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

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.

Big in Japan: Hunting World Luggage

Like Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, Robert M. Lee was ahead of his time. In the mid-1960s, Lee, an outdoor enthusiast, and businessman, designed and fabricated a line of clothing and equipment explicitly created for life on the Serengeti. Working with sailmakers in Angola, he swapped out heavy canvas for a new polyurethane-coated nylon. The material, called Battue, brought lightness and waterproofing to traditional shoulder bags and duffels, with a shock-absorbing foam core and a snag-resistant jersey inner core. He returned home to New York and set up shop. Thus, Hunting World Inc. was born.

Bob Lee, founder of Hunting World. His New York Times obituary describes him as an “excellent rifle shot and fly-fisherman.” Also a marketing wiz; author of many books; explorer and natural scientist with museum accreditation; and a classic car and antique gun collector nonpareil.

Lee’s little gear company soon offered a big selection—distinctive luggage, leather goods, apparel, sporting goods, even watches. Battue bags became an underground status symbol, especially in Japan. By the 1990s, Hunting World was running full-page ads in The New York Times alongside Barneys and Bergdorf. But Hunting World was relying on a reputation—clever, stylish, durable—that it could no longer live up to. Customers who encountered this generation of product in person were surprised. Many of the great designs from Hunting World’s core line had been replaced or disappeared entirely. Even the names of the styles and patterns—“metallic tweed,” “mystical shade,” “encompass jacquard”—were tacky.

I was one of those customers.

It was only after I started buying vintage catalogs on eBay, and researching the brand through Japanese sites, that I discovered Hunting World’s fabulous history and more curious product experiments.

In old press photos, Lee appears in impeccably tailored outdoor clothing, riding a camel on a conservation expedition in the Chinese Pamirs or shooting clay birds with the Duke of Valderano. The accompanying ad copy espouses his philosophy: “Mr. Lee designs for function first, believing the aesthetics will follow. He tests his gear personally and also equips others who are going into the field, asking for their feedback. After all, if a bag can withstand rugged conditions in the field, it can easily cope with the rigors of Tokyo, New York, or Paris.”

It’s easy to be distracted by the lifestyle accessories, which range from zebra-skin magazine caddies and springbok hassocks to safari-styled Danish “supercube” furniture. (Available with genuine zebra tops. Naturally.) But late 1960s era Hunting World field bags are what you really want to collect. Among them, the Versatote from the 1968 “Out of Spain” line is a standout.

Vintage hunting world field bag from the author’s personal collection.

Produced by a small saddlery shop in the Spanish mountains, which Bob Lee supposedly discovered on a hunting trip, these bags are hewn from a unique, regional leather. It embodies everything great about early Hunting World wares.

Despite its latter-day speed bumps, Japan’s interest in the brand never waned. Hunting World has now been revived, with a line designed by Yosuke Aizawa, showing full collections in Milan since last year and developing limited-edition pieces especially for Dover Street Market in Ginza.

Are the new bags more technically sophisticated? Sure, and you can still get a modern approximation of Bob Lee’s designs through Brady, a luggage maker in Birmingham, England, whose models retain the same names. But where’s the fun in that? Instead, grab an old catalog, hit the vintage markets, and get to hunting.

Can Formula E Make Eco-Friendly Racing Sexy?

If Malcolm Gladwell did motorsport commentary, he’d likely say Formula E was approaching its tipping point. The four-year-old series—in which purpose-built, all-electric race cars scream around diabolically tight courses often carved from a city’s own streets—has many things breaking in its favor. One, it has lured some of the most prestigious car brands on Earth. Two, it has secured a multiyear title sponsor, ABB, a Swiss builder of robotic systems. Three, it continues to cultivate strong driver talent.

 

Also, man, have you seen the new car?

 

Indeed, the 2018/19 season could mark the inflection point at which Formula E graduates from the experimental music tent to the main stage—and not just in audience terms. Once the province of electric-vehicle component suppliers and a few intrepid, early-adopter automakers, the series has since on-boarded the likes of Jaguar, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz, with more manufacturers being announced every few months. (That’s to make no mention of the star power; celebrity team owners include Leonardo DiCaprio and Richard Branson.)

 

Nissan concept livery for the second-generation Formula E racecar. The Japanese automaker is just one of many defecting from traditional racing series to join Formula E next season. 

 

With global consensus growing around electrification and battery power as a viable replacement for internal combustion, Formula E can already claim to be the most future-forward motorsport series. Given a few more years to mature, however, and it may legitimately threaten Formula 1—its closest analog, and a decidedly carbon-belching one—as the world’s premier plutocratic spectacle on wheels. 

 

Not only is Formula E coming for Formula 1’s excitement, but also for its yacht slips in Abu Dhabi, magnums of Mumm, and impeccable haircuts. The electric series will even race through the streets of Monaco next year. Consider that a bold statement of intent: Monte Carlo is the crown jewel of the Formula 1 schedule, and Formula E is mounting an electron-fueled heist.

 

A number of confluences, some expected, others not, have led Formula E to this point. The biggest shock has been the addition of Audi and Porsche, both brands having announced their race entries simultaneously with withdrawals from Le Mans prototype racing. With class victories at 10 of the past 11 runnings of the eponymous 24-hour endurance race in the French countryside, the German manufacturers’ sudden pivots have been viewed by some pundits as tactical—and less charitably, cynical—chess moves.

 

After all, Volkswagen Group, the corporate parent of Audi and Porsche, was caught in 2015 cheating on diesel-engine emissions tests, leading to billions in fines and a cascade of indictments. Even without that stain, skeptics can deride the involvement of Porsche, Audi, and others in Formula E as tantamount to greenwashing: a way to launder profits derived from gas-guzzling SUVs and sports cars in a virtuous spin cycle.

 

“At first glance, the season five Formula E car looked to our design team like an EV-powered supersonic bird in flight,” says Nissan design boss Alfonso Albaisa.

 

Even a jaundiced eye can’t help but twinkle, though, when the Gen2 car enters into view. Wholly redesigned for the 2018/19 season kicking off in the fall, the second generation of Formula E’s race car debuted at the Geneva Motor Salon. As a so-called “one-make” race series, Formula E dictates that all teams use this chassis, and the response from insiders and social media gawkers alike has been overwhelmingly positive.

 

“At first glance, the season five Formula E car looked to our design team like an EV-powered supersonic bird in flight,” says Alfonso Albaisa, Nissan’s senior vice president of global design. The Japanese automaker, another new entrant, hasn’t participated in top-tier racing since its calamitous attempt to run a prototype racer for Le Mans. The car was uncompetitive, and its design was heavily criticized. For Nissan, like Porsche and Audi, the foray into Formula E represents something of a fresh start. 

 

To that end, next season got off to an auspicious beginning, as Albaisa’s “Doppler effect” paint scheme for the Nissan car was met with acclaim. Armchair engineers will note the slippery lines of the chassis underneath, an inheritance from endless wind-tunnel work; design pundits will appreciate the clever use of color, emphasizing the body’s various convex and concave surfaces. Fans will just think it looks damn good. Formula E could always claim it was the most future-forward race series. Now it has a strong claim to being the most beautiful, too.

 


 

Q+A: Richard Mille

 

The visionary watchmaker (and Formula E sponsor) talks about Richard Branson, the future of motorsport, and the possibility of a special-edition timepiece inspired by electric racing.

 

(Photo: Wee Khim)

 

How did you get involved with Formula E? Were you approached by Jean Todt?

 

Times change, and Formula E is the future of Formula 1. The category of all-electric cars has taken a radical turn since the beginning of the championship. My friend Jean Todt, president of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) climbed aboard, excited by the work of Frenchmen Eric Barbaroux and Pierre Gosselin, creators of the first 100 percent electric single-seater race car. I have known Jean-Paul Driot (owner of the Renault e.dams team) for over 10 years, and I wanted to support him from the very beginning of the adventure. Also, the technological approach meshes perfectly with our own avant-garde philosophy. For someone like me, who loves a challenge, being in on Formula E seemed like an obvious choice. And what I liked about Formula E was the noise! It is unbelievable!

 

Richard Branson, who sponsors a Formula E team, famously said the series would be more popular than Formula 1 by the year 2020. Do you agree?

 

I feel that 2020 is perhaps a bit too early. Not due to the teams or the cars, but due to the fact that people and fans need to get used to this new field. I do, however, believe that that day of acceptance will come when the time is right. We are seeing commitment to a green economy because this is the reality we face. Technological advances will do a lot to make the sport ever more popular in the coming years.

 

Over the past two years, several major automakers with strong motorsport traditions—Jaguar, BMW, Porsche, Mercedes—have started Formula E teams. Which automaker would you like to see join the series?

 

The engineering of electric racing cars is becoming and more advanced. Within the next two years, Formula E cars will only rely on just one battery per race, instead of two. This means one car instead of two. That is what convinced new automakers to join the Formula E Championship, in fact, you quote some of them!

 

When designing race-themed timepieces, watchmakers usually draw inspiration from mechanical motifs—gears, camshafts, pistons. Electric race cars don’t have those parts. If you made a Formula E watch, what would it look like?

 

Formula E car construction is not simple at all! Even electric drive cars have steering systems, wheels, axles and thoughtfully designed bodywork—and that’s to say nothing of the fact that a lot of their materials already being used in Formula 1 construction, with new ones continually in development. Formula 1 and Formula E have strong similarities. There is a real interest in transposing everything we have learned in F1 to the electric universe. After all, they both contain everything related to acceleration, G’s, vibrations, lateral and longitudinal shocks. In short, everything it takes to kill a watch!

 

In the past, you’ve dedicated pieces in your collection to Sébastien Loeb, Felipe Massa, and Alain Prost. Which current Formula E driver deserves his own Richard Mille timepiece?
The various celebrities who embody the (Richard Mille) brand aren’t ambassadors, but rather friends. We work with them because they are outstanding in their professions, and because they are good people. We sign long-term contracts together that go beyond any consideration of results or their careers. We don’t commit lightly, and we’ve built a strong relationship with the Renault e.dams team. This includes drivers Nicolas Prost and Sébastien Buemi, and they actually are wearing Richard Mille watches during each Grand Prix. All in good time, all in good time!

 

 

Watch This Space

Do you know the name of the last man on the moon?

The painter Michael Kagan does. This April, sitting in an a Williamsburg studio built one brackish spray away from the East River, he spoke about portraying men on the edge of other boundaries.

“Eugene Cernan knew he was going to be the last. He was up there, looking at earth—not religious at all—he said it didn’t really hit him. ‘There’s earth.’ And then he turns around and looks at the blackness of outer space. That was it. The profound thing was seeing nothing.”

Seeing nothing is an odd aspiration for a visual artist, especially one like Kagan, whose large-format oil paintings are predominately figurative, and often include real figures. His main preoccupation, and most fruitful artistic ground, is men like Cernan—the astronauts who flew during the height of the Cold War in the 1960s and 1970s. Rendered in oil, his portraits combine the slickness and formal strength of their source material: old NASA publicity photos, with a bright palette of black, white, and only a couple of dabs of color. As seen most often, condensed into a square on Instagram—Kagan has more than 19,000 followers—the paintings are entirely sensible and compact, taking no more than the duration of a swipe to comprehend.

“Those Who Came Before Us” 2018. Oil on linen. 96″ x 72″.

As Kagan says, “It’s like—boom, astronaut.”

That consumable nature, a stylish repurposing of midcentury propaganda, caught the eye of Pharrell Williams—himself a man who makes serious coin tweaking material from the Space Age. (Williams’s 2014 smash “Happy” is both wholly his own work and a retread, in vocal style and sonic exuberance, of Curtis Mayfield’s 1970 hit “Move On Up.”) In 2012, having seen a profile of Kagan’s work, Pharrell purchased the rights to three paintings. A year later, they appeared on pieces from his streetwear line, Billionaire Boys Club. Half a decade on, they still trade above retail.

All of which is to say that Kagan’s paintings work great in miniature. On a screen, on a card, printed on T-shirts, the spacemen appear antiseptic and tight, with a geometry befitting the era of rocket science. This, the “seeing something” version, works very well.

“Moonwalk” 2018. Oil on linen. 36″ x 36″.

But sitting in the artist’s studio, an arm’s length from some canvases, you see how Cernan’s appraisal of oblivion, or at least of an indiscernible world, appears in Kagan’s work alongside all this order and shapeliness.  

Take “Mercury 7,” an 8-by-8-foot canvas painted from a pre-flight still taken of the Mercury Seven, the name NASA gave its first class of astronauts. Initially, it seems quite heroic.

“These guys were the ultimate rock stars,” he says of Buzz Aldrin, Leland Melvin, John Glenn, and the others in NASA’s pioneering space programs. “People would clap when they walked into restaurants. They had huge parades down Fifth Avenue in New York. Everyone was behind it in a positive way.”

In the painting, the seven men are posed indoors, but washed, somehow, in the harsh, high-contrast light of the sun unfiltered by the atmosphere. With their visors up, you see that the figures are clean-cut pilots, handsome instruments against Communism. Their transgressions—boozing, speeding, and sexual opportunism—quashed by NASA’s press office, scrubbed from the official portraiture.

Yet, in person, you realize that the smooth convexity of those NASA helmets is rendered by Kagan in topographic daubs of oil paint, used as if its didn’t cost $200 a tube, applied with a squeegee as often as with a brush. The forms waver; the balance shifts. The strokes are dispersed, disordered.

“We Have Felt the Ground Shake” at Bill Brady Gallery.

It’s a small violence: To approach a Michael Kagan painting is to watch the pristine whites of a space suit disintegrate.

Kagan likes that conceptual wiggle—from seeing something, to nothing, and back again.

“Some people say I should take a side photo of my paintings with a raking light, but I don’t want to,” he says. “I like that it tightens up in the small Instagram format, but up close, it falls apart.”

It’s the touch of vertigo that swells between “something” and “nothing” that makes Kagan’s work about more than rockets and space. Where Eugene Cernan had an encounter with the void, we, the earthbound, have the opportunity to encounter art, in hopes of forcing a perspectival shift—to see our institutions as edificial and then, in three steps, dissolve into artifice.

The first watch on the moon? Not exactly. Kagan wears an unexpected yet sentimental Seamaster from Omega. (Photo: Christopher Garcia Valle)

“When you’re in space, you don’t see borders. You just see the globe. Everyone comes back and they question why there’s so much fighting and political strife. One of [the astronaut] goals was to see in the future if space travel could be a normal thing—could we take a bunch of politicians up? Could we take people up and see what good could come from that perspective and new way of thinking?” Kagan says.

From space, through a reinforced window that shares Instagram’s aspect ratio, the world is tidy, creamy, and perfect. Only on the ground, after the Command Module has plopped into the sea, do all the jagged divides make themselves visible, and the sense of unity collapse.

The Cult of Dario Pegoretti

Super-custom, highly collectible steel bikes that look (and ride) like works of art.


Here’s a little-known fact the cycling industry would prefer you ignore: the bulk of today’s carbon-fiber racing bikes are made in Taiwan, spit out in the same automated factory. Yes, even those beautiful Italian models steeped in all that history. 

Pegorettis, on the other hand, are bikes of a different breed. Forged from steel, splashed in an array of colors befitting a Basquiat canvas, tailored to fit like a classic Neapolitan suit, every handmade Peg is—to those who still believe in the simple poetry of a bicycle—a timeless entity. So is the man who makes them. 

“The first thing a bike should do is give the rider a sense of familiarity, second a sense of security, and third a sense of trust,” says 62-year-old Dario Pegoretti, his raspy Italian voice rising and falling like a sonata. “Then we can start talking about performance. Already the first three things are difficult to achieve.”

The man himself. 

Dario should know. For over four decades, he’s been crafting the world’s finest bespoke bicycles. It’s something he likens to a love affair, one that began in 1975, when he apprenticed for legendary Italian frame builder Luigino Milani. Dario—then a university student—initially took the job because he needed money to go out on Saturday nights. It quickly evolved into his life’s calling. By the 1990s, he was secretly building custom bikes for that decade’s best racers, from five-time Tour de France champ Miguel Induráin to Italian climbing ace Marco Pantani, who slapped their own sponsors’ decals over Dario’s hand-welded frame sets.

Today, in a sport dominated by carbon-fiber construction, electronic gearing, and data-spewing fitness apps, Dario remains a throwback figure, a silver-haired savant who works in steel. Every day, he shuffles around his workshop in Verona—a concrete studio, housed in a former train depot—wearing a pair of loose-fitting jeans and floppy Birkenstocks, listening to jazz and blues records, sipping espresso as he builds a few hundred bikes a year along with his small staff. His clientele has shifted from racers to cultish enthusiasts, who flock to Verona from all over the globe to get their hands on one of the man’s coveted custom rigs. (Notable among them, the late Robin Williams; at one point, he purportedly amassed the largest Pegoretti collection in world.)

The workshop in Verona where Pegorettis are born.

Most customers fiendishly ride their bikes, marveling at its just-right fit, swearing that Dario’s steel can somehow read the road’s subtle textures and rhythmic turns. Others just mount their Pegs on the wall as art. Either way, these bikes are extensions of both builder and rider; a singular bond stems from the former’s dedication to the latter, and vice versa. One particularly besotted client even asked to have a few strands of Dario’s hair sealed into the bike’s clear-coat finish. 

“In recent years, I’ve finally learned to say no,” Dario says. He seems confounded, almost—not only by the off-the-wall customization ideas, but at the sheer fanaticism of his devotees. “Now, when a customer’s request doesn’t match what I think I am able to do, I say no. This happens a dozen times each year.”

And yet, despite his reticence to bend to buyers’ whims, despite his propensity to only work with those who trust his old-school methodology, despite the cancer that nearly killed him in 2007—a form of lymphoma that triggered a collective freak-out among his many fans—Dario is anything but standoffish. 

His process, much like his persona, is laid-back. Tranquillo.

“He’s literally smoking a cigarette and has a tape measure and is jotting your measurements down with a pencil,” recalls Ian Harris, a 29-year-old former bike racer.

Four years ago, Harris made a pilgrimage from his native New York to get fitted for his first Pegoretti. Ian’s father, who’d ridden a Peg for years, sold his son on the idea of owning a bike that would last forever, rather than some trendy technology piece.

“I was a little worried,” the younger Harris admits. For him, the Dario Experience included a dog yapping at his feet and a bottle of single malt whiskey. “Here I am about to drop the most money I’ve ever spent on any single item and this guy seems to be eyeballing it.”

Harris’s misgivings faded as soon as Dario went to work. The craftsman begins with a conversation; invariably, it goes well beyond bike geometry, bleeding into food, art, music, charming even the most skeptical of skeptics. In the end, Harris even opted for Dario’s “Ciavete” paint job, one that gives the legendary builder carte blanche to cast your brand-new, one-of-a-kind machine in whatever color scheme he feels like on that given day.

“The paint scheme reflects my mood,” Dario says. He can be influenced by anything, from recent photography exhibits to a “lady’s magazine” he flipped through at the hairdresser. “If it’s not a perfect day, the black color will flow a lot along the tubes. In contrast, the white and yellow will flow if the day is okay. Sometimes, I think that a rainy or sunny day affects what I do.”

“The paint job, I told him, ‘You take care of that,’” says Aldo Sohm, Chef Sommelier at New York’s three-Michelin-starred Le Bernardin. “I’m not going to tell Michelangelo how to paint the Sistine Chapel.”

Sohm, an Austrian native, was bitten by the cycling bug four years ago, and quickly began amassing a trove of high-end Italian racing bikes.

“It’s like buying watches,” he says. “You buy the first one, then you buy the second one, and you’re hooked.”

His burgeoning obsession eventually led to Pegoretti; he was fitted for a bike when Dario was visiting New York. The two met outside a barbecue joint in Brooklyn (Sohm suggested this, having heard about Dario’s love for meat and American cuisine, a habit that—along with his smoking—must grate his oncologist), and Dario measured him right there on the street. The finished product soon became Sohm’s favorite ride, outperforming all the modern bikes in his collection. 

“When you descend on a Pegoretti, it’s like you’re sitting on a razor blade,” Sohm says. “It’s just so precise. And if you go over cobblestones, you just glide over them.”

Next on Sohm’s agenda is organizing a ride for local Pegoretti owners in New York City. Unsurprisingly, they’re a rare breed, which is probably what engenders such a feeling of clubbiness among them.

“What’s the expression?” Harris says with a laugh. “Game recognizes game?”

He says he’ll always get waves from fellow Peg Heads, the requisite nod and nice bike! Once, he was chased down the west side of Manhattan by a guy in a car, who rolled down his window to say that he, too, owned a Pegoretti.

“It’s like having a very obscure, vintage Tag Monaco,” says Harris. “If you see someone wearing it, you think, ‘This guy must know a lot about watches.’”

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 Future of Watch Buying, According to Mr Porter

The website Mr Porter is best known for its selection of fashionable menswear, supplying modern shoppers with deftly chosen clothing by a range of labels, from Acne Studios to Z Zegna. It’s built a loyal following since launching in 2011. But recently, the site has been gaining recognition for offering designer wares of a different ilk: luxury watches.

“Our view on watches is the same as it is with fashion,” says Toby Bateman, Mr Porter’s managing director. “We’re trying to create a selection of brands that represents different aesthetics and different price points so that ultimately we’ll have something for everyone.”

Log on to mrporter.com, and you’ll find pieces from Montblanc and Baume & Mercier, starting at under $1,000, running up to investment-grade Piaget and Jaeger-LeCoultre. Mirroring the clothing side, which carries discovery labels such as And Wander and Herno Laminar as well as mainstays such as Gucci and Prada, insider watch brands like Ressence and Weiss are included in the mix.

Mr Bateman’s Rolex Explorer (Ref. 1016) with Boglioli blazer, Drakes shirt, and Prada trousers.
(Photo: Christopher Garcia Valle. Styling: Justin Arroyo)

All told, Mr Porter has hundreds of watches from more than a dozen brands. But the selection isn’t overwhelming. Like everything else on the site—and on its womenswear sister site, Net-a-Porter—what’s stocked is a concise, targeted edit instead of a scattershot.

“We’ve got buyers who can whittle down what can be a complicated and quite daunting shopping process for customers,” Bateman says.

His curation includes multiple iterations of classic pieces, quite a few exclusive styles and limited editions, the occasional desk clock, and even adventurous one-offs, like Bell & Ross with a transparent crystal sapphire case (priced at $480,000 and, as of this writing, still available.)

“We can talk about watches in the context of style . . . no one else in the market, online or offline, is really able to do that.” 

– Toby Bateman, mrporter.com

But unlike a dedicated jeweler or watch retailer, Mr Porter’s overall breadth of stock—in addition to clothes and shoes, sunglasses, briefcases, neckties, and jewelry—helps shoppers imagine how a timepiece could fit in with their wardrobe. Bateman sees this as a major advantage.

“We can talk about watches in the context of style, and pretty much no one else in the market, whether their online or offline, is really able to do that,” he says. “If you go to a jewelry store on Madison Avenue or on Bond Street, you just see watches—you don’t really [get] ‘This is how you wear that diver’s watch,’ ‘This is the one for the office,’ ‘This is the one for jeans and a T-shirt over the weekend.’”

The aforementioned one-of-a-kind transparent Bell & Ross BR-X1.

In terms of ushering high-end menswear into the e-commerce realm, Mr Porter’s has been a trailblazing force, and the site’s upscale look was crucial to its breakout success. Even judged by those lofty standards, timepieces get special treatment in terms of imagery and text. Every watch is photographed in-house with dedicated cameras; more details about each are included than would be with, say, a pair of trendy sneakers or a bomber jacket. Some pieces are even offered with multiyear warranties.

“When you actually see how professional and well-done Mr Porter is, it was a little bit of a no-brainer,” says Nick English, the co-founder of Bremont, the first brand to partner with Mr Porter when it began carrying watches, in 2013. “The whole experience is pretty amazing—they just do it really well. It’s the closest thing to going in there and talking to someone in a shop.”

Some watch companies view the site’s unique position—egalitarian and accessibilible, but still upmarket—as a bridge. Put simply, Mr Porter represents a medium to showcase items to shoppers from around the world that might be intimidated by a traditional watch store, or simply unfamiliar with their brand.

“We felt this is a good opportunity to potentially connect with a new clientele in a very convenient way,” says Giovanni Carestia, North American President of Panerai, which has been carried on the site since last year. “This is great way to raise the bar.”

Mr Bateman’s own Jaeger-LeCoultre Deep Sea Chronograph, with Oliver Spencer jacket, Prada sweater, Gitman Vintage shirt, Blue Blue Japan jeans, and Common Projects shoes.
(Photo: Christopher Garcia Valle. Styling: Justin Arroyo)

Nearly five years in, Bateman describes the site’s watch business as being “in its infancy.” He says a Luxury Watch Guide expansion is planned, and Mr Porter did stock the new Cartier Santos when it launched in April. Still, the site’s catalog largely leans away from formal dress watches, emphasizing versatility. Zenith, IWC, and Nomos Glashütte are featured heavily. TAG Heuer and Montblanc smartwatches have been popular thus far, but—ironically, for a digital-only retailer—a broader range of tech watches will be added only if they fit well into the overall mix.

(Bateman: “It will depend on what comes to market and whether it’s got a good U.S.P. [unique selling point] that we can talk about with our customers.”)

Regardless, he says timepiece category has already helped broaden the site’s customer base. And whether or not Mr Porter becomes a major player in the luxury watch market, Bateman believes that it’s positioning the site as a more holistic retailer for the shopper of the future.

“Having watches on the site has enabled us to reach guys who don’t consider themselves to be ‘fashion guys,’” he says. “They come to Mr Porter and see the watch selection, but in the process they’re discovering Mr Porter. What they then see is that we create really great content which isn’t overly fashion-led—it’s quite lifestyle—and we have a very diverse product offering across all our categories. [Those shoppers] hopefully will become Mr Porter customers in other aspects.”

Roman Holiday

On a sunny Wednesday morning late last year, Fabrizio Buonamassa found himself behind the wheel of a sleek twin-turbocharged sedan, juking through traffic in downtown Palm Springs, making a beeline for the deadliest road in America.

Buonamassa, the 46-year-old head of watch design at Bulgari, had never been to California. The night before, he’d paced slowly across the rooftop at Chateau Marmont, taking in the Los Angeles skyline, seeming pensive. But when he arrived in Palm Springs, an unsuspecting publicist tossed him the keys to a new Maserati Ghibli. Buonamassa promptly set the navigation to Route 74, that infamous widowmaker of a mountain road running into Coachella Valley, and laid down two fat strips of rubber exiting the hotel parking lot.

“Police?” he said, slowing the Ghibli from felony to misdemeanor speeds, eyeballing a suspect black-and-white sedan in the opposing lane. When it passed, he shrugged, downshifted, and ripped into the throttle again. “Hah!”

Bulgari Octo Maserati GranLusso.

Ostensibly, Buonamassa was in town for the Los Angeles auto show, celebrating the release of the new Octo GranSport and Octo GranLusso, the latest Bulgari x Maserati watches. The collection brings together two titans of Italian design—the former company being Rome’s premier jewelry house, the latter Modena’s oldest luxury automaker. For Bulgari, which is now owned by Paris-based luxe conglomerate LVMH, it’s an assertion of the brand’s domestic sensibilities. For Maserati, which has seen sales increase tenfold over the past decade, it’s an opportunity to bake in an additional layer of exclusivity. (While the GranSport and GranLusso aren’t limited-run pieces, they will be available only to Maserati customers.)

Still, joint ventures between watch companies and automakers can feel contrived. Buonamassa brings a unique credibility to this one. He grew up in Naples and studied in Rome, worshipping at the altars of Bertone and Zagato and Pininfarina, the famed carrozzeria that coach-built bodies for Ferrari and Alfa Romeo. Before joining Bulgari in 2001, he actually served as an auto designer at Fiat Group, Maserati’s corporate parent. It was the realization of a childhood dream.

“If I have to make a choice, my heart is closer to the Italian vintage cars than the Swiss watchmaking heritage,” Buonamassa admits. “My father, he was working for Hertz, you know, the rental car companies. He would travel and bring me home books of cars from around the world. I was sketching them from the age of four or five, and this is what I enjoyed drawing first—the cars. But I have always loved designing product. This idea of making emotion from an object. I just love it.”

Bulgari Octo Maserati GranSport.

These two new watches are a testament to that fascination. Buonamassa’s design cleverly recalls a vintage sports-car tachometer; the standalone, retrograde hand sweeps a linear path to indicate minutes, which are displayed in single digits and underscored by a “MINx10” multiplier. The GranSport even has hash marks near the top “6” marker, aping a redline. Hours are shown through a crystal aperture at the three o’clock position, clicking off like an odometer.

The GranSport is DLC-treated steel, black to match the textured dial. It’s slung on a black perforated leather strap with electric-blue contrast stitching, mirroring a Maserati bucket seat. The GranLusso brings a more formal vibe, with an 18-karat pink gold case and gray sunburst pattern dial, hanging on a padded chestnut band. Both pieces measure 41.5 mm, house the same 33-jewel automatic movement, are assembled in-house, and offer a 42-hour power reserve. More important, both pieces look and feel as unimpeachably Italian as the man who designed them.

Back in Palm Springs, having crossed Route 74 off his bucket list, the lanky Buonamassa strode across the courtyard at The Parker hotel, hands in his pockets. Wearing an impeccably tailored blue jacket, Jacob Cohen denim, and purple Persol sunglasses, he stopped to admire a large bronze statue of a half-peeled banana, installed on a grassy patch next to his room. Astrud Gilberto’s “Portami con Te” played over a lawn speaker. He hummed along with the refrain, smiled, then checked his watch.

“Oh!” he said. “Time for lunch.”

Buonamassa in his Neuchâtel office (Photo: Lukas Wassmann)

***

In the beginning, I started to appreciate beautiful drawings. Design was a consequence, because it gave me the opportunity to make sketches. This is why I’m a designer. I’m lucky because my profession is to make drawings.

I’m a formative designer. In my career, I design a lot of different things. I think that a designer should be able to do this. Honestly, the process is sort of a small mystery, but the approach is the same for airplanes, for cars, for watches, for furniture. You have to solve problems. You have to know the problems and imagine solutions, and you have to do this in a beautiful and unique way.

Design is a compromise. Even the credit process. And if you do not trust your idea, it’s impossible to sell, even to the boss. So I have to imagine something, to start to make sketches, to tell you I think that this idea is correct. The sketch is just a skill, it’s just a tool because sometimes I need to fix the image that I have in mind. But I have to trust the idea.

My job is to turn technology into emotions. Bulgari is well known for geometry and color innovation. We were the first to use cabochon cut in jewelry. We were the first to use aluminum in couture watches, plastic in watches—we were the first to use porcelain, exotic material, and steel in fine jewelry. This is the case with the Octo Finissimo, the thinnest automatic watch in the world. I have to know the technology, and I have to be able to transform it into something that makes sense to the client. Otherwise, it’s just a movement. Yes, okay, it’s a fantastic movement, but this is the role of the designer. And I have to do this through the iconic signs, the codes of the brand, and the heritage of the brand.

We have a word in our vocabulary, sprezzatura. That means you can make something very complex in a natural way. The most important innovations are made by simple things. And the simplicity, like Leonardo da Vinci says, is the latest complication. [The Octo] is very difficult to produce, but it works very well. It’s strong enough for everyday life, and it looks absolutely simple. This concept of sprezzatura, for the first time you can find it in watchmaking. Because in Swiss watchmaking, you can find a lot of watches that are very hard [to produce], but also very difficult in terms of language. How can I read the time?

If a product is able to talk to you about its function, I’ve done a good job. Good design expresses itself. If I tell you the watch is this, this, and this, and that you have to use it this, this, and this way, maybe it’s not a good design. It’s another thing.

The retro trend, it is copy-and-paste design. For some brands, it’s easier to open the desk and say, ‘I want to make the new edition of this watch.’ This is not our approach. We make a lot of sketches on the wall and we say, ‘This is good. Wow, it’s fantastic.’ After five minutes, we see again the products and we say, ‘It’s not Bulgari enough.’ The octagon has a lot of different meanings in different cultures, different religions—eternity, friend, perfect balance between the heaven and the earth. It’s a shape that Bulgari started to use in the 1950s. When we decided to revamp, for Gérald Genta, sure, you have to make an Octo. But the Octo that you see today, it’s an Octo made by Bulgari. This [new] watch, it’s the same shape, but with different attention to the details of the faces. It still performs, but in a contemporary way. This is the signature of the brand. When you see this watch, you cannot make mistake it. But when you see this watch compared to a vintage one, it’s two different worlds.

We don’t have a creativity issue at Bulgari. We don’t just put the logo on a watch and say it’s a Bulgari x Maserati, because we have a lot of ideas. The idea [for the GranSport and GranLusso] was to tell you the time in a different way—to tell you the time as a rev counter, as in the dashboard of a car, thanks to our retrograde and jumping hour movement. The number on the watch dial, it is the same font on the Maserati dashboard. After that, it’s a matter of color. The GranSport is very dark. It’s a nod to the performer. The GranLusso, it’s more exquisite. It’s more elegant, more luxurious. This is the two faces of the Maserati, the brand that invented the gran turismo, the kind of cars driven not only by performance but also luxury.

Bulgari and Maserati have a lot of elements in common. Both Italian brands made by [families], the Maserati sons and Sotirio Bulgari with his sons, Giorgio and Constantino. Very strong entrepreneurial skills. The same attention for proportion, the same attention for beautiful things. [The Octo] is an impressive watch in terms of technical skills, let’s say ‘performance,’ but it’s not the first thing you notice. Maserati is the same. It’s engine technology, performance chassis. But when you look at a Maserati car, first of all you see that it’s beautiful.

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.”

The Mercedes Benz G-wagen (1979-2018)

Encased in amber on this page is a collection of parts representing a greater sum, a tool made redundant by progress but reborn as a status symbol, an anachronism that survived as the object of enthusiast lust. Sound familiar? Parallels to the wristwatch aside, we loved the original Mercedes-Benz Geländewagen because of what it represented: an epic and improbable triumph of smart engineering and authentic style.

The backstory is equally as improbable. The first prototypes were commissioned in 1973 by the Shah of Iran, at that time a major Mercedes-Benz shareholder. He asked the company to create an all-new truck, one that could traverse his kingdom’s vast and harsh terrain. The resulting machine, equipped with a stout diesel engine and hardcore four-wheel-drive system, resembled a Jeep that subscribed to Architectural Digest and liked hitting the squat rack. It underwent extensive torture testing in the Arctic Circle and Sahara Desert, only to arrive in early 1979—just after the Shah was deposed.

The original 280 GE on display before the new model’s arrival at the North American International Auto Show, in Detroit. (Photo: Daimler/Deniz Saylan)

Not that it mattered. Build by hand at a dedicated facility in Graz, Austria, the new truck’s overall rugged construction, robust mechanicals, and freakish off-road abilities were a revelation. It wasn’t long before the Geländewagen, known colloquially as the “G-wagen,” found its way into military fleets around the globe. Mercedes began offering a street-legal version to civilians across Europe. Sales held steady throughout the 1980s.

Then something funny happened. Which is to say, nothing happened.

 (Photo: Daimler/Deniz Saylan)

Whereas modern cars get styling tweaks after two or three years, and a clean-sheet redesign after seven or eight, the Mercedes saw just one exterior overhaul, in 1990. Even then, it retained the same durable body-on-frame bones, the same upright windscreen, and squared-off profile. When the G-wagen finally arrived at U.S. dealerships, in 2002, it was stuffed with premium features and a complex V-8 engine but still rode on its original steel chassis. Customers lined up to pay six figures for what was essentially a brand-new antique.

They quickly discovered that, as a commuter vehicle, the G-wagen was compromised in nearly every facet. The mega-tall roof, engineered to accommodate a high seating position for scanning rutted dersert topography, became an albatross in parking garages. The soft suspension and slow steering were ideal for off-road handling but sloppier than a soup sandwich on asphalt. The braking performance and fuel economy, about which the less said, the better.

The original 280 GE on display before the new model’s arrival at the North American International Auto Show, in Detroit. (Photo: Daimler/Deniz Saylan)

But the design resonated. Rolling around Beverly Hills or South Beach, where a curvaceous, high-tech supercar is all but mandatory, the G-wagen’s brutal angularity and warhorse vibe seemed vaguely rebellious and deeply cool. Mercedes leaned into the silliness, offering customers new levels of conspicuous absurdity—a six-wheel version, an exotic twin-turbo V-12 engine, a special-edition wearing fluorescent yellow paint. Incredibly, the G-wagen, effectively unchanged after nearly four decades in production, hit record sales last year before its all-new replacement was announced.

The cynical take is that we, as a people, are attracted to excess. Maybe that’s true. But the G-wagen’s brand of excess stood for something, even if many of the customers didn’t realize it. Planned obsolescence is a treadmill; newness is a cult. But function and quality, and good design, are forever.


Paul’s Take…

“The G-wagen succeeds because it’s a piece of anti-design design. Of course, there’s something disingenuous about that—it’s a very elaborate, powerful, luxurious vehicle. But it’s ostentatiously boxy, and looks plain in the same way that someone in jeans doesn’t look dressed up. It’s a brilliant piece of reverse snobbery, which is why it took on a whole new life as a luxury vehicle. It appeals to people who want to spend a lot of money and avoid conventional status symbols.” 

— Paul Goldberger, architecture critic and Vanity Fair contributing editor

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.”

Travel Time: Berlin

Venice may be more picturesque.
London may be more polished.

But nothing compares to the raw energy of Berlin.

Here, in Europe’s undisputed capital of contemporary art, the grit and graffiti have an appealing allure. And yet, Berlin is growing up. Sure, you can still party hard in the techno clubs in bombed-out warehouses, but you can just as easily find expertly crafted cocktails at boho rooftop bars and moody speakeasy-style joints. Foodies, take note: Berlin now has more Michelin-starred restaurants than Copenhagen, with talented young chefs redefining German cuisine, making the city’s culinary scene more dynamic than ever.

Ahead, our guide to unwinding, indulging, and getting cultured like a Berliner.


Where to stay… 

A grande dame opened in 1909 and overlooking the Brandenburg Gate, the Hotel Adlon Kempinski (from $335 per night) survived World War II only to burn to the ground shortly after. It was rebuilt to the original exacting standards in 1997 and continues to innovate. The rooms may be traditional in style, but the restaurant Sra Bua by Tim Raue—Germany’s hottest chef—is contemporary in both concept (e.g., pan-Asian dishes prepared with haute cuisine techniques) and design.

Sophisticated travelers, including A-listers like Tom Hanks, check into Rocco Forte’s Hotel de Rome (from $385 per night) for a chic pied-à-terre away from the crowds but still centrally located in Mitte. This five-star property, which occupies the landmarked Dresdner Bank across from the Staatsoper Opera House, boasts a modern design and contemporary art. On a warm evening, the rooftop bar is the place to be.

Located in Charlottenburg, on the city’s more commercialized west side, Hotel Zoo (from $245 per night) is eye-catching. Whimsical touches abound, from birdcage chandeliers in the restaurant to elevator art depicting paparazzi whose cameras flash when you enter. The attention to detail extends to the in-room rotary phones and bathrobes by Maison Margiela.

Where to play…

A T-shirt in the window of this Michelin-starred restaurant near Checkpoint Charlie reads “Who the fuck is Paul Bocuse?” That pretty much sums up the cheeky attitude at Nobelhart & Schmutzig, where vinyl albums spin as diners, seated at an L-shaped counter, sip biodynamic wine and watch the chefs prepare hyper-local dishes in an open kitchen.

The Michelin-starred Pauly Saal was once a Jewish girls’ school, and it retains the original tiled walls from the gymnasium, in interesting contrast with the Murano glass chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. But the real reason to go is Arne Anker, the talented chef who’s creating truly artful New German cuisine.

Come happy hour, you’re likely to find Berlin’s creative types at the Monkey Bar, located on the rooftop of the 25 Hours Hotel Bikini Berlin, gathering for craft cocktails with views of the west side. Order a refreshing Garden & Tonic (gin, maraschino liqueur, celery bitters, tonic water, fresh cucumber, and mint) and watch the sunset.

For a post-dinner nightcap, head to the acclaimed speakeasy-style Buck & Breck. Ring the bell to gain entry, then appreciate the intimate vibe inside,  where expert bartenders stir and shake some of the city’s best cocktails.


Pocket guide… Mitte District

  • The magnificent Staatsoper opera house, originally commissioned by King Frederick of Prussia, recently reopened after a seven-year renovation, ushering in a new era for opera in Berlin. The retouched hall has better acoustics, improved visibility of the stage, and a fresh gloss.
  • The Pergamon Museum on Museum Island may be closed for renovation, but a temporary building housing a panorama and 3-D simulation of the Pergamon Altar will open in April, giving visitors an overview of this ancient wonder.
  • For a taste of the city’s world-famous contemporary art scene, head to the KW Institut for Contemporary Art, where a series of exhibitions by emerging and established artists are spread out over several floors. The leafy courtyard is a pleasant place to sit and sip a coffee after viewing the art.
  • Prominently located in the heart of Mitte near the Brandenburg Gate, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe by American architect Peter Eisenman serves as a somber reminder of Germany’s dark history. Walking through the rows of steel-gray stelae, you feel claustrophobic—and that’s the point. It’s worth taking time to reflect on what happened here.

Berlin according to… Kimia Kline

The Brooklyn-based painter and curator at Williamsburg’s Wythe Hotel spent last September in Berlin doing a residency with 68Projects. She shares her favorite places to see art, eat, and unwind.

“Berlin is one of Europe’s best cities for art. If you can visit during the last weekend in April, you’ll be able to catch Gallery Weekend and see some world-class exhibitions. My favorite galleries are Philipp Haverkampf, 68Projects, Contemporary Fine Arts, and König Galerie.”

“In addition to galleries, the museums are filled with incredible art collections. The Neues Museum is home to one of the most impressive Egyptian collections in the world, and also houses the exquisite bust of Nefertiti. For German Expressionism at its best, visit the Käthe Kollwitz Museum in Charlottenburg and the Brücke Museum.”

“Public spaces are taken seriously in Berlin, with beautiful parks scattered throughout the whole city. Visit Görlitzer Park for an afternoon picnic or nap in the grass, then head over to Admiralbrücke Bridge to feed the swans and take a boat ride down the river.”

“My favorite restaurant in the whole city is Der Goldene Hahn. It has a rotating seasonal menu and great atmosphere. Think speakeasy meets Italian pasta house.”

Max Büsser’s Accidental Art Gallery Empire

When Maximilian Büsser opened the original Mechanical Art Devices Gallery in Geneva, in October 2011, he never expected to sell any of the artworks on display.

They were simply meant to contextualize his watchmaking collective, MB&F, and its experimental Horological Machines line of timepieces—“to demonstrate our path of thinking,” he says. But the gallery proved an incredible success as a showplace for fantastical kinetic art. So successful, in fact, that it spawned two satellite locations: Taipei and Dubai, which opened in 2014 and 2016, respectively.

Achille Varzi at the Circuit of Spa-Francorchamps, circa 1947. The photo is part of M.A.D. Geneva’s “For the Thrill of Speed” exhibition, featuring the work of French racing photographer René Pari.

For Büsser, a veteran of the watch and jewelry industry, the M.A.D. gallery led to a second professional life, as a curator. It’s a role he never expected but very clearly loves. His newfound passion for fine art and fascination with machinery meet in “For the Thrill of Speed,” a rare static exhibition at M.A.D. Geneva. It encompasses a collection of auto racing photographs by the late French racing photographer René Pari, which were painstakingly resurrected from damaged negatives by artists Daniel Berque and Serge Brison.

Before the grand opening of “For the Thrill of Speed” in Geneva, Büsser spoke to Watch Journal about the origins of the gallery, what he looks for in an artist, and why he prefers co-creation to inspiration.


What was the genesis of the gallery concept?

Most retailers didn’t understand what we were trying to do with our Horological Machines. They’d look at our pieces and say, ‘This is not a watch.’ I thought maybe our pieces should be presented in art galleries, so I went to see some art galleries, and they said, ‘Well, this isn’t art, it’s a watch.’ Clearly, something wasn’t working.

I realized I needed some sort of hybrid concept. It had to be an art gallery which was specifically catering to mechanical or kinetic art, so people would understand what we were trying to do. Initially, it was like a decoding machine. If you understand Frank Buchwald and his incredible machine lights, then maybe you’ll understand our Horological Machine. If you want a motorbike, you go get a Ducati, or a Harley Davidson; if you want a work of art, you get a Chicara Nagata. By the same token, if you want the time, you buy a Samsung or an Apple Watch. If you want a piece of art, you buy an MB&F.

What do you look for in an artist and where do you find them?

Initially, we were scouring the internet. Remember, we had a blog, “Parallel World,” on the website, and every week for ten years we had a post always talking about things that amazed me—things that I wanted to share. In doing this, I bumped into a lot of incredible creations and creators. We were very active at the beginning looking for artists we’d be proud to showcase; now we have a certain amount of artists who contact us.

I always say the M.A.D. Gallery is an orphanage because virtually all of the artists we showcase are either misunderstood or shunned by traditional galleries. Because traditional galleries are usually interested in paintings, photos, mixed media. Kinetic art is something ninety-nine percent of galleries don’t understand or want to deal with.

Who are some of your favorite artists?

Definitely Damien Bénéteau, who does these incredible light sculptures. There is of course Bob Potts, the American artist who does these flying machines, which are so beautiful—real kinetic art. There is this incredible Turkish artist, Server Demirtaş, who had a solo show last May. He does these android robots who come to life and they’re mind-boggling. And we introduced an English kinetic artist called Ivan Black who created what looks like a lamp, which is actually a kinetic art piece that starts moving, and does incredible choreography. And I’ll finish with Nils Völker, who does choreography—we’re very much into choreography these days. Artists who create pieces that are beautiful to look at but when they start moving, they’re like a ballet.


Frank Buchwald
“Machine Lights Type No. 5” feels anatomical, mounting hand-crafted
lamps on alien-like, four-footed bases with quasi-corporeal symmetry
Server Demirtas
“Contemplating Woman’s Machine III” incorporates a complex network of
wires and Plexiglas cogs to execute hauntingly fluid movements
Chicara Nagata
“Art Three” took nearly 6,000 hours to complete, an undertaking that
involved more than 500 custom components, each fabricated by hand
Nils Völker
“Royal Blue” features 16 decorative honeycombs, which fold, unfold, and
pirouette in unison. Think: oragami flowers meet synchronized swimming.

Ivan Black
“Nebula Hive” is chandelier for the 21st century, a luminous vortex that
variably dims and spins to transform into countless celestial forms.

Do you find yourself inspired by the artwork when creating timepieces for MB&F?

I’m sure I am, but it’s not something very blatant. It’s not like I love Frank Buchwald’s machine lights, and then say, “Let’s do a watch that captures his style.” I wouldn’t have much pride in copying something that exists from someone who’s created something incredible. It actually infuses me. There are times when we’ve co-created, as with the LM1 Xia Hang, which has the little alien who falls asleep as a power reserve indicator [a collaboration with Chinese sculptor Xia Hang]. So we will sit down and say, “Why don’t we create something together?”

How do “co-creations” work?

The first co-creation we did was with Reuge, the music box company. It happened because we had some Reuge boxes at the beginning of M.A.D. Gallery; I loved them but they didn’t speak to me. So I went to them and we made MusicMachine 1 [an unconventional music box]. Then we started doing the clocks, the Caran d’Ache pen [known as the Astrograph]. All these clocks, music boxes, and pens very much have in mind creating 3-D kinetic art for the galleries. So it’s sort of, what goes around comes around. The gallery was there to make people understand MB&F and now MB&F is creating objects for the gallery.

Rado’s U.S. Design Prize Goes Au Naturel

You could argue that, in a sense, no design object is as inspired by nature as a watch. After all, its entire purpose is to measure the rotation of the earth as it orbits the sun, helping mortals plot their days according to the eternal movement of celestial objects.

It’s only fitting, then, that the theme of the upcoming Rado Star Prize U.S. design competition is just that: Design Inspired by Nature. The winner will be revealed in May, during the annual NYC x DESIGN fair. The contest is one of eight Rado Star Prize competitions held in design capitals around the globe, from Milan to Taipei. This is the third year for the U.S. edition, and the 10th for the contest overall.

Whatever the Star Prize gives up in tradition, it makes up for in variety. Past overseas winners include everything from a super-compact, bottom-loading office printer to a low-cost, lightweight portable chamber for sterilizing medical instruments in developing countries. The common thread?

“All the past winners have done something that our juries found to be truly original or inspirational,” says Matthias Breschan, the CEO of Rado. “Solving a design problem that we were aware of, or that we didn’t even know existed until we were presented with the solution.”

The men behind Sterilux, the innovative medical sterilization product and 2017 Rado Star Prize Switzerland winner.

For this year’s edition, Breschan expects the entrants to be similarly bold, even if the materials and inspiration are more earthbound.

“Successful design thrives on originality and seeing the same challenge from a different perspective,” he says. “By focusing on nature, we’re asking designers to use a true essence as inspiration and not something that has already been processed. We expect some really innovative ideas.”

The U.S. winner will receive $5,000 in funding, to help turn his or her concept into reality, along with a True Thinline watch from Rado. “Time is one thing that, as humans, we have no influence over,” Breschan says. “Time dictates so much of what we do and, since we can’t change it, the best we can do is work with it. At Rado, our take on that idea has been to make watches that will stand the test of time and that are designed to look good for a lifetime.”


UPDATE (5/19):

Rado Star Prize U.S. Highlights:

Winner: Felted Concrete by Susannah Weaver
Finalist: Argillite by Caroline Kable
Finalist: Pinched Ottoman by Ian Barsanti

Collecting Vintage Guitars: What You Need to Know

We have drawn all the venom from the phrase, painful drop by painful drop. We have applied it to presidents, cardiologists, weathermen. Crammed it into every help-wanted ad for a barista or programmer or call-center employee.

It’s easy to forget that there was once truly such a thing as a “rock star.”

Think back to the barbaric yawps of Robert Plant or Axl Rose, when the rock star occupied a particular apex not seen before or since in human society. Rich as Rockefeller, famous as any actor, and more desirable than either because he answered only to his own fearsomely rebellious and youthful self. He blazed fiercely but briefly, then he was replaced. Anybody could be next. All you needed was a guitar, preferably an electric one that could be cranked into an overdriven scream by a stack of Marshall amplifiers.

The first electric guitars appeared shortly after World War II, but the apogee of development and craftsmanship was realized in the latter half of the 1950s. “I opened my shop forty-eight years ago,” says George Gruhn, “and the guitars that I’m looking for now are the same ones I was looking for then.” Gruhn, widely considered to be the dean of the guitar-collecting hobby, operates Gruhn Guitars in Nashville, ground zero for the stratospheric high end of vintage-guitar deals.

He says that management and ownership changes at major American guitar makers, coupled with skyrocketing demand that could not be fulfilled building instruments the old-fashioned way, effectively killed the quality of guitars during the 1960s and 1970s. Musicians like Eric Clapton and Michael Bloomfield responded by walking into pawn shops and buying sunburst-finish Gibson Les Pauls made from 1958 through 1960. A blurry photograph of a “Burst” Gibson on the back of the 1964 album Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton launched the vintage-guitar craze.

Sunburst Gibson Les Paul

By 2007, speculators had raised the price of those guitars into the low seven figures. The book Million Dollar Les Paul by Tony Bacon tells stories of cash-only transactions in dimly lit parking lots and a shadow industry devoted to the counterfeiting of Bursts. The market correction that occurred afterward returned some sanity to the hobby, but prices are still high enough to daunt all but the most committed players.

It only takes a few minutes with a genuine vintage Gibson to understand why. They were made with wood from old-growth forests, seasoned in open-air workrooms for decades. Give the body of a 1959 Les Paul a rap with your knuckle, and you can feel the sympathetic vibration at the top of the headstock. According to Gruhn, the guitars made today have largely returned to the standards of assembly quality found in the 1950, “but the wood isn’t there.”

“This is all newly grown wood, heavily restricted by import regulations, dried artificially in a kiln,” he says. “The tone isn’t the same.”

Unlike a vintage automobile or a piece of antique furniture, an old Les Paul is still capable of rocking as hard as it did in the hands of Keith Richards or Jimmy Page. Stored and handled correctly, that should be just as true fifty years from now as it was fifty years ago. Perhaps that explains why Gruhn is seeing sales increase, despite the fact that many older baby boomers are no longer actively adding to their collections.

Interested in getting one of your own? Guided by Mr. Gruhn, we’ve picked three top-shelf vintage electric guitars, covering the spectrum from classic to glam. All of them would be fine additions to an existing collection, or investment-grade pieces for the budding connoisseur. And any of them will make you feel like a rock star, regardless of your day job.


George Gruhn recommends…


THE STANDARD-BEARER: 1959 Les Paul “Burst”

Approximately 1,400 Sunburst Les Pauls were made between 1958 and 1960. Fewer than 650 of them were 1959 models, which had bigger, more playable frets than the 1958 “Lester” but a more comfortable neck than the 1960 version. Even the roughest examples now fetch well over $100,000, and convincing fakes outnumber originals, so take your time and find one with a few decades’ worth of ownership history.

THE ARTISAN: D’Angelico New Yorker

From 1932 to 1964, John D’Angelico made the world’s finest archtop guitars in his Manhattan shop. While archtops are not considered rock-music guitars, they were often used in the fusion-jazz that paralleled rock’s development in the 1970s. Figure $15,000 for a decent one, though some of D’Angelico’s more elaborate efforts can sell for significantly more.

THE WILD CARD: 1982 Charvel Van Halen

Guitar dealer and builder Wayne Charvel was the source of Eddie Van Halen’s touring guitars during the band’s salad years. He sold the name to Grover Jackson, who built high quality “Superstrats” in the 1980s before cashing out and sending production overseas. Gruhn estimates that a Charvel by Jackson could be worth as much as $20,000, but beware: As with Bursts, counterfeits abound. And if you want one actually played by Mr. Van Halen, however briefly, expect to pay up to five times more.

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.

Match Game: Boutique Watches + High Fashion

Independent watchmakers have a lot in common with today’s top designers.

They’re fearless risk takers, pushing boundaries with new shapes, innovative technologies, and high-tech materials. Preserving that independence allows for true individuality, giving watchmakers the ability to carve out unique identities and, in turn, enabling their products to stand out from the crowd. While many of these watchmaking marvels can stand alone by virtue of their complications and technical prowess, they are nonetheless meant to be worn. Sure, the watch you choose might be the rarest, the most complex, the most unusual. But if it doesn’t pair with your favorite outfit—game over.

Here, we’ve taken some recent standouts spotted at the Carré des Horlogers, the independent wing at the SIHH 2018 watch fair, and paired them up with groundbreaking trends from the spring/summer 2018 menswear collections. Result? The edgiest style inspiration you’ll need this year.


Valentino
+
H. Moser

Venturer Concept Blue Lagoon; h-moser.com

Hermès
+
HYT

h0 GOLD; hytwatches.com

Tom Ford
+
Ferdinand Berthoud

Chronométre FB 1R. 6-1; ferdinandberthoud.ch

Bottega Veneta
+
URWERK

UR210 Royal Hawk; urwerk.com

Brunello Cucinelli
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Laurent Ferrier

Galet Annual Calendar School Piece; laurentferrier.ch

Comme des Garçons
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Hautlence

Invictus Neon Yellow; hautlence.com

Do a Barrel Roll! Bell & Ross Racing Bird Chronograph

It starts with an airplane.

How could it not? After all, Bell & Ross has been turning out fine timepieces inspired by flight decks and cockpit gadgetry for decades. The magic doesn’t lie in the concept—watch companies have long looked to the skies for inspiration—but rather in the execution. Whether it’s the square-jawed BR Instruments collection, the stealth-fighter BR-X Experimental series, or the retro-chic feel of the BR Vintage line, Bell & Ross offers a singular focus on aeronautical themes.

If the brand were a person, it would speak entirely in NATO phonetics and wear aviator shades in the shower.

The Racing Bird BRV2-94 doesn’t stray from that mission. But it does ratchet up the authenticity factor. This new chronograph is styled after the BR-Bird (pictured above), a concept aircraft designed by Bruno Belamich, the cofounder and creative director at Bell & Ross. His single-seat novelty plane recalls those competing in the National Championship Air Races, employing a 12-cylinder propeller engine and wearing blue, white, and orange livery.

Bell & Ross BR V2-94 Racing Bird Chronograph, $4,700 (steel bracelet); bellross.com
Photo: Doug Young

The watch’s color scheme follows suit: white dial, blue bezel, and strap, high-contrast orange detailing, with pops of gray to evoke a checkered flag. Aviation buffs will appreciate the typeface, borrowed from traditional on-board counters. Also that the date window shows three digits, another overt reference to classic flight instrumentation.

The BRV2-94 is powered by a self-winding mechanical movement, offering a 42-hour power reserve and set inside a 40 mm steel case. The pièce de résistance, the BR-Bird’s silhouette, appears on both the caseback and dial. It’s a subtle reminder that, while plenty of Bell & Ross watches start with an airplane, these special editions hang in rarified air. To wit, production will be limited to a run of 999 pieces.

(Note: That number includes a streamlined, three-hand version, the Racing Bird BRV1-92, which is fractionally smaller and priced from $2,300.)

Before the Racing Bird’s debut in Geneva, Mr. Belamich gave Watch Journal an exclusive peek behind the scenes.


On the idea behind the BR-Bird and Racing Bird watches…

“Speed is a key source of inspiration. We also have a passion for technology. These factors constantly push us to excel, to develop highly complex mechanisms. By extension, we are interested in all extreme machines. Our concept vehicles [the B-Rocket motorcycle, Aéro-GT supercar, and BR-Bird aircraft] become a source of inspiration. Our universe is a world of enthusiasts. Our stories tell men about their universe, their machines, their uniforms and accessories, watches in particular. Time is a transversal element, common to all the universes of the extreme. These two new Racing Bird pieces are symbols of our passion for aviation and creativity.”

On the importance of being based in Paris…

“Paris has always been the heart of high-end luxury goods. We are honored to be crafting high-quality luxury goods in this beautiful city. It’s part of our DNA, and influences many of our design choices. But we are not in the fashion or trend business. We develop watches that serve a purpose: Delivering the clearest and most reliable time to professionals working under extreme conditions.”

Belamich with the B-Rocket motorcycle at the famed Bonneville Salt Flats in 2014.

On the essential elements of an aeronautical watch…

“We have four basic principles: Legibility, functionality, reliability, precision. We are inspired by the world of pilots and aeronautical instrumentation, the ultimate reference point for legibility and reliability. We regularly support elite units by designing watches that perform specific functions so we are able to see how they perform. Some examples include working with the bomb disposal experts of the French Civil Security, the Intervention Unit of the French National Police, and the French Naval Aviation and French Air Force. Our founding idea is that time is essential for professionals working under extreme conditions.”

On a Bell & Ross smartwatch styled after modern touchscreen fighter jet cockpits…

“We believe that smartwatches are a completely different experience than a traditional timepiece. Swiss watches have emotion. It is a craft to make a watch. Over time, [an analog] watch keeps its value—often it even increases in value because of the beauty of that craft. Tech devices become obsolete because their design is constantly being reinvented, the technology upgraded. In the future, it’s possible that Bell & Ross would incorporate some sort of technology. But our brand will always be Swiss-made. We will never create a disposable watch.”

Hours, Minutes, Centuries: 150 Years of IWC

One hundred and fifty years.

Not much of a lifespan for a university, a European town, or a Sierra redwood. Five minutes and a few dollars spent on eBay can put you in possession of a coin or a book that was already ancient in 1868, the year Florentine Aristo Jones traveled from Boston to Schaffhausen to found the International Watch Company. If you deal in matters cosmological or geological, a century and a half barely merits mention. It is an eyeblink.

In matters horological, however—in this new era of watchmaking where opportunistic investors wrap whole-cloth start-ups in tissue-thin histories of dubious or borrowed provenance, where long-dead marques and models are hydraulically fracked from the past to adorn commodity movements and generic designs—IWC’s claim to 150 years of continuous production feels truly rare, deliciously enviable. All the more so for its aristocratic approach to that history—how the company has always refused to be handcuffed by its own weighty tradition.

Consider, for instance, that iconic trio of 1970s Gerald Genta sports-watch designs. Audemars Piguet has tirelessly extended the Royal Oak to a multitude of variants, while Patek Philippe has carefully conserved the core Nautilus concept across four decades. IWC, on the other hand, simply abandoned its Genta-designed Ingenieur this year, like a child tossing away an unwanted toy. And why not? The firm had an older design, from 1955, that it felt deserved a reboot into the new “Ingy.” Such behavior is the hallmark of pur sang, whether in Frankish nobility or watchmaking royalty.

Florentine Ariosto Jones (1841–1916), American engineer, watchmaker, and IWC founder.

Yet there has always been an iconoclastic streak in IWC’s history, starting from the moment of its birth. F.A. Jones was no Swiss burgher; he was New Hampshire born and bred, and his eyes were firmly fixed on the American market. Thus, “International Watch Company,” to emphasize the advantages of a Swiss product over the domestic competition. It did not entirely pan out, and Mr. Jones was to leave the firm after seven years. By 1884, IWC was Swiss in both management and ownership, headed by Johannes Rauschenbach-Schenk. He was fascinated by the recently unveiled Pallweber system.

When Douglas Adams wrote in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that humans were “so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea,” he likely didn’t know about Josef Pallweber’s innovation, which predated Hamilton’s Pulsar P1 of 1972 by nearly 90 years but was, strictly speaking, a true digital timepiece. IWC would go on to produce approximately 20,000 Pallweber-system pocket watches, which used jumping-minute and jumping-hour complications, along with numbered discs to power hour and minute displays, much like the date indicator on a contemporary mechanical watch.

Early IWC Pallweber pocket watches. 

The decision to terminate production of the Pallwebers put the digital watch into a Rip-Van-Winkle-like slumber until the beginning of the Space Age. Still, IWC continued to innovate as the tide turned from pocket watch to wristwatch after World War I. The Special Pilot’s Watch, Reference IW436, arrived in 1936 to serve the needs of a new class of adventurer. Antimagnetic and proofed against the freezing temperatures encountered by open-cockpit aviators, the IW436 established aesthetic and functional directions for pilots’ watches that continue to this day.

One of the brand’s few stubborn loyalties—to its own hand-wound movements—prevented IWC from taking advantage of John Harwood’s “Perpetual” patent for self-winding mechanical watches. But in 1950, technical director Albert Pellaton designed and patented a unique bidirectional winding movement that would first appear in 1955’s Ingenieur. It used a soft-iron case to deflect magnetic fields, and can be considered an early example of what is now called a “tool watch.”

The original IWC Ingenieur, circa 1955.

The quartz era brought a variety of conventional and “mecha-quartz” hybrid movements in watches that might seem eccentric to modern eyes, but should start enjoying a well-deserved renaissance of regard. Similarly, a partnership with Porsche Design resulted in a series of highly regarded sport watches, including the wonderfully campy “Compass” collaboration. Here, the dial and movement could be flipped up to reveal—you guessed it—a liquid-filled compass. The entire watch was made from aluminum, so as to prevent interference with the directional needle.

A more significant product was the Titan chronograph, the first wristwatch to use a full-titanium case. IWC expended substantial effort addressing the challenges of machining, offering an unprecedented combination of lightness, durability, and corrosion resistance. The follow-up effort, 1982’s Ocean, could be used at depths of up to 2,000 meters and was available in a completely antimagnetic version for military divers whose jobs could take them close to magnetic mines.

IWC x Porsche Design Titan chronograph.

Renewed interest in Swiss mechanical watches soon found IWC well-positioned, a notion which perhaps did not occur immediately to the nouveau riche, but which nonetheless offered impeccable historical credentials, producing a variety of sports and luxury pieces. A diverse series of cobranding efforts, with entries ranging from the Fondation Antoine de Saint-Exupéry to the Mercedes-AMG Formula One team, has kept IWC firmly in the public eye; radical designs of the Da Vinci and Ingenieur lines have demonstrated a commitment to keeping its core models fresh.

But the main attraction is the mechanical-digital display for hours and minutes. Whereas the unusual jumping mechanisms of the 1884 original required frequent winding by the standards of the era, the new tribute rectifies that issue by decoupling the minute wheel for 59 of every 60 seconds, reducing drag and allowing for a 60-hour reserve. The unique manufacture movement requires 50 jewels and operates at an impressive 28,800 vph. As one would expect nowadays, the dial is a relatively large 45 mm. The caseback is sapphire, all the better to allow one marvel at the complications within.

The IWC Tribute To Pallweber Edition “150 Years'”

In that spirit, IWC has chosen to mark its 150th anniversary by issuing no fewer than 27 commemorative editions, including tourbillons, perpetual calendars, and a new movement with ceramic internals. The spotlight will, however, undoubtedly shine brightest on an all-new effort that reaches back to that 1884 Pallweber design for inspiration. The IWC Tribute to Pallweber Edition “150 Years” (Ref. IW505002) is a very different take on the modern digital watch, using an 18-karat red-gold case, a white dial with a lacquered finish, white display discs, and a blued seconds hand.

Priced at $36,000 and limited to a total production of just 250 examples, the Pallweber tribute is not meant for general consumption. Nor does it presage a new era of mechanical-digital watches. (Although such a development would be a welcome change from the current focus on hypertrophic case-size and increasingly recherché combinations of complications.) No, it’s better to think of this latest piece as a statement, a celebration of what IWC has always done best, a testament to its singular position in the industry: that tireless champion of innovation, free to alternately disregard and venerate its history, both deeply rooted in tradition and fearlessly focused on the future.

The Hero Family Behind Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Watch Straps

Inside a modest workshop on the western outskirts of Buenos Aires, four men are hard at work.

They measure patterns and heat irons over an open flame, methodically whetting and polishing and hammering. The tables are covered in awls, spurs, wrought-iron pincers. Rolls of exquisite calfskin and horsehide are stacked waist-high. Rows and rows of hardwood shoe lasts line the shelves.

Welcome to Casa Fagliano, a bastion of traditional bootmaking. The workshop first opened in 1892, across the street from the Asociación Civil Hurlingham Club. The latter establishment grew into the nation’s equestrian sports epicenter, hosting Abierto de Hurlingham, one of the world’s most prestigious polo tournaments. Casa Fagliano found an eager clientele. English-style polo boots became a specialty.

Germàn, the Fagliano clan’s youngest member, shows off his wares.

Four generations later, the operation remains a family affair. Rodolfo, the 86-year-old patriarch, cuts leather and welts soles alongside his sons, Eduardo and Hector, and his grandson, Germán. To them, “mass-production” is a four-letter word; these guys make each boot by hand, one at a time. Order a bespoke pair with matching kneepads and wood trees, and you can expect to join a six-to-eight-month waiting list—albeit one that includes Prince Harry, Tommy Lee Jones, and the Sultan of Brunei.

Also Jaeger-LeCoultre. The Swiss watchmaker first collaborated with Casa Fagliano seven years ago, commissioning straps for a limited-edition Reverso Tribute to 1931. Now, the two firms have teamed up again, this time on a special version of the Reverso Tribute Duo, which features a Cordovan leather strap, designed and handmade in the Fagliano workshop. According to Geoffroy Lefebvre, deputy CEO of Jaeger-LeCoultre, the continued partnership is a matter of values and pedigree.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Tribute Duo (Casa Fagiliano strap), $22,900; jaeger-lecoultre.com 

“Both our realms share a passion for the product, respect for expert craftsmanship, meticulous attention to detail and the pursuit of perfection,” says Lefebvre. “The Reverso was originally created in 1931 for British Army officers in India who were anxious to protect the glass of their watches while playing polo…. Therefore the relationship between the inventor of the polo watch and the most prestigious polo boot manufacturer was natural.”

The two-tone Fagliano band complements the Duo’s pink-gold case, which, as ever, features two dials. The main face is sun-brushed satin gray; it swivels and tucks away to reveal a secondary dial, silvered with Clous de Paris guilloché detailing and a day-night indicator. Both sides have formal dauphine hands, gold-plated hour markers, and run off a manual, in-house movement, offering a 42-hour power reserve.

Just 100 examples of the Reverso Tribute Duo will be offered on a Casa Fagiliano Edition strap, an order that took the leather-workers an entire year to fill. But, unlike the previous Tribute to 1931, which was exclusive to American stores, this new watch will be available at Jaeger-LeCoultre boutiques worldwide—and, yes, that includes the Buenos Aires store.

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

 

The Biggest Little Car Shop in Texas

Hot-rodders around the world trust Dave’s Perfection Automotive in Austin, Texas. The shop’s owner has some words of wisdom for budding car collectors.

 

Dave’s Perfection Automotive might be one of the planet’s leading shops for hot-rodders and vintage car collectors, but it doesn’t go out of its way to advertise. There’s no website. It’s identified by a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it street sign, and you get there by driving down an unassuming alley. Call and ask for the proprietor, and you might hear the following refrain: “We don’t call him ‘The Phantom’ for nothing.”

 

Step inside, however, and you’ll see why collectors worldwide track these guys down. In one corner is an International Harvester Scout II, the pinnacle of 1970s off-road cool, and the vehicle that reps Liz Lambert’s famed Hotel San Jose, which helped make Austin a hot spot two decades ago. There’s a plush Cadillac Eldorado and boat-tail Buick Riviera on the lot, both belonging to a Frenchman who sent the cars Stateside for repairs. And then there are the men running this place, including a mechanic who has worked here for 30 years, and Steve Wertheimer, the longtime Austin scenester who took over after the shop’s founder, Dave Geddes, passed away.

“I was always one of those guys who liked to take things apart,” Wertheimer says. “Sometimes I could get it back together, sometimes I couldn’t.”

He grew up reading car magazines, but didn’t get into collecting until after he bought the Continental Club, the legendary South Austin music venue, in 1987. He befriended Jimmie Vaughan, the iconic blues guitarist and older brother of Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Charlie Sexton, a singer-guitarist and frequent tour-mate of Bob Dylan’s. Both men collected cars, and encouraged Wertheimer to do the same.

One night, Sexton introduced him to a local car enthusiast named Mercury Charlie, who, perhaps unsurprisingly, declared that Wertheimer should own a Mercury. He just so happened to be selling one, a parts car that needed to be restored from the ground up.

“I went out to [Mercury] Charlie’s house every night for it seemed like eight months, and we worked on this 1951 Mercury,” Wertheimer says. “And we basically built the car, put it together, and I’ve been driving that thing for thirty years.” Indeed, the car—curvy, streamlined, jet-black, unmissable—is parked in front of Dave’s most days.

Later, after attending a car show in Paso Robles, Wertheimer caught the hot-rod bug. His first was a 1930 Ford Roadster, christened The Continental Kid, which he still owns, and is powered by an engine he built himself. He founded the Lonestar Hot Rod & Kustom Roundup, a massively popular spring car show, in 2001, and took over at Dave’s in 2012. Along the way, he picked up a few more hot rods (with names like The Black Dahlia and Goldenrod) and became something of a local impresario.

Accordingly, there’s typically a two-month wait just to get your car in the door at Dave’s. When you do, Wertheimer says, the mechanics will likely discover there’s more work to be done than you initially thought. (Original components on older cars wear quickly, and most of the frames and bodies were made from steel, which is susceptible to rust.) From there, it may take months for your car to be finished; it’s not easy to track down vintage parts, and once the team does, it takes time to get them sent to Austin and installed correctly. As Wertheimer notes, “Most of the stuff that we have to deal with, you can’t down to O’Reilly’s or Pep Boys.”

Thinking about getting into hot rods? Wertheimer has a few pieces of advice that will sound familiar to anyone who collects watches. First and foremost, find an expert who can examine your potential quarry and assess its condition. “Don’t get all hyped up over the shiny paint and chrome and all that stuff,” he says. “Local dealer auctions are notorious for putting lipstick on a pig. They wind up over here immediately afterward trying to fix all the stuff that those guys covered up. It’s worth spending a hundred bucks to take a friend or a professional with you to go check out the car. It’ll save you a hell of a lot more money in the long run.”

Once your purchase is sorted mechanically, Wertheimer has one final piece of advice to offer: Drive the thing. Not just for pleasure, though that will be considerable—but also to keep it in good shape. Many of the cars in Dave’s Perfection Automotive suffer from simple lack of use, because owners are too nervous about taking such a beautiful vehicle on the road. (Wertheimer drives more than 20,000 miles a year.) And hey, if you still wind up needing some help, you know who to call.

“Seeing someone drive off, saying this car runs better than ever—that’s where I get the most satisfaction,” Wertheimer says.

Perfection, you might call it.

 

Stage Craft – Hermès joins SIHH

How the high-fashion brand Hermès stole this year’s first show in Geneva.

At Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, the watches are only part of the celebration. There’s the people, the vibe, the scenery—and, of course, the displays. Watch companies go bonkers at the annual trade show, wheeling in ornate props and jumbo signage, effectively staging grandiose pop-ups inside Palexpo Center in Geneva. Hermès, which made its SIHH debut this year, has clearly been taking notes. The brand didn’t just show up. It made a scene. Literally.

PHOTO: Courtesy Hermès

Credit goes to RDAI, the Paris-based architecture studio that created a custom atrium for Hermès at the show. Also to Levi van Veluw, the award-winning Dutch artist who designed the installations inside. Van Veluw, 33, is known for his layered wood carvings, intricate and geometric compositions that often incorporate beads and filigree and colorfully painted elements. He previously collaborated with Hermès on a series of acclaimed window displays, installed at boutiques in Shanghai and New York, in 2014 and 2016, respectively.

But working within the confines of a trade event, and RDAI’s atrium, meant rethinking the approach yet again—something that became apparent to van Veluw during the early sketching phase and that informed the final product.

PHOTO: Courtesy Hermès

“I discovered the idea of making a fragmented sculpture through the limitations of drawing a perfect cube, which eventually became part of the [SIHH] installation’s overall concept,” van Veluw says. “The shapes are still symmetrical, but the way they form the overall sculpture is totally random and asymmetrical. It has something playful to it that naturally occurs when making a drawing.”

The resulting chamber-like centerpiece, called “The Alchemist,” was a standout at Palexpo. It featured a blocky, canary-colored exterior, with an explosion of blue-lacquered wood flotsam inside.

PHOTO: Courtesy Hermès

“It highlights the paradox of something complex that looks easy,” van Veluw says. “The inside is not a watchmaker’s atelier. It is instead chaos. Watchmaking gives the image of an industry that seeks perfection, where everything is always clean-cut. But I believe that no great idea, no strong innovation, arises from perfection. I instead think that chaos is key. And chaos is what I wanted to express inside. Like the mind of the watchmaker, full of ideas.”

PHOTO: Courtesy Hermès

SIHH showgoers were invited to step into the chamber, the bottom of which was transparent; you were actually stepping onto glass placed above the floor, giving the impression of floating. The new Hermès Carré H wristwatches were displayed in various stages of assembly.

“I put them in the center, as if they were the beating heart of the mechanism,” says Van Veluw. “Your gaze is drawn toward the watches thanks to the use of fascinating shapes like spirals.”

PHOTO: Courtesy Hermès

Nine original van Veluw window displays surrounded “The Alchemist,” rounding out the French fashion house’s watershed exhibition area.

“I wanted [the display] to be in harmony with the pavilion’s architecture, so it would not be aggressive” he explains. “I prefer people to be drawn by my art, rather than driven away by something impressive and arrogant.”

PHOTO: Courtesy Hermès

How Citizen Watch Company Is Bringing Light to Puerto Rico

Following last year’s devastating hurricane, Citizen launches a novel charity initiative.


By Ashley Muldoon Lavin

The reports out of Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria are staggering. Months after the Category 4 storm made landfall, hundreds are feared dead, and even more remain missing. Crucially, large swaths of the island still lack clean water and reliable power. But there is a glimmer in the darkness.

The Citizen Watch Company has partnered with Good 360, one of America’s largest nonprofit organizations, to deliver 5,000 solar-powered Luci EMRG lights to victims—not only in Puerto Rico, but also in the U.S. Virgin Islands, another region reeling after this year’s catastrophic hurricane season. Citizen originally imagined this as a one-for-one program, in which it would send a light to a needy area for every watch purchased. But once Hurricanes Irma and Maria battered the region, executives decided to call an audible.

“We contacted Good 360 and said, ‘You can’t wait for us to do this as a one-for-one. As soon as they come off the dock, we are giving you those 5,000 lanterns,’” says Ellen Seckler, Citizen’s Executive Vice President of Marketing “When we saw all the devastation that was going on there, it was so apparent that this is where we had to go.”

Good 360, which specializes in helping companies send supplies to areas in need, knows all too well the logistical challenges created by natural disasters. Getting the Citizen-provided Luci lights out of port and onto the ground won’t be easy, but the nonprofit says that the solar-powered gadgets will soon be en route to their final destinations.

“The Luci Lights will be placed with Good 360’s nonprofit partners who are doing work on the ground and who will distribute the lights where they are most needed,” says Shari Rudolph, chief marketing officer for Good 360. “Some of the destinations earmarked for the lights will likely include individual family homes, community centers, and schools. We ensure that the products are placed where needed so that they have optimal impact and do not go to waste.”

Luci lights en route to Puerto Rico (Photo: Good 360)

Charity efforts aren’t anything new for Citizen. (Previously, the brand has supported the March of Dimes, the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative, and the National Merit Scholarship.) But this initiative, which the company is calling “Get a Light, Give a Light,” has resonated on many levels. Citizen timepieces operate using Eco Drive technology, which generates power from any light source; the company had already been using the Luci lights in stores to educate their customers about how their watches worked.  

“When you’re looking at the watch you can’t see the solar cell underneath it,” says Seckler. “But by having the transparent Luci light at point of sale, we were able to say, ‘This is just like our watches, using this light-powered technology.’ And then we thought, Maybe we can do something more with this.”

The situation in Puerto Rico and U.S. outlying territories might demand even more still. Experts are now predicting that recovery efforts will likely continue years, if not decades. So Citizen is already considering extending the campaign.

“We really want to help bring that area back to life,” says Seckler. “This [campaign] is something that will allow people to read or to work or to do something they need to do, and we are very happy to contribute to that . . . When you’re walking around with a name like Citizen, you have to think about the citizens. The people. I think it’s our responsibility.”

The Apprentices

Since 1839, Patek Philippe has produced the world’s most coveted, complicated timepieces. Today, the company is cultivating the next generation of elite watchmakers.


By Ashley Muldoon Lavin

“For me, it’s what I want to do as my life’s purpose.”

In a pristine, glass-encased classroom overlooking St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, six young men labor in near silence. Cloaked in identical white lab coats, with their heads bent over their workbenches, they could be mistaken for devotees to some sort of monastic order. But it’s not bibles they are consulting—it’s schematics. And these men aren’t monks. They are student watchmakers and they are praying at the altar of Patek Philippe.

Founded by the Swiss-based luxury watch company in 2015, the Patek Philippe Institute of New York was created to respond to a looming, Catholicism kind of crisis: attrition.  

“We’d been looking for ways for decades to try to find watchmakers,” says Larry Pettinelli, President of Patek Philippe U.S. “We were able to maybe find one person a year. And with our people retiring—sometimes two in a single year—we were never making up any ground.”

The exodus of skilled craftspeople from the workforce affects most luxury brands these days, but Patek has reason to feel especially pained. The last remaining family-owned watch manufacture in Geneva, the company has been operating continuously for nearly 180 years. That long history has allowed Patek to not only perfect its craft—its cases are famously made mostly in-house and are often hand-forged from single pieces of gold or platinum using techniques that date back to the company’s 1839 founding—but also to experiment with it. Patek’s archives feature an array of styles, designs, and complications that other brands, who might focus on a singular look or model, can’t claim to offer.

Collectors, attracted by the unique, limited-edition feel of the company’s releases, line up to plunk down over six figures for new Pateks. And vintage designs—like the rare 1941 steel perpetual calendar chronograph that sold for $11 million last year—continually shatter records at auction.

The result? Patek’s New York City repair shop is scheduled to see more than 10,000 watches in 2017 alone. So it’s not just that good watchmakers are hard to find; it’s that Patek does not have the time to even begin searching for them. To save itself from disaster (not to mention the headaches that come with telling a customer that there is a months-long service delay on his $100,000 timepiece) Patek realized that if it wanted more and better watchmakers, it would have to build them itself—from scratch.

The company broadened its operation in Geneva, opened a school in Shanghai, and then—when a move to their Rockefeller Center offices afforded them the space to include a classroom at the back of their new, expanded workshop—unveiled the Patek Philippe Institute of New York. Then it made two very smart decisions: veteran watchmaker Laurent Junod would serve as the Institute’s director of technical training (“It’s like learning from Carlos Santana how to play guitar,” boasts Pettinelli) and tuition would be free, with no obligation to work for Patek upon graduation.

“That was important,” says Pettinelli. “We wanted to bring in local kids who maybe hadn’t found their path yet and give them some direction.”

It’s a laudable idea—and one that’s paid off spectacularly. The Institute received over 400 applications in its first year and graduated five watchmakers this fall—all of whom accepted positions in Patek’s New York City repair shop upon passing their Level 2 Certification in Geneva. They now perform interventions on mechanical and quartz Pateks on a bench just outside the classroom where they once studied.

The Institute’s second batch of recruits—six young men chosen from 450 applicants this time—sit in that room now. One gave up a lucrative career in banking to attend; one still works nights and weekends as a restaurant manager in order to make ends meet while he is at the school. Another recounts how, at the age of 12, he saw the inside of a pocket watch and had what felt like a religious experience. (He abandoned an engineering program to come to the Institute).

And though they had to endure a months-long interview process and a final, frustrating day of math, logic, and dexterity testing in order to get there, each talks about his new calling with the passion of the freshly converted. “For me, it’s what I want to do as my life’s purpose,” says one. Says another: “Just being able to step into the building is … wow.” One more marvels: “I still have those moments where I can’t believe that this is actually real.” (Patek asked Watch Journal to omit the students’ names. Like the church, it eschews individualism.)

“They came here with complete enthusiasm,” boasts the aforementioned Junod in his endlessly charming Swiss accent.

And that’s a good thing, considering the two-year-long concentrated course of study that awaits them. Monday through Friday these students will work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to master not only the WOSTEP technical skills they would learn at other horology schools, but also the time-honored techniques that Patek watchmakers have passed down for generations. They begin by handmaking the tools they will use for the rest of their careers. It’s a process that takes nine months, and its purpose is to teach them the sensitivity and dexterity required to effectively wield such implements at a micro level. After that, they turn to watches—but not Pateks. They start by taking apart a large pocket watch about 25 times until they understand the theory behind how it works and how to maintain it.

“They will know this movement by heart,” says Junod. “So once they know how this watch works, then we can go to a smaller one. And then a smaller one. And then one with a little complication—a calendar. And then an automatic. And then a ladies’.”

The process goes on and on, getting smaller and more complicated, until, upon their one-year anniversary at the Institute, the students are finally allowed to touch a Patek. They spend the next year memorizing the workings of the company’s quartz and mechanical models until they are finally flown to Geneva to visit Patek’s factories—and to take their Level 2 exam.  

Even when Junod discusses the test—which involves a Patek Philippe watch that has been tricked out with five to seven defects that the students will have to discover and repair before recasing the whole thing—the students never seem less than thrilled. And, later, when Junod talks about his charges, it becomes clear that the feeling is entirely mutual. “Those are great people,” he says. “I really love them.”

Junod is a natural teacher—even he agrees, at one point remarking with delightful Swiss candor: “It fits me perfectly well, yes?” He’s also a great evangelist for what the brand hopes to accomplish with the Institute.

“There is a lot of lost talent everywhere,” says Junod, remarking on what a shame it would be if his hyper-enthusiastic students were still just passing time in jobs they didn’t love. “If all industries could just pick up those people—because they do exist! They do exist and they have a lot to give!”

COURSE OF STUDY

Watchmakers operate at various levels according to their skill. For Patek’s best and brightest, graduating from the Institute is only the beginning…

LEVEL 2
After passing their Level 2 exam in Geneva, the Institute’s graduates are ready to perform interventions involving quartz movements and manually wound or self-winding mechanical movements, such as those found on the Patek Philippe Ref. 5116R Men’s Calatrava.

LEVEL 3
A Level 2 watchmaker must practice for three more years before he can return to Geneva for a Level 3 course and test—though Pettinelli is quick to point out that many never advance to this stage. Those that do will be qualified to service watches like the Patek Philippe Ref. 7130G Ladies World Time, with more complicated movements.

LEVEL ADVANCED
If a watchmaker is truly skilled, and has operated at Level 3 for three or more years, he can attempt to earn a Level Advanced certification at the Geneva headquarters. There, he’ll learn how to manipulate grand complications like those found on the Patek Philippe Ref. 5140P Men’s Perpetual Calendar and how to hand-finish some parts.

 

Panerai P-Day 2017: Inside the Annual Collector’s Bash

Panerai devotees flock to the Windy City for a three-day extravaganza.

 


 

By Adam Craniotes

 

Panerai P-Day Chicago
(Photo: L.A. Toy)

 

To understand P-Day, first you have to understand the almost mystical hold that Panerai has over its fans. Given its origins as a dedicated military supplier to the Royal Italian Navy, coupled with the fact that prior to its resurgence in the early ’90s, Panerai had produced only around 300 watches, this was hardly a guaranteed thing. In fact, before 1993, pretty much no one had heard of the quirky Florentine watchmaker, who traveled thousands of miles once a year to hobnob with fellow fans of these bold, oversize watches.

 

So what happened?

 

The year was 1995, and Sylvester Stallone was in Rome shooting the action film Daylight. While scanning the local jewelers, the actor came across a giant stainless-steel watch, the likes of which he’d never seen before. The watch was a Panerai, and while 44mm might not seem unusually large in today’s market, back then it was an anomaly. Stallone decided on the spot that the watch could be a star itself, and promptly bought the entire stock to bring back to the States to give his friends. Of course, he kept one for himself as well. The Panerai Luminor Marina Submersible ended up being featured prominently in the film, thus earning the nickname “Daylight.”

 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BF6xFKyOAuW/

But it wasn’t Stallone’s star power alone that developed Panerai’s cult following. In 2000, an English watch collector by the name of Guy Verbist took it upon himself to create paneristi.com, a website for Panerai enthusiasts. Back then, the World Wide Web was in toddlerhood, and widespread high-speed DSL connections, WiFi and smartphones were still far off in the future, to say nothing of social media (Instagram, who?). And yet, Verbist helped build a thriving online community dedicated to the brand.

Which brings us to P-Day.

Since 2000, the Paneristi (as the fans call themselves) have come together once a year, each time in a different city, to celebrate the brand that’s become, as they put it, “more than just a watch.” While Officine Panerai (which is owned by Richemont) is involved to a degree, P-Day is always a balancing act of the official and the unofficial. Company representatives will usually set up vitrines of timepieces and, in the past, they have created limited editions timed to the occasion, but the company does not actually organize or subsidize the event. And it is this that makes P-Day such a unique experience.

Panerai P-Day 2017 Chicago
The famed “L” elevated train transit system. Welcome to the Windy City. (Photo: L.A. Toy)

This past October—only the third time that P-Day has taken place in North America—the event was held over a weekend in Chicago. Yes, “weekend.” P-Day is a three-day event. Local volunteers handled all the logistics, which included the planning of the daily activities, dinners and venues. This year, Chicagoan Raphael Shin led an A-team of Panerai diehards, including Peter Fruehling, David Press, Craig Faulkner, Mikki Conway, and Paddy Conway, who did everything from building the weekend’s dedicated website to arranging seating at the Saturday night gala.

For those who were unable to attend P-Day 2017, allow us to present the highlights…

Panerai P-Day 2017 Chicago
Paneristi Lewis “Scoop” Franck dressing the part. (Photo: L.A. Toy)


Thursday, Oct. 19

The unofficial kickoff was a cocktail party cohosted by local jeweler Marshall Pierce & Co., and Red Bar Chicago at the heliport Vertiport. There were helicopter tours of Chicago, displays of luxury cars and, naturally, a slew of handsome watches on the wrists of the Paneristi.

Friday, Oct. 20

Steven Taffel, owner of the city’s famed men’s footwear boutique Leffot, hosted an event at his store, located in the historic Monadnock building in Chicago’s South Loop. (A watch geek, Taffel even sells vintage watches from his company’s official website.) As with cars and pens, shoes seem to go hand-in-hand (or is it “foot-in-foot”?) with watch collecting, so the gathering was a perfect fit.

Next came a whiskey tasting at the atelier of Chicago-based watch brand Oak & Oscar, hosted by brand founder Chase Fancher. Then it was time to split up into small groups for dinner, each hosted by a noted ‘risti, at local restaurants including RPM Steak, Maple & Ash, Barrio, and Topolobampo. The most energetic met up afterward at a local supper club for more drinks and music before calling it a night.

Panerai P-Day 2017 Chicago
Panerai North American President Giovanni Carestia dressing the crowd. (Photo: L.A. Toy)

Saturday, Oct. 21

The unseasonably warm weather was ideal for the day’s watch walk. Led by the irrepressible Dave Press, the group visited Marshall Pierce & Co., Swiss Fine Timing and Geneva Seal, among other famed Chicago watch shops. (They also dropped by Bentley Gold Coast for another dose of supercars.) The afternoon was bookended with lunch at Epic Burger.

Of course, this was all a prelude to the evening’s gala, at the Chicago Cultural Center. There, Preston Bradley Hall was filled with over 160 ‘ristis from around the world. A warm keynote speech from Panerai’s youthful North American President Giovanni Carestia was followed by performances by local guitarist Andreas Kapsalis and country-western singer Brian Hughes. A roast/awards ceremony followed, acknowledging not only the accomplishments of the P-Day volunteers but also the winner of the group’s “Asshat of the Year” award. (An example of why it’s better for Panerai to stay officially uninvolved with P-Day.)

The group made their way back to the Palmer House hotel for an afterparty that lingered into the wee hours of the night. For many, this is the real main event, when old friends can trade war stories, and everyone can kick their feet up and reminisce. P-Day Chicago coordinator Raphael Shin was duly fêted for pulling off the 16th-annual P-Day in the fine, irreverent style to which everyone has grown accustomed. 

Panerai P-Day 2017 Chicago

Paneristi Germany brings warm wishes. (Photo: L.A. Toy)

* * *

Ah, but what of the 17th-annual P-Day?

We would be remiss if we didn’t report that at the end of the dinner, per custom, next year’s host city was announced: Hong Kong.

Needless to say, the planning has already begun.

See you there.

Get Woke: The Best Modern Table Clocks

Patek Philippe table clock

Home timepieces don’t have to be sleepy. These contemporary table clock designs from Patek Philippe, Cartier, Panerai, and others will tempt collectors.


By Kareem Rashed

Patek Philippe table clock
Patek Philippe, Pendulette de Table, Réf: 25001M-001 (Photo: Patek Philippe)

Dating back to the Renaissance era, clocks have long been a canvas for watchmakers’ creativity. Thanks to their generous surface area, clocks afford watchmakers the ability to flaunt their handicraft skills, from intricate engravings to elaborate enamel paintings. “During the 1920s, clocks from great jewelers and watchmakers surpassed mere mechanics and became outstanding works of art,” says Lee Siegelson, an esteemed dealer of estate jewelry and objects whose collection includes several museum-worthy art deco clocks. “The makers of these clocks designed increasingly complex and ingenious creations to continually outdo themselves and each other.”

Part of the allure of timepieces lies in their balance between form and function: they aren’t purely decorative, yet are more than just machinery. A great watch doesn’t simply tell the time—it has brains and beauty in equal measure. In that sense, table clocks are the ultimate symbol of the watchmaker’s talent: utilitarian mechanics housed within an artful package. So, while there is no shortage of options for telling the time today, there still isn’t anything that does the job quite as attractively as an exquisitely designed table clock.

Although table clocks may not be as ubiquitous as they once were, the range available today is as diverse, and desirable, as ever. Many of the most storied watch brands create a select few clocks annually that are prime examples of their watchmaking virtuosity—pure catnip for connoisseurs. More than just beautiful objets, these clocks celebrate the enduring appeal of craftsmanship in the face of an increasingly digitized world.

Patek Philippe table clock
(Photo: Patek Philippe)

PATEK PHILIPPE

Patek Philippe has a rich heritage of creating exceptional clocks, including one gifted to J.F.K. in 1963 by the people of West Berlin depicting the time in Moscow, Washington, D.C., and Berlin. Their latest is “The Hour Circle,” a unique Bauhaus-inspired design that is meant to be viewed from above. The clock’s surface is a study in the art of enamel, with inqué and guilloché designs coated in a vibrant transparent blue.

Cartier table clock
(Photo: Cartier)

CARTIER

Cartier’s annual high-jewelry collections showcase the breadth of their atelier’s technical abilities and always include a select number of one-of-a-kind clocks. This piece, in white gold, agate, onyx, turquoise, and diamonds, features a dial made of faceted amethyst. The mystery clock setting, which Cartier has championed since the 1920s, utilizes hour and minute hands affixed to clear crystal disks connected to a movement in the clock’s base, giving the illusion that the hands are floating within the dial.

Boucheron table clock
(Photo: D. Siegelson / Boucheron)

BOUCHERON

The art deco era was arguably the table clock’s heyday, with numerous brands upping the design ante to create clocks on par with the fashions of the day. This piece, from the collection of Lee Siegelson, was designed for Boucheron in 1929 by Verger Frères, a leading clock manufacturer, and features a movement by Vacheron Constantin. Constructed at the same time as the Chrysler Building, the clock’s design is quintessential deco, with graphic, architectural lines rendered in nephrite, agate, gold, enamel, and coral.

Panerai table clock
(Photo: Panerai)

PANERAI

For its first-ever table clock, Panerai scaled its iconic Radiomir dial up to 65 mm and encased it in a glass sphere. As with all of Panerai’s watches, the dial features luminous indices and an engraved logo. An open back, also topped with convex glass, allows a magnified view of the P.5000 caliber at work inside. The movement is hand-wound using the oversize polished-steel crown at the clock’s top and has a power reserve of eight days.

Chanel table clock
(Photo: Chanel)

CHANEL

A striking monolith of polished obsidian provides the backdrop for this clock’s elaborate dial, embellished with three-dimensional carved mother-of-pearl and sculpted gold. The floral motif recalls the lacquered chinoiserie screens that Coco Chanel collected in her famed Paris apartment. An exhibition back reveals the openwork movement, which is wound with a gold key that is, naturally, studded with diamonds.

Vacheron Constantin table clock
(Photo: Vacheron Constantin)

VACHERON CONSTANTIN

Part of a series of 12 clocks released to commemorate the brand’s 250th anniversary, this one-of-a-kind piece is capped with an arch of black tourmaline, highlighting the beauty of the stone’s natural inclusions. The transparent cabinet offers a full view of the constant-force, manually wound caliber 9260, which boasts an impressive 30-day power reserve. In a display of the house’s decorative savoir-faire, the Roman numerals and silver guilloché feet are coated with precious Grand Feu enamel, a notoriously difficult material.

L'Epee table clock
(Photo: L’Epee)

L’EPÉE 1839

L’Epée has been solely dedicated to crafting exceptional clocks since 1839, even producing wall clocks for ultra-luxe Concorde jets—the only timepieces ever to grace a civilian plane. Their Destination Moon clock draws on the Space Race craze of the 1960s, with a body that unmistakably resembles a toy rocket. The winding crown is at the rocket’s base, leading into a mainspring barrel cleverly disguised as a ladder, complete with a tiny silver astronaut. The time is displayed via two rotating discs towards the rocket’s top, the one concession to reality in this whimsical design.

 

Cover Story: Hublot Goes Clear

Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire

With a completely transparent encasing of its Grand Complication, Hublot redefines the concept of what a precious material can be.


By Stephen Watson

Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire
(Photo: Doug Young)

Pink gold? Platinum? Titanium? Market trends predict a return to a new type of discretion. So how about a grand complication that can barely be seen yet has nowhere to hide?

We’re talking, of course, about the magnificent watch on this month’s cover: Hublot’s Big Bang Unico Sapphire. What at first glance appears to be a timepiece made out of clear plastic is, in fact, an ingenious see-through case cut from a solid block of sapphire crystal. Incredibly scratch-resistant and almost as tough as diamond, the case lays bare the inner workings of the HUB1270 UNICO Manufacture self-winding perpetual calendar and chronograph movement in all its technical virtuosity. It’s a watch that must be seen to be believed.

Watch Journal had the opportunity to speak with Ricardo Guadalupe, CEO of Hublot, about the brand’s cutting-edge creativity, mechanical innovations, and enduring devotion to the Art of Fusion.

Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire
(Photo: Hublot)

How did the concept of the clear watch come about?

The idea was to play with the visible and the invisible—to present the heart of an exceptional timepiece as if it was suspended in the air. With a transparent case, a movement can be admired at 360 degrees. Our dream had long been to produce such a watch entirely in colorless sapphire, which is light, nearly invisible, and virtually scratch-proof. Sapphire is one of the hardest materials on earth, second only to diamond.

We also liked the idea that a transparent watch would allow us to highlight Hublot’s tradition of constant innovation in using and developing new materials.

Speaking of cutting-edge materials, Hublot is known for what it calls the Art of Fusion. How has this helped to define the brand’s DNA?

Combining two materials that never coexist in nature is the driving idea at Hublot. Even the first Hublot models from 1980 merged gold cases with rubber straps—quite extravagant for that time! Just like watchmakers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, we will use classic materials such as gold for the case or brass for the movement—however, we combine them with other materials like titanium, ceramic, carbon fiber, Kevlar, even rubber. And we don’t stop there, because we also develop our own new materials. For instance, we have worked in conjunction with the EPFL in Lausanne on basic scientific research for many years. And from this cooperation has arisen a scratch-resistant gold and ceramic alloy that Hublot calls “Magic Gold.”

As a motto, the “Art of Fusion” refers not only to the materials themselves but also encompasses more abstract ideas: the fusion of past and present, tradition and innovation.

Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire
(Photo: Hublot)

How is the sapphire material generated?

Sapphire can be generated by various types of processes, but the ones we use are the Kyropoulos and Verneuil processes. Because sapphire is so hard—measuring 2,000 on the Vickers scale—it requires specific machines to manufacture it and to polish it. Making the sapphire crystal itself was not the issue for us—it was the manufacturing of our components in sapphire that was challenging.The material comes to us in a raw block, which then to be cut into the correct shape. We invested several million Swiss francs in machinery to be able to produce the components and we also invested in machines able to polish the transparency of the sapphire. It took us nearly twenty years to develop the tools and technology that could create the watches to our satisfaction.

What are the possibilities of generating this material? Colors? Textures? Patterns?

The standard color for sapphire is “clear,” but by adding additives during the growth of the crystal, it is possible to create different colors. In 2017 we introduced the sapphire in red and blue. Regarding textures and finishes, it is possible to have a matte or a polished surface finish. Regarding the patterns, for the time being, we use black metallization (for the realization of black smoked sapphire) as well as laser engraving and fill with color lacquer for engravings on the caseback of the watch.

Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire
(Photo: Hublot)

Can you talk us through some of the steps of the watch’s fabrication?

The different essential steps include diamond wire cutting for the raw material, diamond milling for the components to roughed out and diamond polishing of the finished components, so that the surfaces are perfectly polished, revealing the total transparency of this material. The polishing step is very complicated because this is not easy to do on complex shapes and there is a considerable risk of breakage. Sometimes the end step of polishing will also reveal minimal defaults in the crystal.

How long does the process take from start to finish?

It takes between twenty to thirty days to grow a crystal which weighs around 110 to 150 kilos. After this time, we need to cut the raw material, mill it, and polish it. Depending on the component, it can take hundreds of hours to achieve a finished component. And the results aren’t guaranteed until we polish  and carefully examine the result.

How do new elements, such as sapphire, help reimagine traditional luxury?

Hublot stands for always being first, unique and different. I think there will always be a place for watches like ours because we are producing watches that are eternal. You have a world of emotions in a box that will last for the next fifty, hundred or two hundred years, but we give them a contemporary design thanks to the unique materials we use and create.

Hublot Big Bang Unico Sapphire
(Photo: Doug Young)

 

Moon Shot

The new Apollo Intensa Emozione elevates four-wheel exotica.


By Max Prince

Apollo Intensa Emozione Hypercar
(Photo: Apollo Automobil)


There are sports cars, and, above them, supercars. But there’s nothing above a hypercar. These ludicrously fast, bespoke gems from boutique brands such as Pagani and Koenigsegg, represent the hottest trend in automotive exotica. Into this rarified segment rolls the new Apollo Intensa Emozione, a handmade Italian thriller that brings cottage-industry vibes to the bleeding edge of modern high-performance driving.  

Apollo Intensa Emozione Hypercar
(Photo: Apollo Automobil)


That starts with the chassis. It’s hewn entirely from carbon fiber, the same lightweight material used in NASA gliders, and built small-batch by composites guru Paolo Garella. The engine, an operatic 6.3-liter V12, receives similar treatment; Autotecnica Motori, the premier tuner in Italy, uses custom parts to deliver an astounding 780 horsepower and 560 pound-feet of torque, plus a screaming 9000-rpm redline. The minimalist interior brings fighter-jet chic, complete with made-to-measure bucket seats, molded to fit each individual buyer. But the really shocking stuff is on the outside.

Apollo Intensa Emozione Hypercar
(Photo: Apollo Automobil)

Penned by Joe Wang, a former McLaren designer, the Intensa Emozione looks downright radical. The exterior focal point is a teardrop-shaped greenhouse with dramatic, upward-opening doors. The intricate network of aerodynamic scoops and vents recalls a Le Mans race car; the buttressed rear wing is so effective above 180 mph, it generates downforce greater than the vehicle’s total weight. Meaning that, at high speed, the Apollo could actually drive upside down and stick to the ceiling.

Apollo Intensa Emozione Hypercar
(Photo: Apollo Automobil)

Production of the Intensa Emozione is limited to 10 units, with customer delivery beginning in 2018. Consider this one of the most desirable machines ever created, a singular convergence of art and science, exemplary of the breed. Because anything less is just a car.

Apollo Intensa Emozione
0–60 mph: 2.7 seconds
Top speed: 208 mph
Price: $2.7m
apollo-automobil.com

 

The 5 Best Luxury Ski Resorts of 2018

Powder trip.


By Laura Itzkowitz

Spruce Peak at Stowe. (Photo: Jesse Schloff)

Contemplating where to jet off to for an invigorating ski vacation this winter? From the French Alps to a former host of the Winter Olympics in Japan, some of the world’s most luxurious ski resorts are unveiling large-scale renovations and brand-new amenities. Michelin-starred cuisine? Heli-safaris? It’s all here, and we’ve got the lowdown on the exciting offerings worth packing your snow gear and traveling for.

(Photo: Richard Waite / Four Seasons)

Megève, France

Tucked away in the southwest of France under the shadow of Mont Blanc, this under-the-radar ski resort has been favored by the rich and famous since the 1920s. The opening of the 55-room Four Seasons Megève this month—a collaboration with Baroness Ariane de Rothschild, whose aristocratic family was among the village’s original admirers—is sure to put it on the map. If the town’s antique painted wagons are too quaint for your taste, take the resort’s helicopter for a spin. The Ski Concierge is tasked with finding the best powder each day, whether it’s in nearby Chamonix, Courchevel, or Val d’Isère. The sunset return ride will have you back in time for après-ski at the new home for the Rothschilds’ two-Michelin-starred Le 1920.

Rooms from $997 per night; fourseasons.com

(Photo: Stowe Mountain Lodge)

Stowe, Vermont

East Coasters needn’t look far for a top-notch ski destination. A 75-minute flight from New York will get you to Burlington, just an hour west of this quaint mountain town, which means you can leave after work on Friday and arrive in time for dinner. Check into the Stowe Mountain Lodge and book a treatment at its luxurious 2,100 square-foot spa or snatch up one of the condo-style ski-in/ski-out Club Residences. New perks include a $90 million adventure center complete with a rock wall at the base of the mountain, a posh speakeasy-style pub, gourmet dining, members-only club, and retail by Ralph Lauren.

Rooms from $219 per night to $699 on holiday and peak weekends; sprucepeak.com

(Photo: Hoshina Resorts)

Nagano, Japan

Powder hounds wax poetic about Nagano in winter, and, at just three hours by train from Tokyo, it’s easy to combine an urban excursion with a ski getaway for a yin-yang balance of city and country. Nestled in the gateway to the Japanese Alps, the intimate 48-room KAI Alps by Hoshino Resorts—a collection of ryokans founded in 1914—reopens this month after a nearly two-year renovation. Traditional, yet clean-lined and modern, the resort exudes a Zen vibe. After a morning on the slopes of the Hakuba Valley, which hosted the 1998 Nagano Olympics, bliss out at the onsen, fed by natural hot springs, and indulge in a classic kaiseki meal.

Rooms from 23,000 JPY/ (approx. $200) per night, which includes two meals, taxes, and service charges; kai-ryokan.jp

(Photo: Gibeon Photography / Little Nell)

Aspen, Colorado

Aspen loyalists are buzzing about beloved five-star hotel the Little Nell’s renovation, completed this summer. Alexandra Champalimaud—the creative force behind New York’s Carlyle and Plaza Hotels, among others—brought her signature classic-meets-modern style to the revamp. “The Little Nell’s new design recalls in texture, tone, and attitude Aspen’s soul and its distinctiveness as a silver-mining town,” she said. “The particular realness of the place was a grounding quality that we respected and integrated into our work.” Also new this season: a partnership with Sentient Jet, expanded adventure programming, a guest-chef dinner series at Element 47, and the Little Nell Wine Club, which will grant members event invitations, benefits on purchases, and a place to store your stash of Dom Pérignon.

Rooms from $1,000 per night; thelittlenell.com

(Photo: Cristallo Luxury Resort & Spa)

Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy

Calling all gourmands! Why not brush up on your Italian and join well-to-do Milanese and Romans for an epicurean adventure in the Dolomites this winter? Check into the historic Cristallo—family-run since 1901—which recently joined the Luxury Collection. Having hosted the Winter Olympics, Hollywood film crews, and such celebrities as Frank Sinatra, this iconic property is set to reveal a top-to-bottom renovation this month. The hotel may not be directly on the slopes, but it’s hard to complain when après-ski means an aperitivo with panoramic views of northern Italy’s snowy peaks and dinner is local cheese and house-made pasta served in a cozy wood-paneled room heated by an antique majolica stove. Let the Barolo flow!

Rooms from $358 per night; cristallo.com

 

Great Performances: Rolex Cellini Moonphase

The first Rolex moon phase in more than 60 years.


By Sara James Mnookin

Rolex Cellini Moonphase (Photo: Courtesy Rolex/Jean Daniel Meyer)

The world’s earliest civilizations kept time by observing the moon—tracking the days from one new moon to the next. The ancient Greeks took the process a leap further, inventing the Antikythera, one of the first-known complex machines. Housed in a wooden box with more than 30 bronze gears, the instrument could predict the moon’s phases and position in the sky. According to historians, the Antikythera’s four-annum cycle was used for adjusting to leap years or pinpointing the best city—sans eclipses—to host the next Olympic games.

Alas, this innovative tool (along with the instructions needed to replicate it) was lost at sea, near the isle for which it was later named. Other tinkerers wouldn’t catch up to the Antikythera’s technology for more than a thousand years. But by the late Middle Ages, Italian astronomer and engineer Giovanni Dondi dell-Orologio of Padua had created the Astrarium, an astrological clock that mapped the positions of the five then-known planets, along with the sun and the moon. This time, the device was reproduced—and shared widely—greatly influencing the burgeoning clock (and future watch) industries.

Rudimentary moon pointers—special discs that rotated on the dial to aim at numerals signifying the moon’s monthly age in days, from 1 to 29—can be found on pocket watches dating back to the turn of the 17th century. But since the real moon’s cycle is about a half day longer, these early versions required manually adjusting the watch at least every couple of years. Over time, the moon-phase complication became both more accurate and more beautiful as elaborate sky scenes were painted on or beneath the rotating discs (which sometimes had open holes to reproduce the waxing and waning of the moon). Adding more teeth to the gears turning these lunar mechanisms resulted in watches that needed far less correction. Some moon phases can now stay true for more than a thousand millennia.

A close look at the Cellini’s meteorite moon. (Photo: Courtesy Rolex/Jean Daniel Meyer)

Of course, in the current age of smartphones communicating with satellites in real time, moon phases no longer serve any functional purpose. Their value is purely historic and aesthetic, enhancing traditional timepieces with often gorgeous complications. Take the new Rolex Cellini Moonphase (reference 50535), for example. A handsome, oversize 39 mm case in 18-k Everose gold contains a self-winding movement made by Rolex with the company’s Superlative Chronometer certification, with an accuracy of plus or minus two seconds a day. The blue enamel disc at 6 o’clock tracks the various phases of the moon, indicated by an arrow indicator on the subdial. A full moon is depicted by a meteorite appliqué, while the new moon is designated by a simple silver ring.

The Cellini, the most elegant of Rolex’s styles, has long been overshadowed by the brand’s sportier models, like the Daytona and the Submariner. But this particular edition, designed with a subtle brown alligator-leather strap and spare white lacquer dial demands the spotlight—not least because it’s the first moon phase Rolex has issued in more than six decades.

Meterorite known as Siderites, hundreds of million years old. (Photo: Courtesy Rolex/Jean Daniel Meyer)

“Rolex watches with a moon-phase indication are exceptionally rare—among the rarest of all of the brand’s historic and modern models,” says Paul Boutros, Americas & International Strategy advisor and senior vice president at Phillips auction house. Boutros points out that, before the new Cellini, only two Rolex moon phases were ever manufactured: “Reference 8171 and reference 6062 were both produced for only a few short years, from about 1950 until approximately 1954. Due to their timeless beauty, size, and rarity, these references are among the most sought-after of all vintage Rolex watches.”

One particular example, the Bao Dai Rolex, a 6062 moon phase in yellow gold with a black dial and diamond indices, once owned by the last emperor of Vietnam, has set records at Phillips both times it has come to market. It sold for $372,346 in 2002 and $5,034,084 in May of 2017, marking the highest price ever fetched by a Rolex, not once, but twice.

“The new Cellini is especially noteworthy since it is the first modern Rolex wristwatch to include a moon phase,” Boutros says. “Due to its large size and classic aesthetic, we believe it will sell well to collectors of modern, complicated wristwatches.”

Resale value is but one reason to get moonstruck.

WHERE TO WEAR IT

The Metropolitan Opera House in in New York City. (Photo: Courtesy Rolex/Ambroise Tezenas)

With the once stark line between work and leisure dissolving into a blur, few opportunities remain for true formal dress—and the Cellini Moonphase is, undoubtedly, a formal watch. Perhaps that’s why Rolex has become such an ardent supporter of the arts? It’s certainly one way to ensure the brand’s devotees can find suitable venues to exhibit their finery.

The company underwrites select performances at Teatro alla Scala in Milan, the Royal Opera House in London, the Opéra National de Paris, the Sulzburg Festival and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in Austria, and the Metropolitan Opera in New York, which just celebrated its 50th year at Lincoln Center. Even at the Met, though, dress codes have eased. “Monday nights at the old Met [on Broadway and 39th Street] were all white tie,” says Susan Froemke, a filmmaker who documented the Met’s 1966 move to the Upper West Side in this year’s exceptional The Opera House. “Everybody adhered to those rules,” she adds. “The old house was built by the nouveau riche—the Vanderbilts, if you can believe it—people who couldn’t get boxes at the old Academy of Music. They wanted a place to be seen in their ermine and jewels.”

The auditorium of the Metropolitan Opera, and its magnificent starburst chandeliers.
(Photo: Jonathan Tichler/Metropolitan Opera)

Now, at Lincoln Center, inside Wallace Harrison’s sleek Modernist temple to the arts, there’s considerably more variety in audience attire. “Today, people are coming straight from work,” Froemke says. “But luckily, they do still make an effort.”

Under the starburst “sputnik” chandeliers, the Cellini will look right at home.

Rolex Cellini Moonphase, $26,750; rolex.com

Holiday Books for the Mechanical Mindset

Need some ideas for a fabulous holiday gift, but that platinum complication or Italian sports car is little out of your price range? Watch Journal has some excellent suggestions.


An example of the beautiful imagery inside Ferrari: Under the Skin. (Photo: Courtesy of Ferrari)

A wealth of new books have arrived this season aimed precisely at the mechanical mindset, showing that the link between cars and watches has never been closer. The wintery roads outside may be dangerous, but curl up on the sofa where you’re safe and sound, and take in the latest in mechanical masterpieces. Because as every watch, car, and book lover knows, there is always something aspire to and always more to learn.

Ferrari: Under the Skin

Written to coincide with an exhibition at the London Design Museum on view until April 15, 2018, Phaidon Press releases Ferrari: Under the Skin, richly illustrated with history, technical drawings, master models, and striking photography of one of the most famous racing machines of all time. A must-have for Ferrari fans, as well as anyone wanting to know more about one of the most compelling cars in history.

$49.95, phaidon.com

The Cartier Tank Watch

A 100-year legacy gets celebrated in The Cartier Tank Watch, by Franco Cologni and from Flammarion-Pere Castor, a look at the fascinating history of one of Cartier’s greatest masterpieces. Based on the lines of the Renault “landships” or “tanks,” an enduring classic was born, a sleek, rectangular timepiece that looks as modern today as it did a century ago.

$80, editions.flammarion.com

Autophoto: Cars & Photography, 1900 to Now

A photo history of the romance between art and cars gets smartly considered in a book created specifically for the Foundation Cartier, Autophoto: Cars & Photography, 1900 to Now, from Éditions Xavier Barral. More than 500 works made by 100 historical and contemporary artists from around the world are shown, including Brassaï, Robert Doisneau, William Eggleston, Walker Evans, Robert Frank, Jacques Henri Lartigue, Joel Meyerowitz, Catherine Opie, Martin Parr, Ed Ruscha, Malick Sidibé, and Stephen Shore.

$65.00, exb.fr

Automata

Author Nick Foulkes explores the enchanting world of automatons, or highly articulated mechanical figurines, in Automata, from Éditions Xavier Barral. These mechanical animated objects, explicitly linked to watchmaking, were designed to inspire thought, science, literature, and the performing arts. Beautifully illustrated with photographs, manuscripts, and documents, the book examines these fascinating marvels from ancient times to the present day.

$69.95, exb.fr

Drive Time Expanded Edition

In April 2016, Rizzoli New York released Drive Time: Watches Inspired by Automobiles, Motorcycles, and Racing, by Aaron Sigmund, and it sold out in under six months. Copies of the first edition/first printing sell for up to $995, more than 10 times the original price. Following up on the unprecedented success comes Drive Time Expanded Edition, with a foreword from Jay Leno and afterword by LVMH Watch Division CEO Jean-Claude Biver.

$85.00, rizzolibookstore.com

 

Watch Journal and Surface Magazine Celebrate the Art of Fusion with Hublot

Hublot’s Innovative Materials and Horological Excellence Get Celebrated in New York City.


On December 13th, the “World Tour” of Hublot’s Art of Fusion stopped off in New York City to celebrate with Surface Media an evening of style, watches, and fun. The Art of Fusion, the essential element that lies at the heart of Hublot, pairs watchmaking traditions with an avant-garde sensibility to extend the philosophy of the brand with groundbreaking materials and technology. Various novelties were on display, from the innovative Magic Gold and the imaginative use of transparent sapphire crystal to hyper-modern masterpieces from the MP Collection.

Celebrating the Art of Fusion on December 13, 2017, in New York City

The December issue of Watch Journal investigates the idea of Art of Fusion further in an interview with Ricardo Guadalupe, CEO of Hublot. He explains, “Just like watchmakers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; we will use classic materials such as gold for the case or brass for the movement—however, we combine them with other materials like titanium, ceramic, carbon fiber, Kevlar, even rubber. And we don’t stop there, because we also develop our own new materials. As a motto, the “Art of Fusion” refers not only to the materials themselves but also encompasses more abstract ideas: the fusion of past and present, tradition, and innovation.”

Hublot And Surface Celebrate The Art Of Fusion
The remarkable MP Collection on display
Hublot’s Capucine Huard and fan
Celebrating a fusion of Street & Classical dance, L.A.based Lil Buck performs for an enthusiastic crowd
Lil Buck charms Marc Lotenberg and Spencer Bailey of Surface Media
Violinist and collaborator, Ezzi

Depth Perception

The conceptual artwork of artist Charles Lutz takes on luxury, consumption, and ego.


By Rachel Felder

The artist Charles Lutz at his Brooklyn studio. (Photo: Christopher Garcia Valle)

Inside an imposing industrial building in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, near a noisy stretch of highway, there’s something you might not expect to find: images of vintage Rolex watches, silk-screened on canvas and transformed into artwork that’s provocative, assertive, and unconventionally beautiful.

In one piece, a detail of a vintage advertisement for a stainless-steel Rolex Explorer has been blown up onto a canvas that’s shaped like a curvaceous number seven from a slot machine. Another painting features a magnified image of a gold Submariner appropriated from an old Rolex brochure; the canvas’s surface has been deliberately retextured to resemble the guilloché detailing on a watch dial. A third painting simultaneously recalls the bezel of a Submariner and a roulette table; the six-foot canvas even features a cut-out circle where the spinning wheel would be.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BYwTsmkHM2Q/?taken-by=charleslutz

The pieces are by conceptual artist Charles Lutz, the 35-year-old provocateur who burst onto the New York art scene in 2007 with a series of paintings that duplicated Warhol silk screens. Now, with these new pieces, which Lutz has dubbed his Transaction paintings, the artist continues to explore issues of value, appropriation, and originality, as well as the nature of luxury and consumerism. For Lutz, a Rolex serves as a symbol of affluence. “Even though it’s a Swiss watch, I feel like it’s kind of the American idealism of what luxury watches represent,” Lutz says.

Lutz sporting his recent Rolex acquisition. (Photo: Christopher Garcia Valle)

Dressed in a low-key outfit of jeans and a leather jacket, the boyish-looking artist could almost pass as a current student at his alma mater, Pratt Institute, an easy stroll away. And he talks about his paintings, which also include appropriated images from Crown Royal Canadian Whiskey and tulips from Dutch still life paintings with a youthful enthusiasm. “The Submariner is printed the same exact way as the Dutch still life,” Lutz says. “They’re both derived from digital files. You have this skim of content that is talking about the same thing, and the process is what ties them together, in a way. The idea of value is within each of the images, but the process is the way of conveying the correlation between the different subject matters.”

Perhaps it’s not surprising that Lutz, who was born and raised in Pittsburgh, points to the work of hometown hero Andy Warhol as his earliest inspiration. He was about 8 years old when he was first introduced to the pop master’s work at the Carnegie Museum of Art; when the Andy Warhol Museum opened in 1994, Lutz, then in high school, spent hours in the galleries. “Being able to get that exposure was really transformative,” he says.

 

Watch Journal Celebrates Parmigiani Fleurier in Miami

Behind the scenes at one of the year’s finest collector events.


On Thursday, November 30th, Watch Journal celebrated Parmigiani Fleurier with an exclusive collector dinner taking place at the glamorous La Cava restaurant located at Faena Hotel Miami Beach.

La Cava’s hand-carved 22-seat private dining table by Frank Pollaro is surrounded by an outstanding collection of world-class wines.

Hosted by Ruggero Mango, the General Manager of Parmigiani Americas, and Stephen Watson, Editor-in-Chief of Watch Journal, the intimate dinner party brought together an elite group of watch experts and aficionados to view highlights from the recent Parmigiani collections.

Mr. Ruggero Mango made sure guests felt at home.

“During the SIHH watch fair in Geneva, Michel Parmigiani always reveals something special he’s been working on, a heavily jeweled table clock or a magically animated automaton, and you realize what a rare and special brand Parmigiani is,” says Watson.

From left: Vilena Antonova, Prince Percia Pietrolungo & Katie Reed

The warm Florida evening brought about a relaxed, tropical vibe, as Ruggero Mango made everyone feel at home by welcoming the guests to become part of the extended Parmigiani family.

The intricate sub-second detailing on the Tonda 1950 Tourbillon caught the eye of more than one guest.

On hand to view these special pieces: Prince Percia Piétrolungo, CEO of OWN Realty/OWN Financial; Jack Yeaton, CEO of the Yeaton Group; and collectors Matt Goren, Pat Gibson, David Hayes, and John Scarlatos.

From left: Michael Martirena, Jack Yeaton, Erica Corsano, Ivan Chorney

Also attending the dinner were two very special timepieces, direct from Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève: the Tonda Chronor Anniversaire, winner of the Chronograph Watch Prize, and the Toric Hemispheres Retrograde, winner of the Travel Time Watch Prize.

From left: Watch Journal’s Katie Reed and Stephen Watson

 

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Creating a Timepiece Worthy of the Tour de France

How a former Formula One champ turned cyclist helped Richard Mille design his latest ne plus ultra watch.


By James Jung

Formula One legend Alain Prost with British procyclist Mark Cavendish. (Photo: Antonin Vincent / DPPI)

Richard Mille may be one of the world’s most preeminent watchmakers, but he’s almost as famous for his obsession with race cars. Ever since bursting onto the scene in 2001 with his radical and highly technical take on the classic, barrel-shaped tonneau, the charismatic Frenchman has drawn inspiration from the high performance machines of Formula One. 

In the stone-and-timber garage of his 18th-century château in Brittany, you’ll find one of the world’s most coveted vintage-car collections (replete with iconic open-wheel McLarens and Ferraris), while his eponymous brand name can be spotted scrawled across racing grids the world over. But it’s in Mille’s unmistakable skeleton-dial watches that his obsession truly manifests itself. From aluminum-and-carbon fiber casings to shock-resistant movements as precise as a four-stroke turbocharged V6 engine, the similarities between Mille’s sleek, ultra-luxe watches and the world’s most bleeding-edge racing cars are striking.

And yet, for his latest limited edition timepiece, the bearded, rakishly stylish 66-year-old  turned to an unexpected inspiration: cycling. It’s a sport that Mille—like any self-respecting Frenchman—grew up with, and one that has recently joined his ever-growing list of passions. 

Worn on the right wrist, the new RM 70-01 is designed for ultimate legibility while cycling. (Photo: Antonin Vincent / DPPI)

“I am stunned by the power cyclists churn out,” says Mille, who can be found logging serious miles on his local country lanes when he’s not bombing around those same roads behind the wheel of his Lancia Stratos rally car. He has also been following the Tour de France in person, often in the backseat of a commissioner’s car embedded in the fast-moving peloton. In 2016, after Mille struck up a friendship with professional cyclist Mark Cavendish, he gifted the Welshman his personal Felipe Massa Flyback Chronograph. The decorated sprinter won his 29th Tour de France stage the following day, the timepiece strapped firmly on his wrist. 

Such are the fortunes of a man who has built a business based as much on spontaneity as on rigorous devotion to detail. But, as befitting any true gear head, it was the technical innovations of modern racing bikes that most intrigued Mille. “The introduction of composites, the lighter materials, the performance gains in gear assemblies, these were revolutionary,” Mille says. “As a tech fanatic, I appreciate the many subtleties involved.” 

To create a Tour de France–worthy timepiece, Mille knew he needed a collaborator. But rather than looking toward any number of world-class cycling companies for this venture, the watchmaker returned to his first love—Formula One. As it turned out, Mille’s longtime friend, four-time F1 champ Alain Prost, had been bitten by the biking bug as well.  

“Richard is the one who had the idea for this watch,” recalls Prost, who at the height of his career was known as “The Professor,” due to his cerebral approach to car racing. “He wanted to blend automobiles and bicycles.” Prost himself began cycling at the behest of his trainer more than two decades ago. (The idea was that the sport would help better condition him for the demands of F1 driving—a sport where heart rates consistently exceed 160 bpm.) Today, Prost rides upwards of 200 kilometers a week, and regularly competes in races like the vertiginous L’Étape du Tour and the prestigious Masters World Cycling Championships. 

The RM 70-01 Tourbillon Alain Prost—which is limited to 30 collectors’ pieces—is the result of Mille and Prost’s three-year collaboration. On it, you’ll find numerous nods to cycling. Take, for instance, aesthetic details such as a barrel ratchet resembling a spoked wheel and a dynamometric crown evoking a pedal. For those more concerned with engineering, there’s the Grade 5 titanium used for both the baseplate and the Allen screws, which provides a stiffness capable of withstanding the roughest of road conditions, whether the local tarmac or the cobblestones of Paris-Roubaix. 

Of course, this being a Richard Mille creation, form always follows function. So, much like he’s done before for athletes including tennis star Rafael Nadal, golfer Bubba Watson and Jamaican runner Yohan Blake, he’s created a watch perfectly optimized for the day-to-day demands of sport. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the tonneau’s rectangular and asymmetrical carbon cage, which molds to the wrist without ever digging into the skin no matter where you grip the drop bars on a road bike. 

The biggest innovation, however, belongs to the titanium odometer, a five-digit roller readout that allows riders to easily add the day’s distance to their ongoing tally. Cyclists live and die by their metrics. But while most will rattle off figures like their maximum heart rate or the average amount of watts they can generate in an hour, Prost found that few can recall the total mileage they’ve logged at the end of the season. The RM 70-01 solves that problem. By pressing the pusher at 2 o’clock, a cyclist can activate any of the odometer’s five rollers, while the pusher at 10 o’clock allows the rider to increase the number by increments of one. And there’s no danger of slipping up, thanks to a spring-lock neutral position that protects you from accidentally moving the wrong roller. 

(Photo: Didier-Gourdon)

Sure, most cycling computers offer an odometer—one that automatically calculates total miles—at ten-thousandths of the cost, but anyone who’s resorting to basic bean counting clearly isn’t in the Richard Mille demographic.

For those who are, the RM 70-01, which is priced at a cool $815,000, comes with an added bonus: a hand-built Colnago carbon racing bike with an electronic Campagnolo drive train and thoroughbred Italian pedigree that evokes the spirit of Formula One.

 

Ten Minutes With Alexandre Peraldi

An interview with Baume & Mercier’s brilliant Design Director.


Peraldi, who joined Baume & Mercier in 2001. (Photo by Magali Girardin)

Do you remember your first watch?

Yes, very well. It was square plastic Casio with a calculator and a lot of small push buttons.

Are you sentimental about any personal watches?

Yes, about nearly all of them. Each has a special story and sentimental value. For example, one of my first luxury watches came from my uncle. He had decided to leave it to me because of my love for watches and but also the engraving on the caseback: 1967—the year he purchased the watch and also my birth year. Another important watch for me is a Classima chronograph gifted to me by my previous boss. I received it one year after the launch of this model and commemorated the strong success of the design.

What makes a beautiful watch?

First, the pleasure you have to wear it! Second, the perfect quality of its finishes and the importance and time spent on all of its details.

What is your favorite complication or watch feature?

I like the moon phase. It is very simple and a bit poetic. I also like the minute repeater. It is so complex inside and really amazing to hear.

How did you become part of the watch world?

After finishing art school, I took the chance to join the Cartier design team for accessories. After two years, I began working on designing watches for Yves Saint Laurent (at the time, Cartier had the license for their jewelry, accessories, and watches). After some success with these collections, I started to design watches for Cartier…. The rest is history.

How does the watch industry attract the next generation?

That is difficult to answer today, as many young people do not wear watches. Yet, there are constantly new watch brands and designs created for this young clientele. They are very creative, very cheap, and certainly a good way for the next generation to discover the watch universe. As for traditional watches, we need to communicate differently to the younger consumer and even change our mindset in terms of design. We are working on it!

What is your favorite time of day?

Early morning. When the day is just beginning, and everything seems possible, yet nothing has been done. When you are alone at the office, and you have time for you. It is time for reflection and time for creation. I need this part of the day.

Baume & Mercier Capeland Cobra

What is your favorite Instagram account?

There are a lot…. A few of my favorites are @hirozzz (Hiroaki Fukuda), a great Japanese photographer. @sebmontazstudio (Sebastien Montaz), another cool photographer from our mountains. And @indianmotorcycle, with our new partnership.

What is your favorite place to visit?

Japan. Definitely! I love the kindness of Japanese people, the beauty of their arts, the vast tradition of craftsmanship, the spirit of nonstop learning, and the beauty of all the different landscapes.

Who is your favorite artist? Museum?

What a difficult question. There are a lot! If I had to choose, for example, to take a single book of artwork with me to an isolated island, Leonardo da Vinci would be the one. In a totally different field, Alexander McQueen is another genius. And for the museum, I love the Louvre in Paris and the British Museum in London.

If you could turn back time, where would you go?

Far, far, far away in the past. Perhaps before the presence of humans on the earth. Wild and pure!

What is your favorite design object?

The Chaise Longue of Le Corbusier and the Panton Chair of Verner Panton.

What do you collect?

When I was young, a lot of different things. Now, nothing. It is too time-consuming.

Which watch brand do you most admire?

Vacheron Constantin. And also François-Paul Journe.

Who is currently the most influential person in watches?

The younger generation: Millennials.

Is there a dream watch you would like to own someday?

Yes, a minute repeater, but perhaps this dream has to stay a dream.

How do you define style?

A mix of elegance and confidence without extravagance.

 

Breguet Opens New Boutique on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan

One of the world’s most storied watchmakers celebrates a grand opening just in time for the holidays.


There’s always a hint of magic inside a Breguet boutique. Even brand-new locations come steeped in history, tracing lineage back to the original Geneva shop, which opened in 1775, and introduced the world to the first tourbillon soon after. That heritage is on display at Breguet’s New York flagship store on Fifth Avenue, adjacent to the St. Regis Hotel.

During a cocktail party celebrating the grand opening, collectors and select customers sipped champagne while exploring the new 2580-square-foot space. They discovered a Breguet craftsman demonstrating the art of guilloche on watch dials, as well as two specialty timepieces. The first was a replica of “The Turnip,” Winston Churchill’s famed gold Breguet pocket watch, created for the movie Darkest Hour starring Gary Oldman.

From 1817, a tourbillon crafted by A.L. Breguet, on display at the new store.

The other? Also an incredible pocket watch, this one as original as they come, made by A.L. Breguet in 1817. The piece represents one of only 35 tourbillons that the company’s founder personally crafted during his lifetime. It provided a neat segue to the Marine Équation Marchante Ref. 5887, the brand’s latest Grand Complication wristwatch. In addition to a tourbillon and perpetual calendar, it features a running Equation of Time, displaying the difference between mean solar time and true solar time. This is achieved through a differential gear, powered by two rotation sources, operating entirely independently: the rotation of civil minutes, and the lever in contact with the equation of time cam, which makes one full turn per year.

Horology buffs will appreciate that complexity. To everybody else, it might as well be magic.

699 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10022
(646-692-6469)

Time, Accelerated

The fastest Ford ever built is commemorated with two new watch series.


By Jonathan Schultz

Bradley Price knows the Ford GT supercar in a way that only its builders—and the occasional “friend of the brand”—are allowed to. “I saw prototypes taken apart,” Price, 37, recalls of his visit to Ford’s performance skunk works in Dearborn, Michigan. “I got to see them on a lift. Those sights really stuck with me.”

Not long after the Ford GT blindsided the world’s pleasure receptors in 2015, its maker began scheming on a commemorative wristwatch. The GT nameplate evokes Le Mans, France, where, in 1966, Ford’s GT40 embarked on a historic run of Ferrari-stomping in the French countryside. The new GT, a 647-horsepower, $400,000, hand-built missile limited to just 1,000 examples, would seem commemoration enough, but Ford thought otherwise.

“They reached out to me,” Price says. Surveying his Autodromo brand from its home in Brooklyn, it’s not hard to see why. Autodromo chronographs are steeped in motorsport without stooping to boy-racer clichés like faux-carbon fiber or italicized, blocky type. It also helped that Chris Svensson, now Ford’s global head of design, was a fan.

“He actually wore the prototype of the red-and-white watch, the ’67 Heritage, last summer when they unveiled that colorway of the car,” Price says of his patron.

The LM 2016 Dial is inspired by the class-winning Ford GT that ran at the 2016 Le Mans 24 Hours. It’s even emblazoned with the winning car’s racing number: 68.

The Autodromo Ford GT Endurance series consists of five color and graphics treatments, each intended to evoke not only the GT40s of old, but also the hypermodern GTs. “It’s all about the continuation of the sixties through today,” Price says. “This watch is really about telling that story.” And at $695, it’s a relatively accessible yarn.

But another, more exclusive chapter is baking: a line of Owner’s Edition chronographs limited to buyers of the car. Price is not revealing numbers, though he demurs that they will cost “significantly more.”

“The hour and minute hands are sapphire crystal,” he says of the Owner’s Editions. “When I tell people in Switzerland, they’re like, ‘What?! That’s bold.’”

Purchasers of $400,000 supercars would have it no other way.

 

Linked In

Why the world’s most discerning wrists wear cuff links from Michael Kanners.


By Paul L. Underwood

The modern man has about as much need for cuff links as he does for, well, a watch. If you need the time, you can consult your phone. If you need to keep your sleeves together, consider the button. And yet….

Wearing cuff links, like wearing a watch, signifies not just a rich understanding of history on behalf of the wearer, but also an appreciation for craftsmanship, for taste, and for the eternal notion that what’s practical isn’t always what’s stylish, and what’s convenient isn’t always what’s right. It also demonstrates a more forward-looking kind of aspiration: Cuff links, like watches, are the kinds of things that get passed down from generation to generation. To wear either, or even both, is to connect yourself to both your past and your future.

Few men understand this better than Michael Kanners. A third-generation jeweler, he received his first pair of cuff links from his grandfather (a simple gold pair he still owns), and went on to create some of the most intricately crafted and exquisitely designed ones on the market. He learned his art collecting and selling vintage links, before he began making his own, 10 years ago. It was a decision born of necessity. “Customers were looking for vintage cuff links, but I could never find enough,” he says. “I had to make them because there aren’t enough around to keep everybody happy.”

The telltale sign of a Michael Kanners cuff link is a unique marriage of first-rate materials with first-class whimsy. Take his first pair: theatrical masks made from fine coral. (He still has them and, we regret to inform, intends to keep them.) Then there are his later designs: A polar bear with a paw backing. An incredibly detailed dog—wearing a fedora. A diamond crown atop a coral frog. Suffice it to say, few designers, if any—and certainly not those at the big-brand jewelers—are making such painstaking and original designs today, and certainly not to such exacting standards of quality.

Where does he get his ideas? Some are commissioned by his customers. Some are inspired by vintage links. And then some just come to him. “There are certain obvious ones that appeal to the collector’s mentality: vintage cars, boats, dogs—things where there’s a lot of variety,” he says. “There are some cars I’ve done that I think are just fantastic, because of the combinations of stones, where every detail is represented by a different stone.”

Once he has an idea, he sits with a stone cutter—some of whom he’s worked with for his entire 10-year run—in Italy or Germany and does some sketching. They’ll see what stones are available, with a particular eye for ones with a strong color variety. He’ll sketch his designs directly onto the stones, estimate the time and cost involved, and then cut them to his own very precise measurements. (His experience has given him a strong sense of what his customers will like—what he calls “the sweet spot” between too big and too small.) Because each pair is handcrafted, no two sets of cuff links are ever exactly alike.

Michael Kanners

Eternally Tank

Alain Delon Cartier Tank

The timeless Cartier Tank celebrates its first centennial.


By Sara James Mnookin

“I don’t wear a Tank to tell the time . . . I wear a Tank because it’s the watch to wear.” – Andy Warhol

It was sleeker than the Santos, evoking an aerial view of the tank, with elongated brancards on either side of a square compact case—a design innovation that also solved a nagging dilemma in those early days of the wristwatch: how to join a flat band to a round face. “The majority of men’s wristwatches during World War I were converted pocket watches,” says Nate Borgelt, international senior specialist at Sotheby’s. “The Tank, a design directly based on a machine for war, was masculine, made from the ground up to be worn on the wrist.”

According to Cartier lore, the first Tank was offered to General John Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Forces (who would later rise to garner an unofficial six-star status as General of the Armies). Soon thereafter, Cartier placed six pieces in its stores, which sold out in record time.

General John J. Pershing.

“It was really the first high-profile celebrity watch,” says Marion Fasel, founder and editorial director of the fine jewelry blog, The Adventurine, who points to the precise moment that cemented the Tank’s iconic status, when “silent-film star Rudolph Valentino insisted on wearing it in The Son of the Sheik.” Dubiously dressed in a turban and a wristwatch, Valentino may have made little narrative sense on screen, but he changed sartorial history, inspiring men from London to L.A. to shelve their pocket watches for good.

“Stars have been wearing the style ever since,” Fasel adds. Its strong lines and formidable military credentials have indeed drawn a platoon of famous admirers—among them, Gary Cooper, Cary Grant, Marcello Mastroianni, Alain Delon, Frank Sinatra, and Warren Beatty. Truman Capote claimed to own no fewer than eight Tanks—enough to pull one off his wrist and give it to a passing journalist whose style he found lacking. Capote’s friend Andy Warhol never even wound his, famously remarking, “I don’t wear a Tank watch to tell the time… I wear a Tank watch because it’s the watch to wear.” Yves Saint Laurent evidently agreed.

So did many women. Greta Garbo, trailblazing androgyny, naturally wanted a Tank on her wrist. Sex bombs Brigitte Bardot and Elizabeth Taylor used it almost as a counterweight, to cool off their curves. Ingrid Bergman and Grace Kelly ensured the style became de rigueur for willowy WASPs throughout Europe and the U.S., while Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis carried the Tank trend well into the unisex-obsessed 1970s.

One of Jackie’s beloved Tanks, a gift from her brother-in-law, Prince Stanislaw Radziwill, sold for a staggering $379,500 at Christie’s in June. The anonymous buyer was said to be Kim Kardashian—a plausible theory, given how recently  the reality star had been robbed at gunpoint in Paris.

Alain Delon Cartier Tank
Actor Alain Delon, with director Jean-Pierre Melville, on the set of 1972’s Un Flic.

It seems that, for many women, the Tank has become a kind of armor. Recall Princess Diana’s frequent appearances in her black-strapped Tank L.C. or yellow gold Tank Française in the years after her painful split from Prince Charles.

“It is neither too masculine nor too feminine,” Fasel says. “The design is really the golden mean.”

Such wide reach is hardly mere happenstance. The Tank not only pioneered watch design, but also its marketing, as one of the first styles to be sold by size rather than sex. Freed from traditional boundaries, many men found they preferred the trimmer lines of the smaller case, and a few ladies elected to size up. The Tank opened up new ground between genders, carving out space for vanguards to challenge fashion (and thus societal) norms—and all long before most of the world was ready to grapple with the concept of that sort of fluidity.

“If all tanks were made by Cartier, we’d have the time to live in peace.” – Jean-Charles de Castelbajac

The De Stijl movement, also born in 1917, called for simplicity in design, isolating elements down to form and color. Cartier’s Tank thus has its own specific vernacular—a crisp roman-numeral dial, blue-steel hands, and a sapphire cabochon crown, although the house has never shied away from tinkering with this formula. “The style has a very recognizable language, modified to keep it relevant and new,” Borgelt says. By changing small aspects—size, angles, the way the crown is elongated or shortened, the colors of the stones and cabochons—Cartier prevented the classic from ever feeling quite done.

In 1921 alone, the face was stretched into the Tank Cintrée, which followed the natural curvature of the wrist, and the case lines were made to overlap the brancards for the luxe Tank Chinoise. An extra-flat version, the Tank Normale, arrived in 1964, and the bolder, sturdier Américaine, in 1988. Bucking the gritty minimalism of the ’90s, the Tank Française flashed its shiny steel and gold bracelets, starting in 1996.

Today, Borgelt says the most collectible Tanks tend to be “any limited editions or vintage pieces, particularly from their London workshops or with European Watch and Clock Company movements.”

Cartier Tank
The 2017 Cartier Tank Cintrée Skeleton in pink gold. (Photo: Cartier)

To celebrate the style’s 100th birthday, Cartier has released 13 new models in four of the Tank families: the Tank Louis Cartier, Française, Américaine and Cintrée. The dearest are a pair of Cintrée skeleton watches with mechanical movements and manual winding, in pink-gold and platinum, for $56,000 and $62,000 respectively.

Flammarion published a sumptuous new book, The Cartier Tank Watch, on November 14. In it, frequent collaborator Franco Cologni charts the Tank’s evolution, reminding the world that, in the age of the Apple Watch, there is still only one definitive rectangular timepiece.

“Tanks will be with us as long as watches are worn,” Borgelt predicts. And presumably that will be for at least a few more days.

Horology’s Latest Look

A Swedish duo reimagine the appearance of time.

By Logan R. Baker


Per Emanuelsson and Bastian Bischoff (Photo: HumansSince1982.com)

When the Swedish twosome known as Humans Since 1982 began working on what was to eventually become ClockClock 24, they didn’t set out to make a timepiece at all. It all started with a typography project in 2008 at HDK Göteborg, where Per Emanuelsson and Bastian Bischoff (the aforementioned pair) were still enrolled as postgraduate students.

“Playing with the idea of using clocks to create a moving typeface eventually led to the first sketches for ClockClock,” says Emanuelsson.

The original ClockClock and the ClockClock 24 make for an avant-garde approach to the traditional subject of timekeeping. The way it works in the ClockClock 24 is 24 analog wall clocks are coordinated to depict a digital read-out of the time. This ends up creating a dizzying display of motion that is quite captivating to watch. After developing the first prototype—with the assistance of an electrical engineer—in Emanuelsson’s dorm basement, the original ClockClock was soon picked up by Phillips auction house where it was purchased by a Russian tycoon. Soon thereafter, the pair decided to expand the operation and make their unique approach to telling time available to a global audience on the internet.

Clock Clock 24
Clock Clock 24 in white. (Photo: Museum of Modern Art)

In addition to creating a innovative way of depicting the time, the two have advanced the way the age-old science of horology appears. By merging the two vastly different timekeeping displays, Humans Since 1982 ended up combining a methodology that has kept watch enthusiasts up at night ever since the quartz crisis and through today, where the digital era has left the time to be read in a series of numbers rather than as a physical representation of its constant passage. With all this change, it has left many wondering where to draw the line at what we can and cannot call a watch.

Of course, there can be no official answer to that question and it will be up for interpretation as long as we live, but the ClockClock does fulfill the kinetic desire we have when wearing a mechanical timepiece while executing its vision in a modern and approachable way.

“Our focus was always more on the ephemeral beauty of the passing of time than the reporting of time: in ClockClock the clock hands are liberated from their sole practical purpose of reporting the time—the clock hands also become dancers,” says Bischoff.

When they began working on what became the original ClockClock, Emanuelsson and Bischoff did begin to research horological history but they didn’t go digging through the notes of Abraham-Louis Breguet or John Arnold. Instead they sought their inspiration from an underappreciated source: the humble cuckoo clock.

ClockClock 24, $6,000-7,000; clockclock.com /  moma.org

Hit List: Tiffany’s Time Squared

Tiffany & Co. riffs on the past for a Jazz Age–inspired watch.


By Stephen Watson

Tiffany Co. Square watch
Photo: Doug Young

Entering the Tiffany store on Fifth Avenue feels like walking into a peaceful sanctuary. Its serene environment offers a welcome respite from the Midtown craziness of tourists, shoppers, and pop-up protests targeting the store’s infamous next-door resident-in-chief, Donald Trump. Its graceful combination of elegance and history is breathtaking, immediately bringing to mind Holly Golightly’s famous line: “It calms me down right away, the quietness and the proud look of it—nothing very bad could happen to you there, not with those kind men in their nice suits, and that lovely smell of silver and alligator wallets.”

Breakfast at Tiffany's
Photo: Paramount Pictures

Imagine all the positive accumulated karma earned over the years from joyful engagements, marriages, and tokens of love sold in the store’s 180-year-old history.

To honor this anniversary, Tiffany has looked back to the roaring ’20s to introduce the Tiffany Square, an elegant timepiece designed, engineered, and manufactured in Switzerland. The 180-piece limited edition features a rare square-shaped, manually wound movement with a 42-hour power reserve, which signals the store’s return to in-house caliber manufacturing. The watch’s art deco styling harks back to a significant design period for Tiffany, capturing all the style and sophistication of the legendary Jazz Age.

“I have to say it was love at first sight. We reviewed a series of timepieces belonging to our 20th-century heritage, and certain pieces immediately caught our attention,” says Nicola Andreatta, vice president and general manager of Tiffany & Co. Swiss Watches Sagl. “One of them was the original Square Watch, which in my opinion had all the qualities to be considered the quintessential Tiffany watch for a man.”

Tiffany Co. Square watch
Photo: Doug Young

The new yellow-gold Square Watch replicates the same 27 mm case size, and the watch retains its original proportions, a size that might be considered small by today’s standards but somehow feels completely modern.

“The Jazz Age refers to a glittering moment in time when America came alive through jazz music, unbridled optimism, innovation, and glamour,”  says Andreatta. “It is this explosion of creative energy and social change that defined the American spirit, and it continues to inspire.”

Tiffany Square Watch, $17,000; tiffany.com

 

The Tinkerer

An original watch design fueled by passion.


By Jonathan Schultz

Jonathan Ward

When Jonathan Ward loves something, he tears it apart. The deeper the genuflection, the greater the desire to disembowel. But something happens when Ward is elbows-deep in viscera. Bloodlust gives way to a custodial kind of attachment. As months pass, the object’s infirmities are stamped out and replaced by robust sinew and bone. Lax tissue is regenerated and pulled taut. The object emerges stronger and more magnetic than ever. Old religion gets a new verse, and an icon is born.

That’s not to say Ward’s an iconoclast. His shop in Los Angeles brims with reverence for the vintage Toyota 4x4s parked there, despite their various states of gutting. Rather, it’s what he does with these machines—and has done for more than 20 years—that feels so deliciously heretical.

ICON, the business he runs with his wife, Jamie takes decades-old Toyota Land Cruisers, replaces and reinforces virtually every moving part—engines included—and fits them with bespoke hardware, upholstery, and climate systems. The resulting vehicles are priced around $250,000 and are, for all intents, indestructible. The Wards’ wares once caught the attention of a Toyota executive, which led to a commission for three prototypes that ultimately inspired the Toyota FJ Cruiser of 2007. Jonathan’s cult is global, and he’s revered as an unequivocal car guy’s car guy—but maybe not for long.

The ICON Duesy.

“Anyone who knows me just as the dude who works on old four-by-fours might be surprised by this,” he says.

Surprise would be warranted if you didn’t know Ward—or his Instagram. But even absent his 100-plus collection, Ward’s first wristwatch under the ICON label would be an outlier: an onyx-faced jump-hour called the Duesey.

The name derives not from some beloved hunting dog or mud-flecked Cruiser in Ward’s garage, but from a 1930s Duesenberg SJ—one of the fastest and most elegant cars of its day. The SJ’s array of dashboard dials left an impression on Ward. “That tachometer,” he says, sounding like a man longing for other softly contoured objects. “The first time I saw one, I thought, Man, that would make a great jump-hour.”

Casebook of the ICON Duesy.

Ward is a lifer. His childhood fixation was a Seiko Data 2000. A restless tinkerer, he values a craftsman’s vision above all else. “If someone has the balls to do things by themselves, and not hire a marketing agency,” he says, “I’m in.”

The Duesy reflects Ward’s maniacal attention to detail. “The crown, the clasp, the band, the bezel, the typeface—every single detail. And I CAD-modeled it myself.”

The project emerged after a potential partnership went south. Ward has long admired Bell & Ross, and modeled his reimagined Land Cruisers’ gauges on the BR01. A watch collaboration was discussed, but Ward says that after a while, the line grew quiet.

Crown of the ICON Duesy.

“But I realized that I would have a lot more fun, and be able to control the vision more, if I just went it alone.”

A meeting with Svend Andersen disabused him of the idea of seeking a build partner. “We discussed a one-off, but each would have to be priced at like fifty, sixty grand,” he says. (The Duesey is priced from $11,500.) In his sketches, Ward envisioned “a chamfered and sloping bezel in Vantablack, this kick ass aerospace material,” but that too didn’t prove feasible.

“Ultimately I went with onyx,” he says. “It has lots of gloss and reflective value, but also a ton of depth.”

Being a renowned craftsman has its advantages. Looking for a proven movement, Ward met with a major Swiss company “that supplies complications to lots of brands that would rather you not know it,” where he was quoted a minimum order of 500 units—a galaxy removed from the Duesey’s proposed 50-unit run. “And the meeting was over,” he says. “But then, the CEO of the group came by, I gave him my card, and he was like, ‘Oh, ICON! My friend in Moscow has one of your trucks!’ And that was that. He made an exception.”

The ICON Duesy on the wheel cap of a Duesy.

Serendipity, globalism, craftsmanship, a good yarn—they’re all forces that fuel Ward’s passion. On his wrist this day is a Heuer that once belonged to a World War II pilot. “He crashed in North Africa and literally built a lean-to in the fucking sand, and got rescued,” Ward says. “The seller told me, ‘The family I bought it from may have a photo album of the guy wearing the watch.’ And he sent it to me. And sure enough, there’s the pilot at a bar. There he is in the desert. It’s amazing.”

Having sold half the Dueseys’ run, Ward hopes that more designs will follow, and beget their own misadventures. “I’ve always been fascinated by the Peking to Paris,” he says, referencing a motor race initially run in 1907. “These dudes with no planning loaded shit into a chitty chitty bang bang and went for it. My ideal buyer is hopping in his patinated, unrestored Duesey SJ and just going for it.”

An iconoclast, in other words.

 

Interview: Eric Ripert

Eric Ripert

The elements of great watchmaking-precision, ingenuity, beauty, surprise, delight—are all found in great food, and no one knows this better than chef Eric Ripert.


By Mark Rozzo

Eric Ripert by Nigel Parry

Chef Eric Ripert is a Vacheron Constantin ambassador, free-ranging watch collector, and zealous advocate for the high art of horology, the man who made New York’s Le Bernardin into the most sophisticated seafood restaurant in the world (with three Michelin stars) certainly knows his oysters—on the plate and on his wrist. He spoke with Watch Journal about watches, cooking, his undying regard for Swatch, and the mystery of time itself.

So how did you get hooked on watches?

I was very young, fourteen or fifteen years old, and my mother gave me a Cartier Santos, my first real watch. It’s a rare one. It was not a limited edition, but they didn’t do many of them. The dial window is sapphire; stainless-steel-and-gold bracelet. A very simple watch—a beautiful watch for a young kid. I still have it here in New York. But I think my wrist has grown a lot since I got that watch!

I hear you are quite fond of Swatch.

Yes! I still have a Swatch that says, “DON’T BE TOO LATE.” Swatch does a fantastic job. They reinvent themselves all the time, with artistic ones and some that look like luxury pieces. The coolness of Swatch doesn’t go away. I really started to be knowledgeable about watches in the late nineties, early 2000s. I got my first Vacheron Constantin and started to understand how you value a watch, which is not necessarily about the name itself or diamonds or gold. The value of the watch is about the complications. I had no idea about that.

So I started to enter that world through Vacheron Constantin, who actually mentored me. I went to Switzerland to visit the factory, and they taught me a lot. I didn’t know that every piece in each of those watches is decorated in a different way. And then the complications—the way they calculate the time and the moon and the sun, the rhythm of the planets and everything else.

Why was it that Vacheron Constantin became so important for you as a watch wearer and collector?

I like their philosophy. It’s about simplicity, not about having something flashy. The design is always very sober. It’s about the beauty of the details that only a collector will recognize. And, for me, what is interesting is that it has a lot in common with the craftsmanship that we have in a kitchen. There are a lot of similarities.

What I like most about watches is the fact that time—it’s not tangible, right? Time, the way they calculate time, to me, is still a mystery—exactly like the way we put flavors in a sauce. You cannot really measure the flavors that go to into a sauce. But we still do that. So we have that in common. And when I met with an artisan at Vacheron, I had a lot of discussions with him about that. So that created a lot of respect and friendship for the brand. I had that bonding with them, which creates loyalty.

What is it with chefs and watches? Thomas Keller loves Vacheron and Panerai. Daniel Humm has been an Audemars Piguet ambassador. Daniel Boulud likes his Rolex. Do you guys trade notes on watches the way you might talk about wine or Michelin stars?

First of all, they’re all very good brands, fantastic brands. Audemars Piguet is fantastic. I have some Rolexes at home also. You can take one of those from 1956 and put it on your wrist today. They’re totally timeless, in a sense. But when I talk with those guys, it’s usually more about drinking and eating! It’s sometimes about watches, but not so much.

Which one are you wearing right now?

A Vacheron Overseas, stainless steel. Some collectors put watches in a vault or in a safe and admire them. I like to wear them. My problem is that I am in a kitchen! But the Overseas is very strong and can be with me in a kitchen. I also have a Vacheron Constantin Patrimony in platinum. I wore it in the kitchen and within one month I was three times at the store. In the end, I was so embarrassed. I said, “Okay, I’m not going to wear it in the kitchen! I’ll just wear it outside.” I broke the glass. I got the bracelet—crocodile—drenched and stained with sauce and oil. I even burned one bracelet once. I was working by the stove, and I don’t know what happened. Instead of burning my wrist, the watch protected me. So it was burned. And again I was embarrassed. I was like, ‘Oh my god, I cannot call them and tell them about this—they’re gonna be, ‘How can you burn a bracelet?’ I did that with my Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921—such a great watch.

Owning these watches—and you have more than 20—implies responsibility, stewardship. Do you ever think about this in terms of passing down your own watches?

So my son is fourteen years old. He’s definitely not getting any watch from me now! [laughs] However, when he is more mature—and if he has an interest—I will obviously share with him the knowledge and the pleasure of having watches, along with the importance of supporting the craftsmanship that goes into creating those watches. To me, it’s about preserving the know-how of those artisans. It’s not about showing off. It’s a philosophical statement: I’m helping artisans who are carrying on generation after generation of incredible craftsmanship and precision.

Speaking of artisans, I know you don’t like having tech gadgets in the kitchen. You prefer to do things by hand.

I’m a guy who likes knives and a spatula and a whisk, and that’s it. I collect knives, too. I have some beautiful knives. But it’s the same thing, whether it’s about the art of cooking, the art of making a knife, the art of making a watch: It’s about the connection we have in common among artisans.

Filming his PBS TV series Avec Eric in Korea.

Do you always buy new, or do you sometimes do vintage?

Sometimes I do vintage. And in that case, I go to Tourneau. And I know a couple of collectors who’ll find you the watch that you want if you have something specific in mind. All those ultra-experts, the amazing collectors, they have something eccentric, something very unique-slash-crazy about them, in a good way. Anyone who’s really knowledgeable about watches has something crazy about him!

Are there any particular details you look for in a watch, like favorite complications, a certain kind of dial?

I like to know what is inside the watch, what nobody sees. I always look inside. They open the watch for me, and I look at all the pieces. They are all engraved with a different design. And that, for me, it’s like, “Wow.” Those pieces are so tiny and the precision is crazy. Not even a computer does that. It’s man-made.

And I’d guess you’ve bought watches for people in your life.

Yes, of course. For my wife, Sandra, mostly. She likes a lot of the designs that Cartier does. She has five or six watches she wears regularly. She has also an old Hublot, from about thirty years ago. The kind with a rubber bracelet. I got her that one. It’s so simple and gorgeous.

I like when I see you and you’ve got your prayer beads on one wrist and a Vacheron Overseas on the other. It seems like a healthy, elegant yin and yang, to mix religious metaphors.

At the end of the day, I think it represents part of my personality, right? It is what it is. Watches—they represent us, in a way. They are part of who we are.

 

Surface, Grand Seiko, and Nobu Matsuhisa Celebrate the October Travel Issue

On Thursday, Oct. 26, Surface Media celebrated this month’s Travel Issue with famed chef and restaurateur Nobu Matsuhisa and Japanese watch brand Grand Seiko. The exclusive dinner party of 60 guests was hosted at Nobu Malibu in the exterior lounge overlooking the ocean, where guests enjoyed a sunset cocktail hour followed by a nine-course dinner of Nobu specialties. Joining Matsuhisa, Surface editor-in-chief Spencer Bailey, Watch Journal editor-in-chief Stephen Watson, and Grand Seiko Chairman Akio Naito were joined by Gregg and Madson Buchbinder, Brandi Garnett, Alex Israel, Annalynne McCord, and Sudhin Shahani.

MALIBU, CA – OCTOBER 26: Chef Nobu Matsuhisa attends Surface Magazine Presents The 2017 Travel Issue: Celebratory Dinner with Nobu Matsuhisa at Nobu Malibu on October 26, 2017 in Malibu, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for Surface Media)

The dinner honored Matsuhisa’s cover feature in the issue and commenced with a toast from Bailey. “Nobu is the first chef we’ve ever featured on the cover of Surface in its 24-year history,” he said, “[He] thinks very much like a designer in so many ways. Quality is at the heart of what he does and is at the heart of what we do at Surface, so featuring Nobu on the cover was a very natural fit.” Turning to Naito, Bailey continued, “Grand Seiko is a company that also appreciates quality, design, and craftsmanship. The way in which they incorporate Japanese culture into their watches—it’s that global perspective that is very aligned with what Surface values.”

Read the feature story on Nobu here, and get to know the cover star a little better here, and read more about Grand Seiko here.

Special thanks to Grand Seiko.

MALIBU, CA – OCTOBER 26: Chef Nobu Matsuhisa (L) and Surface Magazine CEO Marc Lotenberg attend Surface Magazine Presents The 2017 Travel Issue: Celebratory Dinner with Nobu Matsuhisa at Nobu Malibu on October 26, 2017, in Malibu, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for Surface Media)
MALIBU, CA – OCTOBER 26: Watches are displayed at Surface Magazine Presents The 2017 Travel Issue: Celebratory Dinner with Nobu Matsuhisa at Nobu Malibu on October 26, 2017, in Malibu, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for Surface Media)
MALIBU, CA – OCTOBER 26: (L-R) Lisa Harris, Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, Bella Harris and Max Harris attend Surface Magazine Presents The 2017 Travel Issue: Celebratory Dinner with Nobu Matsuhisa at Nobu Malibu on October 26, 2017, in Malibu, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for Surface Media)
MALIBU, CA – OCTOBER 26: A general view of the atmosphere at Surface Magazine Presents The 2017 Travel Issue: Celebratory Dinner with Nobu Matsuhisa at Nobu Malibu on October 26, 2017, in Malibu, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for Surface Media)

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