Hook + Gaff: Fishermen & Golfers Have Glommed Onto These Rugged Watches

Michael Sims grew up bait casting on lakes in the upstate of South Carolina, going knee deep in trout streams to reel in browns, brook and rainbows. Marrying the nuts and bolts of an education in engineering with the customer service skills he honed working in the insurance industry, two years ago Sims took the plunge into building a watch brand geared toward anglers and outdoorsmen. When his Hook + Gaff’s SportFisher sold out of their initial run he quit his day job and has been reeling in fishermen ever since.

Anatomy of a fishing watch
“I used to always wear a typical $200 watch brand, I don’t want to call out any, but the typical brand in that price range,” explains Sims. “They just wouldn’t hold up to the toll fishing takes. Any quartz watch under the $500 mark uses cheap parts: the movements are seen as inferior to watch connoisseurs so watch companies make them cheaply with regular glass on the face which gets scratched immediately when you put it on and no screw down crown so the water resistance is always compromised.”

“When you’re out on a boat and in rough seas, watches can take a beating. You’re getting bumps and bruises and sore legs from getting knocked around and your watch gets salt water all over it and takes a beating,” he adds.

Finding his sea legs
Sims made several prototypes and gave them to boat captains in Venice, Louisiana who fish three hundred days a year to test out and run them through the ringer. The field-testing ran for a year before he decided to pull the trigger on the business. Regular watches simply don’t stand up to the rigors of fish guts, sun, sand and salt water. So Hook + Gaff watches use thicker corrosion resistant titanium casing, a screw down crown, thick sapphire scratch proof crystal and a 100% rubber strap imported from Italy— an upgrade on the manufactured silicone dust and bacteria magnets that many other manufacturers use.

“Our straps you can sweat in, you can filet a fish in, and with a simple rinse they’re good to go. Everything from the strap, to the casing to the glass to the water resistance and screw down crown is top notch.” Another unique feature is the crowns is located on the left-side, a decision borne out of prototype process. When it was on the right side, where the vast majority watches put it, fisherman would complain of the crown digging into the back of their hand. Moving it onto the other side proved more than a simple cosmetic switcher.

“You can say it a lot easier than you can do it, I promise you. You have to go in and alter the movement so each movement is customized after we get it,” explains Sims.

Hook + Gaff: Fishermen & Golfers Have Glommed Onto These Rugged Watches

Moon over muskie
Tide reading features are found on a lot of surfing watches and Sims considered going that route before deciding on a moonphase reader instead on Hook + Gaff’s Sportfisher series so you can tell if the moon is waning or waxing.

“Generally when I’m fishing inshore, I look at the tides and based on the tide chart I know for the next few days what time high tide and low tide are going to be but I rarely look at the moon, and sometimes I’ll get out there and have an extreme tide and go ‘oh man must be a full moon.’”

On Sims and his brother-in-laws frequent Beaufort fishing trips they often have their best luck a couple days after a new moon. And a general rule of thumb is you don’t want to fish after a full moon if you’re looking offshore for pelagic fish like yellowfin tuna or dolphin.

Plenty of Celebrity anglers wear Hook + Gaff on their wrists so if you sport one you’ll be in the company of Bass 2 Billfish host Peter Miller, Into the Blue’s Scott Walker, Flat Class’ C.A. Richardson and Reelin Up The Coast’s Englis Glover.

Tee time
Outside of angling Sims other great sporting passion is the game of golf. He played college golf at an elite level, a member of Clemson’s National Championship winning team in ’03. So this season Hook + Gaff decided to branch out beyond the sea debuting a golf watch (pictured, $575). The sharp white dial looks especially sharp when paired with a turf matching green strap.

Tags: Watch, watches

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