Watch Expert Matt Hranek on the Emotional Value of a Treasured Timepiece

By Sotheby's
Matt Hranek is the founder and editor of WM Brown Magazine and author of A Man and His Watch , a book of "iconic watches and stories from the men who wore them". Here we talk to him about his collection and what it means to him.

What is the first watch you ever loved?
That would be the Sears Winnie the Pooh watch my grandmother gave me when I was five years old. I still have it – it’s in the book!

You talk really passionately about people having emotional connections with watches . Why do you think they are so treasured compared to other clothes or accessories, and which watch in your own collection is most important to you?
I like the heirloom aspect of watches and how we use them to mark great moments in our lives, or how they remind us of the people that we care about with just a glance at your wrist. My father died when I was 18 and I have his Stainless Rolex Datejust. It is the most precious thing I own. I am connected to him each time I wear it.

© Matt Hranek

How have you curated your collection and what factors do you consider when adding to it?

My watch choices are selected based on the aesthetics of each. I like sport watches and watches designed with purpose – tool watches. I pretty much come back to very slight variations on the same theme. For example, I love dive watches and own several variations. Quite frankly, I’d own more!

If money was no object, what would be your dream watch to own?

Wow... I still want a Rolex 5508 with a gilt dial!

Do you lean towards certain design features?

I’m really a stainless steel guy. I own gold watches but will wear all stainless most of the time.

Is there a period of watchmaking that you’re especially fond of?

I love the tool watches of the 60s and 70s. There is such a clean simple sense of purposeful design.

What kind of watch do you opt for every day and what do you reserve for a special occasion?

A Stainless Sub or Datejust for everyday and a gold Cartier tank for special occasions and black tie.

You’ve written a book about iconic watch-wearers and their stories - what are a couple of your favourite anecdotes from your research?

Heading to racing driver Mario Andretti’s house in Pennsylvania was so amazing. He kept every watch he ever bought, won racing or was given to him. He had them piled on a table and in the middle were a few Rolex Daytonas. I was like "Wow, where did all these come from?" and he said “I did win that race a few times!”.

Visiting the Cartier archive was like a black ops mission. They would not give us the exact address and had us (me and my photographer) waiting on a random corner in Geneva. A black van rolled up, the door opened and we got in. We were driven around a bit and got to an office building with airlock security doors – the only thing missing were the black hoods! The archive was just a magical place.

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