Spitz’s journey from guitarist to watchmaker extraordinaire

DUE to how overt masculinity and aggression are prevalent in the metal music scene, particularly with its musicians, it is sometimes hard to believe most of them tend to be much calmer and more delicate in real life.

For former Anthrax lead guitarist Dan Spitz, fact is stranger than fiction. Playing with the thrash metal band during its early formative years until the group became part of the “Big Four” of the subgenre — the other three were Megadeth, Metallica and Slayer — Spitz abruptly left the band to pursue a career as a watchmaker.

In a new interview with Hodinkee, Spitz spoke about his love for watchmaking and leaving the band to chase after his passion for fiddling with watches.

The guitarist drew a figurative picture of how his love for watches seemed genetic, as his grandfather had a huge antique jewellery store that sold luxury antiques and watches.

$!The guitarist has Swiss and American degrees in luxury mechanical watchmaking and micro-mechanical engineering.

“At eight years old, I was sitting with him and we were taking apart Patek Philippe watches. I had the opportunity to go to my grandfather’s store and rip things apart that I really shouldn’t have been inside. My mechanical abilities started at a really young age.”

At some point, Spitz joined the Bulova School of Watchmaking with the goal of mastering complicated watches, including chronographs.

“The process of learning there is extremely unique; basically, it’s on you to catch up to the fastest student in the class.” Spitz likened the resulting mindset from learning watchmaking to recording an album.

“You go into military mode and do nothing else and you need to produce.” Despite being a pedigreed watchmaker, Spitz told Hodinkee that he is not a collector other than his old Patek watches due to sentimental reasons, as it took him five to seven years to restore them.

$!Spitz was Anthrax’s lead guitarist from 1985 to 1995.

Spitz also provided an anecdote on how Swiss watchmakers perform their delicate craft of watch-tinkering while listening to heavy metal.

“Dave Mustaine’s attempt to make me return to music led to the end of my solitary confinement as a watchmaker. I looked down the bench and saw another watchmaker working on a crazy watch, obviously also headbanging.

“I walked over to him and saw that he was blasting Slayer. He was working on a multiple fly-back, jump hour, chrono, perpetual calendar, moon phase, tourbillon and he’s blasting Slayer.”

The full interview can be read on Hodinkee’s website.

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