Inside the mind and workshop of Ian Schon, watchmaker, designer, and cycling punk
When you think of a watchmaker, you probably think of some thin old Swiss guy, wearing glasses and perhaps a waistcoat toiling away methodically and carefully in a tiny wooden room in the foot of the alps. Ian Schon isn't far off.
He wears glasses, and he cycles competitively, so he's pretty thin too. But he's 24, works in a room of the Brookline, MA home he shares with his partner, and got into product design through punk music.
This piece I wrote, while short, was one I'd been wanting to do for a long time. I met Ian a year and a half ago, at the American Field Market, where he was selling his handmade metal pens. We got to chatting as he was eager to tell about his work, and he talked about his watches that he had been working on with an infectious passion. He told me he aspired to make all the innards one day too, and be one of just a couple of watchmakers in the USA manufacturing their own mechanisms.
Fast forward a year, and I had to pick a subject for the first of my two capstone class projects — the other you may remember was about Taylor Johnson, who I also met through American Field. I like craftsmanship, dammit — I thought of Ian. I imagined him in his workshop, toiling over large lathes, and machining parts into the wee hours of the morning.
That's pretty much exactly what I found when I went and visited him. There was more computer technology involved than I'd imagined, but it was also 2016, and the man has a degree in engineering from Boston University, after all.
We chatted about how he got into making things, his process, his commitment to local manufacturing, and not about any of the top secret design work he does at his day job. Below is the link to the finished iBook, again published on the iBooks store.
iBooks Store link: https://itun.es/us/_MwUfb.l
Same drill as the last piece: either connect to Wifi and download the whole book — again my story is somewhere in the middle, this time titled "A Little Time with Ian Schon" — or click this link here to see the PDF version which will have none of the interactivity, and will stop you from seeing the embedded gallery, but is better than nothing!
I initially wrote a 700 word piece before I was told to cut it down for this practice book, but perhaps one day I'll polish that up and post it here. I included as many of the pictures I took as I could though, and I was really pleased with how those came out. So dark, moody, and texturally rich.
Huge thanks again to Ian for his time, and letting me come and learn about watchmaking! Check out the rest of his work here, and if you're in the market for a new pen, consider supporting a local designer and manufacturer!