Island Time, With a Twist

Time has never stood still for Rubin Cronig. As a kid he collected watches, in high school he learned to design and manufacture them, and today he operates two watch businesses and a retail store on-Island. Rubin credits the mentorship program at the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School with his success: “They let you follow your passions.”

There, at age sixteen, Rubin created his own high-end watch brand, Rubin Douglas Timepieces. He went on to Wheaton College for a bachelor’s in practical economics, and started a second, mid-range brand – Vineyard Time – that he sells at AquaNaut, the store he opened this spring on Main Street in Vineyard Haven.

Rubin’s outgoing personality is evident in oversized watches that integrate contemporary technology and streamlined design, and often centuries-old scrimshaw-carving techniques. He designs all of his pieces but outsources their manufacture.

His confidence, ambition, skill, and business acumen – at age twenty-four – are impressive. With prices that top out around $12,000, Rubin also offers more affordable versions closer to $1,000. (The store stocks items such as scrimshaw knives and jewelry too.)

Rubin, who lives in Vineyard Haven and Boston, had collaborated with the late Edgartown scrimshaw artist Thomas DeMont, who died last year. Rubin says, “The idea behind the store was to create something that brought in what [Tom] did well and then expand it out to what I know well.”

Constantly thinking up new ideas for products, Rubin carries a notebook everywhere he goes. “I write a million things in them....When they get half-way full, I put them in the vault.” His latest idea: scrimshaw dyed black or orange.