Hi there! I'm Michael, a passionate watch enthusiast and one of the Fred Heads who now has the privilege of being part of the Bernhardt Watch Company. Today, I'd like to take you on a journey that began with my love for watches and led me to an extraordinary connection with this special microbrand.
From a young age, I've always been captivated by watches. When I was seven years old, my dad took my sisters and me to see Clockstoppers in theaters. The focal point of the film is a digital watch that allows the wearer to stop and speed up time around them; I was hooked. Over the months that followed, I annoyed my parents, constantly asking to borrow their watches so I could recreate the film’s frozen scenes in our living room. Christmas was really great that year. We opened our gifts, and the very last one was all I had asked for- a watch. And unlike my parents' oversized watches that had to be held onto my wrist, this one fit me perfectly—it was truly mine. I still remember the joy and excitement of unwrapping that watch to this day, more than 20 years later. The photograph that immortalizes that moment doesn’t quite capture the excitement, rather the confusion of being told that as a lefty, I should wear my watch on my right wrist. This recommendation was rejected a few moments later, and I still swim against the current, preferring to wear my watch on my dominant hand.
As the years passed, my fascination and obsession with watches only grew. I researched, learning about horology and the history of watchmaking; I collected, and learned about different movements, materials, and brand heritage. I fell down the rabbit hole, and haven’t come up for air since.
As my collection evolved and major life events began to take shape, I wanted a timepiece that represented my new home in the Carolinas. My search for a North Carolina-based watch brand led me to Bernhardt Watch Company. From the first moment I visited their website, I knew I had stumbled upon something special. As I read about the brand's history and explored their various models, I became increasingly intrigued. Curiosity got the better of me, and I reached out to Bernhardt for guidance in selecting the perfect timepiece. The next day, I received a response from Fred Amos himself, the founder and owner of the company. It was such a surprise to hear from Fred, as I’d never spoken with the owner of any of the other watch brands in my collection. It was a testament to the intimate nature of the microbrand watch industry and the genuine passion that drove the company.
Fred and I arranged to meet at the Bernhardt office in High Point, and I couldn't contain my excitement. I convinced a colleague to join me on this adventure, and together, we set off on a trip that would change everything.
Our time with Fred was nothing short of incredible. What was supposed to be a simple watch purchase turned into an unforgettable experience. Fred's passion for watchmaking and the stories behind each timepiece were infectious. With every watch he showed us, we delved deeper into the history of Bernhardt and the incredible journey Fred had embarked on to create his company.
My first "wrist-shot" proudly featuring my new Binnacle GMT II.
Fred and I continued to stay in touch, meeting for lunch when he passed through Charlotte to deliver watches to various sheriff's departments on the east coast. Solidified by our love for BBQ and appreciation for all things watches, Fred and I became friends. It wasn’t long before I joined the Bernhardt team as their photographer. The opportunity to contribute my skills and passion to this unique company was a dream come true. I learned a lot from Fred in those years, and always appreciated his guidance. With the help of Bernhardt’s resident watchmaker, Fred even helped restore my great grandfather’s Royce watch from the 1950’s. That experience was deeply meaningful, and it was a privilege to share it with Hodinkee as part of their “My Watch Story” collection during the pandemic.
Unexpectedly, tragedy struck in January 2022 when we lost Fred. His passing left a void in the watch community, and I was heartbroken. To honor Fred's legacy, I made a promise to Jamie, Fred's wife, to support the company however I could. Today, I'm proud to be part of the Bernhardt team, working closely with the Amos family to carry on Fred's vision, passion, and love for watches.
We’ve got some exciting things in the pipeline, and I can’t wait to share more with you in the coming months. I can’t say much now, but I can say that we’ve been working on some new releases for the fall and the spring that we think you’re going to love!
Thank you for allowing me to share my story about the Bernhardt Watch Company, and for your continued support!
All the best,