a labor of love tinkering with such an old-school trade.”

The wristwatch beats 18,000 times per hour. Each second is split into five beats. It is pretty remarkable to have that much movement inside such a tiny piece.”

One little spring powers the whole train.

Derek Crane working on a watch
Photo by Steve Glass.

My workspace’s floor is painted sea-foam green so it’s easy to find things if I drop them.”

My bandmates make fun of me because I work on these tiny instruments all day, and then play the biggest instrument, the upright bass, at night.”

I start every morning by winding up all the clocks and seeing if anything isn’t on time.”

Repairs are my specialty. I like to make things better. If I can fix a watch that means something to someone, that means something to me.”

I like to treat each watch like it’s my own.

We’re releasing a special edition military watch series for Veteran’s Day. By preserving these military watches worn by naval commanders, we are telling a great story of America’s history.”

Don’t live by your watch. I don’t use my wristwatch for accuracy—more for the history behind it. If I want to be punctual, I look at my phone.”

Our watches are not gender specific, but they do run large. However, lots of ladies have been interested in the oversized look.”

If you inherit your grandpa’s American pocket watch, send it to us for heritage service. That family heirloom becomes a wristwatch.”