Welcome back to an original aBlogtoWatch feature, “My First Grail Watch.” In this series, we ask prominent people in the watch industry about the first timepiece that they lusted after. Today, we are speaking with the Chief Creative Officer of the Fossil Group, Brandon Little. Read on to learn where his career started, and what vintage pocket watch got him on the path of watch creativity.aBlogtoWatch (ABTW): Who are you, and what is your relationship to the watch industry?
Brandon Little: My name is Brandon Little. I am the SVP, Chief Creative Officer for Fossil Group’s Portfolio Brands. As Chief Creative Officer, I lead our internal studio of international designers for Fossil Group’s watches and jewelry along with providing creative direction for Zodiac, which we own.
ABTW: When did your fascination with watches start?
Brandon Little: My fascination with watches started after college; however, my attention to accessories has been something of a passion from when I was very young. I recall very clear memories of sitting in church and watching everyone proceed down the aisle for Sunday communion. I could read into a person by noticing their watch, glasses, shoes, and jewelry. I loved spending endless hours rummaging through and talking to all the vintage watch, jewelry, and accessories dealers in Southern Louisiana. I liked to imagine the people and special occasions that all these old details came to life upon. They are special things — little things that take effort to buy and wear.
ABTW: Those are some astute observations for a young person. And I agree, watches are very much an accessory that can reflect you. How did that all lead to discovering your first grail watch?
Brandon Little: I discovered my first “Grail” while living and working in New York. I moved to the city to focus on a career in fashion design, but quickly found myself diving back into the details that make up the person versus the clothing. I developed a Sunday walking route around the city, stopping regularly at vintage mainstays and a very popular open-air flea market near 7th Avenue and 25th street. That’s when I discovered it — a large vintage SouthBend 40mm pocket watch movement. It had no hands, a cracked enamel dial and no crystal or casing. It was perfect for what I was unknowingly searching for. Inspiration. It was like an abandoned soul with nothing to offer other than its heartbeat.
ABTW: Well, now there is a brand you do not hear about any more. How did the relationship with this mechanical heartbeat develop?
Brandon Little: The fascination very quickly became an obsession. I would wind it up and listen to the escapement ticking away while watching the regulator and large ruby jewels make their music. My obsession was with the magic of it all. I was already into the idea of watches as a tool and a statement on individuality, but this really drove home more than design. It captured a much deeper reaction. It was a manual machine that was tracking time. It would draw me in, and the sound would level me out.
ABTW: Well, obviously that particular watch – or watch movement, as the case may be – made a powerful impact on you. Do you still have it today?
Brandon Little: Unfortunately, no. But I would pick another one up in an instant.
ABTW: Obtaining that first grail is an important milestone, to be sure. What other grails have you moved on to these days, if any?
Brandon Little: From that point forward, I began transitioning my career and have never stopped since. It has since been returned to the sea of lost souls, but has never lost its place in my timeline. New “Grails” and unique one-of-a-kind expressions have come and gone — but this one is the one that changed it all.