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Words by Chris Antzoulis (@poppingcrowns)

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Trip Henderson, Founder of Lōcī | Photo Credit: Jeremy Hinen

For a lot of new independent watch brands the “light bulb” moment in the brand’s creation is the watch itself, the product they’re going to deliver to the community. Typically, they’ll create the watch they’ve always wanted to see, or find what they think is missing from the community. In the case of Trip Henderson, founder of Lōcī, the watch was the last layer of the cake. Instead Lōcī is built atop a foundation that looks to capture the “spirit of place.” Now, if this raises a red flag for you that’s understandable, but in a few moments, you’ll pull that flag down, fold it up, and place it back in the emergency drawer it came from — save it for your next Tinder date or something. 


However, in true watch nerd fashion, Trip explained to me that watches have always been prominent in his life, though he can’t quite pinpoint where the fascination began, yet noted the first watch he can remember owning was the Casio World Time, when he was around eight years old. “The battery was supposed to last for a few years, but I’d wear that thing out once a year pushing the light button and cycling through the map.” As it turns out, Trip would go on to immerse himself in maps and history. He collected maps and would get a hold of his high school-aged brother’s history books, when Trip himself was just a kid. He also noted the shelves in his home, before his parents’ divorce, would be filled with his dad’s history books. Trip would thumb through them looking for the maps and diagrams. 

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Although Trip was pulled by the allure of faraway places, his family didn’t take any vacations or trips abroad; “my mom was a single mom and a secretary. We lived in the suburbs of Philly. A vacation for us was going to the Jersey shore where we had cousins with houses.” It wasn’t until Trip joined the Navy that he “really went anywhere.” And this is the first time Trip can remember experiencing the “spirit of place.” On his first deployment, and weary after a long day’s work, he made his way out to the flight deck of the USS Moinester. It was there that he was greeted silently by other sailors, and as he looked up, he saw why nobody was talking.


In yet another first, Trip saw the night sky without obstruction from nearby cities and towns. Each star part of its own solar system, the Milky Way flowing through the sky like a giant opaque brush stroke from Rembrandt on the cosmos. “I remember feeling that there are people who’ve had this same experience throughout time, just being in awe over this, and I’m now connected to all of them.” This awakening moment, mixed with Trip’s already deeply rooted passion in maps and history, sent Trip on a subconscious quest of communion with places, people, and the time spent in admiration of our surroundings. 

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Trip spent five years in the reserves as a Midshipman (NROTC through college) and Ensign, and was deployed in the Atlantic and the Caribbean. It was his dream to go to flight school, unsurprising for a guy so infatuated with travel and seeing new places from new angles; but, this dream was unfortunately cut short, a few days before starting flight school, when Trip broke his back and his ankle. He spent a year in rehab from his injuries, and when he returned the doctors did not clear him to fly, and Trip left the Navy. 


In his late 20s and early 30s was when he really started exploring. In 1999/early 2000, he worked for a consulting company during the dot-com boom and spent four months in Hong Kong. “I realized in Europe the surface is different, but the fundamentals of the culture are the same, but in Asia, in a place like Hong Kong, the fundamentals of the culture are really different,” Trip said. “Hong Kong was electric then. It was just three years after its handover back to China after being a British colony. An incredible moment in history. There was excitement, tension, uncertainty, dynamism. The spirit of place felt so real there I thought I could reach out and grab it.” He went on to explain that it was an eye-opening experience for him, and the first real chance to immerse himself in a new and different place. It was also in Hong Kong where Trip purchased his first nice camera and started teaching himself the art of photography, so that he could document and capture small pieces of where he’s been. “I didn’t come up with this, but I remember it hitting home when I read it somewhere: the difference between an everyday travel photo and something that’s truly moving is that you’re not trying to take pictures that say, ‘I was here,’ you’re trying to take pictures that when other people see them, they say, ‘Wow, I want to be there.’”


Soon after Trip’s stay in Hong Kong, the dot com crash happened in 2001. This led to Trip taking an entire year off work. He packed all his possessions into a 5x5 storage unit, gave his car to a friend to use and look after, and he left San Francisco. If the first night out at sea was Trip’s revelation, and Hong Kong built upon it, then it was this year spent traveling that Trip really began to understand the power the places hold, and how each one has changed him.


Traveling all over the world gave Trip a wider lens in which to view society on a global scale. “I’ve been all over the place. Nice places, rough around the edges places. No matter where you go people are pretty much the same. The idea that people are different, and we can’t get along, and there’s conflict inherent in people being from different places…it’s all bullshit. Most people are nice. Most people want to help you out. Most people have family and people they love. And most people are stoked to meet someone from somewhere else.” This ever-growing feeling of connectivity serendipitously led to what would come next, a job working for a global disaster relief non-profit, Team Rubicon.

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Photo Credit: Team Rubicon


Photo Credit: Team Rubicon

This non-profit was founded by other military vets and gave Trip a sense of purpose that he felt he’d strayed away from since leaving the Navy. The idea of Team Rubicon was to create volunteer teams of mostly military vets to go into areas struck by natural disasters and provide support. “If you think about it, it’s genius. Military vets are trained to snap together quickly as a team and function in places where communication is down, where transportation is down, and logistics are just difficult.” Trip went to Houston several times after hurricane Harvey hit, to Hattiesburg, Mississippi after a tornado tore through the town, and up to Northern California after wildfires devastated the area. 

In the past, Trip had experienced most places he visited on their best days, as a tourist. “In disaster areas, I developed an even deeper understanding of what places really mean to people. What it means to a community, a family, a person…when their town is impacted, when their house just got destroyed, their school got destroyed, their church got destroyed,” Trip said. We often see these places crippled by natural disasters from the comfort of our homes on our TV’s. Trip experienced the pain people go through when their homes and towns are physically destroyed, and the far-reaching implications that ripple out because of it. 


“I don’t know how much the lay person looks into it, but at Team Rubicon I saw just how many places are vulnerable to natural disasters, and that their frequency and intensity is growing every year. The dollar value of damages and the human costs, all going up. In 2023 there were 28 billion dollar-plus disaster events in the U.S. – one every 11 days on average. A lot of this increase is driven by climate change. I know there are people for whom that term is a red flag. That’s fine. You can just look at the trend of disaster events going up. It means more and more people are losing their homes and communities to storms, floods, and wildfires. Even if you don’t want to attribute a cause to it, you can still care that people are getting displaced. You can choose to help protect them.” 

The rewarding experience of helping lead such a purpose-driven non-profit was the last thing that needed to snap into place for Trip to want to build his own brand. He decided that he wanted to spend the rest of his career only working on things that had a social impact component to them. His transition out of Team Rubicon was planned, and soon after leaving COVID hit. This gave Trip some time and space from his previous high-intensity job, to finally create a brand all his own.

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Lōcī - \’lō-kī \. It’s Latin, and is the plural of “locus,” meaning “place.” It is Trip’s hope that we can all rally behind the power and spirit of special places and safeguard them for future generations. Each line of watches represents a place, and each variation within the line a more specific location. His first line, the Pacific Coast Highway, was released in January 2024, and contains three dial variations: Big Sur, Monterey Bay, and Surfrider Beach. And while each watch represents a place, Trip’s greatest commitment to the “power of place,” is to build a brand and community of owners who step up to protect these places, first and foremost through the brand’s donations to leading environmental non-profits.

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You’ve seen many brands release special edition watches to “save the ocean” and promise to give “a portion of sales” to a cause. Well, Lōcī donates “10% of all sales to top-rated non-profits that protect and preserve fragile environments.” Trip assured me that is 10% of every unit sold will go to the non-profit associated with that line of watches and “documentation of the donations will be posted on Lōcī’s website twice per year.” For the Pacific Coast Highway line it's the California-based Surfrider Foundation. “Future product lines will be inspired by other meaningful places and benefit other non-profits that protect those places.”


I want to leave you all with a quote that Trip shared with me during our conversation from T.S. Eliot’s poem, “Little Gidding”:


                                         We shall not cease from exploration
                                         And the end of all our exploring
                                         Will be to arrive where we started
                                         And know the place for the first time.

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