Interview with Scott Wilk of Wilk Watch Works

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Scott Wilk is quietly producing some of the most original watches of the small-batch manufacturer world. Wilk is an artist who wields a soldering torch with precision and has the know how to work with clients to create highly personalized wrist-wear. He studied fine art in college and worked at a jewelry store, where he learned the art of watchmaking from the store’s watchmaker.

Trained in metalsmithing and gemology, Wilk of Ontario, Canada, designs watches that look decidedly handcrafted with three-dimensional features that often juxtapose the coldness of industrial machinery with the warmth of softer textures.

wilk_lydian

His Lydian 1 dial, for example, is a handcrafted sterling silver dial, which has been oxidized. The markers are black resin enamel. The effect is striking with pronounced brush surfaces playing against matte markers. Skeletonized dials are also a pronounced motif, and Wilk has a current project with a tourbillon movement being shown off through the dial. Ready-to-wear models start at around $375 with custom jobs priced to spec.

On the other end of the spectrum Wilk has models inspired by his collaboration with a friend who writes haikus about movies (that’s right) as well as the pen company Highland Writing Instruments.

w&w caught up with him in between hustling in the workshop and taking care of his young kinds.

wilk-demarcated-skeleton

worn&wound: What inspires your creativity?

Scott Wilk: Sometimes it’s just the way a shape catches my eye, like the contour of tree juxtaposed against the contour of a building. Sometimes it’s the watch movements themselves, like in the Lydian Skeletonized. The cutouts in the dial are directly related to the positions of some of the wheels in the movement.

w&w: What are some of your favorite watches and why?

SW: This is a really tough question. I really enjoy so many watches, it’s hard to narrow it down. I do really like Nomos for their clean aesthetic, in-house movements, and reasonable pricing. I also was really drawn to the Ulysee Nardin Freak Blue Phantom because of the color and of course, the amazing movement. Lastly, Van Cleef and Arpels make some absolutely stunning watches that I find quite captivating. They are just so different than what you generally see. Of course the Midnight Planetarium blew me away, but my favorite has to be Poetic Wish midnight model. True watchmaking artistry there, but not something I’d ever wear.

wilk-pvd-tourbillon

w&w: You offer many levels of customization, tell us about one of the more elaborate custom jobs you’ve done.

SW: There was one watch I made that stands out as quite a complex job. I made almost everything for the watch from scratch, besides the movement. It was a custom bronze case with sapphire crystal and the dial was almost entirely lume. I think it had 15 different colors of lume on it that I had to special order from Super Luminova. Unfortunately I can’t show you pictures of the watch, or describe it in any more detail than that, at the customer’s request. Some of my customers prefer their unique watches to be just for them, and so I respect that request.

w&w: You also offer full watchmaker services. Is it hard to be fixing watches and building them? One only has so much time in the day.

SW: I definitely find it challenging to juggle everything and make sure I’m being as productive as I possibly can be.

wilk-caseback

w&w: What do you enjoy about making your own line watches? What part of the process brings you the most joy?

SW: The thing I enjoy the most about making my own line of watches is that I get to be creative in my job. Working for myself is also something I’ve wanted for a very long time. I enjoy most of the processes of making a watch, but I think the beginning and the end are the most enjoyable for me. The initial design work is quite fun and I get to play around a lot and then finally seeing it as a fully realized piece at the end is very satisfying.

w&w: What in your mind represents bad design (in general)?

SW: It’s really hard to generalize about good or bad design. When you feel it’s bad, it probably is, when it’s good, you just know it. Design is one of those things, like art, where there is a huge grey area that really just amounts to each person’s opinion. I try and keep my opinions close to my chest when it comes to other’s work, though I am quite critical of my own.

wilk_circumscribed

w&w: When you were paying your dues working in the jewelry store, what lessons stuck with you?

SW: Work hard, be organized, and above all, give the best customer service possible.

w&w: What do you do outside of work?

SW: My family keeps me very busy outside of my time in my workshop, I have two small children aged 3 and 1, so they are a handful. Other than that, I do enjoy playing video games now and then, and also getting together with the gentlemen of the Red Bar Toronto [#redbartoronto].

w&w: What are your favorite designs that you’ve created?

SW: I do really like the Maki and made one for myself. It’s tough though picking my favorite because I really do like them all. if I don’t like a design, it doesn’t make it past the drawing board generally.

wilk-Rydian

w&w: What is the vision of your company’s future?

SW: My very long-term goal is to produce at least one in-house movement. It’s a lofty goal that’s a long way down the road. In the more immediate future, I want to start making my own handmade straps to allow for yet another level of customization. I’d also like to start doing some of the skeletonizations of the movements by hand and do more decoration on them as well. I don’t see my company becoming a huge corporation, but I would like to expand a little to be able to offer more to my customers, like more customization options.

For more information, visit wilkwatchworks.com.

Images from this post:
Li's first watch was a $105 Seiko 5 dress watch. That purchase started his obsession, though he has since moved a bit more upmarket. Today, Li is a fanatic for Seiko divers, both vintage and new, with a special appreciation for the Seiko Marinemaster 300m.
  • Shum Attygalle

    This is amazing. I’m close friends with Scott and he is just an AMAZING person. Such outstanding customer service and such BEAUTIFUL work. It’s not mentioned in this article but i think something that should be talked about are his Niobium dials … they are just mesmerizing.

  • Guy

    These look terrible. Crappy, cheap and rather generic looking skeletonized watches.

    • The great thing about watches is that there is something for everyone and clearly these aren’t for you. That said, I don’t think we’re looking at the same watches.

      • Shum Attygalle

        Hahaha love this. So true.

    • Gareth Payne

      Unless you’ve seen one in persona and examined it, you’re opinion is somewhat invalid.
      And as lactardjosh says, they’re mostly custom watches and made to Scott’s taste – you either like it or you don’t. No need to insult them.

    • dapperscientist

      Whatever floats your boat; however, generic – I think not.

  • Phil Rodenbeck

    I’m not a big fan of the skeletonized models, but I am totally on-board with most of the full dial pieces. Aesthetically, these seem most comparable to Ochs und Junior…almost like, Ochs und Junior, junior. Yep, adding a Lydian to my wishlist.

  • I found Scott on Etsy over a year ago. I nearly picked up a watch from him then. It’s great to see him getting the attention he deserves! His watches are a collector’s watch, in my opinion. Something special to have in the collection because you love the detalis and craftsmanship.

    The skeletons are not my favorite, but the full dials are really great. I love the materials Scott works with.

  • Gareth Payne

    I received my customized watch from Scott in July, and it is nothing short of amazing. Swiss, hand-wound mechanical, with some custom cutouts to see the inner workings, my initials engraved on one of the gears, and a brown shark-leather strap. Fantastic!

    I would highly recommend Scott as his work is superb and he is extremely personable. You can sit down and create/customize every aspect of the watch as if you were sitting down for a coffee/beer with a longtime friend.

    In the future, I hope he adds either a chronograph or diver watch – I will definitely deal with Scott again!

    • Shum Attygalle

      The day Scott adds chronographs to the mix, I will just hand him my wallet and say … take what you want.

  • hugo888

    Look cheap and poorly designed..

    • Shum Attygalle

      Ever seen one in person? If not, then there’s really no need to insult them.

    • dapperscientist

      I’ve handled and seen a few of these pieces in person and they are far from cheap and poorly designed. Truly works of art.

  • ChrisGeared

    I like the look of that Rydian(?) watch!

  • Romi Rockstar

    Beautiful

  • Mike

    he has a booth at the Queen West Art Crawl in Toronto this Weekend…going to see, feel and touch his work

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