Award-winning adventurer, photographer, documentarian and television personality Ryan Pyle has explored every exotic corner of the globe to investigate many cultures, survey the wilderness and uncover fascinating stories about our world. His photography has graced the pages of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, TIME and more; His Adventure Television Series Extreme treks And Rough rides Intercontinental exploits followed and he set a Guinness World Record for the longest motorcycle ride. Recently, Pyle was chosen as the brand ambassador for the fine watchmaking brand Glashot Original. Pyle’s personal brand of adventure and discovery meshes well with the brand’s motto “Proud to be Original”.
Ryan Pyle, Adventurer & Glasshoot Original Brand Ambassador
We recently caught up with the adventurer to discuss his multi-faceted career, endless curiosity and blossoming partnership with the Glashütte original. Pyle tunes in from his home in the beautiful mountains of Switzerland, where he staves off the unrest of the pandemic lockdown with several hours of treks every day – naturally with a Glashütte original strapped to his wrist.
G: Let’s start from square one. How did your relationship with Glashut Original come about and what made you such a good fit for each other?
Ryan Pyle: I started creating independent adventure content in 2010. I funded it myself and have been chasing my dream for 10 years trying to raise money. I was in touch with Glashoot Original several times, and eventually they said, “We love what you’re doing. We love authenticity and adventure.”
It takes years for people to identify with your brand, so finding a partner with a long-term vision is really good. Glashütte Original is not like other watch companies that employ big Hollywood celebrities. They wanted to find people with more authentic stories to share their brand vision. It’s been fun sharing this idea that you can write your own adventure, you can have your own adventures, you can go out into the world and do things.
Q: Some people may not associate a fine timepiece with your brand of adventure. You will wear a special Seq Panorama date. How do you combine the two?
RP: You are right. I think it’s definitely new for them to get into this adventure branding. They are trying to create a niche market with a well-made timepiece, a watch that people can go out and use. I’m taking it out into the real world and putting it up against the elements.
I think there’s a certain romanticism about writing your own adventure and having a watch that expresses the spirit of freedom. And I’m pretty humbled by that.
Q: What is your quick review of the SeaQ Panorama Date?
RP: The watch is strong. I definitely take it out in the field with me all the time and it’s a stunning piece of handmade genius. This is a really huge, beautiful watch. And I love mechanical watches because when we go into the jungle for 10, 12 days you can’t have something on your wrist that won’t work in eight hours if you don’t plug it in. I mean, that’s not a reality. And I’ve always been interested in the subtleties of perfectly crafted minute pieces. It is truly an art form. It’s wonderful to be able to take it with me on my adventures and share it with my audience as well.
Q: It is reminiscent of historical explorers traversing unknown territory 100 or 200 years ago.
RP: It’s actually part of branding: “being authentic.” Be yourself, don’t try to copy other people and be authentic. Again, it’s humbling that they think I’m authentic enough or original enough in what I’m trying to do. And I’m not selling and making reality TV with fake suspense and fake drama and fake sequences just to get ratings.
Q: Where has the watch gone with you and where will it go?
RP: Well, here’s the thing. It has been two and a half years due to covid. In 2019, I shot 12 episodes of TV and gave 46 speaking events in 12 months. I have filmed in China, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Taiwan, Thailand, India and Hong Kong. I’ve been doing events in Las Vegas, LA, London and Bali. So I’m really moving. And then 2020 happened, I was in Ethiopia shooting an episode of my show on March 19 when the world shut down. And then I couldn’t go back to my home in Dubai. So I was in Istanbul for four months in lockdown, then I came out of Istanbul, but in November 2020 we were in lockdown again. So 2021 will be the first year I don’t do television since 2009.
And we started the partnership in October, so the watch has only been with me in the winter in the UAE and here in Switzerland. But I did rock climbing in Switzerland and we did a lot of hiking.
There is no product insurance against COVID. Until we have faith that we can freely reclaim the world again, it will be difficult to return to that lifestyle. Hopefully, I’ll really start cracking this watch and get it around the world again soon.
Q: Do you find any parallels between Glashütte’s original approach to watchmaking and your past and future adventures?
RP: I mean, it’s the same. I have always been curious since childhood. I should always be trying to learn new things, understand new things and be in new environments – and with new people. The company has been around for over 175 years and now they are using my story to push the brand in a different direction; Or a slightly new direction.
I visited the factory to see how they make the watch on my wrist. Every time I look down at the dial, I’m reminded of what’s inside. So, I had to feed my curiosity, so I went to China at the age of 22 and I got into journalism and became a photographer, and then television offered that. Now to have the opportunity to partner with Glashütte Original is truly a testament to the beauty and intricacies of making timepieces and a deep level of respect for them.
Q: What did you get after you visited the factory?
RP: That I am really clumsy. I must try to stamp this plate [with a professional watchmaker]. She did it in one line and then I had to repeat it. And I’m all thumbs. I couldn’t do it. I see these incredibly talented people moving all these tiny, tiny, intricate pieces.
And I wonder, “How long will this last?” There aren’t many good watchmakers left on the planet. It’s kind of scary. We may be three generations away from not having people who can make mechanical watches. These watchmakers are part of the tradition. Their parents, children and grandchildren are all in this industry. And when you look at the lineage and the lineage that these guys are a part of, it’s just pure respect.
I have been to Scotland many times and love visiting the distilleries and seeing how the whiskey is made. There is also a clan there. Families and generations all work for these whiskey companies.
As I travel around the world, I see generations of people doing the same thing, not because they don’t have options. But because they are proud to do it or proud to follow in their parents’ footsteps. Or they are proud to be a part of a brand they associate with. I think that speaks volumes for what that industry does for its workers and how important those watchmakers are to the brand.
And you definitely feel it at the watch factory. They have renovated, but you can feel the tradition through the people there. I think that’s the most exciting thing. And I think it will become a luxury product. It’s the hours that go into it. And what you carry on your wrist… is that tradition and connection with the people.
Why is listening to music on a record player such a beautiful thing? It’s connecting to more than just music. Watches are more about connecting than just telling time. And I think traditional handmade watches. You’re like, “Oh, what time is it?” connected to something bigger than