Brand Spotlight: Martenero Watches Q&A with Founder John Tarantino

Every now and then, I have a chance to cover something really special from the world of watches. For once, I am not covering a watch release or the announcement of a boutique opening but rather a brand spotlight on a watch company that is changing the entry-level watch market, Martenero. Launched in February of 2014, Martenero is a fledgling brand with a lot of promise. Since its’ launch Martenero has been featured in a number of prominent publications in the industry including none other than Hodinkee. Founder John Tarantino was kind enough to sit down with me and talk more about the brand he has built.

Before we dive straight into the interview here are a few notables about Martenero watches as well as a brief bio on John.

Martenero Watches

  • Built in NYC

  • Fully Customizable

  • Automatic Movements

  • Sub- $500

  • 2 Models ( Ace and Founder)

John Tarantino BiographyJohn has worked in the real estate industry for the past decade. His appreciation for watches started with a love of design aesthetics but through his own admission his appreciation for watches has matured over time. In 2014, he turned his interest in business and love of watches into a tangible project resulting in the creation of Martenero. Since then he has set out to make Martenero the pre-eminent watch brand in NYC.

Q&A With Martenero Founder John Tarantino


How did you first get involved with watches?

JT:  My interest in watches started about 7-8 years ago, I was fresh out of college and a young professional. At this point in my life, I was a small-scale watch collector and my focus was primarily aesthetics. Over time I grew to appreciate other elements of watchmaking outside of design and that truly changed my thinking.


What made you design your own watches?

JT: About 3 years ago I decided to come up with a watch concept that wasn’t being done in the current market- a customizable watch for every situation. When I first started Martenero was more of a side project. I slowly began to work my way into networks within the industry and eventually this project became a full-time endeavor. We launched in February 2014.


What made you decide to produce a fully customizable watch? Admittedly, this is a rarity within the industry.

JT: I saw customization being used on other products from sneakers to t-shirts and even some luxury goods. I decided to transplant that model into this industry because it wasn’t being done. Customization is one of the central tenets of our brand.


What was the inspiration behind the design elements of the Ace and Founder models?

JT: I wanted a watch that could be worn in truly any setting. At the core of our design and value proposition is versatility. To this end not only are the designs of both models appropriate for a number of occasions, we include a leather and fabric strap that allow for further versatility.


What made you go with automatic movements instead of quartz like so many products on the market?

JT: I was never fascinated by quartz watches. Honestly, I haven’t thought about it too much. Going with a basic automatic movement was a gut reaction because naturally I always had more interest in automatic movements.


Are your watches exclusively sold online?

JT: No, we are in a few high quality retailers' including Tanner Goods (Portland, OR) and Woodlands (Los Angeles, CA). Additionally our products are sold in catalogs such as Huckberry and Guideboat.


Where do you see Martenero within the larger watch market?

JT: I want to bring full-scale production of our watches from top to bottom to the greater NYC area. Furthermore, we have seen a recent trend where certain brands become synonymous with a locality for example Weiss in Los Angeles or Shinola in Detroit. I want to make Martenero the pre-eminent watch brand in NYC.


What is your grail watch?

JT: I tend to focus on pieces  that are within my reach rather than ones that I couldn't buy, so I don't have a true grail watch the way most people use that term. If I were still collecting, the Nomos Metro would be my next purchase.


John Tarantino is one of many individuals fighting to bring watchmaking back to the U.S. His brand Martenero stands at the forefront of innovation in the entry-level market. The ability to fully customize a timepiece adds another layer of individuality. With the emergence of so many brands that are diluting the overall market it is refreshing to see Martenero offering quality timepieces at affordable prices. I thank John for taking time to speak with me and more importantly I encourage all of you to be on the lookout for this brand over the next few years. From the looks of it, full-scale watch production in NYC could happen within the next few years.

If you are interested in Martenero please visit