Anthrax's Dan Spitz is now a master watchmaker

Hodinkee's John Reardon has a great profile on and interview with Dan Spitz, former Anthrax guitar hero who quit the music business to become a world-renowned, prize-winning watchmaker who hand-lathes his own replacement parts for antique watch restorations. Reardon quit his gig to spend more time with his family -- he has twin boys who have autism -- and to pursue his lifelong technical passions. He's hand-built his own workbench!

Funny story, actually. I was working as a watchmaker in Geneva and thinking I would never go back to music when Dave Mustaine from Megadeth called me and said “Dude, what are you doing? Stop messing with watches. You need to come back and start writing music again. You are one of the creators of our genre, thrash metal. You need to stop tinkering around with these million dollar toys and get back to music.” This lecture 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 but 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! I looked at him and thought, “That’s it, I’m done. I’m going back to music.” In the end, most people in Switzerland are blasting while working on watches, anything from Barbra Streisand to Slayer.

My grandfather was a watchmaker, and I grew up playing with junk movements and parts. It's amazing to hear the story of someone so accomplished -- especially in a second career begun as an adult.

Interview: Meet Dan Spitz, Anthrax Guitarist Turned Master Watchmaker (via Kottke)


  1. That was a fantastic interview, thank you for posting.
    Not an Anthrax fan, but I loved reading about Dan the watchmaker.  As a collector myself (no Pateks or Vacherons, though) this was fun.
    For the other watch geeks reading, got my c1966 DateJust on today.

    1.  I think it was Slayer who covered Joe Jackson’s “Got the Time”.

      Maybe you were just pointing out the connection between trash metal and timepieces rather than being mistaken that Anthrax or Megadeth were involved. If so, thumbs up.

        1. Seems you are correct. Awesome cover. Only ever heard in on a friends mix tape back in the 90’s. The tape was mostly Slayer. I must have become confused.

          At least I knew it was a Joe Jackson song.

  2. A buddy of mine went from diesel mechanic to watch repairman. Different kind of metal, I suppose. Heh.

    He has an affinity for Kobolds.

  3. Cory “Steampunk” Doctorow wrote:

    My grandfather was a watchmaker, and I grew up playing with junk movements and parts.

    This explains so much…

  4. Anyone interested in this in Seattle should note that North Seattle Community College has a watchmaking program.  I am tempted.

  5. Is muy cool. Although, as a parent with 2 kids who fall on the autism spectrum themselves, my first thought at  the combo of ‘spend time with twin autistic boys’ *and* ‘pursue technical dreams’ was “Dang, must be nice to be a millionaire.”

  6. I, too, have hand built my own workbench. It is really nice and, if you don’t mind picking everything up off the ground when it tips over, serviceable in a pinch. Don’t lean there, man.

  7. There is a special place for people who love to create and restore fine machinery to proper order. Mr. Spitz would probably be at home in a steampunk universe. I am always happy when a craftsman is able to demonstrate his genius.

  8. Very cool, guys like this make me kinda jealous, able to turn their hand to whatever takes their fancy with equal skill. Pedant note: “hand-turns” not “hand-lathes”. A lathe is the tool, the operation is turning.

  9. Now it makes sense that Flavour Flav collaborated with Anthrax a while back. That guy must have a few broken clocks. 

  10. Awesome article- I’m a huge metalhead, and I am a watchmaking student currently- it is so cool to know that one of my favorite band’s members is a master watchmaker.

    Just to know that someone somewhere in Switzerland or anywhere is so skilled they can work on a tourbillon watch with a rattrapante chronograph and so many other complications while blasting SLAYER of all things- it’s totally unheard of in the small world of watchmaking, or so I thought- absolutely incredible, and I will definitely be joining that crowd someday. The image that sentence put in my head is like a dream come true.

    Thank you for this incredible find Cory!

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