I recently saw really gorgeous photos of watches popping up on my Facebook and had to investigate. These watches were not only made by hand, but they were being made locally. RD Horology is watchmaker based in Albany that is returning the age-old art of the hand-built mechanical wristwatch.
I took some time to talk with Richard Daley, the man behind RD Horology to learn more about his product and process.
Horology, as an art and science, has a very in-depth and deep history. Is the historical element what drew you in? If not, how did you get into it?
RD: It is a mixture of both I would say. 5 years ago I never really wore a watch, I was given one as a gift and that is what sparked my interest.Â I have always been interested in the mechanics of how things work, so it felt natural to do research on the topic.Â I became obsessed in a way with mechanical watches, particularly complicated pocket watches from the 1800’s. After that, I began looking on auction sites for old, cheap and simple pocket watches to start disassembling and understanding.
When or how did you realize you wanted to pursue making watches, instead of collecting or studying, etc.?
RD: â€¨I feel that building watches came to me naturally. I really was not interested in the after sales service industry as much as the assembly and design process. I felt that I wanted to discover something on my own and learn about it from the ground up. I have a lot of design and mechanical background, so designing my own components and learning along the way is very rewarding.
Can you tell us a bit about your design process and how you get started with each product?
RD: I enjoy most looking at Military history for my inspiration. I am not interested in creating super complicated watches, I prefer my watches to be simple and utilitarian. I aim for the classic, yet timeless look of Military history. I especially love the Aviation style timepieces worn by Pilots during the World Wars; I feel that they offer a certain aesthetic that is not only casual, everyday, but can be a conversation starter wherever you may be wearing your watch.
How long does it take you to make or design each watch?
RD: â€¨Each watch I create is built from over 75 components and is about a 7-day process of assembly, regulation, testing and quality control. All my components are curated from sources around the USA, and also the globe. I am working all the time in an effort to source more domestic-built components, and also design more components myself.
What made you want to focus on mechanical wristwatches, instead of electronic?
RD: â€¨Many things in life are electronic, plugged in or charged up. The technology surrounding mechanical watches has hardly changed since the 16th Century. When you look around our daily lives, it is crazy to think of technology hundreds of years old still being useful.
What advice has really stuck with you? What was the source? Who has taught you the most about this art form?
RD: â€¨The greatest thing about old technology, is old books. I have read dozens of books, some of which I have studied rigorously. The late Watchmaker George Daniels has really been an inspiration, and is considered to be one of the greatest to ever live. I have also worked with, and gained a lot of information from a few Watchmakers I have met over the years. Their advice and information has been invaluable in developing the skills necessary to build a watch, or to solve any problems that may come up.
What are some of the things you are working on?
RD: â€¨Currently I am in the stages of producing some new in-house components. Dials and Cases being the first two on the list. These will be 100% USA made and I am working with small companies in the Capital District.
Where can we find your product?
RD: If you are in the Albany area you can check out Fort Orange General Store on Delaware Avenue, they have a few timepieces on display. You can also check out my website and pre-order yourself a watch at anytime. Building my watches takes time and patience so there is a bit of a wait, but it is well worth it.