“Be Prepared.” The Boy Scouts motto suggests that in order to avoid mishaps, you must be ready for any type of emergency that might arise. Designed for action, this selection of military-inspired watches truly are ready for anything—from the frontlines of Hollywood to a weekend of hunting, camping, and fishing. Never be taken by surprise again, and always remember to bring snacks.
Photographs by Junichi Ito Styling by Stephen Watson Prop Styling by Linden Elstran
Gucci hasn’t broken the internet, but it has cracked Instagram. And we can’t get enough.
Photographs by Martin Paar
For its new Instagram campaign, Gucci commissioned British photographer Martin Parr to capture its new watches at nine so-called Gucci Places—sites of brand inspiration, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Maison Assouline in London, and Gucci’s own Florentine garden. As with all of Parr’s work, the photos are hyper-saturated, acerbic, precisely observed. It’s the only luxury watch campaign this year co-starring a stale croissant, a pigeon’s gnarled claw, and a few spots of a tourist’s acne. #TimeToParr is as visually successful as it is ambitious. Which is saying something.
The collaboration between Gucci, a brand that’s as Italian as bus strike, and Martin Parr, documentarian of British kitsch and quirk, was not self-evident. It owes its existence to one Roman Anglophile: Alessandro Michele, the visionary, maximally-coiffed creative director of Gucci.
Michele’s love of the British is foundational. His very first collections featured models that looked as if they were honey-dipped then dragged through the Elizabethan, Victorian and Edwardian eras; above the shoulders alone, accessories included ruffled collars, slips of tartan and silk scarves knotted under the neck, a look recognizable to viewers of The Crown. Another dream, realized in 2016, was a Gucci show staged at Westminster Abbey, the sight of all English coronations since William the Conqueror’s ascent in 1066. Cool, Britannia.
Now we have these Martin Parr pictures, which—not to put too fine a point on it—are about perfect. Timely, technicolor, absurd and charming. From the company that sells four-figure jackets embroidered with the Yankees logo, commissioning the former president of the Magnum photography collective to shoot an Instagram campaign makes a perverse kind of sense. It’s the full glory of high-low.
But there are many British photographers. What bound Michele’s cavalcade of prints, ruffles and horse-bit everything specifically to Martin Parr is a two-part epoxy: one part robust Anglophilia, one part dense, referential, mordant wit. Parr’s work is most often described as anthropological and satirical. What are Michele’s silhouettes, pulled from Renaissance paintings, if not anthropology? What is an interlocked-G Gucci logo the size of a focaccia if not satire?
Rather than flying in a phalanx of models, Parr cast subjects via their proximity to Gucci’s chosen locales and, in the case of one Chatsworth House groundskeeper, for the proximity of the green of his jacket to Gucci’s own trademarked hue. The man, gray and gentle, sweeps the pavement. Peeking from beneath the sleeve of his fleece: a 38mm G-Timeless, its band a perfect match to the worn broom handle.
Another photo from Chatsworth is a portrait-of-a-portrait: two teens taking a selfie. They’re demure and apple-cheeked. The boy’s phone case,
garish and worn, would give most art directors an aneurysm. But follow his hand down to the wrist and you see the juxtaposition: cheap plastic foregrounding Gucci’s Eryx G-Timeless, sitting as serene and golden as a sphinx.
Across the Atlantic, a different shot shows a woman head to toe in pink: clothes, nails, eyeglasses, jewelry, hairdo, notably taut face. Whatever she’s regarding is out of frame, but it could be one of LACMA’s Rodins—her hand clasps her chin in homage to the sculptor’s “The Thinker.” The watch, Gucci’s Le Marché Des Merveilles, is appropriately Pepto-Bismol, plus serpents, studs, and shoe-leather from one of Shirley Temple’s old Mary Janes.
Was commissioning Martin Parr, famed for biting meta-portraits of the leisure class, to photograph luxury goods a wise idea? Can such a surfeit of irony—Gucci’s current retro-indulgence plus Parr’s wicked perspective plus The Internet—trick the laws of metaphysics, piercing through layer after layer of critique, parody and burlesque, and end up engendering the glamour that makes a buyer point to a bauble, and say, Mine?
And so one might wonder: Is this #TimetoParr campaign the best Anglo-Italian collaboration since Spaghetti Westerns?
Photographs by Junichi Ito Styling by Stephen Watson & Jared Lawton
Doctors call it nitrogen narcosis. Diving’s old guard call it Martini’s Law. Both mean the same thing: For every 15 meters of depth, the physical effect is equivalent to one drink. Euphoria? Hallucinations? All that and more. But you don’t need an underwater trip to see that modern sports watches are reaching higher levels of dry-land appeal. Slowly surface. It’s time to decompress.
On the rich history (and promising future) of Seiko dive watches.
By Jack Baruth
Ku areba raku ari. This Japanese proverb is often equated to the English speaker’s “Every cloud has a silver lining,” but a more literal translation might be: “If you struggle through bitter effort, you will have ease.” In 1953, as Blancpain was fusing high style and high function to produce the Fifty Fathoms for recreational diving, then a burgeoning leisure activity, Seiko was still wading through the bitterness. It was the first year in which the company would match its prewar annual production record of 2.3 million clocks and watches—more than half of Japan’s entire output. This strong footing would leave Seiko free to reach for the stars. It did just that.
In short order, the brand developed an in-house standard for chronometer certification and, in 1960, a Grand Seiko luxury watch to meet that standard. When the Summer Olympics came to Tokyo, four years later, Seiko produced more than 1,000 precision timepieces for the event. It was, in many ways, a coming-out party for Japan in general and Seiko in particular—one in which all parties demonstrated not just a willingness, but an eagerness to compete on the global stage.
The “62MAS” 150m Diver of 1965 was Japan’s first dive watch. Its bidirectional rotating bezel and non-screw-down crown, placed at the three o’clock position, serve as proof that there was not yet an agreed-upon feature set for this category. Yet it proved to be a commercially successful timepiece, rugged enough for use in Japan’s 8th Antarctic Research Expedition. Early examples are, of course, must-have items for committed collectors of the brand. So, too, is the Model 6159 300m Diver, powered by the 36,000 vph “Hi-Beat” Grand Seiko movement, released in 1968.
Shortly thereafter, the company received a letter from a Hiroshima-area professional “saturation diver.” Seiko watch crystals, he complained, were prone to cracking during ascent, due to accumulation of the helium gas used in SAT diving. (He also pointed out their inability to endure accidental strikes on rocks and other underwater objects.) Seiko’s response was to devote seven years of research and development to one goal: Create a nearly indestructible diver’s watch.
When the Professional 600m appeared, in 1975, it featured a variety of cost-is-no-object solutions to that lofty challenge. It was antimagnetic, shock-resistant, and highly luminous. The case was made of titanium, a material that at the time was sourced primarily from the Soviet Union and was far more expensive than it is today. And while Swiss competitors of the era used helium relief valves to address the problem of cracking crystals, Seiko chose the more difficult and elaborate route of preventing helium entry in the first place, scrutinizing everything from case design to gasket compound. More research. More development.
Soon, the dive watch became Seiko’s showcase for technological advancements. Quartz movements arrived in 1978, followed by special ceramic coatings, a low-battery warning feature, and a 1000m rating for new variants of the Professional. When dive computers replaced wristwatches for most commercial and deep-water divers, Seiko responded by creating function-over-form quartz watches, which incorporated all the features of a dive computer (including depth sensors).
At the same time, the firm continued developing its everyday-use dive watches by fielding variants with Kinetic and, eventually, Spring Drive movements. Today, there are Seiko dive watches for nearly every taste and budget, including the SNZH55 and its sibling variants of the Seiko 5, which are often modified in the aftermarket to create “Fifty-Five Fathoms” tributes to the Blancpain original.
This year, Seiko is releasing a collection of six Prospex-branded divers’ watches, an homage to—and developments of—its distinguished lineage in this area. The S23626 and S23627 are recreations of the landmark thousand-meter 1978 quartz Professional, with titanium cases and an optional Cermet ceramic/metal composite coating in violet gold.
The remaining four are derived from the 1968 300m Model 6159, which has maintained an evergreen popularity with collectors. The SLA025 is a highlight. Limited to 1,500 pieces, each priced at $5,400, this piece uses Hi-Beat 36,000 vph movement and, in terms of design language, is the most faithful to the original. (Note the monoblock case and excellent silicone strap.) Customers wanting a more modern interpretation can choose the SLA019, which features a green ceramic bezel, a metal bracelet, and the 28,000 vph Caliber 8L35 which is an undecorated and unregulated variant of a Grand Seiko movement. It retails for $3,250 and, appropriately, is limited to 1,968 pieces.
But most pertinent for the majority of American Seiko fanatics is the “1968 Automatic Diver’s Modern Re-interpretation SPB077 and SPB079.” These are modern watches, powered by the hacking and hand-wound 6R15 caliber, and scaled to current tastes at a 44 mm case diameter. The SPB077 features a metal bracelet and black bezel, but our eyes were drawn to the silicone-strap SPB079 and its steel-blue bezel. It pays honest tribute to the look of the Model 6159 while also providing a few contemporary changes, such as an arrow hour hand and slightly smaller luminous markers. It retails at $850—sound value for a Japanese-made diver’s watch with ties to both past and present.
By providing everything from a by-the-numbers re-creation to a spirit-of-the-thing modern everyday watch, Seiko is displaying its ability to connect with customers and collectors on their own terms. They’re attracted to the brand because of its endearing ability to be both serious and playful, all while maintaining (and growing) what has become an enviable legacy. It has always been a substantial effort. But, in creating these new Prospex pieces, Seiko has never seemed so unencumbered. Ku areba raku ari. If you struggle through bitter effort, you will have ease.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.