As a kid, Rob Smith liked to take apart his dad’s stuff. Ever the fiddler, his father would find him time and again in deconstruction mode and eventually handed him a box of old watches purchased at an estate sale to tinker with. At the time, neither would have thought that would mark the beginning of what would eventually be a thriving business. Resco Instruments, founded by Smith in 2008, is a warrior-tested American watch brand, built right here in Coronado.
Smith is a active-duty Navy SEAL with 16 years of service who now instructs in Coronado. He had always dreamed of starting his own watch company, but the demands and dynamic nature of his military career always took precedent. During deployments, he would fix watches as a way to decompress. During one particular deployment in 2006, he sketched a watch design on the packaging of an MRE. Later on, upon the encouragement of his friend, mentor and business owner Mike Kobald, he decided to turn his dream into a reality. In 2008, Resco Instruments was born.
Resco Instruments, whose name is a play on Rob Smith’s initials, comes from humble beginnings with a twist of irony. Smith sold a collection of his watches to start the business, which he now runs in Coronado with his wife Nicole. The couple, who have been married for nine years and now have two daughters, recall that neither of them are “business people.”
“We’ve got three people running this business,” Smith says. “The idea guy, the front office manager and our watchmaker. We treat this business like a mission, and as they say in the NSW community ‘on time, on target, never quit.”
When the company first started, he worked out of his home and sold watches only for parts, at below cost. The first of his 100 watches were built in Smith’s garage. Smith’s watchmaker built watches on his dining room table the first three years they were in business. After three years, they moved into a new space in downtown Coronado to accommodate the needs of the growing company.
That sketch from the MRE packaging would later become the first installment in Resco’s watch lines – the Generation 1 Patriot, which was overwhelmingly popular. Of the 300 Gen1 Patriots that were made, 90 were presold to fellow Navy SEALs and SWCC operators. The Patriot Line is the only watch that has been field tested through every phase of NSW training “from Day 1 when they shave their heads through Day 90 when they put on the Trident,” says Smith. The Gen1 Patriot is revered amongst the NSW community as the “unofficial official watch of the Navy SEALs.”
Resco’s watches are all designed, built and tested in Coronado, and even bear the hometown name on the base of the watch dial. All of the watch lines in Resco’s collection - the Gen2 Patriot, Bullfrog (which commemorates the 50th Anniversary of the Teams), Blackfrog, RC Tac, and Red Circle GMT - are rugged and sleek, a high class, high performance timepiece that takes the wearer “from downrange to downtown.” Each has been designed with careful consideration and incorporate elements from the history and heritage of the Navy SEAL teams. The watches are available with a choice of either nylon, carbon fiber or leather bands (which are interchangeable) and come dutifully presented in a small Pelican case.
A family-owned business, with three at the helm, Resco Instruments is small in stature, but its mighty reputation has caught the attention of some pretty notable people. After the company was robbed a few years ago and lost $24,000, television and radio host Glenn Beck heard of the incident and flew his team to San Diego to meet with the company. He purchased 19 Bullfrog Stainless Sterile watches to help the company recuperate from its loss. After the watches were built, tested and received, the Resco team flew to Texas to participate in Beck’s Mercury One charity event.
Former President George W. Bush is also a wearer of Resco. While meeting with some Navy SEALs that were part of the cast of the 2012 movie Act of Valor, one of the operators hand-delivered a custom-made Resco watch to the President. A signed thank you letter, which states the President “appreciates the care and craftsmanship that went into every detail,” now sits proudly in Resco’s headquarters.
Despite the high profile popularity Resco Instruments has enjoyed, Smith wants to stay local and stick to his military roots. His shop is adorned with various mementos and memorabilia from his military career. Resco only produces between 500-600 watches each year and while the company will continue to grow, Smith plans to keep yearly production under 2,500. Each year, Smith donates roughly ten watches to a variety of non-profit organizations that benefit military, veterans and their families, including the Jesse Pittman Fund, the Travis Manion Foundation and the annual Joggin’ for Frogmen. Future plans include a project with the Chris Kyle Foundation. Resco has also become a “go to” for military advancement and retirement gifts. Periodically, they’ll have customers who purchase a watch to present to a Navy SEAL, as a way of thanking them for their service. Each year, the company donates to the Coronado Schools Foundation and is currently working on a collaboration with Coronado Leather, so that watch bands can be made locally as well.
The future is bright for Resco. Due to the popularity of the first installment of the Gen1 Patriot, the model is scheduled to be re-released later this month. The company also plans to release the Manus line, which is their first Swiss quartz chrono line. Following the Manus, Resco will introduce their men’s dress line, a ladies line and the 44mm Patriot line, which boasts a larger case size.
Have a story you want to share? Contact us.
Comment (keep it clean & on topic)