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Buffalo Made – Heitis Watch

Have you ever window shopped, gazing upon luxury timepieces such as Patek Philippe, but you were turned away by the outlandish price tag? I understand. You want to show the horological world that you mean business, but you’re either not willing to, or able to, afford the hefty cost. There’s something to be said about being proud of a timepiece. With that in mind, Heitis Watch just might be the answer.

In a world of Fitbits and cell phones, founder and CEO of Heitis Watch D.J. Heider took on the endeavor of assembling his own watches. He always had a fascination with watches; his recreational activities included tinkering with watches – taking them apart and re-assembling them back into working timepieces. Eight years ago, Heider began his professional watch journey by pairing watches. Eventually he expanded his business to assembling his own custom watches.

In 2014, Heider attended Time Zone Watch School, where he learned the ins and outs of the timepiece business.

Today, Heider designs the case for the watch, chooses the set of numerals, hands, the dial, materials and parts, and assembles the pieces to create intricate and unique watches.

“When I was in Watch School, you quickly realize that all of these watches are super overpriced. It probably takes $2,000 to manufacture something that they sell for $40,000,” he said, adding, “My goal is to offer better quality and better value watches.”


Heider aims for top-notch quality; he uses a sapphire crystal display on all of his watches to prevent from scratching, and all of his watches are made of low carbon stainless steel. His watches come with specifications that most folks would typically pay extra for. Put a brand name on one of his creations, and you’d be looking at a price of $1500. However, buying one of his watches will cost you much less.

“I don’t have a big overhead. I don’t need to make a huge markup. I do this because I like it, not because it is my primary income,” he said.

Heider nerded out to me, talking all sorts of watch jargon as we sat at Caffé Aroma drinking lattes and checking out pictures of some of his watches.

He was wearing the Okeanos Explorer Automatic Dive Watch (lead image – funded through Kickstarter) during our interview. He took the watch off his wrist and described the intricacies of this gem.

“This is the most unique and interesting watch I built. All the ones I had before have quartz movement that run on a battery, and this one is an automatic movement. There is a rotor inside that spins and it turns the main spring and winds the watch. Every time you move, it charges the watch,” he said.

This waterproof watch moves in a swivel motion, rather than ticking every second. It has a nautical theme to it, hence the name “Okeanos”. Okeanos is the mythological Greek God of fresh water. “I spend a lot of time outdoors and on the water. Since we live on Lake Erie, and the Great Lakes are the largest source of fresh water, I thought it would be cool to name it that.”

As of now, the Okeanos watch isn’t available, but Heider is hoping to have them ready for sale by August.

Heider built his brand exclusively through Instagram, posting pictures of his watches with glasses of brews and mugs of coffee. It also helped that he happened to stumble upon a group of gentleman fanciers who wanted to check out his watches… who then helped to promote his brand.

When Heider is off the clock, you can find him selling brews at Consumers, or spending time with his family, getting his kids into sports teams, going skating, skiing, or spending time outdoors. When he’s on the clock, he’s dedicating his time to his true passion – building stunning watches for those who can truly appreciate a Buffalo built timepiece.

To learn more and see his creations, visit his Instagram or check out his website. You can also purchase one of his watches either directly through him or stop by Watch World on Niagara Falls Boulevard.

Written by Sara Ali

Sara Ali

Sara is a freelance writer living on Buffalo's West Side. She works full time in human services, part time in freelance, and is currently working towards her endeavor to create a nonprofit focused on telling the stories of the refugee and immigrant communities.

View All Articles by Sara Ali
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