Watch Stories | Matt Hranek | Men’s Style Editor at Condé Nast Traveler

Today we’re in New York hanging out with
Matt Hranek. Matt is the men’s style editor for Conde
Nast Traveler. Matt has developed a reputation over the years of producing
beautiful and inspiring content. Relevant to any guy. Matt is a photographer, he’s an outdoorsman, and he’s a watch guy. Today we’re going to get to know Matt a little bit better,
and here’s some really great watch stories. I’m Matt Hranek, here in Brooklyn, New
York. I wear a lot of different hats. One of my favorite hats that I’m
wearing right now, currently, is the men’s style editor at Conde Nast Traveler. What’s
great at Traveler is I handled the luxury watch market. Which has exposed me to the
most wonderful things and great people and I was watch obsessed anyway so it’s a
perfect transition for me to kind of leave the production end of things.
Photography and film, and go into the more curatorial magazine editing senses of things. You know, I grew up hunting and fishing.
My Dad shot semi-pro, or aggressively amateur, trap. So a lot of my youth was
at the skeet trap range. And I always found that those guys who loved beautiful, classic
cars always loved beautifully made shotguns, and they always had great
watches on their wrists. It just was it. All these objects kind of all spoke in
the same note, which was this beautiful design that had amazing function. Right?
Cars, in this case, shotguns, and watches. Okay, so this is a Sears Winnie The Pooh watch that I
just got the story on, actually recently. After 40 some years, right? My Grandmother
bought it out of the Sears catalog and gave it to me for I think my fifth or
sixth birthday. And I have a confession to make. I was obsessed with Winnie the
Pooh. I wasn’t a Mickey Mouse guy, and it just seemed like the perfect transition
for her, and also like the idea that every boy needs a wristwatch like that
was just the mentality of a generation right? This watch sat in a box for years,
and I asked my Mom like, “Where is that Winnie The Pooh watch?” And she’s says, Oh, it’s right here!” So when I saw her last she gave it to me. And it just brought back
this wave of emotion, and memory of like how this thing. This mechanical object
kind of shaped my aesthetic towards and love for wrist watches. The next watch that really shaped my
life was this Datejust right here. This is from the early 80s. This was my Father’s watch.
So there was uh. I remember at the trap range one time there was this guy that
my Dad really admired. Older guy, and I remember he had a two-tone date Rolex on. And I remember my Dad saying like, “See that watch right there. That’s a Rolex,
and when my business really excels, and you know, I’m going to reward myself with
one of those because that is the watch, right. And as a kid you just like,
particularly when you’re looking up to this guy you admire so deeply, your
Father. You’re like, “Okay a Rolex…” It’s like embedded in your DNA at the point, right? One day I came to
my Dad’s studio, which was a little studio in a basement of our house. It’s like a graphic design and sign painting studio. And there on his wrist with this watch.
And he didn’t even say anything. He just kind of like sort of like what a good
friend who’s a female gets engaged and all of a sudden that ring is like in your
grill, you know. Like that watch was just there, and I was like… wow. So when this
watch was left to me. I remember my Mom giving it to me and it sat in the box
and I was just like, “God, I’m not worthy of wearing it.” I was in college. Freshman, and I was
just like, “I don’t know if I can wear this thing.” Like I know what it meant to
him in this journey to acquire this object. And the power of what that meant.
And I felt like I fast-tracked it in the cheapest way and lost someone so special
to me. And you know and then that started changing because there was a big
connection to this thing. That every time I wore it I was closer to the idea of
who he was and what he represented and then I found my pacing with it that
way. And still I only wore it in special occasions and then when I finally
moved to New York I wore it all the time. And I remember I got a oyster bracelet
for it, you know? But every time I wear this watch there’s a connection. And out
of all these things in my life, this is the most important one. If I ever lost
that I mean I would just be devastated. I could lose the Pooh watch way before I could loose this one. This is a cool story. First of all, I just love Datejusts or Dates. I
just think that these 34 millimeter to 36 millimeter watches. For me, I have a small
wrist, are just so incredible, so affordable, beautiful, right? This watch I
had with me on a trip to Europe. And I went to go visit Beretta, which was the
gun manufacturing in the north of Italy. And I just was like, “This is the coolest
place I’ve ever been.” Like there I really felt the power of my Father because he
was a big Beretta fan. And I have his. I have the first Beretta that he ever
purchased, which is a Silver Snipe that I’ve had restored, and it’s very precious
to me. And I got there and I was just like
overwhelmed. We go in the engraving room. And to watch these guys engrave is just
like the most magical thing ever. All freehand. All via some sketch. And I was
like, “Oh my god! Can they engrave the case back on this watch!?” Now this was
not a very special watch to me. This was kind of a throwaway. It’s cheap watch, but
I like aesthetically. It wasn’t like my Dad’s Datejust or the Sub.
The master engraver just happened to be there, and they were like, “Ahhh… of course! He can do that for you.” You know? And I said, “Just do MH in whatever fought, scroll style
you want.” So he did it in the most traditional way. Completely free-hand. In
like 30 seconds. And it was the most epic thing. It was like true artistry and
craft just melded into one experience. And now I could never get rid of this
watch, never because that. This is a really clever little funny little watch.
I mean this is the Dominos Air King. I was never a big Domino’s Pizza fan, but I
was fortunate enough to direct a couple Domino’s commercials. And I really like
the client. I really like people a lot. I thought wouldn’t it be great if I like
showed my brand loyalty. Like show up on set with one of these Domino’s watches.
And, also I like the story, right? Like some brand manager out there. I’m sure
I’m messing up the story, but if you were able to meet or exceed your quotas on
pizzas you would get Rolex. And at the time Rolex was making
custom dials, which they don’t do anymore. So I found one of these, and got
it, and I had the original box of papers and the little note from Domino’s. And I
wore it on set and I just sort of like I felt so badass like, “Yeah.” I mean this is
like this is as close to me getting a Domino’s tattoo, basically. To say like
you know really love you guys. Keep me busy. But I love this watch. I wear it. I
love the size. And I think that in terms of collecting quote, which I don’t really
see myself as a aggressive collector. This is a great piece to have because of
the story that it tells within the kind of idea of Rolexes history. Like they
will never do this ever again and they probably did it for just a couple
companies like Coca-Cola included. But the fact that you have the ultimate
high-low, you know? This incredible, beautiful Swiss watch brand, and like
drunken nights in the dorm room. Domino’s. Perfect. Guys should be wearing watches,
right? It’s like one thing that drives me nuts about electronic things. Is every
time I want to use it it’s dead. This thing doesn’t die, right? That’s one reason. But
also I think in terms of like the wristwatch kind of defines who you are,
on many levels. I think it’s very important how it connects you to the
idea of heirloom, and how you receive that, and what that means to you. At least
the potential or you kind of start your own history with the heirloom. Like
someday my daughter will have all of these and I hope she makes a wise choice.
But I just think that the wristwatch is something that kind of defines you as a
guy. I think the long and short of it is. They’re amazing objects. They’re these
wonderful little machines that sit on your wrist.
That define who you are, or who you want to project yourself to be. They’re
wonderful objects and they will never be replaced by some piece of electronics
for me.

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