Editor’s note: Matt Hranek’s now sold-out book, A Man and His Watch, is one of the real standouts of the watch year, a beautiful and thoughtful text, packed with 76 stories of watches and the people who wear them. So taken were we by this book, we asked Matt if it would be possible to republish a few of his interviews. He kindly said yes.
Chef & co-owner, Frankies Spuntino Group
IWC Mark XV
My grandfather was an amazing guy, a working-class kid made good. He grew up in Brooklyn during the Depression. It was a tough life. He hustled, dropped out of high school, and enlisted in the army. He fought in the war, got a lot of commendations, and came out a lieutenant. He stayed in the reserves and rose all the way up to colonel. A natural leader. And he was a collector — cars, watches, guns from the Civil and Revolutionary wars. He believed that those things stayed with you. They retained value; they were collectibles.
My daughter was born in 2000 while I was living in Germany, and my grandfather came to see us. The trip was twofold: he wanted to visit our family, of course, but he also wanted to see the country. He had fought against the Japanese in World War II but hadn’t been to Germany. He was a commissioner’s assistant for the New York City Department of Sanitation, and he was always impressed by Germany’s efficiency and cleanliness. He was also curious about the people and the culture.
It was a tradition for my grandfather to gift jewellery and watches, especially on big occasions, so when he arrived, as expected, he asked, “What do you want?” I had already been to a couple of watch stores in Germany and told him I’d heard a lot about these watches made in Schaffhausen, Switzerland. At the time, IWC wasn’t a big, popular brand. But I liked that they made all their own movements, produced everything in-house, and it was a high-quality watch that was still affordable.
We looked on the map: from Freiburg, where I was living, the drive to IWC would take about an hour and forty-five minutes by car. So we drove. It was such a beautiful trip, just my grandpa and me on a long drive through the Black Forest to the IWC boutique. That’s where we bought this Mark XV, straight from the source.
I like its simplicity. The big numbers, the black face on the stainless steel. It’s so comfortable, I don’t even feel it at all. And it’s a classic — you can wear it casually, but you can also dress it up. It goes with everything.
It was the first watch in my life that I’d ever picked out just for me — one that wasn’t handed down. It’s my everyday watch, but it’s also an heirloom; it’s something you pass on to your children and your grandchildren. Heirlooms make you think about the people in your life. Like my grandfather. He had impeccable taste, beautiful clothes. He smoked Cuban cigars until the day he died at eighty-six years old. He was like another father to me. I look at this watch every day, and so every day I think of Lou Dileo.
Excerpted from A Man and His Watch by Matt Hranek (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2017. Photographs by Stephen Lewis.