As the founders of the distinctive website
Worn & Wound, Zach Weiss and Blake Malin have been to their share of stuffy, old watch shows. “We go to those events, and we sit awkwardly in the corner on our phones,” Malin says. “Oftentimes, there’s a barrier [between us and the watches], and whether that barrier is literally a table and a piece of a glass or it’s a vibe, it’s never really made a lot of sense to us.”
Sensing an opportunity, they last year inaugurated the Worn & Wound Wind-Up Watch Fair. The event, housed at an available SoHo storefront, reflected the site’s goal of covering smartly designed timepieces with rigor and enthusiasm—and without a trace of pomposity or extravagance.
As Weiss says, “We wanted to take the model of men’s fashion events we’d been to—pop-up flea market-type things—and try to bring that into watch culture. The idea was to invite some brands that are not regularly in stores to show and sell in a casual, interactive format.”
A few days before the second-annual Wind-Up—running Friday through Sunday at Chelsea Market in Manhattan—I dropped by Worn & Wound’s Brooklyn office. Weiss, who works as the site’s creative voice while Malin attends to business, explored a handsome handful of watches from the fair’s roster of cult classics, charming oddballs, and low-key, new-school treasures.
22 Design 4th Dimension
Based in Taiwan, 22 is, Weiss explains, “a design firm that focuses on high-intensity concrete.” This timepiece is not so much a watch as a wrist-mounted sculpture—the work of an artist starkly imagining a steady ascent to the top of a spiral staircase every hour.
$295 - $380
Autodromo Stradale Automatic
Inspired by Italian auto racing, industrial designer Bradley Price fashions ultra-sleek pieces that look made to smash speed records. He also hopes to batter some stereotypes: “There’s a bit of a stigma with more affordable brands,” Weiss explains. “There’s this idea that brands, like, buy from a catalog and kind of put a watch together, and Autodromo is showing how far a brand like this can go.” Many of Autodromo’s designs directly reference the dashboard instruments of early-1960s coupes, and this Stradale further mimics the aggressive elegance of rally cars with its lightweight materials and upholstery-like leather strap.
Brew HP-1 Automatic
Scientific research suggests that caffeine hampers creativity, but Brew founder Jonathan Ferrer isn’t a scientist. Rather, he’s a recent design-school graduate with a quietly suave line of coffee-inspired watches. The HP-1’s dial, influenced by the gauges on industrial espresso machines, is decidedly minimalist. Ferrer says he made it to help the wearer savor every moment of the day as if it were a sacred ritual of a coffee break. “The concept is as abstract as they come,” Weiss says, “but there’s definitely a friendliness about it all.”
The company was born by way of a blockbuster Kickstarter campaign, the founders winning over fans with their “alternative idea of the concept of time.” Modeled on a circular slide rule, this disk watch uses three rings—hours, minutes, seconds—that rotate across the stationary thin red line of a time reference. “They have the disks running counter-clockwise,” Weiss explains. “That actually makes for much more logical reading.”
Foto Nouveau Objective
Here, designer William Bon (who also works as a Getty Images art director) pays tribute to the 50-millimeter prime lens appreciated by professional photographers for its speed and versatility. An homage any more literal would most definitely say cheese, but the Objective keeps its focus on cool simplicity.
The name of this Danish outfit is a two-lane play on words: REC means
wreck (as in crashing a car) and also recover (as in salvaging sheet metal). Put the puns together and what do you get? A watch dial fashioned from a totaled Ford Mustang. “A handful of brands do these relic watches, where they’ll take a little piece of something and put it in and charge $50,000,” Weiss says. “This is the most unpretentious version of that. It’s like: The car was dead, it’s not collectible, but it still has meaning.” The design, evocative of very dashing dashboards, intends to stop traffic. $1495
Sablier Grand Cru
“Their big thing is that the crystal in the watch is concave,” Weiss says. That unique choice necessitated a crazy cascade of design challenges—manufacturing a concave dial, for starters—that all serve to honor the wine glass. As the corkscrew silhouette of the second hand indicates, the Grand Cru is engineered for the intersection of horology and oenophilia.
Squale Squalematic 60 ATM Professional
In addition to the upstart brands and concept-driven pieces featured at Wind-Up, visitors will note a few venerable names and prototypical “watch-guy” watches. Of these, Weiss’s personal favorite hails from this storied Italian house. “Back in the day, they were the pioneer in super-engineered dive watch cases,” he says. “These guys were the first to make a 1000-meter dive watch.” This freshly updated model features all the classic attributes—including the “von Buren” case and the recessed crown at the 4 o’clock position—that set Squale buffs’ hearts aflutter.
$1190 - $1290
The model name refers not to Snoopy’s breed but to Darwin’s boat, in keeping with Farer’s dedication to the theme of exploration. Journeying stateside for its first major showing, the U.K.-based watchmaker packed this Swiss-made automatic. The model is snappy, with both subtle details (such as the bronze crown on its steel case) and wonderfully unsubtle ones (hands the color of a juicy Granny Smith).