Pocket Guide: Hodinkee's Benjamin Clymer

Benjamin Clymer might be the founder of the horology website Hodinkee, but his style game doesn't end with a watch - or even 50 of them.
Pocket Guide: Hodinkee's Benjamin Clymer
Despite what some connoisseurs might tell you, there are no rules to wearing a watch, according to Benjamin Clymer. As the founder of New York-based horology website Hodinkee, and a one-time owner of more than 50 timepieces, you’d be wise to take his word for it. “Would I wear a Rolex Sea-Dweller with a fine suit? No, but I’ve seen people do it and look amazing in it,” he says. “Anything goes with watches as long as that person enjoys what they own.” It’s this kind of wise and inclusive sentiment that’s made Benjamin an authority in the niche world of watches, invoked by The New York Times and Forbes as a quotable expert and by celebrities as a personal consultant. But his keen eye for design goes beyond the wrist: his wardrobe consists of pieces from Loro Piana, Orazio Luciano and Ralph Lauren, and the objects with which he fills his life, including his original-condition 1965 Porsche 911, all carry rich, detailed narratives. On describing his own style, Benjamin says his look is laid-back, punctuated with significant details, a statement that could easily extend to an overarching modus operandi. “Thoughtful expressions that tell a small group of people that I care,” he says.
“A vintage Patek chrono is one of the most elegant things a man can own,” Benjamin says, but that’s not the only reason this timepiece deserves attention: it’s the only known 1463 to be retailed by Cartier, carrying the signatures of both the French and Swiss houses. It was owned by a woman from the Upper East Side for more than 20 years before Benjamin won it at auction last year.
Benjamin’s family owned a range of cigarette lighters in the 1970s, so although he doesn’t smoke, they’ve occupied a bigger-than-usual part of his life. He inherited the silver Zippo from his grandfather and inadvertently nicked the modern S.T. Dupont from his friend John Mayer during a night out in London.
Although this 1930s Cartier watch was originally designed to be worn on a lapel, it also doubles as an effective money clip. It’s made from yellow gold, natural horn, and has a Jaeger-LeCoultre movement inside — and still keeps good time despite its 80 years of age.
Compared with the rest of Benjamin’s ornate possessions, this yellow-handled knife made by Maine-based L.L. Bean is simple and somewhat primitive in design. His paternal grandfather, who was a war veteran, engineer, hunter and fisherman, would carry it every day.
This Porsche 911 was released in 1965 – the classic model’s first full production year – and is arguably the company’s most charming. Originally owned by artist and adman George Giusti, then photographer and rally driver Jeff Zwart, this car is completely unrestored and has only clocked 34,000 miles.
Ray-Ban was founded by Bausch & Lomb, which used to manufacture its eyewear in the city of Rochester, New York, which is also Benjamin’s hometown. These vintage tortoiseshell frames are from the early eighties, before the company was sold.
Benjamin never travels without a roll of watches, encompassing various periods, styles and complications, so every activity or dress code has a suitable timepiece to match. Here lies a rare 1920s Breguet Jump Hour, a 1963 Rolex Daytona ref. 6239, an A. Lange & Söhne Lange 1, and a 1940s Universal Genève made for the Italian air force, all housed in a camouflage leather roll from Hodinkee.
Originally published in Issue 53 of The Rake, August 2017. Subscribe here to read more.