BLOG 1 - Hi, I'm Ben!

Interested in learning more about how Imperial came to be? Well, it really all started with that first watch I wore for eight long, grueling weeks at Coast Guard boot camp (see Origin page). It was a digital Timex Ironman I had “borrowed” from my father’s dresser drawer. I say “borrowed” in quotes because, well, after eight weeks of boot camp the watch had seen its fair share of punishment. This was the first time in my life I wore a watch 24/7. And ever since then, my wrist has felt naked without one.

So there I was, a fresh graduate of Coast Guard boot camp and a newly born WIS (Watch Idiot Savant). I spent the next four months at specialized Coast Guard training spending every free moment minute learning about watches. During this time I discovered the vintage Swiss brand Ginsbo and fell in love, specifically, with their Coastguard line. With heavy notes of skin diver coupled with elegant dials and amazing casebacks, I fell in love. The Coastguard models featured an amazing engraving of a submarine that, being fresh out of the real-life Coast Guard, I was immediately drawn to (seriously, if you have not Googled them yet do so, you will not regret it). During this time I connected with the grandson of the man who founded the long forgotten company, Ginsbo, and even was able to get my hands on a NOS (New Old Stock) Coastguard model. Not long after this, and after obtaining a few more vintage watches, including an Ogival and a Buler Astromaster (a.k.a., the poor man’s Royal Oak), I stumbled upon something that changed my life forever...the wonderful world of watch modding!

I discovered a thread on Watchuseek dedicated to watch modding and I dove in. I modded my first watch, a Seiko SKX013, by doing a simple dial, chapter ring, and bezel insert swap. I say “simple” now, but at the time it felt like I was performing open heart surgery. As any modder will tell you, the first mod is always the scariest, but (and I can hear my wallet crying as I say this) it is also never the last! And it most certainly was not my last.

I was not really dragged into the rabbit hole of watch modding, rather I dove in, headfirst. I became a “watch nerd,” made lifelong friends, learned new skills and tricks of the trade, and I built some incredible watches. I was recognized for my creativity and design skill, often being commissioned to design custom dials or build complete watches. The only thing that seemed to give me more joy than actually building the watches, was giving them to people! I think this is fundamentally what made me want to have my own company one day. To be able to bring something wholly unique and one of a kind to the public to enjoy, that was a dream I held on to for the years to come. 

I started Imperial Watch Co. because I had spent years having to build the watches I loved, taking perfectly good cases, dials, and hands and modifying them to fit that particular “look” I was aiming for. This look was often inspired by vintage watches that were either no longer in production or were so rare or unique that to find and own one would cost a small fortune (for a simple working man/woman). So, I set out to combine the elements of the vintage watch aesthetic with the quality and precision of modern day watchmaking. I used my past experiences working with some of the best designers and watch builders and used those relationships to ultimately create the Royalguard.