One Hundred Shades of Blue

“You’ve got a famous last name,” Norah Jones once sang, “but you’re not to blame.” In an industry where millions of francs are spent trying–and failing–to create iconic and memorable designs, Hublot has done it twice. The brand’s 1980 debut was a scientific and aesthetic triumph; when the Big Bang arrived in 2004, it reimagined the rubber-strap luxury watch as a hugely popular fashion statement. In the decade and a half since, Hublot has updated the Big Bang with a flurry of manufacture movements while reconstructing its case in everything from zirconium to white gold with black baguette diamonds. Yet the firm’s greatest strength–the instant recognition of its core product–is also a significant challenge. How do you keep the Big Bang fresh without losing what made it popular in the first place?

Limited to only one hundred pieces, Hublot reveals the first in a trilogy in collaboration with Lapo Elkann’s Garage Italia. Expressing “Sky,” future editions will represent “Earth” and “Sea.” Photo by Atom Moore.

Lapo Elkann, the artistic director of Garage Italia, knows all about the challenges of fame. Born into Italy’s dynastic Agnelli family, Elkann would eventually become a marketing director for FIAT, the firm founded by his ancestors in 1899. Yet he was not content to labor anonymously in the family fields; Elkann’s outrageous choices in both style and lifestyle put him both on tabloid covers and in Vanity Fair’s Best Dressed Hall Of Fame. He would eventually leave FIAT and start a number of firms devoted to promoting and advancing a uniquely Italian approach to design. 

Lapo Elkann
The dashing Lapo Elkann at his Garage Italia headquarters.

In retrospect, therefore, it seems obvious that Hublot and Elkann would eventually collide–a firm considering how to evolve a famous name and a fellow who had already done so on his own account. The resulting Classic Fusion Chronograph Garage Italia exists in that narrow space where flamboyance meets tradition, to the benefit of both. “You don’t have to shout to be noticed,” Elkann states. “We pride ourselves to be both serious and playful at the same time.”

Indeed, this Hublot is relatively serious, with an ETA-based HUB1143 column-wheel flyback chronograph movement. The look, however, is playful, featuring six titanium screws holding down the first-ever sky-blue ceramic bezel on a 45mm “Garage Italia blue” ceramic case. Elkann’s logo appears at 3 o’clock, polished, and color-neutral like the crown and chronograph pushers. The strap, of course, is rubber–there’s only so much change the customer base will accept, and would it really be a Hublot otherwise? The deployant buckle is titanium.

At Garage Italia, bespoke elements can be added to anything on wheels, water, or wings.

The application of color to high-end watches is still rare enough to be noteworthy, even in what is increasingly looking like an age of near-mandatory ceramics in horology. Carlo Borromeo, Garage Italia’s designer, notes that it’s also a challenge: “When you work with specific colors, there’s a bunch of complications involved in translating a digital idea into a physical object. In particular, it’s really hard if you’re trying to obtain the same colors on different materials and with different processes. Thankfully Hublot has mastered this art, and they were very receptive to our ideas from the very start.”

What keeps the Garage Italia Chronograph from looking like a fashion watch? The fineness of detail helps–but in the end, it’s a matter of proportion and material. Nobody’s idea of an everyday-wear piece, the sky-blue Hublot would be the finishing touch for a truly over-the-top Elkann-style ensemble from Kiton, Brioni, or the tailors on Savile Row. 

Hublot's Classic Fusion Chronograph collaboration with Lapo Elkann's Garage Italia.
A tribute to exceptional motors, design, and creativity. The pale blue ceramic bezel is a hallmark of Garage Italia with its distinctive “I” logo at three.

Launched in May and limited to 100 pieces, this watch is already selling for above retail in the secondary market, suggesting that the firm could have moved a few more than it did. Frustrated would-be purchasers can take heart in knowing the chronograph is merely the first of a three-piece collaboration between Hublot and Garage Italia, titled “Sky, Earth, Sea.”

Elkann is positively ebullient regarding future collaborations: “Garage Italia is defined by Italian excellence and traditional expertise in a contemporary style which is often disruptive. With Hublot, I have found the same hunger for innovation and exploration topped with an unprecedented timeliness for technological prowess.” Will the next two Hublots from the partnership be conventionally shaped takes on the Big Bang? Will they stay near the Classic Fusion Chronograph’s retail price of $14,100? Lastly, will future series-production Hublots benefit from Garage Italia design? Neither Elkann nor Borromeo would provide specifics, but neither would they rule out the prospect of expanding the partnership beyond their limited editions.

Regarding the temptations of fame, Norah Jones sang that “I needed to stand in my own shoes.“ This newest effort from Hublot and Garage Italia does just that, benefiting from its well-known progenitors and designers without relying on nostalgia or retro appeal–and there is more to come.

Hublot's Classic Fusion Chronograph collaboration with Lapo Elkann's Garage Italia.
The automatic chronograph houses the Hublot calibre HUB 1143. The movement runs with at 4 Hz/28,000 A/h with a power reserve of 42 hours. Photo by Atom Moore.

Eyes on the Road

A cinematographer’s lifelong passion for cars supercharges Ford v Ferrari, out November 15.

Number one at the box office, Ford v Ferrari, earned a whopping $31 million on its opening weekend.

In the mid-1960s, Ford and Ferrari, two companies whose products, leadership, and philosophies were separated quite literally by an ocean, embarked on the greatest motorsport rivalry of all time.

Riding a five-year winning streak into the 1966 Le Mans 24 Hours, Ferrari would be challenged by a Ford skunkworks team led by Carroll Shelby, a chicken farmer-turned-racing mogul from Texas, and Ken Miles, a gifted if short-tempered driver from England. The resulting battles and breakthroughs are dramatized in Ford v Ferrari, starring Matt Damon as Shelby and Christian Bale as Miles.

Reviews are glowing: At press time the film commanded an 89 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Notwithstanding the star power of Damon and Bale, the production surely didn’t suffer for having a certifiable car nut behind the camera.

Behind the scenes of the 20th Century Fox film Ford v Ferrari with director James Mangold (top right) and cinematographer, Phedon Papamichael. Photo by Merrick Morton courtesy 20th Century Fox.

“I have a lot of old cars, unfortunately,” says Phedon Papamichael, the Oscar-nominated cinematographer on Ford v Ferrari and other notable productions from director James Mangold, including the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line, the Western 3:10 to Yuma, and the X-Men spinoff Logan.

In fairness, Papamichael isn’t the kind of obsessive who maintains a climate-controlled, 20,000-square-foot garage in Burbank. But it takes a certain madness—albeit an aesthetically enlightened strain of it—to keep such notoriously temperamental machines as a 1972 BMW 3.0 CSi, a ‘72 Alfa Romeo Spider and a ‘72 Pininfarina Peugeot 304 in running order.

“I also have a 2002 BMW Z8, and that’s basically my daily driver,” Papamichael says. “The others I … drive when I can.”

Filming lasted 67 days, taking place on location in California, Louisiana, Georgia, and Le Mans, France. Photo by Merrick Morton courtesy 20th Century Fox.

Such a tightly curated collection speaks of a man who wouldn’t drive something just because it’s fashionable. That quality also distinguishes Papamichael’s lens work on Ford v Ferrari, which favors classic, wide-angle closeups as well as fast, puckeringly tight cuts between the bumpers. “This is old-school Hollywood filmmaking,” he says, “really no different from what they used on Grand Prix [in 1966] with James Garner.”

There is refreshing revivalism at work in Ford v Ferrari, the kind that you wouldn’t expect to encounter at the multiplex—least of all during the bombast-heavy holidays. “To have a $100- million movie that doesn’t involve Marvel comics or extensive C.G.I., it’s almost impossible these days,” Papamichael says, “but we did it.”

Matt Damon, starring as Carroll Shelby. Photo by Merrick Morton courtesy 20th Century Fox.

Racing movies often prize frenetic camera movement over character development. Ford v Ferrari is “primarily a buddy movie, like Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid,” Papamichael says. As such, his camera serves the story first—going close on Bale as he explains the finer points of racing to his moon-eyed son—which ultimately heightens the drama of the race sequences throughout the film. “If you’re not connecting with the people on the screen,” he says, “it’s boring.”

Papamichael was raised in a clan of high-achieving car buffs. Uncle Nikos won the Acropolis Rally in his native Greece in 1953 behind the wheel of a Jaguar XK120. Papamichael’s father occasionally turned a wheel in anger on Greek rally circuits as well. So when the cinematographer runs late for this interview, it’s not surprising that the explanation he provides—aside from a veal-heavy lunch with Janusz Kamiński, the longtime cinematographer of Steven Spielberg—was wanting to catch the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix on TV.

Christian Bale as the gifted yet short-tempered English driver, Ken Miles. Photo by Merrick Morton courtesy 20th Century Fox.

“Boring,” Papamichael says of the world’s most-watched motorsport series. “You have all these drone shots and camera positions where you never really get a sense of the speed.”

In contrast, the races in Ford v Ferrari feel as visceral as title fights in a great boxing movie. Ford GT40s run wheel to wheel against Ferrari 330 P3s, their tires spinning so fast you expect them to skid across your lap. “In the end, we’re conveying a sense of what it’s like to do those speeds,” Papamichael says. “The cameras are vibrating because our rigs didn’t have any damping; they’re just hard-mounted to the car. We keep it low and close, inches away from the asphalt, and the bumpers just cut right through the frame.”

An example of the evocative cinematography of Phedon Papamichael. Photo by Merrick Morton courtesy 20th Century Fox.

The filmmakers relied on a variety of sources to get their facts straight, including 16-millimeter archival race footage. Papamichael also shouts out The 24 Hour War, a documentary from 2016 that covered the Ford-Ferrari rivalry from every angle. But to create the look and feel for their film, Mangold and Papamichael were more free-associative.

“I was familiar with the story—the GT40s and the Ferraris and the aesthetics that went with them—so preparing for the film, I was more collecting images for color references and our palette,” Papamichael says. “On my mood board were Brigitte Bardot, a Riva boat, airplanes, and some other things, like watches. I’m 98 percent sure there was a Rolex Daytona.”

Behind the scenes of Ford v Ferrari. Photo by Merrick Morton courtesy 20th Century Fox.

Might someone so discriminating in his cars and shot selection be a watch enthusiast, too? You might as well wonder if Scorsese’s characters ever utter bad words.

“I have some old Omegas, an IWC,” Papamichael says. “I have some Bell & Ross—not the square but the older, round one. I like watches, but I don’t go crazy.”

Mad, maybe, but not crazy.

Reason to celebrate! After its first five days, Ford v Ferrari has earned over $56 million worldwide. Photo by Merrick Morton courtesy 20th Century Fox.

Less Does Not Equal More

Meet the man behind the relaunch of TAG Heuer’s most storied line.

Photos by Atom Moore

Blame it on IKEA. Blame it on Marie Kondo. Blame it on the resurgence of midcentury modern design. Today we live in a world in which sleek minimalism can sometimes feel like the only acceptable aesthetic.

Guy Bove disagrees. As the new product director at TAG Heuer, Bove brings a robust sense of design that fits in well with the storied Swiss brand’s commitment to rugged adventure.

“To those who say, ‘less is more,’ my feeling is that too little is not always enough.” 

For the movement, TAG Heuer has developed the Isograph, a state-of-the-art oscillator featuring a carbon composite hairspring and custom balance wheel for ultimate chronometer precision with a power reserve of 38 hours.

Soft-spoken with wavy brown hair and a Balbo beard, Bove cuts a debonaire, yet unfussy, figure. He’s young, sharp, and — as anyone who has seen him affably roaming the halls at Baselworld in one of his wide lapel wool suits — very stylish. And while, much like his personal wardrobe, you could never categorize his design philosophy as maximalist, Bove likes to bring together disparate elements and moods when creating a luxury timepiece. Call it understated eclecticism. 

“I look for a balance between readability, being fit for purpose, and an amount of detail or quality of detail that, even if it is not obvious to most people, creates the right feeling — typography, proportions, three-dimensional detailing, finishes,” Bove tells us from his office in La Chaux-de-Fonds, a small city nestled in the folds of the Jura mountains on the French border. “I think a well-designed product should combine a feeling for quality with a sense of being in the now but also being able to survive the test of time — it should look effortless.”

A glittering combination of AUTomobile and AVIAtion, the Autavia looks to the future of TAG Heuer while keeping the craftsmanship and spirit of the past.

Whether he’s skiing in the Alps, or hiking in search of the perfect photograph for his visual art side hustle, Bove — who says he would have been just as happy being an architect or a writer — is always open to inspiration. He sees it everywhere, even in the periphery of his life: the colors in shop windows, the contours of passing cars. Perhaps it’s this unconventional approach to watch design that has put him in such high demand. 

After recent posts at Chopard and Breitling, where he led the iconic brand’s reboot, Bove was poached by TAG in late 2018. Consider that a major coup, especially since TAG had ambitions to relaunch its famous Autavia line. Like so many of its watches, the Autavia is known for a connection to motorsports. The original, introduced in 1933, was a double chronograph designed for dashboards. After becoming a wristwatch in 1962, it was adopted by some of the world’s fastest Formula 1 drivers. In short, it became synonymous with racing paddocks and the thick, wafting fumes of petrol. 

When tasked with a redesign, however, Bove was more interested in the Autavia’s lesser-known connection to aviation, which the Swiss native closely links to the spirit of grand adventure that became so pivotal to this project. The Autavia’s original double chronograph was also built for airplane cockpits, after all, and it was used by both the Kenyan and Argentinean Air Forces.  

The brushed and polished 42mm steel case is water resistant to 100 meters. For a life of adventure, an array of dial options, provide various possibilities for look and style.

“In the new Autavia collection, the goal was to introduce a new facet to the TAG Heuer range, one which brings the wearer back to a time of great adventures,” Bove says with the enthusiasm of a boy whose imagination can still be stoked by fighter planes.     

This timeless ode to adventure permeates the new collection. Devoted TAG Heuer heads will be relieved to also find specific, albeit updated, details harking back to every era of the Autavia. There’s the pusher, crown, and numeral dials inspired by the 1933 original. The case and bezel are borrowed from the 1962 iteration, and the inner flange indexes are straight from the 1970s. Add 3D luminescent blocks for the numerals, not to mention a vintage-inspired band that’s easily interchangeable — making this rugged watch as versatile as it is rakish — and you’ve got a thoroughly modern timepiece. 

Yet, it’s the namesake Isograph that truly powers the revamped Autavia. First introduced in TAG’s Carrera Calibre Heuer 02T Tourbillon Nanograph, it’s a carbon-composite hairspring that’s virtually resistant to shocks, temperature disruptions, and even magnetic fields. The state of the art invention, the oscillatory regulator, is the combination of a hairspring with a balance wheel that becomes the groundbreaking heart of the watch. Made in-house out of this innovative patented material, the combination of carbon nanotubes and amorphous carbon allows for freedom of shape and exceptional chronometer precision. 

Traditionally, only metal or silicon-based hairspring are used, making the Isograph both groundbreaking and COSC certified.

This new collection is spread out over seven models. Bove, however, isn’t shy when choosing a favorite. “I really like the aged bronze and green combination with the dark brown strap,” he says, sounding more like an unabashed collector rather than the creative brain behind the relaunch. “They blur the lines between today and yesterday and really stand out with anything you are wearing — or that I would wear at least.”

With its smoked dial and utilitarian vibe, it’s an unsurprising choice for Bove, who admits he’s a big fan of WWII era mil-spec watches. 

And that’s indeed the point of this revamped line: For all its style and deft mix of history and modernity, the Autavia — much like a worn chambray shirt or a beat-up Defender — evokes a personal history of adventure, of a life well-led. 

Hit List: Chopard Mille Miglia Racing Colors

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of its partnership with the Mille Miglia, Italy’s famed open-road endurance race, Chopard has introduced a collection of five Mille Miglia Racing Colours watches inspired by cars that competed in the historic race between 1927 and 1940. Each 42 mm chronograph bears a different dial color, a nod to the race’s leading nationalities (Italian, British, German, Belgian and French).

Chopard Mille Miglia Racing Colors – The fiery Rosso Corso red.

$6,080, each sold separately;

Hit List: Roger Dubuis Excalibur Aventador S

Proud of its newly minted partnership with Lamborghini Squadra Corse—the Italian automaker’s motorsports division, responsible for competitions such as the Super Trofeo—Roger Dubuis is touting a new 45 mm Excalibur Aventador S edition in blue that boasts a degree of complexity familiar to fans of supercars. Powered by the Geneva watchmaker’s Duotor (double balance wheels) concept, the model features a completely revamped 312-part RD103SQ movement sheathed in a skeletonized Excalibur Spider case.

Roger Dubuis Excalibur Aventador S
Roger Dubuis Excalibur Aventador S


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