Streetwear and watches have more in common with every passing day. They’re both all about collectability. They both rely increasingly on Internet buzz and drop culture. Their resale markets are both booming. And they’re both full of complexities, contradictions, and surprises.
Take, for example, Rhuigi Villaseñor, the founder of the decidedly luxurious LA-based label Rhude. When you picture a young streetwear designer rolling around Beverley Hills in a black McLaren with gold rims, you probably picture a massive gold sport watch on his wrist, right? It’s probably impossible to get, designed by Gérald Genta, and visible from outer space. Villaseñor owns a few of those watches, but it was vintage watches (like old Rolexes and minute repeaters) that nearly bankrupted him, as he told GQ back in January. The moment I saw that interview, I knew we had to get him on HODINKEE Radio – and fast.
Villaseñor hails from the Philippines, though he moved to Los Angeles as a kid. This immigrant experience looms large when it comes to his ideas about luxury, about how you can use things like clothes and watches to live your own personal dream, and about why these little timekeepers on our wrists are much more than pieces of metal and glass. But in addition to being an amateur philosopher, Villaseñor is one serious watch guy. He rattled off a few reference numbers that I had to Google on the spot, and his taste is extremely personal. Sure, he likes a good Royal Oak or Richard Mille from time to time, but maybe on a leather strap instead of a bracelet or rubber; he loves the charm and history that a beat-up old sport watch brings to the party; he isn’t afraid to go against the grain and customize watches to commemorate special occasions. Villaseñor flat-out loves watches, and you can hear it in his voice. It doesn’t get much better than that.
After that, I chat with Brendon Babenzien, founder of New York menswear brand Noah, for his take on watches and personal style. We cover the basics, including the ways that people can express themselves with watches and why he hates looking at his phone to check the time. But we also dig a little deeper, looking at how watches can actually be used as platforms for making even bigger statements. Noah’s November 2020 collaboration with Timex is a perfect example of this, but it doesn’t stop there. Babenzien is committed to using Noah as a platform for social change, and he thinks watches have a real role to play.
We hope you enjoy episode 128 of HODINKEE Radio. Be sure to check out the show notes, and let us know what you think in the comments below.
(16:48) Rhuigi’s Rhework Rolex Daytona
(27:30) NOAH x TIMEX
(27:30) Not Dead Yet