You might be surprised to learn why I love Chicago.
It’s a strange reason, I know, but I can’t help it.
In Chicago, when you order a hot dog, they wrap the hot dog in wax paper, crumple it into a ball, and give it to you completely ruined.
When you order the famous Italian beef sandwich, they soak it, crumple it into a ball, and give it to you completely ruined.
I don’t know what it is about Chicagoans, but all their beloved recipes end with “crumple into a sphere roughly the size of a golf ball and handoff with a smile.”
And I find that endearing.
I’ve been able to visit the city twice and both times were so memorable and fun—just thinking about it makes me want to go back.
While I don’t have any travel plans right now, I found a new watch brand that carries the same Windy City aesthetic. Their timepieces are holding me over for now.
They’re called Wolfpoint.
They’ve got the right look, but you might be wondering if they’ve got the durability and specs you’d expect from a watch coming out of the city of broad shoulders.
Check out our deep-dive into Wolfpoint’s Fort Dearborn collection to learn whether they’re making an impact in the watch-world or just cashing in on the fashion-watch craze.
What Is Wolfpoint?
Founded in March 2018, Wolfpoint is an infant in the watch world. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t come out swinging.
The new timepiece is a departure from the rest of their collection. It’s their first watch to feature numerals of any sort and has the added complications of an hour and two date subdials.
According to the founder of Wolfpoint, Fort Dearborn is their most successful launch yet. So even though the brand is young, it’s clear they’re onto something.
When you hear their story, success isn’t all that surprising. The founder is a third-generation watchmaker—his grandfather starting out in Geneva, Switzerland back in the ‘60s. The love of great timepieces runs in the family.
Wolfpoint owns and operates two manufacturing facilities: one in Hong Kong, and another just outside of Chicago. With the great direct-to-consumer watch boom, many brands say they cut out the middle-man when they are the middle-man. As the owners and operators of their own facilities, Wolfpoint truly is able to get rid of unnecessary markups and premiums.
My Hands-On Review
Wolfpoint makes it crystal clear that you’re about to unbox a luxury timepiece from the very beginning. The box is a pleasing blue with a honeycomb design and the brand’s understated logo.
The watch is set over a felt pillow insert and presents beautifully.
I’ve picked up quite a few watches over the years—most of them in the same price range as the Fort Dearborn. Some companies package their timepieces with the bare-minimum effort. It’s more important to make a high-quality watch, so uninspired packaging isn’t a deal-breaker for me.
But it’s still nice to see a brand make an effort to give a luxury experience through and through.
If you read my introduction, you know I have a suspicion that Chicagoans can’t help but make things the size of a golf ball.
You might think this next fact is a conspiracy theory. For me, it’s a confirmation.
The Fort Dearborn case has a 43mm diameter.
The diameter of a golf ball is 42.67mm.
Coincidence? I think not.
The case is made with 316L surgical grade stainless steel and is water-resistant up to 5atm.
5atm resistance is enough to keep the rain off if you’re caught in a storm, but not too much more. Of course, if you’re caught in a Chicago rainstorm, you’ll need a full scuba outfit, too.
Seriously, the last time I was in Chicago, I heard someone down the street yell, “it’s coming.” I looked over to see a white wall of water barreling straight toward me. Within five seconds I was completely soaked. I guess that’s just how it rains in Chi-town.
The Fort Dearborn keeps a slim-figure with a 10.5mm thickness. The caseback is thick enough to give some separation from my wrist, but the timepiece still fits neatly under a long sleeve.
The design of the enamel dial is what originally drew me to the Fort Dearborn. I was a bit heartbroken to find out that their Chicago Blue was out of stock, but was happy to get their Forest Green instead.
Their understated logotype plays well with the Arabic numerals. The whole design has a rough and simple look of early 20th century American manufacturing.
That’s on purpose, too.
When I spoke with the owner, he said his goal was to “bring manufacturing back to Chicago, once one of the largest production powerhouses in the world.”
They’ve certainly nailed the look.
The timepiece also features three subdials: a 24-hour clock, a day-of-the-week dial, and a day-of-the-month dial.
When light hits the etched grooves in the subdials, a sort of optical illusion takes over. The light makes a sweeping motion across the dial and reminds me of an airplane propeller.
This watch is beautiful and understated—an excellent balance of casual elements with a dash of class.
(If you like the look of the Chicago Blue, put in your pre-order now. They’re restocking soon, and you don’t want to miss out as I did.)
All Wolfpoint’s watches feature Swiss manufactured sapphire crystals.
Sapphire is a super-hard material that can only be scratched by diamond, so you don’t need to worry about marking the crystal unless you’re diving into a pool of frosty bling.
Not all “luxury-brand” watches feature pure sapphire crystals, but they really should. Wolfpoint keeps its promise of using top-of-the-line materials throughout its manufacturing process.
The crown is a simple 3-point knob with an embossed “Y” logo. The Wolfpoint “Y” is an homage to their Chi-town factory that sits right at the fork of the Chicago River.
There’s a solid feel to the crown and I can tell the watch is well-built. The only issue I came up against was in getting to the second position to change the date. Maybe the issue was specific to my individual timepiece, but it was difficult to tell when I’d landed at position two.
I’ve been wearing the watch for a few weeks now and it seems like the crown has worked out some of its stiffness. So while I had a little trouble changing the date at first, it’s not a problem anymore.
Most of the watches in my collection have a Miyota caliber and I never have an issue with losing time or replacing my battery too often.
The movement is simple, reliable, and packs a great value.
The screw-down caseback also features the same laser-etched “Y” logo found on the crown.
The logo is very modern and edgy looking, which I like combined with the old-fashioned lettering Wolfpoint uses for its branding.
Strap and Wearability
A lot of watch brands overlook the strap, but the band here is Wolfpoint’s strong-suit.
The strap is made with 100% vegetable tanned Essex leather from Chicago’s famed Horween tannery. According to their founder, Wolfpoint buys the tanned leather and sews the bands in-house so they can ensure its quality inside and out.
When I asked why they decided to go with Horween, this is all Wolfpoint had to say:
“We already have the best tannery in our backyard, why go anywhere else?”
The quality of the strap was obvious as soon as I picked up my watch. The grain is beautiful and the band is comfortable.
Vegetable-tanned leather ages better than chrome-tanned. The color will change slightly over time as the band develops a patina, but I expect the look to be more refined as time passes.
My Overall Thoughts
What I Like
The rich color and early-century design of the dial is a great blend of classic and cool.
The strap is a huge step above what other brands offer at a similar price. This shows that Wolfpoint means it when they say they’re using best-in-class materials.
They want you to get in touch with them if you have any issues. You can call, email, text, or fill out a support form. This, plus their 2-year warranty should ensure you get great service.
The shipping is free if you order over $100 and your watch will arrive quickly.
What I Don’t Like
The crown was a bit stiff when I first started using the watch. A few weeks in now, I’m having less trouble adjusting the time.
Wolfpoint watches have a lot of bite behind their bark. They say they use top-of-the-line materials, and now that I’ve seen the Fort Dearborn in person, I have to agree.
With a steady movement, solid case, and one of the best straps I’ve tried, it’s clear that the brand is paying close attention to detail.
Their love and commitment to the future of Chicago isn’t a cheap marketing gimmick. They’ve gone the extra mile to set up shop stateside, and they use legendary products that could only come from the Windy City.
The Fort Dearborn needed a few days to break in—mainly just the crown—but after a week or so, I find myself going with this watch day after day.
Wolfpoint’s world-class strap is what stands out most here, but it’s also a big indicator of the quality they’ve put into the other details. While the crown took a few days to loosen up, the Fort Dearborn is an excellent blend of classic and cool.