watchnews

all things wristwatch.

nawcc/

Review: HODINKEE Magazine Volume 1

-by Keith Lehman 3/16/18

HODINKEE Magazine Volume 1 sitting on a shelf at the Library & Research Center at the National Watch & Clock Museum in Columbia, PA. Photo by Keith Lehman.

In the early 1990s the Internet wasn’t much to look at. It was primarily tables, text, and hyperlinks that led to even more tables, text, and hyperlinks. Back then, magazines and newspapers were the primary media to promote wristwatches. The Internet’s slow download speeds and chunky bitmap graphics were no match for huge, full-page ads in newspapers or the high-definition, richly inked, glossy-page magazine folios. This dichotomy, as you know, changed as the Internet and the technology supporting it matured.

 

For those of us who have survived the print-to-electronic diaspora, the transition to online continues to be a challenge. That’s why it was so surprising when wristwatch wundersite HODINKEE decided to print a magazine. I couldn’t imagine that we, here in the NAWCC Publications Department, were the only ones asking why the world’s leading Internet-borne source of wristwatch news would decide to print a magazine. It almost seemed as if they were trying to be ironic, even grandiose. But in truth, it is an adoration of the art form of print. It is a thoughtful piece of design that every horological publisher should observe.

 

Let’s start with the presentation and design of the magazine itself before discussing content. This volume with 160 semi-gloss pages is bound with a technique called lay-flat binding, which allows the book to lay more flat, offering better protection to the spine. The silk cover is matte grey with raised HODINKEE lettering. Centered in the middle, like an island in a grey sea, is a photograph of a gentleman wearing Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona 6239. In contrast to the tasteful yet desaturated photo on the front cover, the back hypnotizes with a red and gold, richly colored advertisement of a Tank Louis Cartier.

 

In the forward of Robert Bringhurst’s famous book, The Elements of Typographic Style, the author describes typography as both making historical and visual sense. HODINKEE Volume 1 achieves both. Fonts used inside the book are Portrait Text Regular as the main body copy with pull quotes done in Brown Pro Web Regular. Paragraphs are ragged right, 9 point font size separated by spaces in between them. Most photos are surrounded by generous margins of white space. These combined elements give a welcoming, wide-open reading space to peruse. With the exception of the smaller font size and, surprisingly, the missing use of Brown Pro Portrait Inline Sans in article headlines, the book reflects the same graphic elements as the HODINKEE website.

Photo spread of a Rolex Chronograph Reverence 6238 Dial. Photo by Keith Lehman.

Concerning the actual content, the magazine covers a range of horological topics of varying intensities. Jason Heaton’s lead article, “Up in the Air,” serves as a concise history of early aviation, the pioneering pilots, and the timepieces that aided them. In “Why I Collect” three world-famous professionals share their earliest yearnings for the wristwatches they love. Jack Forster flexes his horological acumen in “A Personal Universe” by exploring a range of astronomical timepieces from the humble moonphase wristwatch to the most complicated astronomical watch of them all—Vacheron Constantin’s Les Cabinotiers Celestia. And Cara Barrett regales the long and winding epic of how Paul Newman’s Daytona became the most expensive wristwatch ever sold.

 

Of the 17 features listed in the table of contents, three are not related to horology. It is surprising that “Anatomy of an Icon,” written by founder of HODINKEE Ben Clymer, about the industry-defining 1965 Porsche 911, is one of them! The best explanation for this cavalier act can be found stated on their website, “The HODINKEE Magazine allows us to tell stories that might not fit right here on the good old dot com for one reason or another. Whether it’s that they require a different visual language, aren’t exclusively about watches.” Clymer’s editorial approach to the watch industry has always leaned on the emotional stirring that wristwatches can evoke with the perfect amount of authority and technical knowledge. “Anatomy of an Icon” demonstrates that HODINKEE is no longer a voice just about wristwatches but of haute culture and appreciation of the lifestyle.

Two-page spread of Jason Heaton’s “Up in the Air,” with a Breitling aircraft clock from the National Watch & Clock Museum. Photo by Keith Lehman.

Two-page spread of Jack Forster’s “A Personal Universe,” with an astrolabe from the National Watch & Clock Museum. Photo by Keith Lehman.

Photo spread of Paul Newman wearing his famous Rolex Daytona in Cara Barrett’s “The Prize.” Photo by Keith Lehman.

Ben Clymer’s feature spread, “Anatomy of an Icon,” about the industry-defining 1965 Porsche 911. Photo by Keith Lehman.

The weakest feature of Volume 1 is John Mayer’s interview with Patek Philippe CEO Thierry Stern. Although the interview is insightful, Mayer gets in the way of himself by comparing and contrasting too much of his career with Stern’s. These two professions couldn’t be more different. I’m a fan of Mayer’s music and I certainly don’t expect him to not mention something about his life, but I want to hear Stern’s music when he’s on stage.

 

HODINKEE Magazine Volume 1 is an excellent addition to any watch lover’s library. The variety of horological topics are bound to please both novice and veteran alike. It’s is a wonderful work of design with excellent content. King of Prussia Frederick II said that Artillery adds dignity to what would otherwise be a vulgar brawl. In the vulgar brawl of life wristwatches certainly add a level of dignity, and this book fits nicely as part of the attaché.

HODINKEE Magazine Volume 1 sitting on a shelf at the Library & Research Center at the National Watch & Clock Museum in Columbia, PA. Photo by Keith Lehman.

Hamilton Celebrates 100 Years of Timing the Skies—with a Little Help from Their Friends

-by Keith Lehman 3/12/18

More than 100 guests attended Hamilton and Hodinkee's 100 Years of Timing the Skies Celebration. Photo by Keith Lehman.

On March 1, 2018, at the NoMo SoHo Kitchen in New York City, Hamilton Watch Co. and HODINKEE commemorated the first American airmail service from Washington, D.C. to New York. The National Watch & Clock Museum, the official historian of Hamilton, also attended the event and contributed to the evening’s mise-en-scène with Hamilton timepieces and artifacts from the Museum’s collection in Columbia, PA.

 

In 1918 the Hamilton Watch Co. was a fledgling, American-owned company, already respected for their railroad-grade watches. Because they were chosen to be the official timekeepers of the historic flight, Hamilton Secretary Frank C. Beckwit was present at the opening ceremony. Also present were President Woodrow Wilson, Postmaster General Albert S. Burleson, and Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt.1 All U.S. Air Mail pilots were outfitted with Hamilton watches. The pilot of the initial flight, George L. Boyle, was personally given his at the ceremony by Beckwit.

Presentation of wristwatch by Hamilton Secretary Frank C. Beckwit. Courtesy of the National Watch & Clock Museum.

Only invitees who registered through HODINKEE could attend the celebration; the time and location of the event were not revealed publicly. The usual accoutrements of an evening celebration at a Soho hotel were present. What made this event truly unique were the more than dozen models from Hamilton’s Khaki Aviation Collection, a watchmaker and his bench with various Hamilton movements, and three aviation-themed showcases with pieces from the National Watch & Clock Museum, including the Hamilton pocket watch Admiral Byrd used on his first expedition to Antarctica.

Hamilton Pocket watch which was used during Admiral Byrd's first expedition to Antarctica in 1928. Photo by Keith Lehman.

Display case of Hamilton pocket watches used by Admiral Byrd during his expeditions.

Photo by Keith Lehman.

One of the best moments of the night happened just before the event began, when Museum Director Noel Poirier presented to Hamilton CEO Sylvain Dolla an actual Hamilton 985 wristwatch movement (from the Museum's collection) that a U.S. airmail serviceman would have received in 1918.

National Watch & Clock Museum Director Noel Poirier showing Hamilton CEO Sylvain Dolla an actual Hamilton 985 wristwatch movement that a U.S. airmail serviceman would have received in 1918.

Hamilton 985 wristwatch movement that a U.S. airmail serviceman would have worn in flight.

View of the Hamilton 985 movement. Photo by Keith Lehman.

As a proud Lancaster County native, this was an unforgettable night for me. The importance of the Hamilton Watch Co.’s contribution to American culture is undeniable. Their world-renowned railroad and aviation timepieces, innovative and fashionable wristwatches (many of which graced the silver screen), and war-winning contributions during World War II established Hamilton as a truly history-defining brand. The closing of the factory in the city of Lancaster, PA, in 1969 and the 1974 sale of the company to SSIH (which became Swatch Group in 1998) became part of the new dialog of the retreating American industry. I know many men and women who worked at Hamilton, and even today its loss is still palpable in Lancaster. But during a conversation with Sylvain Dolla about the impressive growth and world recognition the brand enjoys, he said, “We are proud of Hamilton.” Without hesitation I said, “We are, too!” It was then that I realized that my hometown Hamilton is in competent and global hands.

Hamilton and hotel staff frantically setting up for the event in the Nomo Soho Kitchen.
Photo by Keith Lehman.

A box full of Hamilton/Red Bull air plane models. Hamilton is the official timekeeper of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship. Photo by Keith Lehman.

Hamilton/Red Bull air plane models flying high. Photo by Keith Lehman.

Circa 1943 Hamilton Watch Co. navigation watch in carrying case from the collection of the National Watch & Clock Museum. Photo by Keith Lehman.

Circa 1940 Hamilton Watch Co. aircraft clock from the collection of the National Watch & Clock Museum. Photo by Noel Poirier.

Hamilton Watch Co. engine hour meter from the collection of the National Watch & Clock Museum. Photo by Keith Lehman.

Circa 1973 Hamilton Watch Co. W10 British Army Watch from the collection of the Hamilton Museum, Switzerland. Photo by Keith Lehman.

W10 British Army Watch. Photo by Keith Lehman.

Celebration attendees enjoying an animated discussion with Hamilton watchmaker Jonas Stierli over his workbench. Photo by Keith Lehman.

The actual Khaki Aviation Pilot watch Matthew McConaughey wore in the move Interstellar.
Photo by Keith Lehman.

Hamilton chronographs from the Khaki Aviation collection. Photo by Keith Lehman.

More Hamilton watches from the Aviation collection. Photo by Keith Lehman.

Hamilton watches from the Aviation collection. Photo by Keith Lehman.

Hamilton CEO Sylvain Dolla with HODINKEE editor Jack Forster speaking to celebration attendees. Photo by Keith Lehman.

Cheers! Tom Wilcox, Executive Director of the National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors Inc., chatting with two attendees at the event. Photo by Keith Lehman.

National Watch & Clock Museum Director Noel Poirier conversing with Hamilton watchmaker Jonas Stierli at Stierli’s workbench. Photo by Keith Lehman.

Notes

1. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. "Airmails of the United States." Accessed March 8, 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airmails_of_the_United_States

JOIN THE NAWCC

Top Watch Sites

514 POPLAR ST / COLUMBIA PA / 717.684.8261 ext. 212 / WATCH_EDITOR@NAWCC.ORG