Jack Mason is the type of watch company that everyone should know about. From the moment you walk into their headquarters located in Deep Ellum, one of Dallas’ most eclectic neighborhoods, there is a distinct sense of tradition seeped in southern hospitality. Whether it’s the original Texas flags proudly hanging around the showroom or the dogs that you encounter freely roaming about the office, the Jack Mason brand is a true reflection of its surroundings.
Founding the company in 2013, good friends Michael Reese and Craig Carter set out in a vintage Airstream, on a month-long journey across the country to introduce their first collection of Jack Mason watches. With over 25 years of combined experience in the retail and wholesale industry, the two quickly realized that there was a need in the marketplace to fill the gap between heirloom timepieces and trend driven watches. While preserving traditions was just as important as embracing innovative designs, Jack Mason struck the perfect cord in preserving American history while inspiring individuality, and today has become one of the most popular brands on the market.
With the motto of Time flies when you’re designing beautiful watches, it’s no wonder that this year Jack Mason celebrates its fifth year in business, and from the looks of things they will be around for many, many more.
Upscale Living Magazine Interviews Michael Reese and Craig Carter, founders of Jack Mason
Q+A with Michael Reese
How did you get your start in the watchmaking industry?
I was recruited by a Dallas based watch company while living in Atlanta, GA. I’d always been a fan of watches and jumped at the opportunity to move to Dallas. That was sixteen years ago and I always love learning more about watches every day.
What is Jack Mason’s approach to watchmaking?
Focus on quality, details, and craftsmanship. Our designers are very thoughtful in their approach to watch design. They worry as much about the back of the watch as they do about the front of the watch. We like to say our watches have “Easter eggs,” one of those being the Lone Star of Texas that is located on the crown of every Jack Mason watch.
What is it that defines your watches?
Our watches are defined by five pillars: Aviation, Nautical, Field, Racing, and Diving. These pillars represent the history of watch-making and influence our designs. We take elements from luxury watch-making and translate that into our collections at a much more affordable price point.
How does one go about picking a suitable watch?
I would first look at the person’s lifestyle. Are they using this watch for day and night? Sport and leisure? Also, the size of the case and type of strap come into play. The watch should be effortless and complimentary to the person’s style and personality.
Dream Collaboration or Partnership?
I would love to work with J.Crew on a collaboration/partnership. I’ve been a loyal supporter of the brand over the years and have a lot of respect for what they do. With being such a large company J.Crew still finds ways to make themselves feel small or boutique. A great example of that is their Liquor Store shop in Tribeca. If you haven’t been, you should check it out.
How many watches do you own?
I have six to eight Jack Mason watches at any given time. I’ve been wearing the JM Automatic Diver Watch for some time now. It’s a favorite of mine. The fun part is giving them away to people I meet on my travels.
Best selling design?
Our best-selling automatic watch is the Diver JM-D103. It’s a classic diving watch with a beautiful ceramic bezel.
What are your guiding principles when making design choices?
We lean more towards classic watch design with Jack Mason. You’ll see that in our cases, straps, and dial colors. We focus on the details and always take every opportunity to elevate our watches from a design and quality perspective.
Watch making is seeped in tradition what are some ways to remain classic yet innovative?
I think this is where Jack Mason is filling the void in the marketplace. We focus on making classic timepieces that focus on materials and craftsmanship. The seep in the market has been due to quality and experience. Brands have relied more on their name and less on quality. We put quality and materials first. There’s a reason why people say, “they don’t make them like they used to.” We’re trying to change that mindset.
In the next 5 years where do you see Jack Mason?
Jack Mason will continue to grow and gain awareness in the marketplace building strong partnerships with key retailers. International expansion will be important to the company and continue awareness across the globe.
Best selling watch?
Our best-selling design is the Nautical Chronograph with a white dial tan strap combination. It’s a clean, classic design that both men and women love to wear.
Q+A with Craig Carter
How did you get your start in the watchmaking industry?
I was recruited by Fossil back in 2003 and moved to Dallas to their headquarters in 2004.
What characteristics are identifiably Jack Mason?
The signature marks that we like to call “Easter Eggs” are a part of every timepiece we create. From the red, white, and blue tipping on the second-hand to the custom Lone Star crown. We’re proud to say we’re from Texas so it’s a way for us to pay homage to where it all began. Quality is another big identifier of our brand. When most brands try to suck out all the quality to gain more internal margin dollars we put those dollars to work and continue trying to make things better.
Who is the Jack Mason client?
A Jack Mason customer is someone who knows quality when they see it. It’s someone who has an eye for detail and sees the value in the product we make. It’s the kid out of school buying his first timepiece headed into the workforce and it’s the person who has multiple watches including luxury pieces but has an appreciation for the DNA and esthetic that we offer.
How many watches do you own? All Jack Mason of course! I typically rotate in and out about 10 different pieces that I have. It’s the designers fault because every season they out due the previous collection and there are always new must have pieces.
You don’t have a traditional office space. How do you feel this fits into the vision and DNA of your brand? An open concept is much more inviting. Not only to new employees but a number of guests that come to the office. We never wanted to have a company where traditional cubicles were used so each department feels isolated. We want the different departments within our organization to communicate and communicate often. We’re going for more of a family and team environment. Our employees are allowed to bring their dogs any day of the week. It keeps it light and reminds us to not always take ourselves too seriously. The job has to get done, but let’s enjoy the journey.
You take great pride in being a Texas brand; why is this important and how do you incorporate it into your designs?
We’re proud to be both a US company as well as a Texas company. As I mentioned before we have the signature details on our watch that help tell this story. There are big things happening in Texas. You don’t always have to be from a coastal area to have a great brand.
How do you think crowdfunding has impacted the industry as a whole? Tell us about your most recent campaign?
I think it gives people an opportunity to put themselves out there without taking on the risk and liability. If this wasn’t available, you would probably see and hear about more brands failing. They’re able to get a read on the market and validate there is a need before they put their life savings on the line.
Our most Recent is the Regatta Timer Watch. It was actually designed by one of our interns, Foxx Ohmer who is now one of our full-time watch designers. He’s a great talent and we couldn’t be happier to have him on board. I like to say we do our due diligence and make sure we are adding all the bells and whistles (functionality) that these time pieces need to have. There are plenty of people on the funding sites that will let you have it if you try to fake your way. The crowdfunding angle is also a great way to hit a different customer and demographic. When you’re a small company you have to be creative on the projects you do.
What do you think is the biggest achievement to date for Jack Mason?
Creating a timepiece in an overly saturated market that was picked up by both Nordstrom’s men’s and jewelry department. We are one of two brands in this category that was able to accomplish that.
Tell us about the Jack Mason Airstream?
It’s something that tells the story and explains the DNA that runs through our design and culture here at Jack Mason. It was more of a grass-roots marketing approach to be out on the road to help validate there was a need in the market. It’s developed to be an iconic piece to the brand.
Where can we find Jack Mason watches?
Our distribution expands from departments stores including Nordstrom’s, Bloomingdale’s, SAK’s, Dillard’s, etc. to specialty stores like Stag, St Bernard Sports, Martin Patrick 3, and other top specialty stores around the country. We also took our brand across the ocean to Japan where you can find us at top retail stores such as Beams and Ships.
Jack Mason is not a trendy brand. What do you think by avoiding market trends?
We will always stay true to who we are. Our DNA is very clean, classic, and timeless. We will always pay attention to what’s trending, but the DNA will always live throughout our esthetic.