Bespoke Watch Projects Renews Interest in Watches
These made-to-order timepieces are crafted as accessible heirlooms by John McConnico, an architect for the wrist.
Photo courtesy Bespoke Watch Projects
From military-style tool watches to vintage-era editions with hand-etched intaglio dials, the timepieces from Bespoke Watch Projects are made to order and assembled by hand by John McConnico in the backyard Oakland studio that he shares with his fashion designer wife, Kristina. McConnico describes his watches as “accessible heirlooms.” Considering the quality of the materials, they are affordable ($475 to $1,045).
The self-taught horologist and art school grad began collecting timepieces 25 years ago, when his father gave him an old watch from the 1960s. “I immediately popped off the back to see what was inside,” he recalled. “I found the inner workings just magical.” He worked as a designer and creative director for two decades before making his first watch in 2012 — which he documented on Instagram — and received watch orders before thinking of starting his own company.
The “bespoke” nature of his watches allows McConnico to personalize specifications to each client’s preferences. He relishes the collaborative nature of making his watches, which often sparks new design ideas. For local clients, he will meet one-on-one to brainstorm and create a personalized piece “that is as much theirs as mine.” An online watch builder enables customers to design their own timepiece, selecting the model, case style, dial, handset, and strap design. The Memphis native finds further inspiration meeting prospects personally at events where he sells his watches, such as Head West in Alameda and the Smithsonian Craft Show in Washington, D.C.
Bespoke’s latest releases feature mid-sized watches with “heritage-driven” designs and clean, modernist details that artfully “blur the lines between old and new.” Options include watery patterns of Damascus steel, updated vintage styles from the 1960s, and colorful intaglio dials produced in small batches. If you turn these watches over, the backs are clear so you can see the magical inner workings, reproducing McConnico’s first-moment experience when he was a boy.
Bespoke Watch Projects can be found online at BespokeWatchProjects.com.