Crown & Caliber had the pleasure of interviewing Jason Heaton, watch enthusiast/adventure seeker. Heaton has traveled all over the world writing about his adventures and giving reviews on outdoor gear, specifically watches. From diving in New Zealand to hiking up Mt. Rainier to attending the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Heaton has done it all. Luckily, for those of us who are not quite as adventurous, Heaton is a gifted writer and posts his articles in several different online publications. Heaton is a section editor for Gear Patrol and contributes articles to Men’s Journal, Hodinkee, and Revolution.
How and when did your fascination with watches begin?
I’ve worn a watch as long as I can remember, but the hook was really sunk when I was a teenager and saw a “Pepsi” bezel automatic Seiko dive watch in the window of a mall jeweler in the late 1980s. I worked all summer to save up the $85 to buy it and I wore it for years.
What trends did you see at Baselworld? Which ones are you most excited about?
Basel this year was all about smaller, more colorful, more affordable watches, appealing to younger buyers. Of course there were a few brands taking the leap into the wearable tech “smart” watches too. I was pleased to see watch diameters returning to more classic sizes.
You do a lot of traveling and extreme activities, such as scuba diving and hiking in the arctic. When traveling, how many watches do you normally take with you? How do you decide what watches to bring along?
If I’m traveling on assignment, I will take as many watches as I’ve been asked to photograph or review. For some dive trips, that has been as many as four. But if I’m headed out for a personal trip, I usually just take one watch of my own.
Scuba diving seems to be a favorite hobby of yours. What is your favorite watch to wear while diving?
For sentimental reasons, I like to wear the Rolex Submariner my wife gave me for a significant birthday. Sadly, I don’t often get to wear my own watches when diving though since I’m usually wearing a loaned one for a review. I know I won’t get a lot of sympathy for that “problem” though.
What is it about a watch that appeals to you? Style? Function? Brand? Mechanics?
For me, it’s all about a watch’s or a brand’s role in the history of great feats or adventures. I have a particular interest in so-called “tool” watches, those that were built for a specific purpose and used as such. Wearing watches like that nowadays may be anachronistic, but it ties me to the history of adventurers who came before me that wore such watches while diving, climbing, sailing and exploring.
You are a contributing writer to several publications, such as HODINKEE, Gear Patrol, and Revolution. What is your favorite part of your job?
Having carved out a niche as someone who focuses on the intersection of adventure and watches, I feel like I have the best job in the world. I get to travel to exotic places and take these amazing watches along with me. My tax accountant can’t believe I actually get paid to do it.
What does your watch collection look like? Are there any themes to your collection?
Dive watches. I don’t own a lot of pieces but I tend to prefer either vintage divers or modern ones that have a classic aesthetic to them. I also own an Omega Speedmaster Professional. Space travel and the Moon landing have been man’s greatest adventures, and thus the Speedmaster may be the ultimate adventure watch.
What watch are you hoping to purchase next?
I’ve got my eye on a few niche vintage tool watches—a ‘60s Glycine Airman, ‘70s British RAF chronograph from CWC and perhaps a Heuer flyback chronograph that they made for the German military. Of course, if the right dive watch comes along, it would probably move to the top of the list.
See more of our interviews with watch enthusiasts:
Elizabeth Doerr – Editor-in-Chief at Quill & Pad
Arthur Touchot – Editor-in-Chief of Haute Time
Maximilian Büsser – Founder of MB&F
Nick Bremont – Co-Founder of Bremont Watches