In Bezel's exclusive interview, we sit down to with the Canadian artist to explore his introduction to the world of watches, his considered approach to collecting, plus the most prized watch in his personal collection.
Keiran Brennan Hinton is a Canadian artist living and working between the city of Toronto and the rural community of Elgin, Ontario. His practice focuses on formal painting processes, the sustained act of observation, and reflections of domestic intimacy – believing that beauty is not to be dismissed as superfluous, but rather integral to the act of observation.
In Bezel's exclusive interview – conducted in advance of the artist’s latest solo exhibition of new paintings – we sit down to explore Brennan Hinton’s introduction to the world of watches, his considered approach to collecting, plus the most prized watch in his personal collection.
Bezel: How did you get into watches?
KBH: I’m from Toronto, but I went to school in New York. While living there I saw so many great watches in storefront displays and on people’s wrists – more than I’ve ever seen anywhere else. I can remember going down to Canal Street in my first year of art school, not knowing a thing about watches, and being enamored with everything I saw.
Bezel: Hopefully you didn’t go too deep down that rabbit hole…
KBH: I luckily dodged a bit of a bullet down there, but after that, my watch-collecting aspirations were put on hold for a while. Watches always felt intimidating in a lot of ways. And out of reach, because of both the price points of most great watches and the level of knowledge required to enter that space.
Bezel: What got you back into the game?
KBH: I always knew that I’d love to circle back to it all, and when quarantine hit during the pandemic, I had a ton of free time and a bit of extra money. With the time to research more meaningfully and the means to pursue things further, I definitely felt a new sort of excitement in all that collecting had to offer.
Bezel: What was your first watch and what's the story behind it?
KBH: The watch I started my collection with was my Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical. I’d been reading about it for a while, and it seemed like a great everyday watch. After some more research, I finally went for it, and it turned out to be everything I hoped it would be and more. It was my first mechanical watch and I loved the satisfaction of winding it every couple of days. The process of tracking time and having a much closer relationship with it, in general, was really rewarding across the board.
Bezel: Where did you go from there?
KBH: After the Hamilton I started reading into dive watches, and became interested in the slight degree of complication afforded by their rotating bezels. I then found myself looking further into Seiko, and started calling up different boutiques across Canada in search of a specific reference made in Japan. I eventually tracked that one down online.
From there, I leveled up into more serious territory with an Omega Speedmaster Professional “Moonwatch.” At the time I had a show coming up in New York and wanted to mark that occasion with something. It’s definitely one of those watches that lets you daydream for a moment when you’re wearing it, transporting you somewhere else for a brief interval as a result of its otherworldly associations.
The Speedy was followed up with a Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight, which I also picked up on a trip down to New York. After being unable to find one at an AD for a few months, I remember being surprised to see one at a retailer there, and being more so prepared to hear “no” than “yes.” Upon seeing that they had one, I tried it on, fell in love, took a day to think it over, and came back to claim it as my own. No regrets whatsoever.
Bezel: What's your favorite watch in your collection and why?
KBH: I just got a 1985 Rolex Datejust Ref. 16030 with a blue dial to celebrate my upcoming show at Charles Moffett Gallery in New York. This was my first step into the wild world of vintage watch collecting, but I loved all the research that lead up to its acquisition – combing through Rolex forums, reading the Bezel Journal, etc. Finding the exact model you’re after and learning about all the decisions that guided its design is priceless. There’s a precision to Rolex’s watches that I didn’t fully understand until seeing this example in person. The indicies are so exact, and cut to reflect light in all these surprising ways – everything last detail been considered. It feels like a tiny self contained world that’s been ticking away, keeping time for nearly 40 years. There’s something quite beautiful in owning an object that was made so well, and clearly has a sense of care and attention built into it.
Bezel: Can you share 3 must-have watches listed on Bezel right now?
My fiance and I have an idea of splitting a Cartier Tank on a leather band and sharing it back and forth, so this Cartier Tank Louis in yellow gold would be perfect!
I love the warmth and patina developed on this no-nonsense Rolex Submariner with the gilt dial.
It's a bit outside my budget at the moment, but this 39 mm Audemars Piguet Royal Oak is stunning with the black dial.
Bezel: Why do you continue to enjoy collecting watches?
KBH: I really love that I get to grow with these things, and I feel that there’s something about living with them over time that enriches what they do for you, as you begin to unpack their countless details and continue to research something you already own.
Between their heft, the intricacy of their construction, and the delicate nature of their finishing, there’s just so much to marvel at. For all of that to exist on your wrist in such a poetic way is really special. I never want to be dismissive of that.
Keiran Brennan Hinton’s latest solo exhibition of new paintings, “A Break in the Clouds,” opens tonight at Charles Moffett Gallery in New York. We highly recommend checking the dozen oil paintings that make up the show, on view through October 21st, 2023.
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- Isaac Wingold
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