[VIDEO] Watches & the Stories they Keep: Matter of Time x Astor+Banks

Watches aren’t exactly a practical necessity these days, and while that element certainly still appeals to some of us, there’s generally something deeper at work that’s provided them with the staying power they’ve enjoyed for the past few decades. We like the way they look and feel, as well as appreciate the mechanical artistry at work under the hood. Further still, we attach stories and experiences to these objects that imbue them with personal meaning and significance to us, many of which we do our best to explore and share in these very pages. Recording and preserving these experiences is the motivation behind a new outfit called Matter of Time, who have teamed up with Astor+Banks to create a run of watches meant to do just that. 

Matter of Time is a “purpose-driven club” that works a little differently than you might expect. Members are allowed to purchase watches created for the club given they agree to two stipulations: “The member will share and document special experiences on [the Matter of Time website] that they had with the watch through their life together and 2. Within two years, that watch will be given away.  Not sold, but given away to recognize somebody’s good deed, effort or accomplishment.” Additionally, 50% of the proceeds of every collection go to a charitable cause.


The first effort from Matter of Time is a collaboration with Astor+Banks on the Founder’s Collection. The watch, which is based on the Fortitude, takes inspiration from the Milgauss reference 1019, as well as the Patek Philippe reference 5235, each of which boast a vertically brushed dial. This feature is carried through with this Astor+Banks, with a dark chapter ring sitting underneath at the perimeter. The gunmetal dial gets pill shaped applied hour markers and a deep red seconds hand. The dial hosts a large octagonal plate at 12 o’clock containing the M/T logo, further setting this watch apart (though perhaps unnecessary, all things considered). The steel case measures 38.5mm in diameter and 11.25mm in thickness, and wears exceptionally well. 

Just 50 examples of the Founder’s Collection will be produced, and each gets its own page, or journal, on the Matter of Time website. Owners can access their page and add stories, images, and anything else relevant to their time with the watch. Users can browse all of the experiences in one place, and the provenance of the watch is preserved throughout its life in that single location. This meant to inspire other owners (as well as future owners) and give them a shared sense of experiences, preserving a foundation of meaning into each watch. These journals attached to the watches are viewable only by other members of the Matter of Time community, and represent something personal as they follow the lives and events of owners current and past. 

An argument could be made that many of us in fact already do this on a daily basis through our instagram feeds and social media posts, sharing pictures of the watches we’re wearing at any given time and indulging our egos with glimpses of only the sexiest bits of our otherwise mundane lives. Okay, so maybe not that harsh, but you get the idea. There are plenty of platforms that allow us the ability to share and document our experiences with our watches. What makes this any different? According to Matter of Time co-founder, Marc Grabowski:

Matter of Time has three things that make it very different from standard watch ownership and social sharing. The first is that from the outset, it is a group focused solely on giving. When you buy the watch, you are doing so with the intention of giving it away within two years. You are not accumulating another thing but instead accumulating experiences with the watch and sharing both those experiences and the actual timepiece with others.

The second differentiator is that we are setting up a community that will recommend charitable causes where half of the proceeds will go. More importantly, the members nominate and then vote on the donation destinations. The third key difference is that while we all have experiences with our watches, often they are sold or given away without a clear way to look back on those experiences that the watch has shared with its custodian. With Matter of Time, we expect that the watch will change hands many times over the decades to come and every single person who has worn the watch will be able to see where the watch was and who had those experiences with it. This makes everybody part of a joint fabric created by a single watch.

I met Marc at the Chicago Windup Watch Fair, and something else he said immediately struck a chord with me, and tapped into a theme I’ve been doing my best to express around here for some time in articles such as this one, and that is the idea of a watch being more than social media fodder, or investment vehicle, by way of our experiences with the watch. I believe that this is key to the general health of the hobby for generations to come. Matter of Time is an explicit effort to aid in those experiences. Marc had this to say on the subject:

Watches that have been noteworthy over the past few decades have always been tied to provenance such as the Paul Newman Daytona, a Day Date worn by Arnold Palmer after each of his majors wins or the last emperor’s Patek Reference 96. The thing that makes those watches interesting isn’t just the metal but rather where they have been and what has been experienced while on the wrist of those people.

When asked about the stipulation that the watch must be given away within two years of ownership, and if he’d received any pushback on this detail, Marc says that owners take a more deliberate approach to their time with the watch, saying: 

There hasn’t been pushback, probably because that is so core to the vision. It seems that our members are so attracted to the idea of creating a shared experience with the world that giving the watch away is really part of the journey. From day one, we wanted to focus on accumulating experiences, not things. On building connections, not waiting lists and it seems that our members all feel this selfless motivation as well.

I will say that it really is a specific person who decides they will buy something, increase the value of that item by creating experiences with it and then just give it away. And the only returns are the feeling about doing something nice for that next person and the fact that they can follow the journey of the watch through the years to come. We have heard from many members that the fact their time with the watch is limited, they tend to wear it a lot more to make the most of their time with the watch. This is a really interesting takeaway and something that we don’t take for granted. The reality is that our time with all things and people is limited, no matter if we want to think about it or not, so it is always best to experience life to the fullest so we have no regrets of missing out when that experience comes to a close.

At the moment, Matter of Time is open to anyone who wishes to sign up, allowing all to observe the accumulated experiences of these watches, though that may change should members and owners decide to take a more private approach. Matter of Time is evolving in real time, with the feedback of the growing community of owners and enthusiasts to suit their needs and wishes.

Moving ahead, we can expect additional collaborative watches to be released by Matter of Time, presumably held to the same set of stipulations as this Astor+Banks. While not every collector will be in a position to give away a watch, the idea of creating a shared experience by documenting the journey is a theme that expands beyond Matter of Time. This extends to watches already in our collections, and experiences that lay in the past. The idea of such a platform existing to catalog such things not only for ourselves, but for the community as a whole is an important step in reshaping our relationship with watches, as well building a stronger foundation for the future of the hobby.

You can learn more about the watch and the goals of this project, as well as join yourself, at Matter of Time.

Images from this post:
Related Posts
Blake is a Wisconsin native who’s spent his professional life covering the people, products, and brands that make the watch world a little more interesting. Blake enjoys the practical elements that watches bring to everyday life, from modern Seiko to vintage Rolex. He is an avid writer and photographer with a penchant for cars, non-fiction literature, and home-built mechanical keyboards.