Niall: A New American Watch Brand
By Donna Hardy
Niall is a startup watch company in Kansas City, Missouri. It uses a Swiss-made automatic movement—either an ETA 2824-2 or a Selitta SW200—but the case and all other components are sourced in America. Niall (pronounced Nile) is the brainchild of Michael Wilson, a former marketer whose father owned a fabrication shop where he learned to cut and shape metal on industrial equipment. Niall’s debut watch, the Niall One, costs $3,950, which is in line with Niall’s American competitors, such as RGM and Xetum.
Niall’s website (niallluxury.com) says their quest is “to build the next great American luxury brand.” Wilson would like to build something of equal status to Hamilton, which he calls “the last great American watch company.” He also hopes to develop his own mechanical movement timepieces someday.
According to Techcrunch.com, “The watches themselves are evocative of Hublot or Audemars-Piguet, but the handsome back-slung lugs and the understated face are unique to the brand.” For now Niall is producing only men’s watches with black or brown leather straps, but they hope to produce women’s watches in the future.For the crown, Niall uses a push-down crown system that they call “Airlock.” The Airlock crown has a set of three gaskets that keeps the watch locked and sealed from elements such as water and dust. Niall worked with Corning to create crystals with shatter- and scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass, the product Corning originally created for iPhone touchscreens. Wilson and a partner, Barron Link, assemble the watches themselves in their small business quarters in Kansas City.
Niall is a recent addition to that group of American watch brands on the forefront of a return to watch manufacturing in the US. Other American brands include Minuteman, Kobold, RGM, and Shinola.
“US watches are the wave of the future,” says Gary Borel, vice president of Jules Borel & Co. “Swiss is the best, but there’s no reason we can’t restart this industry in America.…We’ll have American-made movements, no question about it.”