New Wave

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.

Seiko tapped conservationist Fabien Cousteau, grandson of legendary underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau, as a partner for its latest collection, called Prospex. Cousteau and other marine specialists will document their activities, adventures, and discoveries by way of a dedicated Instagram account @seiko_prospex) this year.

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.

The Prospex SLA019 is a modernized mean, green machine.

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.

The new Prospex SLA025, limited to 1,500 pieces, is a slick (and faithful) tribute to Seiko’s 300m dive watch from 1968.

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.

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.

Omega Attacks! The Return of #SpeedyTuesday

Watch out! 

A monster of a surprise has struck an unsuspecting watch-buying public once again…

(when you found out the #SpeedyTuesday Speedmaster was sold out)

The event occurred Tuesday, July 10, at approximately 6 a.m. Absolutely no one (and no wallet) was declared safe. Because, on this average summer day, Omega quietly snuck a new #SpeedyTuesday Speedmaster Limited Edition 42mm “Ultraman” under the radar, capturing watch enthusiasts off-guard. Tensions were high as collectors the world over debated how to avert this intense emotional decision. To buy or not to buy? Sadly, the Monster Attack Team was unavailable to aid in this crisis. The clock was ticking. What to do?

How did we get here? Flashback to 1967, when Japanese television introduced the science-fiction program “Ultraman.” A phenomenon of epic proportion, the show went on to reach mythological status, inspiring countless sequels and spin-offs. Among them, “Return of Ultraman” from 1970, in which the black-and-orange Omega Speedmaster was featured as an essential piece of the Monster Attack Team’s kit. Fact and fiction merged, the kaiju (“giant monster”) genre flourished, and the Moonwatch became part of Japanese sci-fi history.

Ultraman battles Oxter (Buffalo Monster) in Episode 30 of Return of Ultraman. 

This new 42mm Speedmaster is a fitting tribute; sci-fi design references abound. Ultraman’s superhero mode lasted approximately three minutes, indicated by a trio of orange markers on subdial at three o’clock. The strap-changing tool, made to look like Ultraman’s Beta Capsule, also holds an ultraviolet light; when illuminated, it reveals Ultraman’s hidden image on the nine o’clock subdial. The Speedy’s familiar caseback engraving (“FLIGHT-QUALIFIED BY NASA FOR ALL MANNED SPACE MISSIONS * THE FIRST WATCH WORN ON THE MOON”) is complemented by a unique serial number and #SpeedyTuesday etching, plus a vintage Omega logo and an orange-striped NATO strap, which matches the Monster Attack Team orange uniforms.

Still debating on how to handle this unsought and unsolicited pressure? Crisis averted. As of 8:15 a.m., all 2,012 pieces of the limited-run #SpeedTuesday Ultraman collection (retail: $7,100) have already sold out.

Gomen’nasai, tokei wa kanbaidesu. So sorry, the watch is sold out.

But! Like any good reoccurring installment, you won’t have to wait long: Netflix recently announced a new animated Ultraman series, slated for 2019. Chances are #SpeedyTuesday #3 will someday be appearing on a monitor near you.

Farewell, Ultraman! (for now).

https://youtu.be/kwOKA6mkUU8

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.

Hit List: Ulysse Nardin Executive Skeleton Tourbillon “Stars & Stripes”

Around the turn of the last century, Ulysse Nardin began supplying deck chronometers to the U.S. Navy. This 50-piece limited edition wristwatch featuring a stars-and-stripes dial decoration in red, white, and blue pays tribute to that little-known relationship, which continued until the early 1950s. Appealing to fans of Ulysse Nardin and patriotic watch lovers alike, the skeletonized timepiece was introduced on—you guessed it—Independence Day.

Hand painted “Stars & Stripes” making watch dials great again. 
Ulysse Nardin Executive Skeleton Tourbillon “Stars & Stripes”

$46,000; ulysse-nardin.com

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.”

10 Killer Ways to Wear a Steel Watch

Being well-dressed starts with a great watch.

And when it comes to sartorial versatility, nothing beats a fine timepiece inside a steel case. It can take you anywhere and everywhere. This year, reassess your wardrobe by eliminating the unnecessary and paring down to the essential. Here are a few ideas…


The Look: Rolex Oyster Perpetual 39 ($5,700); rolex.com + A.P.C. Serge Shirt ($220) + A.P.C. New Standard Jeans ($220); apc-us.com


The Look: Hermès Slim d’Hermes ($7,650) + Hermès Jacquard Turtleneck, ($1,625); hermes.com


The Look: Breguet Type XXI Chronograph Ref. 3817 ($13,900); breguet.com + Todd Snyder Striped Brushed Wool Sweater ($298) + Todd Snyder Unconstructed Sport Coat ($598); toddsnyder.com


The Look: Glashütte Original Seventies Chronograph Panorama Date ($14,900); glashuette-original.com + Berluti Unlined Supple Wool Double Breasted Jacket, ($3,700) + Berluti Classic Wool Trouser ($1,010); berluti.com


The Look: Patek Philippe Nautilus Ref. 5711/1A ($24,836); patek.com + Officine Generale Paul Wool Pants ($370) + Officine Generale Benoit Italian Poplin Shirt ($225) + Officine Generale Cashmere V Neck Sweater ($475); officinegenerale.com


The Look: TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre 1887 ($4,500); tagheuer.com + Ralph Lauren Cashmere Tickweave 3-Piece Suit ($9,995) + Ralph Lauren Purple Label Tailored End-on-End Shirt ($350); ralphlauren.com


The Look: Tudor Heritage Black Bay Chronograph ($5,050); tudorwatch.com + Louis Vuitton Double Face Jacket ($2,530) + Louis Vuitton Pique Crew Neck, ($920); louisvuitton.com


The Look: NOMOS Tangente Neomatic 39 Silvercut ($3,880); nomos-glashuette.com + A.P.C. New Standard Jean ($220); apc-us.com + Helmut Lang Vintage Jean Jacket ($420); similar at farfetch.com


The Look: Girard Perregaux Laureato 42 MM ($11,000); girard-perregaux.com + Brunello Cucinelli Crew Neck Sweater ($2,100) + Brunello Cucinelli Casual Trouser ($875) + Brunello Cucinelli Travel Bag ($4,895); brunellocucinelli.com


The Look: Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic True Second ($10,500); jaeger-lecoultre.com + Todd Snyder Striped Brushed Wool Sweater ($298); toddsnyder.com + Levi’s 501 Original Fit Jean ($60); levi.com


Photographs by Max Gaskins. Styling by Justin Arroyo.

Necessities: Power Tools

Remarkable tools for tapping into your creative subconscious and fueling your creative vision.


Leica Sofort Instant Camera & 60 mm Lens, Orange; $299; us.leica-camera.com
Gucci Constance Padlock Watch 30 x 34 mm, $850; gucci.com
MoMA Design Store Compact Toolbox, $100; store.moma.org
Montblanc Great Characters The Beatles Special Edition Pens, $720–$930; montblanc.com
KRINK K-55 Box Set Day-Glo Paint Markers, $72; shop.krink.com
Shinola Shinola + Bondhus L Wrench Set, $40; shinola.com
Faber-Castell Graf Von Faber-Castell Natural Leather Colouring Pencil Roll, $430; faber-castell.com
TAG Heuer Connected Modular Alec Monopoly Limited Edition, $1850; tagheuer.com
Moleskine Pen+ Ellipse Smart Writing System, $179; us.moleskine.com

Mini Mania Hits The Big Time

Iconic watches get comfortable with small-scale replicas of furniture classics. 

(Photo: Doug Young)

Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch Professional Chronograph 42 mm, $5,250; omegawatches.com
+
DKR Wire Chair by Charles & Ray Eames from 1951, $325; vitra.com


(Photo: Doug Young)

A.Lange & Söhne Saxonia Moon Phase Black Dial, $29,000; alange-soehne.com
+
Marshmallow Sofa by George Nelson from 1956, $795; vitra.com


(Photo: Doug Young)

Cartier Santos de Cartier Large Model, $20,400; cartier.com
+
Bocca by Studio 65 Sofa from 1970, $795; vitra.com


(Photo: Doug Young)

Vacheron Constantin Overseas Dual Time, $24,700; vacheron-constantin.com
+
Lockheed Lounge by Marc Newson from 1986, $1,395; vitra.com


(Photo: Doug Young)

Bulgari Octo Ultranero, $6,950; bulgari.com
+
Heart-Shaped Cone Chair by Verner Panton from 1958, $335; vitra.com


(Photo: Doug Young)

Breguet Classique 7787 Moon Phase, $30,200; breguet.com
+
Johnson Wax Chair by Frank Lloyd Wright from 1939, $410; vitra.com


(Photo: Doug Young)

Piaget Altiplano 38 mm, $15,200; piaget.com
+
La Chaise by Charles & Ray Eames from 1948; $355; vitra.com


(Photo: Doug Young)

Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Black Matte Ceramic, $3,500; bellross.com
+
Tulip Chair by Eero Saarinen from 1956, $285; vitra.com

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
+
Laurent Ferrier

Galet Annual Calendar School Piece; laurentferrier.ch

Comme des Garçons
+
Hautlence

Invictus Neon Yellow; hautlence.com

The Creative Godhead Behind Hollywood’s Must-Have Apple Watch Accessory

Close to the edge of a rooftop in Tribeca, Harry Bernstein struck a pose, the late afternoon sun filtering through his luxuriant curls.

Beneath him, in stacked glass conference rooms, sat dozens of employees, unaware that their boss was ably modeling a patchwork afghan, selvedge jeans, and a pair of fresh kicks, planted mere inches from the cold, upscale nothingness of undeveloped downtown airspace.

Indigo Patchwork Wrap, Rare Weaves; Indigo Shirt Jacket, Kapital; White T-Shirt, David Michael; Jeans, Double RL; Sneakers, Yeezy; Native American Bolo, vintage; Eyeglasses, Warby Parker

Here’s what they did know: This man on the roof is an advertising godhead, the reason Boost Mobile demanded to know “Where You At?”; the reason Shaquille O’Neal played an improbable jockey for Vitamin Water; the reason kids line up for Supreme drops; and, arguably, the reason influencer marketing exists at all.

Harry “Bee” Bernstein, founder of the groundbreaking digital ad firm Annex 88 (neé, The 88) and current chief creative officer at Havas Worldwide’s flagship New York agency, radiates the excitement of someone coming off two decades of really, really good ideas.

“Let’s have a roof party and just pay the fine! We have good insurance!”

For most corporate heads with “chief” and “officer” in their titles, alfresco photoshoots come as rare as Peter Luger prime rib. But the prolific Bernstein—who does not eat meat—looks nothing like your average exec. He has called his style “streetwear clown,” but that misses the glorious high-taste-hippie of it all, as if Jerry Garcia had lived to see Adidas x Pharrell.

Despite the globally sourced wardrobe of an Afropop Worldwide listener, Bernstein counts a local upbringing—Queens, New York—as the source of his remarkable sensibility.

Apples & Bolos from Bernstein’s personal collection.

“In pre-internet life, what was cool was subculture, the underground and true rarity. Now, the market is about having what everybody else has. You used to want to remain in the subculture. Now everyone wants to be famous … [consumers] buy things because other people have it. Hypebeasts, literally, they buy things on hype.”

So when it came to his own closet, Bernstein, the master of starting and disseminating trends via social channels, wanted something different.

“I want to find a reason to find and to buy things. I had a Rolex that my dad gave me from the 1980s. It’s supreme, but it doesn’t feel like my luxury trope. Whereas what I’m wearing today, there’s a meaning, and a point, and a singularity. I’m searching for singularity, and a unique perspective on the world. That’s my job as Chief Creative Officer. So if I do what everyone else does, I’ll produce what everyone else does.”

One expression of this ethos, worn exclusively by Bernstein and a few high-echelon celebrities, are the turquoise-inlaid, metal-worked bracelet ends that he retrofits to accept an Apple Watch. These two components, from wildly different ends of the American crafts timeline, represent Bernstein’s major preoccupations: the interplay of digital and analog, the singular and the mass produced, the inert and the dazzlingly dynamic. Some of the bracelets use stylized snakes fashioned out of nails, others classic Zuni geometric patterns. Among the stones, the beveled face of a sleeping Apple Watch looks like an enormous black obsidian.

The combination is bizarre, striking, covetable. The backstory is just downright funny. It goes like this: Bernstein, on vacation in Taos, New Mexico, with his fiancée, becomes transfixed by an enormous piece of turquoise, which he promptly purchases for $5,000. It sparks an obsession. Eventually, he gets hooked up with Fish, a turquoise collector from Austin, Texas.

Native American Bolo, vintage; Indigo Patchwork Jacket and Indigo Scarf, Rare Weaves; White T-Shirt, David Michael; Eyeglasses, Warby Parker

“I went to Fish’s house and I didn’t know if I was buying speed or jewelry. There was a parrot and a guy in a La-Z-Boy. One room had flat files full of necklaces, rings. I tell him I was looking for bolos, and he takes me into the bathroom. He puts the seat down, I sit on the toilet, and there are drawers of different pieces.”

Bernstein received a crash course in the foyer. There’s little centralized information on turquoise jewelry, and widespread forgery makes expertise a necessary tool in finding the best pieces. Now, he’s deep into eBay auctions, message boards, ancient websites, hunting for quality stones and bits of history. Which is how, somewhere outside Austin city limits, 1,800 miles from Queens, our man finally found his subculture.

Back inside the Havas offices, after an impromptu piece of performance art—what does it mean to use a glass-walled office as a changing room?—Bernstein leapt barefoot onto his desk. Adorned in bangles, he struck another pose, half-yoga, half-Amy Cuddy, before settling for a Talmudic shrug.

Surveying the small group of employees below through discontinued Warby Parker frames—turquoise, of course—Bernstein murmured, “I’ve done this one before, but it works.” 

Yoga Top and Native American Bolo, vintage; Printed Camouflage Silk Pants, Advisory Board Crystals; Eyeglasses, Warby Parker.

Photos by Christopher Garcia Valle. Styling by Dylan Hogelin.

Three Questions: Marc Berthier

The famed architect (and watch designer) sounds off about Hermès timepieces, the evolution of inclusive luxury, and why he’s “never belonged” in the world of design…

You designed the Hermès Carré H eight years ago, then redesigned the dial for a special re-release this year. When you conceptualize a new timepiece, do you have an idea of what you want, or do you start from scratch?

The initial brief [in 2010] was very open. It was by Jean-Louis Dumas, the former CEO of Hermès, who since passed away. He was just like, “What would an Hermès mens watch be for you?” The idea of the square wasn’t even there. It was supposed to be a chronograph.

I’d never done a watch before, only architecture. I told Jean-Louis Dumas, “I think that when it comes to a men’s watch, it’s always an incarnation of your hero, like an actor or sports star.”

To me, the hero for Hermès would be someone who inspired you to do new things, this kind of character, like an explorer. We started trying to define this person. It felt like a mission. We used to joke about Saving Private Ryan. Like we have to save Hermès by finding the identity of this watch.

So who’s idea was it to revisit the Carré H?

I started to have discussions with [Hermès artistic director] Pierre-Alexis Dumas, the son of Jean-Louis. We had a conversation about bringing back this watch, making it more consensual. The first one was maybe, at least in the shape, a little bit edgy. This one is more easy to approach, more seductive, and in 2015 we began work on it.

When you renew a model, the first solution is to follow the trends. I was really interested in looking at it [in terms of] evolution, an evolution of the world and society in the wider sense, which brings us back to the explorer. The world is getting more and more diverse; people are traveling, exchanging. I experienced this through my architectural office and my own creation, but also through my family. I come from a long line of “perfectly French” people … I now have a grandson who is mixed race.

The new Carré H watch; like the original, it was designed by Berthier. (Photo: Carl Kleiner)

The first [Carré] was for a small group of initiated people. The second incarnation … it’s a wider expression for people connecting to it. It’s [still] this man who travels, who is curious, who will cross cultures, but [now] he doesn’t have to be from such a small group.

As an architect, do you ever have the desire to go back and change a building?

This has happened to me, yes. I was in charge of the architecture for Galeries Lafayette [department stores], the French equivalent of Saks Fifth Avenue. To go back and move an escalator, just to move these mechanical stairs, was more complicated than being at war. I’m a very technical architect and very passionate about [protecting history], but at the same time [open to change], due to my career path, because I went from architecture into design. Especially in France, we’re like, “You’re a doctor, and you’re going to be a doctor. You did this kind of study, and you’re going to follow it.”

The fact that I switched, I never belonged completely. So when I’m with technical people, they consider me a poet, because I have this designer side. And when I’m on the side of the designer, I’m also not enough, because I’m an architect. It’s like I passed from one world to the other my entire life.

Champagne Wishes & Caviar Dreams

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

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

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


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

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

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

Alessi Bulla Bottle Opener, $50; alessi.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Watch Cases

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

PHOTO: Courtesy Asprey

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

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

PHOTO: Courtesy Globe-Trotter

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

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

PHOTO: Courtesy Louis Vuitton

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

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

PHOTO: Courtesy Smythson

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

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

PHOTO: Courtesy Hermès

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

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

PHOTO: Courtesy T.Anthony

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

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

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