A Man and His Watch, Matt Hranek
I write for Crown & Caliber remotely from New York City. Not working in-office, I wasn’t there when CEO and founder Hamilton Powell contributed to Matt Hranek’s A Man and His Watch. So, when I received the assignment to review this collection of iconic watches and the stories from the men who wore them, I didn’t really know what to expect.
Until I could carve out a proper window of time to cozy up on my couch with a cup of tea and give the book a read, A Man and His Watch became a now-permanent fixture on my coffee table. I admired it every day. This book was not just meant to be read, it was meant to be displayed.
If you judge a book by its cover, this one does not disappoint. As you dig in and turn the pages, Stephen Lewis’ raw, up-close images strike you immediately. Each shows the wear and tear and nuances of lived in watches, and each is accompanied by the stories behind them.
These are first-hand accounts of watches that have seen so much of the world. One survived the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. Another was a gift straight off the wrist of Bill Murray. While one more washed up on a beach in Dorset, where the English navy’s Special Boat Service trained. These watches have been properly enjoyed by their wearers, not preciously displayed like a piece of art in a museum. If this book teaches you one thing, it’s that you should not mistake a watch’s beauty for fragility. Watches are built tough, withstanding wear and love, and that’s precisely how they get their stories.
In between tales of good old regular guys and their watches, like archaeologist Dr. Jack Carlson’s 1914 Waltham Trench Watch, Matt Hranek’s Sears Winnie the Pooh Watch, or our own Hamilton Powell’s Abercrombie & Fitch Seafarer, you’ll find features on some of the world’s most iconic watches from the archives of brands such as Cartier, TAG Heuer, and Omega. These watches, like Fred Astaire’s Cartier, Steve McQueen’s Monaco, or JFK’s Omega, no doubt have a significant place in watchmaking history. Still, I personally find the individual narratives far more poignant and compelling. Sure, a certain celebrity or politician can make a watch more alluring. However, the unique meaning any given man attaches to his watch is what gives it its own life and its own story.
At the end of the day, Matt Hranek’s A Man and His Watch epitomizes man’s inextricable fascination with watches. An idea that is so challenging to articulate. The book could serve equally well as a character study of a diverse group interesting men. But, the focus of these acutely personal recollections remains on the watches. The role that these timepieces have played in these men’s lives underscores and affirms that watches are far more than timekeeping devices.
A watch is not just an accessory you wear, it’s who you are. Not to say that wearing a particularly valuable brand or model is a reflection of your worth. In fact, a majority of the watches the book showcases are likely considered unimportant by luxury watch standards. But wearing a watch is a sense the extension of yourself. Weaved through this tapestry of watch memoirs is one common thread: men have a personal, emotional, intimate relationship with their watches.
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