Making a magazine is hard. And even though I used to write for magazines and went to journalism school and did so many of the things you’d think would prepare me for making a magazine, I didn’t really understand it until we we were on our fifth all-nighter making Volume 1. It takes a different type of commitment, of thought, and of planning – the last of which I’m not exactly known for. Hell, one could even say this business was built on the very antithesis of the long-form, long-lead-time, hyper-produced content that makes magazines so rewarding – and that’s exactly why we had to make one. To do the opposite of what one would expect, and to provide our staff the opportunity to work out a completely different set of muscles.
Our magazine (if you can even call it that), is one of the products at HODINKEE for which I am most proud, and for which I get most excited. It takes everything we do all year long and forces us to use another skillset that we claim to have in spades, to edit all that we see down to something that can, nay deserves to live on your bookshelf forever. We have done so many great stories over the years in our 10 volumes – really too many for me to discuss here – and I am so remarkably proud of our team who continues to produce this incredible journal in an era where print has no place in a profitable business, not because we have to, but because we want to. Here are 10 of my favorite stories from the first 10 volumes of HODINKEE Magazine.
The first issue of our magazine was such a special experience for us – it was a dream realized and to work on something so special was an experience I’ll never forget. It also allowed us all to write about things that are slightly outside of our regular wheelhouse. For me, that meant I got to put onto paper the years of research I’d done into the very first generation Porsche 911. It is probably the best example of what HODINKEE would do if we ever got into cars – and I think it’s just a lovely, thought-provoking, insightful story about something that seems fairly ubiquitous to many in our world.
There aren’t many people who can have an outsized influence on your life without you ever having met. The team at Apple – most importantly the former chief designer Jony Ive – has influenced me and the way I think about physical and digital products in a profound way. And to work with him on a cover story for the magazine – to share how detailed he and his team were in the creation of the Apple Watch, and his own story with time – was really a special experience and, if I may say, yielded a really interesting read. The man built so much of the world around us, and designed the most popular watch in the world – and he rarely grants interviews. This was his story.
Ronnie Fieg and KITH have been in my orbit since the very earliest days of HODINKEE. To see what he’s built since I first came across his company more than 12 years ago is just incredible. So when we had the opportunity to publish a feature on all things Ronnie, and even look at his sneaker collection, we thought hard about who would do the story justice … and we ended up assigning Jack Forster. At surface level, it was such an odd pairing. But the two connected with each other famously, and the story is evidence.
Bruce Talamon is someone I’ve gotten to know over the past few years through our shared love for the old and antiquated things we love so much – watches, cars, cameras. In Volume 4, we were blessed to have Bruce tell us all about the Rolex GMT-Master that’s been on his wrist for the better part of his adult life, as he photographed the most famous musicians of our time. Just amazing to see a legend love one thing so completely.
Volume 5 is a quiet banger. We gave Cole Pennington the cover story – an incredible tale involving a secret CIA mission over Manchuria (and a lost Rolex). It was maybe the first time we all saw Cole really come into his own as the incredible storyteller he is, and I was so proud of him for this story. Then we have fun friends like Aziz Ansari and Mario Carbone make some appearances, and we pulled some strings to get access to a private McLaren F1 to do a super-detailed buyer’s guide by our resident car nut, James Stacey. This is a great, great issue.
Volume 6 lined up with the time we had just launched our Tokyo outpost – and it was so amazing to give some pages to our leader in Japan, Yu Sekiguchi. He remains such an incredible partner, and true style god. In Volume 6, one of the coolest people I’ve ever met tells you all about his favorite coffee shops all over Tokyo. It’s a must-read if you’re going.
There are two standouts for me from Volume 7 – first, Aldis Hodge’s personal and powerful letter about building his own legacy in watchmaking (one that is fully his own), and a story that I was asked to write about the watches that are made “the right way.” What we meant by that is watches still made by hand – I’m talking Dufour, Akrivia, Roger Smith, and the like. It was a story about why I’d really begun to appreciate them versus the mass-produced luxury items, and even vintage. And four years later, I am proud to say it has aged really well.
Issue eight marked the entry of a really special person in my life, and in the life of HODINKEE – our Senior VP of Content, Nick Marino. Always referring back to the great Woody Allen quote, “a relationship is like a shark, if it doesn’t keep moving forward, it dies” we knew it was time to completely turn all HODINKEE editorial, including the magazine, on its head. And boy did we. This magazine was a revelation – and the photo portfolio by the incredible Jonathan Mannion showing the best and brightest in rap and hip-hop, and the watches they chose, felt like a turning point for us. This was a new, more thoughtful HODINKEE. All of Volume 8 made that so clear – and it made me so happy.
Issue nine, in my opinion, took the best of the early HODINKEE, and enveloped it in what made Volume 8 so interesting – it was wide-reaching, welcoming, and unexpected. So we had the idea of taking a personality who has been around our universe for years – Graham Fowler, who appeared in a video on HODINKEE way back in 2013 – and giving him an updated treatment. The ensuing profile of him by Danny Milton is just awesome – and speaks to both those old-school HODINKEE readers and those who have found us more recently. And I just loved that.
First of all, the fact that we’ve made it through 10 issues of HODINKEE Magazine is wild. And I think this issue is our best yet – with, again, a dose of the old-school collector-focused content in Jack’s Reference Points on the AP Royal Oak “Jumbo” (which celebrates 50 years this year) and Logan’s profile of Rexhep Rexhepi, which I feel should become the definitive piece on the talented young watchmaker – plus some fun, more broadly approachable content like a feature on Emily Oberg (of Sporty and Rich), and some talented young photographers. But my favorite among the several great pieces from Volume 10 has to be Danny Milton’s plea for us to simply stop using the term “tool watch.” It doesn’t sound like much, but trust me when I tell you it’s just a wonderful encapsulation of the type of writing and wit that has made Danny a favorite among HODINKEE readers, and staff members. It’s earnest, and pragmatic, but also calls out just how silly all of this is – and as the guy who’s been saying for the past 14 years that nobody needs any of this stuff, Danny’s story on just how un-useful tool watches actually are really hit home.
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HODINKEE Magazine Vol. 10 is available in the Shop. The HODINKEE Shop has also curated a selection of watches based on those featured in Vol. 10; explore the collection here.