Leading By Example: Doc KickToc


The moment you realize you’re part of something bigger than yourself, the best version of you comes out. Case in point KickToc and his relationship with the #watchfam. When he first hung out with the RedBar Crew a few years ago, he got more than he bargained for... Not only did he get his hands on some heavy hitter vintage specimens, but he also got up close and personal with a group of people that shared his credo on watch collecting - finding “beauty in any piece.” The way the RedBar Crew “welcomed [him] as a guy with a SEVENFRIDAY and a Tag Heuer Aquaracer” made KickToc feel right at home.

Listening to KickToc tell it, whether you brought a Patek to the party or made a name for yourself by taking kickass photos of watches - like he did - the RedBar Crew respected and appreciated your contribution. The synergy between KickToc’s “open minded” approach to watch collecting and the RedBar Crew’s goal of fostering the growth of collector communities, left him feeling a sense of purpose. Buoyed by his interaction with them, his Instagram profile @kicktoc took the form of a highly interactive account that, in my opinion, has been instrumental in furthering people's interest in watches.

Way before KickToc partook in closing ceremonies with the RedBar Crew faithful... Way before #Head2HeadCopycat challenge was a thing and he had 77K+ followers on Instagram, KickToc was a typical 13 year old: He spent his days playing sports and growing up under his parents’ roof. He remembers his dad, who was a track coach, wearing a “stopwatch-ey kinda thing.” His dad’s digital chronograph was a tool of his trade; a watch he depended on to do his job - timing laps. This was KickToc’s earliest memory of a watch, which in all likelihood, influenced his taste in watches.

Leading up to his 13th birthday, KickToc remembers “begging them for [his] first real watch.” For a teenager in the late Eighties, that watch was a ref. 371.513 Tag Heuer Formula 1. This model checked all the boxes for KickToc, or rather one box: a watch that could “do everything.” Its rubber bezel, Timex Indiglo-esque luminous dial, and 200m depth rating qualified as durable enough for tennis, golf, and swimming - KickToc’s favorite sports to play growing up.

If you follow KickToc on Instagram, you may have picked up on what he does for a living... he’s an orthodontist. Part of the reason KickToc - or “Doc KickToc” as he’s known to some of the #watchfam - chose this profession is that he’s always enjoyed working with his hands - going back to his younger days when he would spend hours on end drawing. This may explain his fascination with timepieces: KickToc marvels at their small parts, first sketched out, then assembled by hand.  

A quick scroll through KickToc's Instagram feed also shows he has the utmost appreciation for the aesthetics of watches. He enjoys the splendor of watches so much that he came to terms a long time ago with the fact that he couldn’t be a One Watch Guy. In fact, from the onset, KickToc aspired to wear a different watch “every day of the week.” Knowing this, it shouldn't come as a surprise that he was a fan of those crowd-pleaser, once a week, What Are You Wearing-type threads on watch forums.

Then along came Instagram and the ease of sharing a #wristi - and seeing what else people were wearing - all in the palm of his hand, with the swipe of a screen and the push of a button. KickToc immediately made the shift to Instagram to get his daily dose of wrist shots, but he kept the spirit of the forums alive. That is, he understood the power of interaction to build and sustain a community. From day one, KickToc made it a point to cultivate camaraderie through his Instagram.

About his early days on Instagram: KickToc confessed “I knew nothing” about watches. He went on to build his knowledge base by asking questions; keeping a dialogue going between fellow Instagrammers. In the meantime, he held his own thanks to his eye for detail and his artistic and creative photography, a skill he honed growing up as the guy with the point-and-shoot camera, documenting the summertime festivities of his circle of friends.

In the days before bokeh images and uploading from a DSLR camera forced everyone to step up their photography game, Instagram posts were mostly done using just a camera phone. This all started to change when, according to KickToc, @pbandwatches fired the first shot with a comment along the lines of “I could kick your ass in anything you do…” KickToc has never been one to let a comment go unresponded too. He’s also not one to back down from a challenge, especially when his trademark photography skills are on the line. With a simple “you’re on” retort, #Head2HeadCopycat challenge was conceived.

Initially it was a daily bout between a few to try and one-up each other. Of course, it would grow from a rudimentary idea to have a more structured format, including being part of your regularly scheduled programming on Wednesdays, with hundreds of submissions, based on themes such as “Watches and Windowsills” and “Sexy Case Backs." 

Whether you partake in #Head2HeadCopycat challenge or just observe from the sidelines, you can’t deny that it’s taken on a life of its own. #Head2HeadCopycat is right up there among the most popular watch-related hashtags we use on a daily basis. And although you won’t find a specific type of watch by searching the tag "#Head2HeadCopycat," you will find an art gallery of posts; a photo essay documenting a culture.

In my opinion, this contest is a big reason for the pride people feel in belonging to the #watchfam. Since it began over two and a half years ago, two of the original members of the crew, @pbandwatches and @xbudi_, have relinquished their duties. Today the #Head2HeadCopycat challenge tradition continues under the leadership of KickToc and @uppercrustlife, as well as newcomers @bharmon417 and @lactardjosh. But the thousands who’ve submitted entries also feel a sense of ambassadorship, and deservingly so. The #Head2HeadCopycat challenge wouldn’t have stood the test of time without everyone’s support.

The mastery of the lens KickToc seems to exhibit so effortlessly might lead you to believe that he received formal training in the art and science of photography. The truth is, he admitted to having “no photo skills” when he launched @kicktoc. But as a self-described “lifelong learner” and a guy with a competitive streak in him - from his days as a teenager playing sports - he taught himself how to compose a shot through a viewfinder and capture the soul of watch.

One thing that did come natural to KickToc is the all-inclusive nature of his profile, which is an extension of his personality. The #Head2HeadCopycat challenge welcomes all levels of competitors and is an example of the collaborative spirit KickToc stands for, which has had a profound impact promoting the growth of watches as a hobby, as well as connecting people. For KickToc, one of the greatest byproducts of his efforts are the friendships he's made, which he hopes grow old like the vintage watches in his collection.

Whether you’re relatively new to the #watchfam or an elder statesman, you’d be hard-pressed to disagree that the watches bring us together, but it’s the people that make it fun and keep us coming back. I think I speak for all of us when I say KickToc makes this hobby fun and keeps us coming back...

You probably already follow @kicktoc, but have you competed in a #Head2HeadCopycat challenge? If not, be sure to join him and his crew every Wednesday!

All photos courtesy of the incomparable Doc KickToc