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Vannen Watches

by CH Contributor in Style on 06 August 2009

by Jeremy Brautman

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Vannen Watches, based loosely around the Swedish word vännen (meaning "friends") brings some of today's best lowbrow art to wrists. Longtime watch fan and founder David Stowe wanted to fill the void in a medium that doesn’t always pair fashion with function, while incorporating his idea that working with friends helps people discover artists thus creating new friends.

Stowe also hopes that Vannen Watches will transform the insular nature of collectors. “If someone buys an art toy, book or print, it sits on their shelf collecting dust only to be seen by people who come to their houses. With our watches, you can show the entire world your taste in art and fashion.”

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The premiere Vannen collection launching this month features four watches by artists Buff Monster, Damon Soule, Brian Morris and Chris Ryniak. Each design will be available in an edition of 500, with coordinating packaging (above) and a signature watchband loop.

CH recently had the chance to speak with the artists behind the collection to find out a little more about their individual Vannen Watch designs. Read the interview and see some of their original artwork after the jump.

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Artwork respectively by Chris Ryniak, Buff Monster, Brian Morris and Damon Soule

Tell us a little about your watch design and the art of designing a watch.
Buff Monster: It's a fun and happy design. I keep exploring all these other crazy themes in my paintings, but this is a core Buff Monster design. A watch is a really functional item, so you have to take that into account when you're designing it. And the packaging is really simple, but I really like the cardboard bubble pack that Vannen watches come in.

Damon Soule: I pretty much just went through existing work looking for something I thought would be an interesting design on this medium. I came up with three or four designs and settled on this one.

Brian Morris: Themes of life and death play a big role in the works that I create. This watch was an excellent opportunity to share my belief that "time waits for no man." I hope that each time the wearer checks the time they are reminded to make the most of every moment. Time will pass you by if you let it, but the end will not. [Watch design] has its challenges: The shape, materials and functionality were all things I'd not worked with before. The art was created in the same way I produce all of my drawings; it was the application that was real fun part.

Chris Ryniak: The design is basically a carefully cropped version of my painting "The Order of Things." It was the first painting that I did that reflected my current visual direction, plus it was centered and had a face...like a watch. I had never given any thought to putting my art on anything that wasn't a large solid area (like a skateboard). I knew I wanted to use as much of one painting as possible, so I went through a lot of my paintings, trying to find the right one, and at the time, this one made the most sense to me to use on the watch.

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Do you wear a watch?
Buff: No, but now that I designed one, maybe I will.

Damon: I haven't worn a watch for years, mainly because I got used to checking the time on my phone. However, I have been wearing the prototype of my watch and I like not having to dig into my pocket to check the time.

Brian: Only when I need to be on someone else's schedule.

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Chris: I do. It's a big, square, old-school, digital display Diesel watch that I've put through hell and two watch bands. I'm going to have to start wearing two once the Vannen watch is out!

What was your fondest and/or weirdest watch of yesteryear?
Buff: Ooh, when I worked as the Creative Director of BPM magazine, I acquired some really amazing bootleg blinged-out watches. They are so over the top. I wore 'em a few times just to see if anyone would take them seriously. I can't remember how they were received.

Damon: My favorite watch was the original jellyfish Swatch when I was in fifth grade. I thought it was so cool that you could see the inside components. I remember wearing multiple swatches and trading watches with my first girlfriend. I never got my jellyfish back when I changed schools and was stuck with the smaller girl's size watch.

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Brian: Many, many years ago, I had a watch that took pictures—very, very low-resolution black and white pictures. It was a Casio, I believe. I really dug that thing.

Chris: I had a clear Swatch that you could see all of the gears and mechanisms. I think my favorite watch from back in the day was the one that you could transform into a little robot. You were the shit if you had one of those...and a Member's Only jacket.

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