Please introduce yourself
My name is Ian and I’m from Toronto, Canada! I like to say I work as a sub-par manservant to my wife and a pretty good #WISdad to my kids. My Instagram was not initially a watch-themed account. I started off mostly posting random things I found interesting (shapes, shadows, architecture) but I noticed that I got the most interaction with the few watch photos I posted. Tried a few more to see if I was right, and it took off from there! Started clicking on watch related hashtags and found some of the #watchfam greats like @kicktoc and @pbandwatches who inspired me to focus on watches.
Is there a story behind your Instagram name ian_cognito?
Have you heard the saying “To be old & wise, you need to be young & stupid”? Well now I’m old and wise! I was an early-adopter of most social media platforms and have watched it become its own juggernaut. I work in a corporate setting and have family in law enforcement, so I understand the repercussions of misguided social posts. I use other platforms for mostly family-friendly viewing and heavily censor my thoughts there. On Instagram, I wanted to be uncensored and free to post whatever I want (ahem #wifedontreadthis), so what better username than a play on the word “incognito”?
When and how did your passion for watches start?
The bug hit me late but like most 80s kids, I remember my first Swatch and was mesmerized by all the colour-combos and funky designs. Also like most, my first mechanical watch was a Seiko and the love blossomed from there.
Which watches are in your current collection?
I’m really drawn to dive watches and chronographs. A big part of that is the rich history and tool aspect of them. Few use them for their actual intended purpose these days, but it’s easy to dream. Imagine being a diver discovering a shipwreck well into your dive and checking your timing bezel only to frustratingly realize you only have a few more minutes before ascent. Or being a World War II pilot lost somewhere over Europe, frantically turning the sliderule bezel on your chrono to figure out how much distance you can cover with what’s left in the tank to get to friendly airspace. My Seiko SKX009 is my go-to vacation watch since it pairs well with many straps. I’ve taken to a couple of microbrand divers as well for their uniqueness. The Helson Sharkdiver with its bold hands and markers. The Zelos Helmsman for the bronze supercompressor style case. Modern and vintage chronographs pique my interest the most. I enjoy photographing my vintage Omega Speedmaster Mark II with its lovely racing dial. On the modern side, the Hamilton Pan Europ is a faithful reissue of the original and has amazing wrist presence. Another photogenic piece is my vintage Citizen Bullhead Challenge Timer with its octagonal shape, panda dial, and evil pushers. One of my favourites (it’s hard to pick just one!) would have to be my Frederique Constant Manufacture Worldtimer. I bought it to mark a milestone and every time I wear it, I get lost in the depth of the dial details.
What are the most important factors when you buy a watch?
I’m not buying to fund my kids’ future college tuition, so it’s all about what I find interesting at that time. I have this dream that I will end up with around 5 watches that best fit my taste in a few categories: dress, diver, chrono, vintage, and quartz.
What are your grail watches and what’s so desirable about them?
This is such a loaded question as I’m sure most WIS will have a long list. As mentioned above, I’d love to have what I consider as the best in each category. I’d love a perpetual calendar as my dress watch, something like the Moser & Cie Endeavour or Lange Datograph. The diver is an obvious choice here: Rolex No Date Ceramic Submariner. A vintage 2998 Omega Speedmaster, or the new CK2998 version as my chronograph. And probably something from Grand Seiko as my quartz. Now I just need to win the lottery!
In your eyes, what makes the perfect watch picture and do you have some tricks?
I love seeing watches “in the wild” so a beautifully captured, magazine quality close up of a piece is nice, but doesn’t excite me. Watches are meant to be worn, so seeing a pilot watch on an actual pilot, wearing a horse head costume (for Halloween) in cockpit is what I think a social media watch account should be (you know who you are). My favourite accounts do just that: like the famed Patek Nautilus of @spanishrob in all kinds of crazy situations from SeaDoos, to foam parties, to poolside with Busta Rhymes. Or @wristi with his every expanding bevy of, ummm, beverages. I don’t have a high-end collection, so I try to capture my watches in amusing situations or at the very least with funny captions. I only use my Samsung Galaxy phone to capture photos, so my best trick is to use the voice command to trigger the shutter. I find that even the slightest touch of the on-screen button blurs the image so this feature is the perfect trick. Sidenote, my 3yo son has taken to going around yelling “SHOOT” or “CHEESE” if he sees me trying to take a photo!
Thanks for the opportunity to share, #TeamWristporn!