Supper Club

Surveying the heroes of the Brooklyn food scene with a selection of fine chronographs.

Photographs by Doug Young

It’s almost as easy to lampoon the great awakening of American eating (“The chicken’s name was Colin. Here are his papers.”) as it is easy to lampoon modern-day Brooklyn (“Nah man, Martha’s, that new artisanal mayonnaise spot.”) But the fedora foodies are moving to Ohio, and the half-cocked concept joints closing down, leaving behind only the smartest, realest, most passionate culinary characters. The kind of characters that made Brooklyn’s food scene so remarkable to begin with. The kind of characters that make modern dining feel like a privilege.

In recognition, we spent two days touring the borough, catching up with its most exciting and influential local chefs. We talked about food and progress and the city. Then we dressed them in exciting and influential chronographs, newcomers and mainstays, and photographed them inside the kitchen.

Each chef had a different way of thinking about food. But they all agreed on one thing: It’s a damn good time to be cooking (and dining) in Brooklyn.


Name: Chef T.J. Steele

Known for: Spending more than a decade in Mexico, embedded with local cooks and mezcaleros, then returning to New York and blowing minds.

Wearing: Panerai Luminor 1950 3 Days Chrono Flyback Automatic Ceramica 44mm, $14,700; panerai.com

He says: “All the décor comes straight from my friends in Oaxaca. The bar tiles are from Francisco Toledo and Dr. Lakra. They did the murals, too. There was this famous cantina down there, and it had a mural with three pigs cooking a woman. So we kinda did our own thing with it. Three goats. Pretty great, right?”

Claro
284 3rd Avenue
(347) 721-3126


Name: Emily and Melissa Elsen

Known for: Making patisseries cool again.

Wearing: (Emily, left) Omega Speedmaster 38 Co-Axial Chronograph, $4,900; omegawatches.com + (Melissa, right) Rolex Cosmograph Daytona, $12,400; rolex.com

They say: “Old-school Brooklyn baking is very much Italian, very traditional. New Brooklyn is lot of people like us. More casual, more home-style. When we came here in 1999, it was all delis, you know? Now there’s a coffee shop on every corner.”

Four & Twenty Blackbirds
439 3rd Avenue
(718) 499-2917


Name: Chef Dale Talde

Known for: Besides finishing sixth on Top Chef? Probably the pretzeled dumplings.

Wearing: Jaquet Droz SW Chrono $17,300; jaquet-droz.com

He says: “There’s an ability to take risks out here. Maybe more so before, when rent was cheap. It was the Wild West. When we opened, I couldn’t name another restaurant on Seventh Ave. Did I think I’d still be serving that pretzel dish six years later? No. But I’m happy doing it, because that’s what the neighborhood wants. This restaurant belongs to their neighborhood. If you’re a chef, and you haven’t caught onto that yet, you’re fucking lost.”

Talde
369 Seventh Avenue
(347) 916-0031


Name: Chef Erin Shambura

Known for: Creating a buzzy, wine-focused Italian restaurant that actually lives up to the hype.

Wearing: Hermès Arceau Chrono Titane, $5,100; hermes.comShe says: “We wanted a 1950s Italy feel, but in a modern-day Brooklyn setting. I lived in the Veneto, about 30 kilometers from Venice. The traditional, hand-extruded pasta has sentimental value to me. We’ve got this Tajarin, an egg-based noodle, a play on carbonara, so instead of heavy black pepper in the sauce, the black pepper is in the actual noodle. We’re serving it with ramps, house-cured pancetta, finished with an organic egg … People have so much more knowledge about food than they ever have. They’re eating so many more things. So we can have the pastas, but also sardines and whole fish, presented on the bone. It’s beautiful.”

Fausto
348 Flatbush Avenue
(917) 909-1427


Name: Chef Vincent Fraissange & Cat Alexander

Known for: One of the borough’s smartest seasonal menus, dished up at an unpretentious bistro hidden under the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.

Wearing: (Vincent, right) Jaeger-LeCoultre Polaris Chronograph, $23,900; jaeger-lecoultre.com + (Cat, left) Throne Watches Fragment 2.0, $495; thronewatches.com

They say: “We got married three years ago, and started a catering company. We were looking for spaces, basically a commissary kitchen, and saw the ‘For Lease’ sign. We live like a block away, and this was a famous butcher shop in the neighborhood, Graham Avenue Meats, a staple for like thirty years. Once we signed the lease, we were like, ‘Man, the neighborhood really needs a restaurant.’ So we just went for it.”

Pheasant
445 Graham Avenue
(718) 675-5588


Name: Chef Justin Bazdarich

Known for: Initiating Brooklynites to gourmet-level, rustic wood-fired eats.

Wearing: Patek Philippe Ref. 5905P Chronograph with Annual Calendar, $78,250; patek.com

He says: “My other restaurants [Speedy Romeo] have wood-burning ovens. At first, New York City said we couldn’t have a wood-burning grill. We had to figure out all this stuff with permitting, but we got it done. So I’m sticking with that wood-fired theme here [at Oxomoco], but just doing Mexican cuisine.”

Oxomoco
128 Greenpoint Avenue
(646) 688-4180

Nordic Trek

 

Photographs by Alex Strohl

Iceland is defined by its lack of humanity. Instead of being edited by men, chopped down and drilled into and paved over, this place was shaped by nature. Rainfall and erosion, volcanic eruption and glacial collapse, life and death and the rightful order of things, all conspiring with the passing of time to shape the most beautiful natural landscape on the planet. We see something like that, and we want to understand.

FEATURED IMAGE AND ABOVE: Scenes from Deplar Farm, the luxe resort on Troll Peninsula. The property is so remote and expansive, some of its snowmobile routes and ski runs have never been run; guests who open them get naming rights.

So it’s only natural that we create devices to mark the hours, weeks, decades—to measure then and now and record the change. Few men contributed more to that endeavor than the horologist Antoine LeCoultre. During the 19th century, his name became synonymous with innovation and accuracy; later, it was spelled out across the dials of icons, like the Reverso, the Geophysic, and the Polaris Memovox.

Our man Strohl wearing his Polaris Memovox in the field. Limited to 1,000 pieces, it’s a rare and special thing, perfect for this kind of once-in-a-lifetime adventure,

The latter watch, a midcentury landmark, famously introduced an underwater alarm function for intrepid divers. This year, Jaeger-LeCoultre is releasing an updated version, instantly recognizable to anybody familiar with the original. Like its eponym, the new Polaris Memovox has the distinctive trapezoidal indices and vanilla-tinted lume hands, that sleek 42 mm case with its signature three-crown layout. But now the case is water-resistant to 200 meters. The hands are wider; the lume is brighter. The crowns are redesigned, tweaked ever so slightly, in the interest of improved ergonomics. Important changes, but small ones, shaped by the passing of time.

So when Alex Strohl made for Iceland, it’s only natural that he did so with a new Polaris Memovox on his wrist. The Spanish-born photographer took to the country’s scenic passes. He went freediving and explored on foot. He sailed across fjords and wheeled up mountains. And he photographed it all. Seeing it all through his lens, we can better understand the place—and, maybe, time itself—just a little better.

Freediving between the North American and the European tectonic plates, near Reykjavik. The water is said to be some of the purest in the world.
Hitching a ride with the local sailors across the fjord in Ísafjörður.

Aero-Aesthetics: The Untold Story of the Aviation Watch

By Sam Fritsch

The aesthetics of enlisted men have been kicking off fashion crazes for centuries, often by way of civilian trendsetters. Consider Humphrey Bogart’s trench coat, Tom Cruise’s Ray Bans, Andy Warhol’s camouflage prints. Or, in the case of the pilot’s wristwatch, Charles Lindbergh and Professor Philip Weems.

The evolution of the aviation watch from a practical instrument to modern wardrobe staple is woven into “Time and Navigation,” on display at The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. The exhibit explores how the intersection of time and navigation has changed and shaped our world over the last three centuries. It’s broken up into four sections: seagoing navigation, space navigation, satellite navigation, and air navigation. The latter is of particular interest, as it highlights the unique challenges associated with adapting techniques that worked at sea for use in the air.

Artifacts on show include early chronometers, sextants, and charts used by famous aviators. There’s also interwar flying gear and all types of radio equipment, plus the crystal oscillator of the 1920s, which electrically vibrated a crystal, measured its resonance, and gave the time down to the microsecond. But the real treasure is the 1930s-era Longines’ Lindbergh Hour Angle Watch — and the story behind it.

Navigation during the pioneering days of aviation was a struggle. Airplanes weren’t ideal places to do mathematical calculations: there was an open cockpit, pilots wore thick gloves, and the sky was often obscured, making it difficult to see the horizon. Also, the tools weren’t good. Accuracy suffered; pilots didn’t always end up where they thought they were going.

Roger Connor, curator of the “Time and Navigation” exhibition, says that on Charles Lindbergh’s famous 1927 flight from New York to Paris, he didn’t bring a radio or a sextant because they simply didn’t work very well. These tools were also heavy, and he’d rather carry extra fuel to accommodate for navigational errors. Incredibly, when Lindbergh became the first person to make a nonstop solo transatlantic flight, he did so using a compass and a clock.

Charles A. Lindbergh poses in front of Ryan NYP “Spirit of St. Louis outside a hangar in St. Louis, Missouri, May 11, 1927. Image provided by National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.

But he was nicknamed “Lucky Lindy” for a reason: on the day of his historic trip, the net wind drift across the Atlantic was zero, ideal conditions for navigation. After he made headlines, other pilots thought the trip would be equally as easy; many were injured or killed trying to replicate similar flights. Soon, aviators realized the complexities of negotiating long-range flying.

“Lindbergh himself got lost a couple times (while flying) and finally the lightbulb goes on for him that he needs to figure out how to navigate, because no one else had figured out how to navigate well in an airplane,” explains Connor. “He started asking around and finally someone told him, ‘Oh, this P.V.H. Weems guy has been doing a lot of work on this problem and he’s got some pretty good ideas.’”

Celestial navigation innovator and instructor, P.V.H. Weems.
Image provided by National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.

Philip Van Horn Weems, an Olympic wrestler and Annapolis graduate, was a decorated veteran of both World Wars and the Godfather of modern avigation. As a US naval officer in the late 1920s and early 1930s, he’d pursued new ways of approaching navigation, ultimately creating a new standard for tabulating Greenwich hour angle to improve accuracy, a technique that the military would use for another three decades. This development earned him a position teaching at the Naval Academy at the dawn of precision flying and, later, early space travel. In 1953, Weems was awarded the Magellanic Premium for his contributions to navigation, an honor that has been given only 33 times since its establishment in 1786.

But as far as his developments have gotten him, Weems had a humble beginning: he started with a simple Waltham torpedo boat wristwatch, which was a standard early 20th century military chronometer. He added a hacking feature to it, meaning he could continually adjust it to the second. This new “hack” watch allowed airplane navigators to set the time on their watches using radio signals, instead of setting their time in port like they did with ships.

“Why is this a big deal? Well, if you can’t adjust it to the second, you might be up to thirty seconds off the minute, even if it’s technically set accurately,” Connor explains. “And that type of inaccuracy could mean you’re flying a few miles off of the equator, so it’s a big error. The ability to set the watch to the second really simplifies the process of calculation, and that’s what it’s all about in the airplane: you have to do it quickly and easily.”

After the two men met in 1928, Weems gave Lindbergh one of these second-setting watches and taught him how to use it. Soon after, the Navy assigned Weems to teach Lindbergh celestial navigation, which differs from traditional navigation because the movement of the stars is slightly different than that of the sun. The two came up with the idea of a watch that measured celestial time, so that airplane navigators didn’t have to work out corrections mathematically. Instead, they’d just check the time on their wrist.

The Lindbergh-Longines Hour-Angle Watch wristwatch, marketed in the mid-1930s, eliminated a simple but troublesome calculation in celestial computations.
Image by Eric Long, provided by National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.

Lindbergh and Weems went to Longines with the idea of creating the Hour Angle Watch, which used Weems’s method of calculating the celestial fix. The bezel and dial of the watch would “allow navigators to read off the hour angle of a celestial object at Greenwich, eliminating a simple but troublesome calculation.” Longines was ecstatic at the idea of making a Lindbergh watch, and aggressively marketed the collection in the mid-1930s. Because of Lindbergh’s fame, the watches became wildly popular, and not just among aviators. In doing so, the duo became unlikely sartorial heroes, making the flight-ready aesthetic into a salable item, helping blaze a trail for decades of high-style, aero-inspired timepieces.

“The aviation watch became a fashion accessory and it’s funny because, going back to Lindbergh and Weems, they’re the ones who actually kind of created that fashion craze,” Connor explains. “The practical watches had big knobs so you could adjust them with those thick pilot gloves on, but obviously they were shrunk down for the fashion watch. It wasn’t really for aviators anymore, it was really so you could walk around and say, ‘Oh yeah, I have a Lindbergh watch.’”

Ancient Artifacts

Bulgari’s new watch pays homage to both the past and the future.

By Emily Selter

Photos by Doug Young

Emperor Caracalla, who ruled the Roman Empire from 211 until 217 A.D., was notorious for his cruelty. After ordering the assassination of his brother Geta, and murdering more than 10,000 of his sibling’s supporters, Caracalla enacted a damnatio memoriae, a “condemnation of memory.” This edict made it a capital offense to even utter Geta’s name. Sculptures that depicted him were destroyed, coins bearing his image were melted, and his moniker was wiped from papyrus records. Caracalla himself was assassinated six years later, but passing a damnatio memoriae on his name would have been futile. His memory will never be expunged from history—one of civilization’s largest and most important ancient monuments bears his name.

New lighting, courtesy of Bulgari, reveals centuries-old interior detailing at Museo di Rome.

The Baths of Caracalla were completed in 217 A.D., and were among the grandest public structures of their type in ancient Rome. The expansive complex encompassed saunas, salons, studios—even athletic facilities. They fell into disuse after the city was sacked but, miraculously, the pozzolana and marble edifice still stand today. The site contains numerous artistic treasures, from elaborate sculptures to ancient mosaics. Scholars and archaeologists have spent almost two centuries excavating and restoring the baths, but the monument remains shrouded in its own unique mythos, holding on tightly to its many secrets.

Treasures like these are what draw people to Rome from near and far; even after centuries, the city’s remarkable ancient ruins are a continual source of fascination. They are especially beloved by the proud Roman luxury goods brand Bulgari. Founded in the Eternal City in 1884, the company has long sponsored cultural conservation in its hometown. Recent endeavors include the painstaking (and dazzling) restoration of the Spanish Steps, the grand staircase between the Piazza di Spagna and Trinità dei Monti church, and, yes, a section of tiles in the famed Baths of Caracalla.

Restoring the mosaic tiling at the Baths of Caracalla in several phases during 2015.

The polychrome-marble mosaic flooring, located in the structure’s western gymnasium, had been in complete disrepair. (It also hadn’t been seen by the public in more than four decades; in an attempt to prevent further degradation, the tiles were covered with fabric and soil.) In 2015, Bulgari helped fund a complex, multiphase restoration effort. The following year, CEO Jean-Christophe Babin joined local officials in revealing the mosaic, a pattern of undulating geometric triangles crafted from brightly saturated tiles. It earned praise in the arts community, and garnered international news coverage.

Still, Bulgari’s investment in preserving Roman relics extends beyond goodwill or recognition. The brand’s designers frequently take inspiration from these monuments, channeling the city’s vibrant past to create some of the world’s most innovative watches and jewelry. Look closely, and you’ll see the shape of sidewalk joints along the glamorous Via dei Condotti reinterpreted as a bracelet link; the Spanish Steps in the arrangement of a diamond necklace; the Baths of Caracalla mosaic pattern in pendants and earrings of the Divas’ Dream Collection. Modern riffs on that rich Roman pedigree that Bulgari continues to protect.

The Octo Carbon’s matte-black finish feels at once antique and futuristic, and jibes with both bright and neutral tones.

Similarly, the new Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater Carbon represents a clever (and seamless) blending of classic references with contemporary materials and applications, a striking integration of the past and future, old-world Italian craftsmanship gone high-tech.  

As the name suggests, this new timepiece is made out of an epoxy thermosetting resin called Carbon Thin Ply, or CTP. The material is remarkably strong and incredibly lightweight. But it can be difficult and time-consuming to manufacture, and Bulgari hadn’t worked with the composite before developing this new Octo model.

Both the Octo Finissimo Carbon (above) and Tourbillon Automatic (next image) feature weight-saving techniques and geometric motifs inspired by the coffering on the ceiling of the Basilica of Maxentius from 312 A.D.

“The challenge of using this material was to transform its constraints into an opportunity to develop and propose a stunning timepiece,” says Fabrizio Buonamassa, the director of Bulgari’s Watches Design Center.

Traditionally, getting quality sound transmission from a minute repeater case demanded roominess and rigidity. Rose gold has long been the default choice, joined, in recent years, by titanium.  But CTP is lighter than either, and offers unique physical advantages—namely the rare acoustic properties of its polymers. Buonamassa went a step further with the Octo Carbon’s design, with strategic incisions that amplify resonance inside the case, compensating for the absence of substantial internal volume. This allowed Bulgari to employ its in-house BVL 362 movement, the world’s thinnest repeater caliber, while still endowing the Octo Carbon with powerful sound output.

Incredibly, the new watch is just 6.85 mm thick, nearly 10 percent louder than an equivalent titanium piece, and weighs less than a regulation PGA golf ball.

But this isn’t some hollow, artless technical study. True to the brand, Buonamassa paired his super-progressive design to ancient motifs, naming architectural elements among his inspirations. (The octagon was a common interior detailing motif in Roman antiquity.) Owing to variations inherent to CTP, the patterns and textures of each case and dial are unique. Like the Via dei Condotti or Spanish Steps or Baths of Caracalla, or Bulgari itself, every Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater Carbon is one of a kind, a timeless entity, simultaneously a product of Rome and, above all else, totally unforgettable.

Photo Essay: Robots vs. Skeletons

In the impending age of automation and artificial intelligence, the Swiss carry out aesthetic experiments on a most human device:
the wristwatch.


Bell & Ross BR-X1 Black Titanium
$18,600; bellross.com


Ulysse Nardin Executive Skeleton Tourbillon
$20,900; ulysse-nardin.com


Hublot Classic Fusion Aerofusion Chronograph
$15,100; hublot.com


Piaget Altiplano Ultra-Thin Skeleton
$57,000; piaget.com


Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Double Tourbillon
$322,000; rogerdubuis.com


AG Heuer 45 mm Heuer 01 Chronograph with Skeleton Dial
$5,450; tagheuer.com


Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda 1950 Squelette Steel Sapphire
$22,500; parmigiani.com


Vacheron Constantin Malte Tourbillon Openworked
$305,000; vacheron-constantin.com


About the photographer: Junichi Ito was born and raised in Tokyo. Based in New York since 2005, he has photographed major commercial campaigns for Armani, Barneys, Estée Lauder, Moët & Chandon, Nike, and Victoria’s Secret. He has also shot original editorial content for Allure, Fast Company, Real Simple, Vogue Japan, and Wallpaper. His Instagram is a must-follow.

Hit List: Frédérique Constant Hybrid Manufacture

And now, for something completely different—but not so you’d notice.

Inside the Hybrid Manufacture’s 42 mm case sits a 33-jewel, self-winding mechanical movement, driving the conventional second, hour, minute, and date functions. The twist? Built into this caliber is a battery-powered digital module, which, via subdial display and iPhone app, brings next-gen functionality, including sleep tracking and fitness coaching. It also logs analytics for the mechanical movement, measuring rate and beat error, and adds a worldtime complication.

$3,795; frederiqueconstant.com

Hit List: Breitling Exospace B55 Yachting

Are connected chronographs the next big thing in competitive sailing?

Breitling thinks so. The 46 mm Yachting offers the same features as the other Bluetooth-enabled Exospace watches (text and call notifications, a dedicated smartphone app, digital/analog quartz movement, rapid USB charging). But there are now regatta-ready features, including split timing and a dedicated countdown system, allowing multiple resets to synchronize with the judge’s timer.

$7,170; breitling.com

Girard-Perregaux: The Final Frontier

The divide between past and future is collapsing.

 

It’s happening slowly and all at once; more and more, tomorrow looks a lot like yesterday, run through a funhouse mirror. Did you see Star Trek: Discovery, the next-gen period piece that’s set a decade before the original series? Catch high-fashion’s astro-chic looks on the runways last year? Or hear that S.J. Clarkson, a young Netflix director, will helm the franchise’s next film? Welcome to life inside the supercollider of “back then” and “right now” and “in a moment.” It’s pretty weird in here.

 

It’s also harder than ever to put a finger on the zeitgeist. But that’s exactly what Girard-Perregaux is doing with its current collection. The latest entry into that heady catalog, the new Neo Tourbillon Three Bridges Skeleton, arrives steeped in tradition; its triple-arch layout, the brand’s signature motif, dates back to 1884. One hundred and thirty years later, Girard-Perregaux reinterpreted the idea with the Neo Tourbillon. The bridges, traditionally gold, have been enlarged and hewn from titanium, a nod to modern cable-stayed structures, like Southern France’s Millau Viaduct, the tallest in the world.

 

The new Skeleton conveys all that history, while also introducing decidedly futuristic design elements. Girard-Perregaux’s flagship automatic movement carries over here, composed of 260 components, with a lightweight, titanium tourbillon cage and 18k white gold micro-rotor, offering a 60-hour power reserve. But the 45 mm case is taller and, crucially, the baseplate is gone. Exposed screws now sit deep into the structure of the openwork movement, holding the polished and bevelled bridges in place.

 

Somehow, the resulting piece, a mash-up of heritage and progress, feels cohesive. The Neo Tourbillon Three Bridges Skeleton isn’t a limited-run proposition. But its $138,000 price point ensures exclusivity, and, in a way, it’s the rarest piece of all: one that’s both timely and timeless. Like the rest of Girard-Perregaux’s contemporary portfolio, it would look right on the wrist of William Shatner’s Kirk, or Patrick Stewart’s Piccard, or Jason Issacs’s Lorca, in any galaxy and on any planet, a watch sure to remain fashionable and collectible well into the future—even if that future is just a colorful sendup of the past…

 


 

 

Neo Tourbillon Three Bridges Skeleton

 

It starts with the case, steeply-cambered, anti-reflective-treated sapphire front glass and sapphire crystal caseback. Inside, the unidirectional, self-winding mechanical movement features a brilliant 18k white gold micro-rotor. Still, the bridges remain a highlight. They’re made of titanium, sandblasted, blackened via PVD process. Their shape is so complex, composed of interior angles, arches, extensions and overhangs, that their machining is a watchmaking feat in itself. The result is a taut and powerful shape. Gravity, mass, transparency—what do you need with a spaceship? This radical new skeleton has it all.

 

 


 

 

Constant Escapement L.M.

 

The L.M.’s avant-garde, titanium case contains an innovative solution to the age-old horological concern: how to maintain the precision and regularity of a mechanical watch. Introduced as a prototype in 2008, this award-winning movement uses an integrated, microscopic silicon blade; it serves as an intermediary device in the escapement, metering energy to ensure constant power delivery to the oscillator, and, in turn, constant amplitude and constant rate. Sound like science fiction? Consider this: Even with Girard-Perregaux’s master watchmakers gave ‘er all they had, the super-complicated L.M. still required eight years of research and development.

 

 


 

 

Laureato 42 mm

 

The Laureato is sports watch icon. Designed by a Milanese architecture studio, it was released in 1975, flourishing in an era that celebrated leisure for leisure’s sake. In 2016, Girard-Perregaux brought out a limited-edition re-release; it was so well-received, the brand upped the ante, bringing out a whole new range. This Laureato 42 mm beams the octagonal case styling of its iconic 1975 predecessor straight into the present, but brings two thoroughly modern touches: a handsome rubber strap in place of the old integrated bracelet, and the acclaimed mechanical GP01800 caliber (designed, produced, assembled, and adjusted in-house) in place of the original’s quartz movement.

 

 


 

 

Laureato Skeleton Ceramic 

 

That new Laureato collection? It now includes dozens of references, housed in a variety of case sizes and materials. Among them, a skeletonized ceramic, which uses a thin, suspended, indexed ring as a dial, in turn offering a glimpse deep into the heart of the movement, dubbed GP01800-006, those last three digits denoting a skeleton variant. It’s a self-winding labyrinth, comprised of 173 total components, sand-brushed and treated using a galvanic process (“anthracite gray ruthenium,” according to the Girard-Perregaux’s master watchmakers), decorated by hand in a “unique and contemporary manner.” Which is all to say: the Laureato Skeleton Ceramic is a collector siren. Resistance is futile.

 

The Podfather

Working alongside Steve Jobs, a young watch collector named Tony Fadell helped create the iPhone. Ten years later, he reflects on the fallout—and shares his vision for building a better future.

By Oliver Franklin-Wallis
Portrait by Céline Clanet

It’s a crisp January morning in Paris’s 13th Arrondissement, and outside Station F, the former freight terminal that is the epicenter of France’s startup scene, twentysomethings climb out of cars hailed using iPhone apps. They approach the huge, glass-fronted concrete arches, heads bowed over screens, thumbs dancing out social media updates, pristine white earphones poking out from under beanies or from behind shoulder-length hair. The gates are activated by QR code, so they hold out their iPhones to get into work, where they’re probably building iPhone apps themselves, to connect our homes, cars, everything, to the device in our pockets.

This is the world that Tony Fadell helped build. Fadell is known in Silicon Valley as the father of the iPod, which, with its iconic wheel and those classic white earbuds, helped transform Apple’s fortunes from a struggling computer manufacturer to the most valuable public company in history. He played a central role in the creation of the iPhone, helping Steve Jobs and Jony Ive usher in the smartphone age. After leaving Apple, in 2010, Fadell founded the smart-home company Nest, which Google bought in 2014 for $3.2 billion. Few have played bigger roles in shaping today’s technological landscape. No iPod, no iPhone. No iPhone, no Instagram, Snapchat, Uber, or Pokémon Go.

But lately Fadell, like many in Silicon Valley, has been reconsidering the changes he and his colleagues have brought about. In recent months, several former engineers and executives from Google and Facebook—including the inventor of the “like” button—have spoken out publicly about the dangers of smartphones, in particular the design of apps that are intentionally addictive. In June 2017, Fadell told an audience at London’s Design Museum, “I wake up in cold sweats every so often thinking, What did we bring to the world?” This January, after two of the largest investors in Apple called on the company to take action against smartphone addiction in children, Fadell joined in, publicly urging both his former employers to do more.

When I meet him, two weeks later, the subject is still on Fadell’s mind. To be clear: He doesn’t blame Apple—“We can’t say all iPhones are bad”—or even social media companies, although he admits there are “what some people judge as bad actors out there.” Instead, he believes that today’s shocks are a symptom of society reckoning with an unprecedented technological change.

We’re sitting on a bright yellow sofa in Station F, where he has set up his own investment firm, Future Shape. At 48, he is a lean, energetic presence, wearing a teal V-neck, cords, and black zip-up boots. “My first son was born three weeks before the iPhone was released, so my kids have never known a world without them,” Fadell says. He believes that Silicon Valley’s current crisis of conscience can be traced back in part to the architects of the mobile age having children and seeing the impact of their creations. “Your worldview changes dramatically when you have your first kid. You change from ‘me, me, me’ to family and community.” Fadell has three children and, although two of them have smartphones, the family imposes time limits, “screen-free Sundays,” and parental controls.

“When I think about digital well-being, I go back to packaged and mass-produced foods,” he says. “We have created a nomenclature around fats, sugars, proteins. What is obesity? What is bulimia?” Like food, Fadell argues, apps should be subject to their own health classifications. But our smartphones, he says, are just refrigerators. “They’re not going to cause you to be an addict or not. But they always stock themselves, and will give you the ability to buy anything you want.”


When Fadell stepped back from Apple in 2009, the family went traveling. They fell in love with Paris; the city suits Fadell, who has a taste for European culture and design. They later moved back to the Bay Area when Fadell was working on Nest, but when he quit Google in 2016 the Fadells moved to France for good, buying an apartment in the Seventh Arrondissement, and enrolling their children in school.

Station F might be downtown Paris, but it feels very Silicon Valley. It’s midmorning, and young startup workers are playing foosball over cappuccinos. There’s a “Creative Zone” complete with craft supplies; food trucks linger outside. Funded by the French telecommunications billionaire Xavier Niel, it’s vast, with space for a thousand companies. Facebook, Microsoft, and LVMH have already moved in. France’s high taxes and red tape have previously been seen as inimical to startups, but that’s changing: President Macron toured Station F last summer, and the government even has an office here.

Future Shape was still settling in when I visited. The space wasn’t much to look at: a few tasteful chairs and a conference table in a glass-fronted former shipping container. Fadell had ordered a clock—it currently hangs in London’s Ham Yard Hotel—but it hadn’t arrived yet.

Fadell began investing nearly a decade ago (he won’t reveal the extent of his personal wealth, but given Apple stock and Nest’s sale, it’s likely substantial) and has stakes in around 200 companies. They range from OpenROV, a manufacturer of underwater drones, to Grenoble-based Aryballe, which develops biosensors to detect smells and tastes, and Karius, a medical startup that claims to be able to diagnose more than 1,000 infectious diseases from a single blood test. “We get to put ourselves in two hundred different scenarios—in agriculture technology, food technology, financial technology, pharma, and drugs. For me, that kind of stuff is oxygen,” Fadell says.

Living in Paris has also given him time to work on personal projects, such as Ressence, the Brussels-based luxury watch brand, which has won acclaim for its blend of traditional craft and modern technology. Fadell met its founder, Benoît Mintiens, after buying a Ressence Type 3, which has an innovative oil-filled display. (He’d explored similar approaches when developing touchscreens at General Magic in the early 1990s.)

“When I saw it, I was like, ‘This must be a Photoshop.’ Because it was stunning. The dial was just so pristine,” Fadell says. “Then I started reading the description, and I thought: that’s genius! I need to get this watch. I went crazy.”

The week before we met, at the 2018 Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie watch fair in Geneva, Ressence unveiled the “E-crown”—a mechanical movement that connects to a smartphone to regulate its own time, meaning it never requires winding. It’s being acclaimed as a breakthrough timepiece. Fadell, a longtime watch collector, whose tastes range from vintage Heuer and Ikepod to contemporary Panerai and Patek Philippe, consulted on the design.

The oil-filled Ressence Type 3 sparked Fadell’s obsession.

“Two and a half years ago, Benoît sends a text message and says, ‘Hey I got an idea. It’s really secret, but I want to make a next-generation mechanical watch. We have watch winders today that are little robots. So let’s put [one] inside.’ That’s where the two of us started brainstorming,” Fadell says. “He had a whole list of things that he wanted. I had my list of things, both electronically and mechanically, that I wanted. We had to find and strike the right balance … The whole magic was, how do you make a better mechanical watch, not [just] a smartwatch?”

“We look at products in a similar way,” says Mintiens. “Tony is someone who is putting the user in the center. In the end, with watches, it’s about: How efficiently do you express time?”

For Fadell, user experience is everything. “If we look at the major Cambrian explosions of digital technology, it’s always come from a disruptive combination of cutting-edge technology with cutting-edge user experience,” Fadell says. Every detail should be intuitive and create delight from the moment of unboxing; it was this, he says, that drove Jobs to create Apple Stores and ship iPhones with pre-charged batteries. “When you get that experience right, you put that device in somebody’s hand and they go, ‘Wow.’”

The first time Fadell tried to create the iPhone, it was 15 years too early. Born in Detroit, Fadell picked up engineering from his grandfather, a lifelong tinkerer who helped Fadell buy his first computer. Fadell showed a prodigious talent for computing; in college, he even sold a new microprocessor design for the Apple II to Apple itself.

After graduation, Fadell joined General Magic, a now-storied Silicon Valley company (alumni include eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and Android creator Andy Rubin) that was working on an early personal communications device. “We had email, we had downloadable games, downloadable apps, we had shopping, we had books,” Fadell recalls—in other words, the key features of today’s smartphones. General Magic built two devices, for Sony and Motorola, but neither took off, and the company folded. “It was too soon,” says Fadell.

Shortly afterwards, Philips appointed Fadell, then just 25, as its chief technology officer. It was at Philips that Fadell started thinking about digital music. “He had a vision for music being liberated from CD players—how music and portability could be reinvented,” recalls the designer Yves Béhar. The pair sketched out ideas for a portable MP3 player.

In 1999, Fadell formed his own company, Fuse Systems, to build it. However, as the dotcom bubble burst, the company struggled to raise money. Then, in 2001, Fadell was approached by Apple to consult on the design of an MP3 player—what would become the iPod. Steve Jobs hired him to run the new division.

Today, it’s easy to forget the iPod’s significance. “When I started, [Apple] had $25 million in the bank and $500 million in debt,” says Fadell. The iPod, with its navigation wheel and crisp white aesthetic, was far superior to anything on the market. But it wasn’t an instant success. “Steve was always saying the iPod’s going to help us sell more Macs, so the iPod can only work on the Mac,” says Fadell. Infuriated, he lead a skunkworks effort to make a PC-compatible version. “[Steve] said, ‘Over my dead body.’” It was only after Jobs relented that the iPod exploded, selling by the hundreds of millions. Mac sales also began to take off. “It was the gateway drug.”

When Jobs decided to build the iPhone, he initially appointed two rival teams to develop it. One, headed by Fadell, worked on integrating phone functions into the iPod’s click wheel design. The other, lead by then head of software Scott Forstall, attempted to slim down the Mac’s operating system to work on a touchscreen. Ultimately, the latter won out, but given Fadell’s experience with the iPod, he was brought in to oversee the hardware development. Inside Apple, Fadell had a reputation for being a troublemaker. He’d argue fiercely with Jobs, and occasionally quit or get himself fired. “His aggressive, combative style is what endeared him to Steve,” says David Bell, a friend who then worked for an Apple semiconductor supplier. “[But] he would sometimes be too argumentative, and that would piss people off.”

When Google bought Nest, in 2014, Fadell’s style caused conflict again, and although the products racked up design awards, the connected home didn’t take off as expected. After Google restructured in 2015, becoming Alphabet, Nest came under financial pressure. “When Google decided they wanted to sell Nest, I said, ‘Fine, I’m not staying,’” Fadell says. (Alphabet reportedly tried to sell Nest in 2016, but failed to find a buyer. This February, Nest was rolled into Google’s hardware team.)

In Paris, we talked about what Fadell has learned about mentorship. “When someone works for me, they say, ‘Tony pushed me harder than I ever was, and it was frustrating, but I did work that I never thought I’d do,’” he says. “That’s what people did for me. They pushed me when I wasn’t thinking properly, when I was being an idiot.”

“It’s difficult. You’re not always loved, and you’re not always liked.”

Recently, he’s started taking meetings in museums. “Steve Jobs and I would go on walks. You’d just walk and talk, and get to know somebody,” he says. In museums, “you get to be inspired, and also get to know the person. How do they think about that art? Can they look at things and think differently?”

He likes the notions of artists having creative periods. I ask if, after Nest, his own entrepreneurial period is over. “Maybe there’s something that pops up that’s like, ‘I have to do it,’” he says. “I’ve been close. But everything takes time.”

Today’s technology landscape is very different than when Fadell started. Apple, Google, Amazon, and Facebook loom above everything, with near-infinite reach and financial capital, buying every promising startup—as Fadell himself experienced. I ask if it’s possible that the next big breakthrough could come from outside those companies.

“[If we thought] that you can’t unseat giants, we would have never made the iPod,” says Fadell.  “When we were doing that first iPod, I said ‘Steve, Sony is the number one in the world. They own every single audio category. How are we going to beat them?’ And he goes, ‘We will beat Sony. Watch me. If you guys build this, we’re going to put every single marketing dollar behind it.’ And where is Sony in audio today? Where is Nokia?”

His focus on “deep tech” companies at Future Shape—the portfolio includes new types of transistors and microscopic LEDs—is intentional, he says. “I’m doing the things that I know can unseat the big guys. If we get [the technology] right, we can build product companies around it.”

One area that particularly excites him is biotechnology. “Computational synthetic biology is a whole new world,” he says. “We can literally write code, like you would write code for a computer, synthesize it in DNA. We are at the cusp of making biological computers.” Future Shape’s investments include Impossible Burger, which makes lab-grown meat substitutes, and Modern Meadow, which has created a lab-grown leather alternative. “He’s been more than an investor,” says the latter’s founder, Andras Forgacs. “Tony really understands where design and technology come together to create great consumer products. That is not common among investors.”

Fadell is skeptical about the current hype around autonomous vehicles. “The self-driving cars world is making lots of progress, but there’s so much more to do. People don’t understand: They don’t work in certain weather, they don’t work in certain times of day, they don’t work in a fog.”

Robotics and artificial intelligence, Fadell thinks, are also further off than most people think. “We are so far away from being able to create real humanoid kinds of robots,” he says. “These robots are so fragile. And we’re not even talking about intelligence. We’re just talking about grasping and picking up and and walking.”

“The one thing I learned, especially from my General Magic experience, is sometimes the technology is not there, and sometimes society is not there yet.”

The Ressence E-crown mechanical smartwatch caused a stir when it debuted in January. Fadell consulted on the design.

Fadell is starting to think about the generation that will succeed him. In 2015, Fadell cofounded an electric go-kart company, Actev Motors, with David Bell. “I said: ‘What was the experience that I had that was formative for me?’ And that was being in a workshop with my grandfather, fixing things, building the soapbox derby racer, and learning about different technologies.”

Actev’s go-kart is designed to be taken apart and modified: Parents can set speed and safety limits, while kids learn about electronics and basic coding skills. “It gives kids some opportunity to do ‘do it yourself,’” says Bell. “It’s really a modern version of what he and his grandfather would do.”

I ask Fadell about one of the tech industry’s growing problems, planned obsolescence: the relentless cycle of waste driven by constant product updates. Apple has recently been the subject of global furor and ongoing lawsuits after it was revealed that the company intentionally limits the performance of older phones, supposedly to protect battery performance. “Everyone went really crazy with the iPod because it [had] a sealed battery,” he recalls. Today, he worries about the environmental impacts of devices. “Reuse is really important. We have limited resources on this planet. That was the reason for Nest,” he says, noting that the company’s products are designed to last decades.

Increasingly, Fadell thinks the next generation of technology designers should commit to a kind of Hippocratic oath: first, do no harm. He has lobbied Apple and Google to introduce a “digital scale” function, to help us track our smartphone habits. “They’re tracking our physical well-being. Why don’t we have the same thing for our digital life?” At Future Shape, he’s pushing founders to think about impact early. “What is the purpose? How does it affect society?”

Fadell remains optimistic about the future. He often thinks back to his childhood in Detroit, building racers and taking apart radios with his grandfather. “What my grandfather would tell me is, ‘If a human made this—and they did—you can fix it,’” he says, his eyes shining. “‘And you can make it better, too.’”

Profiles in Style: Blueprints

New York’s architecture and design community is having something of a moment. Over the past decade, the city has played incubator to a fresh crop of talent, business-savvy collaborators and self-producers with an eye on the future and a healthy appetite for risk. They aren’t siloed by specialization. Buildings, interiors, graphics, lighting, product, branding—anything goes. They use 3-D printers, run pared-back studios and are sought after by premier European manufacturers. Basically, they’re making the job cool again.

Naturally, we wondered about their taste in watches.

In keeping with the spirit of our Design Issue, Watch Journal rounded up a selection of fine timepieces, an eclectic mix of classics and newcomers, all of them with blue dials. (Naturally.) Then we met with five of New York’s best young architects and designers, laid out the watches, and let them choose what went on their wrist during our photo shoot.

Consider this an introduction to the design bellwethers of the moment, a snapshot of their personal styles, and an insight into their horological leanings.


Name: Dror Benshetrit
From: Tel Aviv
Studio location: Chelsea
Known for: Architecture on Zaya Nurai Island, named the “World’s Most Luxurious Project” by Newsweek; designing the “Peacock Chair” for Cappellini, featured in Rihanna’s “S&M” music video; his signature line of home goods for Target; designing WeWork interiors
Picks: Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Quantième, Girard-Perregaux Laureato

Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Quantième
Girard-Perregaux Laureato

Dror says: “My first important watch was a strange choice. It was a Hamilton Ventura, the famous one with the triangle-shaped case. Somebody gifted it to me, and it really got me into the culture of watches. Then I was wearing, for a very long time, the classic Bell & Ross and also a Hublot. I’m really not so used to small watches. So this one [the Jaquet Droz] feels very good. The Girard-Perregaux, I like the shape. I’m drawn to the elegance of it.”


Name: Stephanie Goto
From: New York
Studio location: Union Square
Known for: Designing three Michelin-starred restaurants in New York (Piora, Corton, Aldea); the homes of several notable chefs, including Daniel Boulud; selecting furniture for the Museum of Arts and Design; overhauling the project space at the Calder Foundation; editing the Journal of Architecture’s fifth volume
Pick: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Extra-Thin

Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Extra-Thin

Stephanie says: “I’m actually in the process of acquiring [a Royal Oak] right now, so this is sort of my test run. I met an Audemars executive at Art Basel a few years ago, and tried on the watch. It felt a little big, at least for me, but when they came out with the Extra-Thin, I was like, ‘Okay, this is perfect.’ . . . It’s just so classic, that Royal Oak shape, and the stainless band is very in line with the work I do. Understated, but detailed. I think there’s a real beauty in the design of the mechanics, too. It’s so beautiful. I love it! When is mine coming?”


Name: Marc Thorpe
From: Nashville, Tennessee
Studio location: DUMBO
Known for: “The Mark Table” and “Blur Sofa” for Moroso, featured at Salone del Mobile and in Vogue Living; creating retail spaces for Acqua Di Parma and Under Armour; the Ducati Project E electric motorcycle concept; Infiniti Pavilion at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance
Picks: Panerai Luminor Due, Patek Philippe Complications Annual Calendar 

Panerai Luminor Due
Patek Philippe Complications Annual Calendar

Marc says: “The Panerai is more my style. I like simple watches. Well, simple faces at least. IWC Portugieser, Rolex Explorer, Omega Speedmaster. I’ve got a little collection, you know, just six pieces, my go-to watches. One of them is a Panerai Radiomir Black Seal, which I really love. But the Patek is just so beautiful. If one of you doesn’t ask me to give it back soon, I’m going to walk out of here wearing it. Actually, wait. . . . [retrieves iPhone] Can I take a photo of it on my wrist?”


Name: Todd Bracher
From: New York
Studio location: Brooklyn Navy Yard
Known for: Serving as creative director at Georg Jensen; “Distil Table” for Herman Miller; “The Architect’s Chandelier” for Swarovski; creating 3M Architecture’s award-winning LED lighting installations; packaging for Issey Miyake fragrances; the SodaStream Fountain
Pick: IWC Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII

IWC Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII

Todd says: “I don’t like the Apple Watch, but it opened up my mind to the idea of getting a Garmin watch, which is really big, like 50 mm. It’s funny how dainty another watch feels after that. But the IWC, yeah, this is a proper watch. Quiet, introverted in some ways, while being fiercely precise. I like the [dial] color. The blues tend to be quite polarizing, and this one’s not the most obvious shade…. There’s something about the joy of going backwards, too. I’m in the process of dumbing down my phone, turning off push notifications, that kind of thing. The IWC captures a sophisticated simplicity. That speaks to me.”


Name: Joe Doucet
From: Terrell, Texas
Studio location: DUMBO
Known for: “Duet Task Chair” for Bernhardt; “Alba Decanter” for Nude glassware; “Minim” playing cards for Areaware; the bottle design for SŌTŌ sake; packaging for Hugo Boss bodywear; cofounding the 3D-printed premium household products brand OTHR
Picks: NOMOS Glashütte Metro at Work

NOMOS Glashütte Metro at Work

Joe says: “My first real buy was a Panerai. I got it when I made partner [at New York creative agency KBP]. It was my little treat to myself, you know? Now I’ve got a few watches. Got the vintage [Rolex] Submariner. But my daily go-to is an IWC Portofino. Simple, blue dial. I tend to go for things that look and feel quite understated. The NOMOS, I like the overall aesthetic, especially that little pop of color on the subdial hand. Plus it feels really light on the wrist. I know it’s not the most expensive, but it’s the one I’d go for.”

Hit List: TAG Heuer Carrera Heuer 02

When it came to the next-gen Carrera, TAG Heuer boss Jean-Claude Biver was, as he put it, “faced with a choice between a vintage-inspired piece and a modern reworking.”

Clearly, he went the latter route.

This new iteration, introduced at the Baselworld watch fair, keeps the Carrera 01’s modular-skeleton-meets-circuit board aesthetic, but incorporates the brand’s latest in-house automatic chronograph caliber, called Heuer 02, boosting power reserve from 50 to 75 hours.

$5,500; tagheuer.com

Hit List: Longines Avigation Big Eye

Even Longines president Walter Von Känel was taken off guard when this chronograph took home the Revival Prize at last year’s Grand Prix d’Horlogerie. In retrospect, we shouldn’t have been so surprised; the BigEye oozes authenticity. It’s a straight reissue of an obscure 1930s pilot’s watch, rediscovered by a collector and brought to the attention of the brand’s heritage team.

They revived it, shoehorning a modern automatic movement (54-hour power reserve, 4Hz frequency) inside a 41 mm stainless case, while faithfully recreating the original’s dial arrangement. Between that quirky, oversized sub-register at the 3 o’clock position, the neat backstory, everyman price point, and GPHG pedigree, this one’s a no-brainer.

$2,650; longines.com

Hit List: Bremont ALT1-C/BL

The world’s oldest independent military air fleet, England’s Royal Air Force, turns 100 this year.

Fittingly, it’s Bremont kicking off centennial celebrations, skipping Baselworld to debut a fresh iteration of its flagship chronograph in London. Here, the ALT1-C ditches Arabic numerals for dial indices, and gets a new handset, a 43 mm satin case, and an enlarged exhibition-style caseback. Plus a blue dial and matching nubuck strap, a nod to the RAF’s signature color.

$6,495; bremont.com

Hit List: Ulysse Nardin Freak Vision Coral Bay

If the Freak Vision—a small-batch, all-platinum, self-winding, 45 mm wristwatch without a crown or hands—wasn’t wild enough for you, check the Coral Bay.

In the foreground, red and white acrylic paints go onto the barrel bridge; behind it, lacquers are mixed directly on the dial and heat-treated at 90 degrees between each application. Details are hand-applied, requiring some 20 hours of painting time.

$108,000; ulysse-nardin.com

Hit List: Zenith El Primero Range Rover Special Edition

Building stately, capable 4×4 rigs for expedition remains Land Rover’s core competency.

But modern customers are more Moschino than Magellan. The new Range Rover SVAutobiography fills out the brand’s rugged backbone with next-level luxe accoutrements. It’s offered exclusively as a long-wheelbase model, guaranteeing limo-like legroom. Highlights include hot-stone-massaging rear seats, an onboard Champagne chiller, and push-button-operated electronic doors.

The El Primero Range Rover Special Edition strikes a similar balance between style and utility, putting Zenith’s venerated high-beat chronograph movement inside a unique 42 mm ceramised aluminum case with a perforated leather strap. For making an entrance at far-flung locales, nothing else comes close.


Range Rover SVAutobiography, from $207,900; landroverusa.com
Zenith El Primero Range Rover Special Edition, $7,700; zenith-watches.com

Travel Time: The 9 Coolest Spots in Berlin

While company headquarters are two hours south, NOMOS Glashütte’s in-house design studio is located in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district. The area’s hipper than all get-out, a sprawling collection of third-wave coffee shops, art galleries, and vintage shops, home to punks, poets, students, and a strong contingent of Turkish expats. NOMOS maintains that the influence of Kreuzberg, and Berlin in general, is central to the handsome, modern aesthetic of its timepieces. We asked the brand’s design team to give us the lowdown on the city’s coolest spots.


1. Michelberger Hotel

“This beautifully converted factory building is a favorite of ours. [Award-winning furniture designer] Werner Aisslinger—who recently collaborated with NOMOS—designed the interior of this vibrant, homey, and creative hotel in Friedrichshain. The restaurant and bar are always worth a visit, too.”

2. Hotel Oderberger Swimming Pool

Hotel Oderberger Swimming Pool

“This boutique hotel occupies an old public bathing house [designed by architect Ludwig Hoffmann in 1898]—the rooms still have some of the old features, and, most importantly, the swimming pool is open for all. We held an event here last summer to launch its Aqua series.”

3. Lode & Stijn

The Dutch Chef Duo in charge of Lode & Stijn. Photo by Lena Ganssmann

“Contemporary, inventive, and down-to-earth in the heart of Kreuzberg, Lode & Stijn is a beautiful little restaurant that has built its reputation on local, seasonal cooking in a relaxed but elegant little space. It’s great for a drink and some bar snacks, or a leisurely evening with their carefully selected five-course menu.”

4. Katz Orange

Katz Orange

“Tucked away in the sweet courtyard of a converted brewery, Katz Orange is a treat. There’s a cozy bar with delicious cocktails, which opens out onto the courtyard in summer. Then there’s the menu of slow-food delights, put together by the brilliant German chef Daniel Finke. We also think they have great taste in desserts—try the petit fours, to which we have dedicated our latest series of Tetra watches.”

5. Kranhaus Café Schöneweide

“This small café is on a ship, on the banks of the Spree river, anchored between the AEG Hall and the so-called Behrens Bau—the former flagship buildings of Berlin’s industrialization. Our watches are made in Germany, and are influenced by German industrial design in the traditions of Bauhaus and the Deutscher Werkbund, which makes the place even more special.”

6. Turkish Market, Maybachufer, Kreuzberg

“Every Tuesday and Friday, countless vendors set up their stalls along the Landwehr Canal, selling everything from fabric and fruit to falafel wraps. NOMOS employees can often be found here on their lunch breaks, having a stroll, or getting groceries.”

7. Berlinische Galerie

“This is one of our favorite museums in Berlin, as it focuses on local art from the past 150 years, giving a real insight into the cultural history of the city. Besides the beautiful permanent collection [which includes works by Max Liebermann, Otto Dix, and Hannah Höch], there is always a temporary show worth visiting.”

8. Bauhaus Archive/Museum of Design

Berlinische Galerie Treppengalerie. Photo by Nina Strassguetl.

“It’s no secret what a source of inspiration the Bauhaus movement is to our aesthetic. This iconic building, designed by the great Walter Gropius [in 1964], houses one of the largest collections of Bauhaus material.”

9. Boros Bunker

Boros Collection. Photo by Noshe

“Only in Berlin can you find 3,000 meters of exhibition space in a converted war bunker. We share the Boros’ love for clean and creative design, rooted in the 20th century but constantly in dialogue with today’s developments. [Famed art collectors] Christian and Karen Boros have built their home onto the top floor of the bunker; on the many floors below, they put on an impressive exhibition.”

Amelia Island Concours D’Elegance

The 23rd annual spring concours was moved, at the last minute, from Sunday to Saturday, because of weather. That didn’t hinder turnout, as more than 300 vehicles rolled onto the Golf Club of Amelia Island fairways. Best of Show honors went to a 1963 Ferrari 250/275P and 1929 Duesenberg J/SJ Convertible, while Rolex awarded its Timeless Elegance trophy to a 1962 Jaguar E-Type. Other highlights included an expert panel discussion on electric vehicles, led by Jaguar designer Ian Callum; the RM Sotheby’s auction, where a 1993 Porsche 911 Carrera RS sold for $1.65M, smashing the previous record for that model and vintage; and a black-tie gala at the Ritz-Carlton, hosted by Mercedes-Benz.

(Photo: Deremer Studios LLC)
(Photo: Deremer Studios LLC)

Watches & Wonders Miami

For decades, the watch industry calendar has revolved around two events, both held in Switzerland: the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, in January, and Baselworld, in March. That all changed over Presidents Day weekend, when the inaugural Watches & Wonders Miami transformed South Florida into a horological mecca.

The event, a joint venture between the Fondation Haute Horlogerie and Miami Design District Associates, emphasized a party-like atmosphere and social media sharing. W&W Miami offered the general public unprecedented access to more than 20 premium watch brands including Bulgari, Hublot, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Parmigiani Fleurier, Tag Heuer, and Van Cleef & Arpels.

Some of them showed recent collections, museum pieces, and one-of-a-kind creations; others trotted out world premiers and top execs. Master watchmakers held classes; Buckminster Fuller’s “Fly’s Eye Dome” and other art installations, as well as a rolling street party, added an element of pageantry. Wristwatch aficionados and collectors descended in droves.

Notable guests included musician Brendan Fallis, actor and model Eric Rutherford, art collector Craig Robins, author Aaron Sigmond, and style bloggers Marcel Floruss and Lainy Hedaya.

Champagne Wishes & Caviar Dreams

The resurgence of cocktail culture has brought a renaissance in classic mixology. Retro champagne recipes, like the French 75 and Royales—and even bubbly communal punches—are finding a contemporary audience. Elegant, crisp, sophisticated. Like a radiant gold watch. But let’s go a bit further.

Sparkling diamonds? Luminous dials? Smartly bronzed cases? They all bring the spirit of delightful libation. They also coordinate perfectly with gilded barware, perfect for whipping up chilled drinks and warm enchanted evenings.

So go ahead, indulge a little. Because, as F. Scott Fitzgerald said: “Too much of anything is bad, but too much champagne is just right.”


Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque 2011 Champagne, $125; perrier-jouet.com

Carl F. Bucherer Manero Flyback, $18,000; carl-f-bucherer.com

L’Objet Bambou Ice Tongs, $95; l-objet.com

Alessi Bulla Bottle Opener, $50; alessi.com

Christofle Silver Plated Champagne Bucket Cooler, $75,500; christofle.com

Asprey Tell Me How Cocktail Shaker, $10,000; asprey.com

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Sky-Dweller, $17,150; rolex.com

Georg Jensen Acorn Champagne Sabre, $3,000; georgjensen.com

Tiffany & Company Everyday Objects Crazy Straw, from $250; tiffany.com

Montblanc 1858 Chronograph Tachymeter Limited Edition 100, $27,500; montblanc.com

Gucci Tigers Large Round Metal Tray, $790; gucci.com

Georg Jensen Bernadotte Cocktail Set, price upon request; georgjensen.com

Patek Philippe, Ref. 5124J Gondolo, $21,000; patek.com

Craigellachie 17 Single Malt Scotch Whiskey, $186, craigellachie.com

Hermès Adage Whiskey Carafe, $1,140; hermes.com

Revolutions Per Minute: The Bell & Ross Vintage Bellytanker

Looking for a new timepiece to match your new hot rod? Look no further than the Bell & Ross Vintage Bellytanker, a collection inspired by early Land Speed Record racecars.

Danger and speed are central to the Bell & Ross ethos, so when it came time to create a pair of special edition watches, the brand decided to honor hot-rod impresario Bill Burke.

PHOTO: Courtesy Bell & Ross

Burke, a U.S. Navy veteran, is widely credited with building the first Land Speed Record Bellytanker, repurposing a P-51 Mustang spare he purchased for $35. The resulting creation, once equipped with a hopped-up V8 engine at the nose, was capable of reaching 130 mph. (For reference, an average Ford sedan of the era struggled to manage 65 mph.) But Burke soon realized the 165-gallon tank couldn’t accommodate a full-size driver seat. So he welded in a bicycle seat.

Repeat: These guys went 130 mph, inside a scrapped steel airplane part, sitting on a bicycle seat.

PHOTO: Courtesy Bell & Ross

And wherever there’s history, airplanes, and lunatic speeds, Bell & Ross is sure to be nearby. The company honors Burke and his breed of hot-rodder with Bellytanker editions of two pieces from the Vintage collection, the time-and-date V1-92 and the V1-94 chronograph. The former offers a simpler, plain-bezel look and smaller 38.5 mm size, while the latter measures 41 mm and features a fixed-position tachymeter. Both employ an automatic mechanical movement, boast a satin-steel-polished case and a gorgeous gilt metallic copper dial, offer 100m water resistance, and feature a too-cool custom casebook design. Unsurprisingly, these Vintage Bellytanker watches are a limited-run proposition; Bell & Ross will make just 1000 examples total.

PHOTO: Courtesy Bell & Ross

 

Watch Cases

You’ve built up your watch collection, so now where to keep them? Deluxe cases designed to hold your prized possessions while home and away, each as beautiful as the watches themselves. Steamer trunks get resized, suitcases get modified. There are even luxe leather rolls that can get tossed right into your carry-on luggage. The bottom of the drawer will no longer suffice.  

PHOTO: Courtesy Asprey

Doing double duty as a watch winder, the English Saddle Leather watch box from Asprey not only stores six of your watches, but keeps them wound and well protected with a soft suede lining. Perfect for the top of the dresser, the glass lid lets you quickly scan your collection, making your daily grab-and-go easier than ever.

Asprey Six Watch Winder Box, English Saddle Leather, $9,650; asprey.com

PHOTO: Courtesy Globe-Trotter

A special-edition travel case from Globe-Trotter, the Deco draws  inspiration from the heady days of 1930s train travel—specifically, the glamour of the Orient Express. It’s available in navy, burgundy, and a “centenary” gray made for the brand’s 100th anniversary.

Globe-Trotter Deco Watch Case, $2,000; globe-trotter.com

PHOTO: Courtesy Louis Vuitton

The classic Louis Vuitton monogram steamer trunk gets adapted to the ideal size for holding as many as eight watches. Gleaming brass details contrast with the natural cowhide, for a miniature representation of iconic the golden age of Vuitton travel.

Louis Vuitton 8 Watch Case, $6,200; louisvuitton.com

PHOTO: Courtesy Smythson

Legend has it that Fred Smythson designed the first portable travel diary in 1908. The same style of crosshatched leather used on that book’s cover has now been adapted for a line of handsome travel accessories, featuring cases for everything from eyeglasses, currency, trinkets, and, of course, watches.

Smythson Panama Travel Watch Roll, $550; smythson.com

PHOTO: Courtesy Hermès

Swift calfskin top, bosse velvet goatskin inside, and beautiful silver hardware: The anthracite sycamore Hermès Lift holds up to six timepieces. And with a box so lavish, it’d better be a knockout assortment.

Hermès Lift 6 Watch Box, $6,750; hermes.com

PHOTO: Courtesy T.Anthony

An Upper East Side institution, New York’s T.Anthony hs created luggage for the likes of John Lennon and the Duke of Windsor. Now its made a useful watch roll for modern-day travel. Simply strap in two or three watches, roll it up, toss in your carry-on, and off you go.

T.Anthony Black Leather Watch Roll, $195; tanthony.com

Hit List: NOMOS Glashütte at Work Metro Rosegold

The notable, the collectible, the just plain cool…

 

For a no-nonsense take on the modern office watch, consider going German. The NOMOS At Work line (seriously, nonsense is verboten) puts the company’s thinnest, lightest automatic caliber into a larger 38.5 mm case, then adds a super-sleek, mega-minimal face. The collection encompasses more than a dozen pieces, all of them exceptionally sharp. Even in that company, the Metro, now available in brilliant rose gold, is a standout.

PHOTO: NOMOS Glashütte
PHOTO: NOMOS Glashütte

 

NOMOS Glashütte at Work Metro Rosegold, $9,700; nomos-glashuette.com

Hit List: A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Tribute to Walter Lange

The notable, the collectible, the just plain cool…

Walter Lange was a horological titan, equal parts technical maestro and visionary businessman. When the Berlin Wall came down, he seized on the opportunity to resurrect his great grandfather’s watch company; within a decade of relaunching, the firm was turning out instant-classic designs and developing superfine mechanicals in-house. The felicitously-named Tribute to Walter Lange celebrates the man, who died last year, by debuting an all-new movement. It’s a hand-wound, 36-jewel beauty, featuring an independent, stoppable seconds function—one of Lange’s favorite complications. The watch is available in pink, yellow, or white gold, limited to 145 pieces total and retailing at $47,000 each. The stainless steel example seen here? It’s a one-off made for charity, set to be auctioned by Phillips in Geneva on May 12.

*** Final Hammer Price: Sold for $852,525. Read more about it here.

A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Tribute to Walter Lange,  alange-soehne.com & phillips.com

PHOTO: Courtesy A. Lange & Söhne

Hit List: Montblanc Timewalker Rally Timer 100 Limited Edition

The notable, the collectible, the just plain cool…

 

The standout piece from Montblanc’s Timewalker collection defies categorization. Fundamentally, it’s a dashboard lap timer. But it’s designed to detach from the mounting bezel, effectively becoming a monopusher stopwatch. There’s also a deployable leather wrist strap, so you can wear it as an oversized chronograph. The kicker? Two legs fold out from the caseback, transforming the Rally Timer 100 into a handsome desk clock.

Montblanc Timewalker Rally Timer 100 Limited Edition (Limited to 100 pieces) $33,600; montblanc.com

Hit List: Breitling Navitimer

The notable, the collectible, the just plain cool…

 

While the name begs for nostalgia—“eight” translates to huit in French, an allusion to Breitling’s Huit Aviation Department from WWI—the execution here is unsentimental. The latest Navitimer has no slide rule, no winged “B” logo, both breaks from long-standing tradition. (It was also unveiled on Instagram and launched in Shanghai, a decidedly progressive approach for one of Switzerland’s oldest marques.) The familiar in-house automatic chronometer movement does carry over. But consider the B01, the first new watch under Georges Kern, who departed IWC to take over Breitling last year, a harbinger of change for the brand.

$7,710; breitling.com