INTERVIEW: Ted Brown of Berkbinder & Brown (Part 4)
We had a chance to sit down with Ted Brown of Berkbinder & Brown to talk about his Tool Watch. So far, we covered the beginning of the Tool Watch, Mr. Brown’s “watch cred”, choice of movement, and the case design, and some other “miscellaneous” items. Today we’ll conclude our interview.
Earlier, you said you’ve always liked watches. Do you remember what the first watch you owned was?
For high school graduation, my dad bought me a Rado with a sapphire crystal and an automatic movement. Back then, it seemed like it was huge. Of course, now, it looks like a woman’s watch, given modern sizing trends.
Surprisingly, the case and the crystal are in perfect condition. I never wear it anymore, but it’s an amazing watch.
And as a kid? I wore it everywhere, did everything with it. I’ve never even had it serviced. Of course, I haven’t worn it for 20 years. But when I was wearing it, for probably about 15 years, it just ran and ran and ran.
When we walked through your process, we saw a water resistance tester. Since this is marketed as a rugged sort of a watch, have you done any sort of “stress” testing of it?
I have not. I gave my son a prototype, and he’s pretty destructive with things. And I wore it for a year, and didn’t have any issues
Of course, one of the guys who bought my watch via Kickstarter is a Navy Seal, another guy is a firefighter. Yet another person in Italy, he’s like Mr. Adventure. So, some of those initial customers are the testers.
Are there any other brands, or styles, that you find yourself drawn to, or appreciate?
You know, the first watch I bought for myself was a Breitling. And I remember it was huge, it was a monster watch on my wrist. Of course, looking at it today, it’s a small watch. I’ve always liked Breitling, but I don’t know that it would be at the top of my list. Panerai has a really nice heritage and distinctive look, and in terms of looks, the A. Lange watches are just extraordinary in terms of what they do and how they do it.
If you were to give advice to someone who was starting out making their own watch, what advice would you offer?
You have to make something different – you can’t be just like everyone else. But being different isn’t enough – it has to be of value. For my watch, being made in the USA, the Great Plains – Midwestern ethos, unique design and materials, that’s what I offer. And, in the end, I like the watch. I figure there are enough people like me who will like it, and that’s what drives the project.
You know, when I was looking for a watch, there were watches I liked, but I couldn’t bring myself to invest what I needed to. Funnily enough, it would’ve been less expensive to buy one of those watches, compared to the journey I’ve taken. But it wouldn’t have been as much fun or as rewarding.
I also looked for the way to market the watch where it wasn’t lost in the noise of the market. The best fit to date has been high-end outdoor outfitters. The retailer gets the watch, and their customers get the watch.
What’s been the most rewarding thing for you in creating this watch?
People emailing me back saying “Wow – I love the watch. It’s better than I expected.” Also, seeing the watch improve as things have progressed.
Finally, to wrap things up, what do you like to do in your “spare” time?
I vaguely remember having some of that… I like to get out snow skiing. Summertime has me on the water, and of course I like travel. A lot of times I get involved in smaller projects as well – creating lighting, furniture, things like that. Even during downtime, my mind is a shop that’s always open.
And that brings to a close our interview with Ted Brown, of Berkbinder & Brown. We talked a lot about the Tool Watch in these interview posts, and there will be a full review on that coming up. Of course, if you can’t wait, you can start perusing the options here.