“When I was growing up, my grandfather gave me my first Timex. It was a Timex Mickey Mouse and it was my first tool for learning how to tell time. It was more than just an accessory.” – Ryan Babenzien
Timex sat down with Ryan Babenzien, founder and CEO of the GREATS brand, to talk to about his collaboration with Timex and the Bayman watch.
As founder of GREATS, Ryan has become well-known in streetwear and fashion circles. Taking inspiration from his childhood as well as his formative teenage years, Ryan has found a unique expression that combines urban staples including skate culture, Hip Hop, and sneakers. Now, with the chance to extend his reach into accessories, Ryan welcomed the opportunity to work with Timex.
“I love watches and grew up with a Timex so for me it was a great fit,” Ryan says. “When I consider collaborating with a brand, there has to be an authentic reason and with Timex, it just seemed natural.”
When Ryan set out to design the first GREATS watch collaboration, he leaned heavily on his past for inspiration. Growing up near the Great South Bay in Long Island, he had a strong affinity for the ocean and the people who made their living on the water.
“Since I spent so much of my childhood on the Bay it was only right that I do a diver’s style watch,” he says. “Timex has a long history of making great diver style watches and I wanted to build on that heritage and design something that would be a fitting testament to that lifestyle.”
Though footwear and watches are far apart when it comes to design, Ryan saw a great fit to get involved with timepieces.
“One quote I’m always fond of using is, ‘Women judge a man by his shoes and his watch’,” he says. “I’ve done apparel before, but watches are something new. I didn’t find the creative process all that different. When you have a mutual respect for the brand you are collaborating with, it comes down to working together and Timex was a great partner in terms of bringing a vision to life.”
The vision Ryan had was to pay homage to the great diver watches of the past and create a timepiece that would carefully balance style and function to achieve a product that would essentially capture a cherished moment in time.
“For me, that time when the Bay was full of people who would make their living off the water or use it for recreation is gone,” he says. “My inspiration was derived from those memories, from the times and moments I remember being so entwined with the Bay. Coming up with the concept was a pretty straight shot, the story is not fabricated at all.”
The result of Ryan’s collaboration with Timex is the Bayman, a classic diver style timepiece that combines a navy-blue face and fabric strap with a silver case to create a clean look that can be worn on the water or on land.
“I’m thrilled with the Bayman,” he says. “I’ve given a sneak peek to a few people around the office and everyone I’ve shown it to loves it.”
Knowing that consumers are less dependent on watches for time-telling functionality, Ryan paid close attention to the watch as a style accessory.
“The basic function of a watch hasn’t changed,” he says. “The core function has remained the same since watches were first made. But now a watch is part of your personal style statement, and your style says a lot about you.”