We had a chance to go behind the scenes at Nooka and see what makes the company responsible for some of the world’s most interesting watches tick. We know how much you guys love Nooka, so we thought we’d take you with us.
We met Michael (assistant and all around nice guy) -decked out in a Zub of course- in front of a relatively nondescript building on 36th St. in New York during one of those summer days that you can’t describe without referencing your balls. We hop on the Nookavator and head up to the Nooka Lab to meet the CEO and Commander in Chief Matt Waldman for the grand tour.
Walking into the office, it becomes immediately apparent that this isn’t just a watch company. In stark contrast to the mental picture we had of the Nooka Lab (watch parts, works in progress, tools) the office felt very… creative. The couches adorned with sculpture; the endless boxes of Nooka product; the schematics decorating the walls, everything about this office felt like a tech startup or a modernized version of the Mad Men set. If the walls didn’t say Nooka and the display case wasn’t filled with Nooka products we probably would have thought we were lost. Adding to the identity crisis was the fact that the company responsible for the ZIRC watch we forgot at the hotel (luckily they didn’t hold this against us) has only eight people at the New York office and only half were there at the time. How can a handful of people be responsible for the creative storm we were now smack dab in the middle of? Then we met the continually smiling Matt Waldman.
Matt is an enigma: equal parts watch fanatic and design fiend, fluent in English and Japanese (the man orders a mean rice beer), small business owner and lofty dreamer, perfectionist. He doesn’t view Nooka as a watch company. Think about that for a minute. The man that plays with time in the most unique way since Cartier doesn’t believe he runs a watch company (and not just because he also runs the design firm Berrymatch). After pondering this over the course of the evening (there may have been one or three of those aforementioned rice beers) it actually makes perfect sense.
Nooka isn’t a watch company because it’s an exercise in universal communication. Watches just happened to be the first time Waldman experimented with products. Then he rethought belts, wallets, fragrance, glasses, and quite a few other products that haven’t seen the light of day yet. We were sworn to secrecy about some of the ideas, but let’s just say you might be “wearing” Nooka on more formal business trips in the future.
What started for Matt as a series of concepts for Seiko and ended up at MoMA has evolved into what it is today: a collection of really awesome products (unlike anything else available) worn by Kanye, Taylor Whatsherface, Madonna’s kids, and the rest of us. Given Matt’s ability to tap into everything we find awesome (check out his collection of “toys” below) and an inability to accept anything less than perfection in any of his products (there were at least three prototypes on his desk we would have willingly shelled out a few benjamins for) this isn’t at all surprising. Nooka is a company based on the idea that anything is possible and once you get to know Waldman better you begin to understand the method to his madness.
Outside of running the company that will one day tower above Google on the Best Places To Work list, there’s a lot more to him than meets the eye. Not only is he on the cutting edge of fashion, design, music (odds are he heard whatever you’re listening to now five years ago), tech (he’s the only man more tethered to his gadgets than we are), and just about everything else (he literally owned the first Scion xB in New York), the man isn’t afraid to reinvent the wheel if he doesn’t like it. Between the Lab, dinner, drinks, and more drinks, we discussed everything from products he wished he designed (Pillow Pets) to favorite car makers (Citroen) and how he would be an evolutionary biologist if he wasn’t a world renowned artist and designer. Our sometimes ridiculous questions led to a very clear realization.
Much like its creator, Nooka is -above all else- fun.