Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Here at Watch Patina we're all about shining the spotlight on people and their relationship with watches. 99% of the time we tell the story about a special timepiece in a person's life or collection. But every so often we meet someone with a connection to wristwatches that goes a lot deeper than just wearing them.
Which brings us to the subject of our latest feature - Mr. Shane Griffin. If you don't already know, Shane is the co-founder of Wound For Life - a well-respected, no-nonsense blog written by watch nerds for watch nerds.
You don't just wake up one day and start blogging about watches. To embark on a mission of this sort, which requires persevering through writer's block and mustering the courage to opine on the watch industry - the subject matter has to be dear to you.
It probably comes as no surprise that as we traced the backstory of Wound For Life, we found a watch at its origin. Shane described to me a "military themed" Luminox he was given by his parents when he graduated high school. Their gift made perfect sense because Shane would soon be joining the Air Force ROTC program in college. But his mom and dad also choose a watch for him because they couldn't remember a time when their son wasn't wearing a watch while growing up. Before the Luminox, Shane was wearing Timexes, Swatches - even a Kenneth Cole - so you can understand why he "considered it to be a big deal at that time." He would go on to wear this Humvee of a watch proudly. In fact, Shane revealed, "I stuck with that watch for a long time, I think I wore it for like 10 years almost" - a feat unheard of in today's day and age of jam-packed watch rolls. We'd like to think his ownership of this Luminox helped shape W4L's "Timepieces Made To Last" slogan years later.
The next piece of the W4L puzzle came together when Shane was stationed in Germany and met Neil Wood. The two became best friends - bonding over their shared experience living overseas and being in the military. The other thing they had in common was an interest in watches, which never let up. When Shane landed a full-time job and found himself with disposable income, he started buying the watches he'd been reading about on websites and forums - and discussed with Neil. The first one he targeted happened to be his first mechanical watch - a Christopher Ward model. Next he parachuted into the "luxury watch world" with the purchase of a 90s Seamaster Professional with the "blue wave dial" worn by Pierce Brosnan during his stint as 007. More recently, vintage watches have come knocking. His current lineup includes an Omega Soccer Timer, a matte dial Sub, and a vintage Speedy.
But vintage watches were only the tip of the iceberg when it came to what the watch world had in store for Shane. You see in 2013 Shane had a rather fortuitous encounter... Through his wife, he was introduced to Eric Yang, who ran - and still runs - Gear Patrol. Besides watch-centric blogs like Hodinkee and Fratello Watches, Shane was an avid reader of Gear Patrol, which covered a variety of men's interests - watches being one of them. After several conversations, Shane said Eric "kinda picked up on how into watches I was." Eric put him in touch with Jason Heaton, who at the time was in charge of Gear Patrol's watch section. "Jason had me take a crack at an article." In no time flat, Shane went from wearing watches to writing about them.
Prior to writing for Gear Patrol, the only writing Shane had done was back in high school; the only feedback he'd ever received were red marks on his papers from English teachers. Shane was receptive to Jason's edits and listened to his constructive criticism. And just like a musician's first album is usually hailed as their best work, Shane's first write-ups for Gear Patrol were a hit. Before long, he was writing an article a week - "for a good 6 months" - under the mentorship of Jason Heaton. Shane said working alongside Jason made him want to write about watches "more and more and more... one article a week almost wasn't enough."
One day Shane brought up to Neil, "dude we should just start our own blog... let's write about tool watches because no one focuses only on tool watches." And with that, they co-founded Wound For Life. Shane picked up right where he left off at Gear Patrol. But before the first week of posting was in the books, Shane had what you might consider another fortuitous encounter...
Shane received an email from a 16-year-old watch prodigy by the name of Isaac Wingold - @isaacwin on Instagram. Isaac was looking to contribute. About that meeting over the Interweb, Shane said "somehow [Isaac] found us on Instagram when we only had like 15 followers." We'd like to think a part of Shane remembered the opportunity Eric Yang gave him and he paid forward his good fortune by giving Isaac his first byline. Isaac has been part of the W4L family practically since day one. Shane feels "lucky to keep Isaac writing, because he's gone on to write [very successfully] for other publications."
Recently the threesome welcomed a new addition to stir up the pot at Wound For Life. He goes by @ghotihead2001 on Instagram - Dean Kolnick in real life. Shane affectionately calls Dean the "curmudgeon of the group; the grumpy guy who likes to rant and get stuff of his chest." This translates into a writing style full of lively remarks and brutally honest commentary - the kind of "straight to the point, raw writing" in tune with Shane's approach to writing.
Wound For Life is clearly a passion project for all involved. The 4-man team works pro bono "for the love of the game" as BBallers would say. And despite all of them having responsibilities outside of their writing duties, including families, 9-5 gigs and in Isaac's case, college, no one seems to miss Shane's deadlines. The secret ingredient to W4L's success, which includes Shane keeping everyone on board, is making sure the workload is "just enough writing that it's fun... it's all about a mutual level of fun and respect and wanting to talk about watches" says Shane. And the office culture is pretty chill too as W4L embraces working remotely - Neil lives in Stuttgart, Isaac is based in Toronto and Dean calls the "Big Apple" home.
Look closely at the date of Shane's first post on Wound For Life and you'll notice the website recently celebrated its two-year anniversary. As fellow bloggers we know firsthand what it takes to pull something like this off. We want to congratulate Shane and his team. And we're popping the cork on Vueve Clicquot not only because W4L has managed to stay in business, because they've also stayed true to their roots. With the pressure to monetize blogs being what it is, it can be tempting to chase a payday. According to Shane, Wound For Life doesn't take any revenue, which puts them in an advantageous position to "write about whatever we want... and we really like tool watches."
* All watch photography providing by Shawn