Interview: Nathan Resnick of Yes Man Watches

Nathan Resnick is an interesting guy. Inspired by a novel idea for a watch clasp, a crappy job, and a passion for time management, he founded Yes Man Watches. When the Kickstarter campaign wrapped up on February 14, Yes Man had raised over $32,648 on a $15,000 goal. The watches are expected to be delivered shortly. From the information available, the watch is a Miyota quartz three-hander in a round stainless steel case, with a minimalist dial distinguished by the Yes Man stick figure logo at 5 o'clock. The buckle is a unique design that locks against a series of notches in the back of the strap. It seems nice enough, but the watch is not what caught my interest. What got me was the fact that Resnick is a 19 year old college student who founded a watch company in his spare time. As a 19 year old Time Bum, I spent my spare time getting loaded and listening to The Ramones. Designing, engineering, funding, and marketing my own product was not even a thought. Internet connectivity and global manufacturing have made the process far more accessible, but that is really only half of the story.  I needed to know what makes a teenage entrepreneur tick. So I asked a few questions to find out.


First of all, I am knocked out by the fact that you decided to design a new fastener, start a watch company, and actually bring them both to fruition. Why did you do it?  What inspired the idea?

Thank you, without your support I wouldn’t have been able to start. The idea came from my schedule last year. As a college student, I am always doing more than just going to class. My friends are amazed by my ability to get the most out of my day. Upon completing this past school year, I was excited to start what I thought to be an amazing summer job. Though after weeks of working the tiresome 9-5 job, I realized how constraining that monotonous routine feels, and started Yes Man Watches out of my passion to inspire people to consider their use of time.

The conventional wisdom is that millennials don't wear watches, and don't want to. Is the conventional wisdom wrong?

We like to think of our watches as more than timepieces. You can always tell time on your phone, yet a watch is special and is a direct representation of you. We strive to utilize this accessory to empower people to consider their use of time. 

So what got you into watches? What watches do you wear or admire?

I honestly didn’t know anything about watches before starting Yes Man Watches. Our patent-pending buckle is what got me in the game though. Just like any motivated entrepreneur should, I dug deep and learned everything I could about watches and the watch market. 

I usually rock our original navy on white watch. It’s the perfect watch for everyday wear. Before starting Yes Man Watches I really admired Original Grain for their unique take on making stainless steel wooden watches. 

Where did you get the idea for the watch buckle? 

While shopping last year, I saw a similar apparatus applied to a belt. I am always thinking how to apply innovations in other ways so as I was checking the time on my watch, I realized this apparatus could be applied to a watch strap. Right now all watches with leather straps have holes in them. This damages the leather and restricts the wearer to a certain number of sizing options. Our patent-pending buckle allows for twice as many sizing options and a sleeker fit while keeping the leather on your watch strap fresh. 

So you wake up and decide, "I'm going to start a watch a company." What happens next? Tell me about the process. 

Turning my idea into a reality was the most incredible part of starting. My favorite day of this experience was when our first prototype arrived in the mail from our manufacturer. The startup process was pretty crazy for me—at the time I was working a 9-5 summer job. I’d get home around 5:30pm, eat some dinner, and then start working. At one point I was balancing the time zones of four different cities to get this bad-boy made. I was based in Washington D.C. leading everything, had a buddy in San Diego designing our logos, had an engineer in Budapest developing our computer aided designs, and have our manufacturer based in China. Every night I’d be up till about 4:00 am because 4:00 am my time is 4:00 pm in China where our manufacturer is based. Dialing in our supply chain was probably the hardest part, yet is also the most crucial part of our business. I knew I was going to look in China for our manufacturer because I used to live in China and speak Mandarin relatively fluently. Once I had our supplier set, I turned to Kickstarter to launch because I needed a way to fund the first production run. 

Has the project met your expectations? What lessons did you learn from this project? What were some of the challenges in bringing this project to fruition? In what ways was it most rewarding?

This project has met my wildest expectations. I am blown away by everyone’s support and this couldn’t have happened without it. One of my favorite lessons from this project has to be the power of perseverance. It is an invaluable characteristic. If you really want something, keep going at it. The most rewarding part of this startup has been the ability to empower and captivate our supporters. It’s incredible to have people reach out and share how excited they are about Yes Man Watches. 

You are no doubt tired of hearing that "Yes Man" is generally a pejorative term, but I have to ask, did you know what it meant before you chose it as the name? 

Though this seems to be the connotation of ‘Yes Man’, I believe the words have a different meaning. When my team and I use the phrase ‘Be A Yes Man’ we are trying to empower each other to make the most of our time. This includes considering every opportunity and weighing the potential outcomes. Even when people tease, “Nathan, you must say yes” it makes me consider the given situation, which is better than overlooking it completely. A great brand revolutionizes the way people act, think, or interact. Yes Man Watches is striving to do just that; revolutionize the way people consider time. 

You have said you started the company after enduring a tiresome 9-to-5 job for a summer. What kind of soul-sucking job was that? 

I was a sales intern making about a hundred cold-calls a day. The job taught me to pick up the phone and just call people but I realized I wanted to do more with my life.

You have said the Yes Man is more than a watch; it's a way to consider your use of time. Not to be harsh, but this is a watch. It tells time, it is not a life coach. What exactly makes it do "more"? 

Saying this is more than just a watch is our brand motto—we’re trying to inspire people to do more with their time, just as Nike says "Just Do It." Simple design aspects like placing our logo at the 5 o’clock mark reflects this. Our logo was placed that way from the feeling we got after our 9-5 jobs. 

Now that Yes Man watches have taken off, what's next?

First and foremost, we are pushing to fulfill our initial Kickstarter orders and preorders through our website. You can still preorder a watch at our special price of $119. This price will be raised to $139 once we fulfill production. We’re adding designs to our line of watches and improving our patent-pending buckle to make it even smaller. We’ll also be expanding our line into shirts, sunglasses, hats, and more. For now, check out our website, yesmanwatches.com and remember to make the most of your time by considering your use of it. 

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