Nick Potash Makes Bespoke, Heirloom Jewelry for Modern-Day Pirates
Ever seen a hand-engraved Rolex?
When it comes to man jewelry, we’re tempted to set the default at “absolutely not.”
But then along comes New York craftsman Nick Potash, and next thing you know, we’re channeling our inner Keith Richards.
Potash’s collection of hand-carved watches, rings and pendants — which trades under the name Bad Weather — is equal parts Baselworld and high-seas vigilante. He’s even taken to embellishing hifalutin Rolexes with whimsical designs that’d have the Swiss wringing their hands in dismay.
Rolex (3 images)
The man himself is a moto enthusiast, artist, surfer and all-around good guy to know from Queens. We caught up with the multi-faceted craftsman to see how he does what he does so damn well.
InsideHook: Give us the backstory on these beauts.
Nick Potash: My background is varied and broad, immersed in the arts since a young age and coming from a family of artists and scientists. I am doing my best to carry on the creative torch in my own way. Hand-engraving and bespoke jewelry has been my focus for the last decade, but I always have other projects in the works that nobody sees — mostly paintings and sculpture. Bronze, painting and comics were my artistic outlets prior to fancy metalwork, and they still have rooms in my heart and home.
IH: What made you turn to jewelry?
NP: I really enjoy making things with my hands, and I’m a sucker for details and thoughtful ornamentation. If I could get paid to pour over ancient armories in the MET, I would gladly accept, but until then I’m happy to participate in the making of things. In this pursuit, I find endless rabbitholes of forgotten knowledge and rigorous techniques that will keep me a humble student 10 lifetimes over.
IH: Where did you learn your techniques?
NP: I use the tried and tested ways of the old-world craftsmen. While I’m mostly self-taught, I would not be where I am without the engravers and jewelers who have passed their knowledge down to me. I owe them a lot. Todd Daniels, Jay Whaley, Alain Lovenberg — these are a few of the masters I’ve been privileged to work under, and every day I strive to make sure they didn’t waste their time on me.”
IH: What’s the hardest part of completing a piece?
NP: Continually tapping the source of inspiration, the muse, over and over again. That’s why I will wake up in the middle of the night to write or sketch an idea: I know better than to think I will remember in the morning. The muse appears when she will, and I try to pay attention.
IH: What about the best part?
NP: Seeing how far I can take an idea and how far I can push my own limits, with the ultimate reward of a happy client who beams with pride over their new sacred object. The two become one, starting a new story.
IH: Any professional pet peeves?
NP: When receiving requests, people want to art direct the entire process. I don’t work from sketches anymore, really. At most, I will write an idea or fast scribble. But I try to strike with the bolt of inspiration directly into the piece and let it evolve as I work, much the same way as a painter or sculptor might wind up with something completely different and amazing from the original idea. If you stick to a rigid model or sketch, it is easy to get trapped and not truly let the muse sing. Plus, now I have been doing this for over 10 years, so I feel I know what I’m doing now and trust my intuition.
IH: We’re going to need to know everything about these Rolexes.
NP: Blood sweat and tears! They are a labor of love, but I am passionate about working on these awesome watches as my canvases. Watches are a totem of man’s ingenuity, and the craftsmanship in these fine Swiss watches is incredible. Something that is not designed to be replaced. How special is that? To be asked to cover this watch that will be worn every day as a reminder or the client’s story, their loves, their personality? They worked so hard to buy this watch and now I get to transform it into a true heirloom for their family?!
I love working on them, even though my body hurts for weeks after completing one, I will keep making them as long as people keep asking me to and I am able. On average, I put 150 hours of hand-engraving into a watch. That is just the time spent with my chisel buried in steel, not my time sharpening and prep and design, etc. This is why I call them a labor of love. If I did not love this work, I would not be able to do the work. The intense focus and preparation needed to execute these projects is no joke.
All images via Nick Potash