Kobold is one of the world's last independent, family-owned luxury goods manufacturers.
Founded in 1998 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as part of an entrepreneurship class at Carnegie Mellon University, Kobold had an initial investment of $5,000. The company became an early trailblazer during the Dotcom boom by being the first watch brand to sell its products directly over the Internet. The company's mission was simple: to offer unique and exciting designs. Despite its humble start, Kobold has always had a fiercely independent streak. It has historically placed a disproportionate emphasis on manufacturing its own products, going against the grain in an industry that has incredibly come to rely on third party suppliers.
Early Focus on Watches
We started out by making tool watches geared for use by pilots, divers, military and law enforcement specialists, as well as explorers, adventurers and scientists. Since our company's founding, we have been at the forefront of American watchmaking and have widely been credited with being one of two U.S.-based brands to ring in the renaissance of the American watch industry.
In 2006, Kobold released the manually-wound Spirit of America, the first serially U.S.-assembled mechanical watch in a generation. In 2008, the Spirit of America Automatic followed with the first serially-made U.S.-made watchcase in almost four decades.
By 2014, Kobold progressed to manufacturing watch cases in-house at Merry Oaks Farm, our U.S. headquarters near Pittsburgh in rural Northwestern Pennsylvania's Amish Country. There, Kobold turns out the highest quality watch cases in its 20+ year-long history. Finished by hand, each U.S.-made Kobold watch case is a small work of art and carries a unique serial number. Kobold watch cases are also produced in factories in other countries, such as Italy and Switzerland where our gold cases are fabricated.
Kobold influence on U.S. watch culture runs deep. The company has turned out iconic designs such as the legendary Seal, a dive watch of enormous proportions that owes its genesis to a design by the late actor James Gandolfini. The unique design of the Seal has been imitated by countless companies, from fly-by-night outfits that came and went, to some of the biggest players of the watch industry.
Kobold also set the stage for the founding of Red Bar Crew, the fabled group of American watch aficionados that has contributed enormously to the recent mainstream success that watch collecting has enjoyed in the U.S.
Over the years, Kobold has inspired countless U.S.-based watch brands. We advised the founder and management team of Shinola ahead of and following the commencement of the Detroit-based brand's operations. We also helped a number of smaller manufacturers get their start in the U.S. watch industry. As the American watch industry's leader, our goal has always been to blaze a trail for others to follow, so that the U.S. sees a strong resurgence of domestic watch production.
In 2012, we opened an atelier in Kathmandu, Nepal to assemble watches emblazoned with "Made in Nepal." We also started producing watch straps and a collection of travel accessories in our Nepal atelier. Selecting Nepal as a base of operations makes sense for a luxury goods manufacturer like Kobold. The Kathmandu Valley has over 1,000 years of history and during that time became a vibrant center for metalsmiths and artisans skilled in woodworking and decorative stonework. The country was a closed kingdom until the mid-1950s, when the first foreign tourists began to arrive. This helped preserve the Kathmandu Valley's artisanal culture and today Nepalese artists turn out some of the finest, museum-quality statues, carved beams and paintings available in the world.
Kobold draws on this culture of craftsmanship that is so deeply engrained in the Newars of the Kathmandu Valley. Kobold Nepal turns our a line of fine, handcrafted accessories that can confidently stand up to comparison against products from the famed luxury goods houses of Europe.
Fully Vertically Integrated Manufacturer of Luxury Goods
Today, Kobold manufactures watches, watch straps, pens, leather accessories, cashmere and pashmina products in its own workshops in the United States and Nepal. We outsource to other workshops in the U.S. and internationally when our own production facilities are at capacity.
We distribute our products directly via this website, our retail boutiques and through select vendors. We unfortunately have long wait lists for many of our watches, but most other products are in-stock and ship within a matter of days. Any of our products can be customized per your specifications.
Company Creed: Embrace Adventure
Our company motto is Embrace Adventure and we live by this creed. Some of our watchmakers have collectively reached the summit of Mount Everest an astounding 20 times, hunted war criminals, taught tactical driving and tempted fate in many other ways, all in the pursuit of adventure.
This approach to life influences everything we do as a company - from the products we design and turn out, to the imagery and language used in our advertising campaigns, and even to our decision to operate out of Nepal, a country synonymous with the word adventure.
Kobold focuses its limited resources on its own charitable projects. "Operation Step One" is our program to reintegrate trafficked women into society. You can learn more about it by clicking "Anti Human Trafficking Campaign" in the navigation bar at the bottom of this page.
Our company's founder is Michael Kobold, the German entrepreneur, author, filmmaker and motivational speaker. Michael started his eponymous company at the age of 19 while an undergraduate student at Carnegie Mellon University.
Since the age of 16, Michael has been the lifelong protege of master watchmaker Gerd-Ruediger Lang, founder of Chronoswiss watches and himself the protege of Jack Heuer, the former head of Heuer Chronographs, and Walter Lange of A. Lange & Soehne. Michael is in charge of product design at Kobold and his style is heavily influenced by the teachings of Bauhaus, the German art school and design movement of the early 20th Century.
In the literary world, Michael has collaborated with the author and explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes on his bestselling books The Secret Hunters, The Feathermen, Captain Scott, Cold, Heat, as well as Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know. Michael splits his time between his home in Pennsylvania, as well as Germany and Nepal.