If you’re reading this blog, it’s probably safe to say that you are a “watch guy” (or gal). As a person who hangs out with a lot of watch guys and gals, I have recognized a common theme among the watch community that is endearing and ever-present. This theme is centered around continuous, positive, and unwavering support for one another. If you’re a watch guy (or gal), you know that members of the watch world are extremely encouraging, collaborative, and are constantly celebrating each other's successes and accomplishments. In the watch world, everyone is valued, and there’s enough room for everyone to win.
Now more than ever, we need to show this same love and support for Black-owned businesses in the watch world. This blog will shine a light on 8 proudly Black-owned watch brands that are full of creativity, ingenuity, and beautiful craftsmanship. All of the brands offer a huge variety of dials, straps, materials, bracelets and watch bands to fit every taste. When reading about each brand further you’ll also find hopeful stories of overcoming adversity, like the owners of Talley and Twine, fascinating history in the story behind Benjamin Banneker Watches, and selfless philanthropic efforts of brands like Asorock, SPGBK, and Vitae London. Check out these and other inspiring Black-owned watch brands below:
Founder Marcel Benson fell in love with watches at the age of seven when his mother bought him his first watch (a Kenneth Cole product). As he grew up he continued to collect watches and landed a successful job in the corporate world. After feeling unfulfilled by that job, he took a leap of faith and started his own watch brand, Benson Watches. Benson believes that “time should be spent doing what you love” and we couldn’t agree more. His watches feature colorful bezels and a variety strap options which have been featured in GQ, The Huffington Post, PopSugar, and now in theEverest Journal. You will definitely want to check out this brand!
After losing his job in Georgia, Randy D. Williams moved to Virginia with only one dollar to his name. Always an entrepreneur from a young age, he knew he needed to make a change, and that’s when the idea of Talley and Twine was born. At first he did it only as a side gig, but after losing his full time job he had the difficult challenge of going home and telling his then pregnant wife he was going to attempt full time entrepreneurship. That's when Talley and Twine really took off. According to their website, the name comes from an intersection in Virginia that was formerly a center of a notorious, crime-ridden neighborhood. In recent years, the neighborhood has been completely revitalized and full of opportunity. The analogy of a dark past that now has a bright future really resonates with the brand. On Tally and Twine watches you’ll always see the number seven. The 7 is to represent seven days a week, and to signify that you should always finish what you start. Not only is Talley and Twine living up to this ideal, but they are also involved in numerous charitable organizations and frequently give back to the community.
The image above is the 46 mm Worley Chronograph M in Silver, blue, and gold and retails for $235. (fun fact: Worley is the street where Randy’s grandmother lives). This brand offers a wide variety of dial colors and straps including metal bracelets, nato straps, and leather straps. You should definitely take a gander.
Have you ever heard of Benjamin Banneker? When Derrick Holmes started his watch brand he wanted to pay homage to a legendary African American man named Benjamin Banneker (1731-1806) who was born a free man and became an astronomer, inventor, mathematician, surveyor, almanac author, and farmer. He took apart a friend’s pocket watch and studied the mechanisms. After this he began to carve, out of wood, enlarged models of each watch part, including calculating the exact number of teeth for each gear and making the gears work together. This eventually led him to construct a complete working wooden clock in 1753 that kept accurate time and struck the hours for over 50 years! Tragically, during his funeral, a mysterious fire (likely started by arsonists) burned down his woodshop and completely destroyed his estate. The company pays homage to the brilliant Benjamin Banneker by integrating luxury woods into every watch and clock design. Most Benjamin Banneker Watches are under $1,000 and can be purchased on their website.
Chris, a United States Army Veteran and the founder of Seventeenth, was one of seven children and wanted to reflect his upbringing and values into the name of his watch brand. He started his watch brand after being inspired by watches he saw during his two year stay in Germany. After traveling throughout Europe and Africa, he discovered that watches were “more than just an elegant method for telling time. Watches are symbols of something deeper. Statements that require no words. A universal language.” We absolutely echo this sentiment! Since then he’s been making beautiful timepieces for affordable prices. Seventeenth watches can be purchased for between $75-$200. We are thankful for his watches and for his selfless service and dedication to the United States.Everest solutes you!
SPGBK was founded by two African American fraternity brothers from a small town in North Carolina with a passion for creativity, originality, modern culture, and diversity. The name pays homage to their deep passion for education and learning, so they wanted it to be college-themed. SPGBK is a shortened version of “spring break” and the fun colors in their watches and watch bands certainly would enhance any spring break experience! In addition to super colorful and fun watches, a quick view of their website or instagram page will show you that this company also has philanthropic goals. They have an objective to inspire youth and peers to follow their entrepreneurial dreams. Most of their watches are affordable, ranging between $70-$90!
Eddie Johnson, founder and owner of Verdure Watches, like many of us in the watch world, grew up admiring the beautiful timepieces worn by his father and grandfather. What started as a hobby drawing cartoons soon turned into designing watches and watch straps. According to Eddie, the word Verdure translates to “strength” and the New Jersey brand focuses on high standards for style, elegance, and comfortability. The watch shown above is called “Brown Elegance” and retails for $350.
Asorock Africa was founded by Nigerian American Ben Iroala and Zambian American Andrew Mutale who sought to cut the high retail markup of popular name brands, while also being deeply rooted and connected to philanthropic efforts and to the country of Africa. Both men are avid watch collectors and enthusiasts, and wanted to add something to the watch world that didn’t yet exist. When you explore this company, you will find that a portion of the proceeds from each watch sold by Asorock goes to building a library and child youth center in a village in Nigeria. All of the names of supporters and backers will be engraved in the middle of the library! What a great way to give back. You will also discover that Asorock offers a huge variety of watch straps, watch bracelets, dial colors and designs for both men and women ranging from $95-$200.
Vitae London, founded by Claudia and William Adoasi, is based out of London, England. When you check out their website you’ll see that they “combine beautiful minimalist watch design with maximum social justice” which is so incredibly important. Each timepiece purchased from Vitae London provides an under-served child with two sets of school uniforms (required for attendance in African schools), and also helps to provide electricity for children in rural areas of Africa. In addition to designing beautiful timepieces, almost all of Vitae London watches are fully customizable and interchangeable. They are designed to have interchangeable bezel and strap options that can click in and click out easily. Most watches can be purchased for between $150-$400, which is a small price to pay for both a watch and a contribution to positive change for children in Africa. The watch shown above is the 44 mm Elmington Chrono Watch in Silver which retails for $371.99 USD.
Each timepiece purchased from Vitae London provides an under-served child with two sets of school uniforms. Children without uniforms are often turned away from schools, and Vitae London helps make education possible.
Intentional support and advocacy for and with Black-owned watch businesses is essential in helping to make lasting change in the watch industry. AtEverest, we stand united in support of justice and true equity for all of our friends, watch makers, neighbors, families, and staff members. We value you, we support you, we will fight for you, and we will continue to condemn racism, bigotry, and hatred in any form. In the watch world everyone is valued, and there’s enough room for everyone to win.