Hired Hand

As Jud, the rueful outcast in Daniel Fish’s contemporary take on the classic musical Oklahoma!, Patrick Vaill wins new praise for an old role. On his wrist? The Bell & Ross BR05, ticking its own performance in a circle in a square.

Vaill wearing the Bell & Ross BR05 Blue Steel, $4,900; bellross.com. Denim shirt and jacket by J.Crew; jcrew.com.

It’s essential that Patrick Vaill show up to the theater on time — and not because of the Circle in the Square Theater’s strict Late Seating policy.

No, he needs time to get into a Sears plaid shirt and a pair of Levis, cajole his locks into lankness and amble onstage by curtain. Vaill, in his lean, soulfull, dirty-blondness, plays Jud in Daniel Fish’s revival of the nationalist square dance that is Oklahoma! — a production which swaps much of the show’s corn syrup for several bracing slugs of corn whiskey. 

Vaill’s casting is one central change — audiences expecting a monomaniacal thug with a silverback’s silhouette instead meet a rueful Vaill, less brute than a country-western Kurt Cobain. Vaill’s Jud still stalks, sulks, and perishes, but never has the character taken with him so many of the audience’s sympathies.

Vaill wearing the Bell & Ross BR05 Skeleton, $6,400; bellross.com. Cashmere turtleneck by Ralph Lauren Purple Label; ralphlauren.com. New standard jeans by A.P.C.; apc-us.com.

This new production does away with period ginghams and bright pastels, leaving the cast in an assortment of blue jeans and work shirts that, in tandem with Vaill’s performance, are as 1990s Seattle as they are 1890s frontier. The dancing, to a pared-down 7-piece string orchestra, is lively, and the chili, bubbling in blood-red crockpots on stage, is served at intermission. With, of course, cornbread.

The 1943 Rodgers and Hammerstein dame bears this interpretation gracefully, encouraged by its director to loll over and admit to more discord, bullying, and bloody knees than the manic propaganda of the title song allows.

For all its innovations, one aspect of the show remains as rigid as any in the five previous Broadway productions: the schedule. That would be eight shows a week, a sick twist on The Beatles’ calendar-defying boast of boundless love. For the Broadway actor, that means a mandatory cycle of preparation, performance, and recovery, with days regimented down to the minute.

Patrick Vaill wearing the Bell & Ross BR05 Skeleton, $6,400; bellross.com. Cashmere suit by Ralph Lauren Purple Label; ralphlauren.com. Plaid flannel shirt by A.P.C.; apc-us.com. White t-shirt by Rag & Bone; rag-bone.com.

For a precious hour somewhere in that matrix, we caught up with Vaill, and, considering his obligations, fitted him with a watch. 

Besides call time, show time, and the necessary synchronicity of cowboy-booted kicks and do-si-dos, good timing for players like Vaill means 40 minutes to eat, ideally three hours before any dancing is required, plus space throughout the week for something rejuvenating, be it yoga, acupuncture, or “Golden Girls.” Plus orchestrating moments for friends, family, relationships, and post-bow tipples at Bar Centrale. And, of course, publicity. 

While it would be a tidier segue, the Bell & Ross BR05 takes its circle-in-a-square design not from Oklahoma!’s theater layout but from the reinforced dials in a plane’s cockpit. This is no cheap allusion: B & R has a large aviator following and a reputation for durability that won it a contract with the French Air Force. The BR05 is meant for lower-flying folk — urban mavericks who appreciate the style and precision, jeweled hands illustrating just how delayed the F train is. 

It looks particularly dashing beneath the rolled sleeve of a garment that would make a French lieutenant shudder — good old American denim. Around the integrated case and steel bracelet, satin-finish surfaces lie in checkerboard with their polished counterparts. Not unlike the patchwork of cultivated fields, no? Wheat’s low-gloss amber in contrast with the brash, shiny optimism of corn. 

Vaill wearing the Bell & Ross BR05 Blue Steel, $4,900; bellross.com. Denim shirt, jacket, and jeans by J.Crew; jcrew.com.


Watch Journal: Many actors have dream roles. Was Jud on your list?

Patrick Vaill: I was a senior at Bard College when Daniel Fish came to direct Oklahoma! I had wanted to play Curly and then got cast, much to my surprise, as Jud. It slowly was revealed to me as the greatest role I could ever hope to play. It has been a dream to continue, to keep investigating.

WJ: Jud is usually played by a brunette. Do you identify as a blonde?

PV: Sure. I think that blonde, brunette, doesn’t really matter — the outsider is someone we all have within ourselves. And in terms of the look of Jud: I’ve always found inspiration in Kurt Cobain. He was a blonde. As a child of the ’90s, he was always my ideal of cool.

WJ: How do you think the show will fare once it’s out in the world, touring? 

PV: People’s relationship to Oklahoma! almost becomes the 12th character in the play. Because they saw it as a child or they did it in high school, when they see it getting done in a way that isn’t necessarily what they thought, that creates a whole other atmosphere.

WJ: The costumes are sort of current day. Did they help you get into character?

PV: I’ve worn the same shirt the whole time — 12 years — this brown plaid shirt from Sears that is so beautiful and so sad and so evocative of who this guy is. In the first act, all of the men wear Levi’s, and in the second act at the party they all wear Wranglers — except for Jud, who only has one pair. 

Also, you put on a pair of cowboy boots, and you’re sort of open for business. They throw your hips in a way that’s fun.

WJ: Do you have western clothes in your own personal wardrobe?

PV: I do. I love a belt buckle. I love turquoise.

WJ: Are there any other classic Broadway musical villains we should reconsider?

PV: Going through Rodgers and Hammerstein…I don’t think the baroness from The Sound Of Music needs to be reconsidered, because she’s a Nazi. Sweeney Todd? No.

WJ: If Jud were to sing a soulful lament in the style of “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” from Dreamgirls, what would it be?

PV: I think it would have to be “I Have Nothing” by Whitney Houston from The Bodyguard. Right?

  • Photos by Christopher Garcia Valle
  • Styling by Mauricio Quezada
  • Grooming by Elayna Bachman

Retro Done Right

Jaeger-LeCoultre’s latest limited-edition packs vintage diving flair (and a hint of hand-painted artistry) into a contemporary package.

The business of retro design can be tricky. Remain too faithful to the original, and you risk looking regressive. (Or, worse still, lazy.) Lean too far in the opposite direction, and you’ll lose the old-school charms. There’s no universal recipe for success. Paying homage can be the quickest way to end up creatively bankrupt. 

For an example of retro done right, cast an eye toward Vallée de Joux, and the folks at Jaeger-LeCoultre. Last year, they wanted to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Memovox Polaris, a landmark mid-century design and the first diving watch with an amplified underwater alarm. Instead of a single tribute, Jaeger-LeCoultre developed an all-new Polaris collection, offering everything from a three-hand automatic to a rose-gold chronograph and worldtimer. Each offered a unique riff on the 1960s Memovox aesthetic. The throwback vibes were strong, but the collection felt thoroughly modern. No small accomplishment. 

Now we have the newest addition to the Polaris lineup, the Polaris Date Limited Edition, initially available only to North American customers. All the better for the brand’s U.S. clientele to secure their piece of the rock; produced in a series of only 800 pieces, the Polaris Date Limited Edition represents one of the more exclusive (and desirable) new Polaris models yet. 

Polaris Date by Jaeger-LeCoultre, $8,250

Photographs by Atom Moore, atommoore.com

Polaris Date by Jaeger-LeCoultre, $8,250; jaeger-lecoutre.com

Nautical by Nature

Panerai’s latest collection isn’t just promising the spirit of high-seas adventure, it’s actually dropping you in the deep end.

Aspiration and high-end watches go hand in intricate hand. Indeed, what you wear on your wrist tells people not just who you are, but who you aspire to be. Wear a certain watch, and you’re a part of man’s first mission to the moon. Wear others, and you’ll conjure the savoir-faire of a British secret agent, the determination of history’s greatest diver, or the impossible cool of cinema’s finest pool shark. Companies have whipped up as many of these kind of promises as there are ways to tell time, yet rare is the watch that actually delivers on one.

Both promising and delivering is Panerai’s new Submersibles series: three watches inspired by the storied brand’s heritage and packaged with the real experiences and characters they evoke.

The Submersible Guillaume Néry, a limited edition of 15 pieces comes with an invitation to dive with the world champion of freediving in French Polynesia

For example, those who purchase Panerai’s new Marina Militare Carbotech won’t just get a dive watch designed in collaboration with the Italian Navy, they’ll get the real-life experience of training alongside COMSUBIN, the Italian Navy’s equivalent of the U.S. SEALs. As you might imagine, gathering more than three dozen willing and able customers who can afford the Marina Militare Carbotech’s roughly $40,500 price tag, and then flying them halfway around the world to train in the choppy waters off the Italian peninsula alongside real candidates for Italy’s most elite naval outfit is not without complications.

“Our head of retail is a little nervous,” says Panerai spokesperson Aileen Schiro. “It’s the first time COMSUBIN has let the public into their operations. That was the most difficult to coordinate, as I understand it. A big part of their work is sea rescues. People get stuck, it’s very very rough water. There’s pirates, it’s scary stuff. They helicopter in and drop in to do rescues. Skydiving. So the experience embodies all of that. It’s very authentic.”

Those unwilling or unable to experience that level of authenticity can still enjoy the timepiece itself, of course. Each watch in the collection comes in two versions: a special edition that comes with the experience and one without. For the COMSUBIN piece, there were 33 experience editions available, one for each of the gold medals of valor the unit has received in its history. Each one has a unique carbon fiber dial that’s both lighter than titanium and stronger than steel to help the watch withstand pressures up to 300 meters in depth. The design also incorporates a new luminescent aspect: The dial’s markers are made with blocks of lume that have been 3-D laser-cut. Finally, each case features the engraved image of either a frogman or a diver on the reverse. (As with the rest of the collection, these have sold out, though the success of this first edition might lead to more in the future.)

The purchase of the Submersible Marina Militare Carbotech allows for 33 owners the opportunity to train with the COMSUBIN, Commandos of the Italian Navy for a few days.

The collection’s other two watches take similar cues from the brand’s existing partnerships with intrepid characters. Staying with the naval exploration theme, the second piece is the Submersible Chrono Guillaume Néry Edition, which takes its name from the record-breaking free diver and photographer. Those who purchase one of the 15 available experiences—one for each world record Néry has broken—will be offered the chance to visit French Polynesia to dive with the man himself while staying at his house. (The Néry, similar to all experience-based pieces in the collection, retails for just shy of $41,000.)

The experience is timed so that divers will witness nearby whale migrations, with or without the guidance of an elite diver. “A big part of the area is an eco-preserve,” Schiro says. “Getting the visas to go in is very difficult.” As part of the purchase process, interested parties had to commit to be available on the trip’s predetermined date. (One presumes a certain level of physical fitness might be useful as well.)

The watch itself, designed with Néry’s input, is appropriately sporty, with white luminescent markers that remain visible even in the pitch blackness of a deep dive. There’s a unidirectional bezel for timing dives, and the back is engraved with the “126”—the record-breaking number of meters Néry dove underwater on a single breath. The experience edition also includes an etching of Néry himself, along with the island of Moorea, the site of the customer’s guided adventure.

The final piece is a collaboration with adventurer Mike Horn, the first person to explore both the North and South poles in the same year. The experience on offer here allows buyers to join him on his amphibious, glacier-climbing expeditionary sailing ship, The Pangaea, as he navigates the ice floes of the Arctic. (If the timing works out, guests will also witness the Northern Lights.)

Though the experience is limited to 19 people, all who opt for just the watch will get something rather unique. Horn’s timepiece reflects the explorer’s committed environmentalism: the straps are made with recycled plastic materials, as is the packaging, which is itself recyclable. The Submersible Mike Horn Edition is also the first chronometer be made with a form of aeronautical-grade recycled titanium. It’s also subject to extreme-weather robotics testing designed in part by Horn itself. The result is sporty, sleek, and durable—a suitable piece for no matter where your personal adventures take you.

Created by Panerai for explorer Mike Horn, the Submersible case is made from EcoTitanium, a world premiere new material introduced by the Panerai “Laboraatorio di Idee” with a strap made out of recycled plastic.

Power Players

Last year, electric-car racing superstar Jean-Éric Vergne became the fourth man to capture the Formula E championship trophy. Now, he’s added a different kind of hardware to his collection: a new TAG Heuer chronograph.

By Max Prince

FIA Formula E, the world’s foremost electric-car racing championship, is on a roll. There’s the redesigned-for-2019 race car (beautiful) and the talent level of the drivers (exceptional). There’s also the new deal with officials in Seoul, where the series will hold a race starting next season. BMW now has a team. So do Jaguar, Audi, Nissan, and Citroën’s luxury subsidiary DS Automobiles. In 2020, both Porsche and Mercedes will enter the championship. Oh, and TAG Heuer, one of the series’ founding partners and official timekeeper, has also extended its sponsorship. Talk about momentum.

Vergne’s current choice, the TAG Heuer Carrera Calibre Heuer 01 chronograph

At press time, the 2019 Formula E Championship season is almost a wrap, and it’s been a wild one. Each race—or ePrix, in official parlance—has been won by a different driver, and the championship is up for grabs. One of the few certainties is that, after finishing second at the opening race in Saudi Arabia and later notching an overall win at the Sanya ePrix in China, veteran driver Jean-Éric Vergne is sure to be in contention.

Vergne, 29, is no stranger in the winner’s circle. Known as “JEV” to his fans, the Frenchman made a splash when he captured the French Formula Renault 2.0 title at the age of 18. He then took the British Formula 3 title, raced in Formula 1 for Scuderia Toro Rosso, and served as development driver on the Ferrari team. Vergne first joined Formula E in 2014, racing for Techeetah—which started out as a privately owned underdog among larger corporate teams— beginning with the 2016–17 season. Last year, he won four ePrix on his way to taking the Drivers’ Championship, cementing his place in history as one of electric-car racing’s first superstars.

That notoriety has paid dividends. In addition to capturing the 2018 Formula E trophy, Vergne also joined TAG Heuer as a brand ambassador. (His watch of choice? The new 45mm Carrera Heuer 01 Chronograph, contrast black-stainless case on a black rubber strap.) The partnership represents something of a electric-car racing power duo: Formula E’s greatest sponsor and its championship driver.

Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA), DS TECHEETAH, DS E-Tense FE19

Entering the home stretch of the 2019 season, we caught up with Vergne before the Monaco ePrix to talk history, watches, and the bright future of electric-car racing.

Watch Journal: You raced in Formula 1 before joining Formula E. How does driving a battery-powered race car compare to a V-8 or turbo V-6? What changes did you make to your driving style?

Jean-Éric Vergne: It changes a lot. But the main difference is the sound and the vibrations—you don’t get [those] anymore with the electric car. Then you have less power with the electric car, but you have quite a lot of torque. So you still have a very good impression of speed coming from the powertrain. But, with any type of driving, the tracks are so different that it’s very difficult to compare driving Formula 1 and Formula E.

WJ: You’ve been affiliated with some of motorsport’s top factory teams, including Ferrari. How is driving for a smaller team like Techeetah different? What are the advantages and disadvantages?

JEV: The last two years here we were a private team with the smallest budget. And it was quite fantastic for me as a driver—I had a lot of things to say in the team. I played a much, much bigger role than a driver would play on a factory team, because we were basically building this team from scratch. [My input] had a lot of implications in all the decision-making for the team. [A race team is] a little bit like a boat, you know? If you are small, you can steer much quicker in the direction you want. So that was our strength. I will say that was a big advantage. Then the weakness is that we did not have any testing days, because [that] was only allowed for the manufacturers. But, nevertheless, we were able to win in front of all the big manufacturers. That was quite nice.

Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA), DS TECHEETAH, DS E-Tense FE19 during the Mexico City E-prix at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico.

WJ: In recent years, other racing series have been dominated by a single driver. Lewis Hamilton has won four of the last five Formula 1 titles. Sébastien Ogier has won the last six World Rally Championship titles. But Formula E has had a different champion in each of its four seasons. Why is that?

JEV: I think the level is so competitive that it makes it very hard for the driver to win every season, every championship. The other thing is that all the cars are extremely similar. We don’t see a [prominent mechanical] difference between the first and last team in Formula E, at least compared to Formula 1. Our budgets are also a lot lower than Formula 1 or the World Rally Championship. Which helps explain why, for example, a small private team like Techeetah was able to compete against a giant like Audi. I think that’s the main difference. This year, it’s more complicated—it’s been a bit of a weird season. But it’s still very difficult to say who’s going to win.

WJ: Last year, you won the Formula E Paris ePrix and finished first in the 24 Hours of Le Mans LMP2 class, driving for the G-Force team. [The latter win was later revoked on a technicality —Ed.] As a native Frenchman, which was more exciting?

JEV: Winning in Paris was an absolutely crazy feeling. It was the best win I ever had, but winning Le Mans was so very special. Obviously as a driver, you always want to win the overall classification [which is LMP1, the class above LMP2] because, you know, that’s the first car finishing in 24 hours. So hopefully one day, I will be able to race in the top category of LMP1, or whatever new category they are going to come up with. I will give it all to win, that’s for sure. But this year, I’m already on a very good LMP2 team, and we’re going to try and win it again—and not be disqualified twenty-four hours later!

Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA), DS TECHEETAH, DS E-Tense FE19

WJ: Speaking of Paris, how did growing up near the city inform your taste in music, culture, and fashion?

JEV: I think I started to learn all of that when I started moving away from France, started traveling around the world, and living in other countries. So I guess I’m a multicultural in terms of, you know, fashion, music taste, all of those things.

WJ: So why did you start collecting timepieces? We’ve always noticed the great watches sneaking into your Instagram feed.

JEV: You know, like every man, you love the cars, you love watches, and obviously the other stuff. When I was younger, I obviously didn’t have the money to afford nice cars—the cars that I wanted—but I have a little bit of money to afford the watches I liked. So I always tried to find good watches. To me, this is only jewelry that a man can wear. And watches are an investment as well. It’s a beautiful thing to have and this is something I love. I love to change watches, and that love just keeps increasing year after year.

Smoking during the Sanya E-prix, China.

WJ: What about watches appeals to you? Is it just the mechanical aspect, or something else?

JEV: Well, [the mechanics] obviously are very important to me when I choose to buy a watch. Also the number of watches being made, the rarity. And there is something appealing to me about the story behind the brand, the story behind a specific watch. When the watch is beautiful, but there is no story at all, it kind of bores me. TAG Heuer is an iconic sponsor of my sport, of my world, since I was a kid and TAG was collaborating with [the late Formula 1 champion] Ayrton Senna, and before that, Steve McQueen. When I see the Monaco, it reminds me of all the history, the great people that wore this watch. To me, beside the fact that it’s a beautiful watch, that is what really attracts me, you know? The story behind it, and the history.

WJ: TAG Heuer’s ad campaigns have also featured Michael Schumacher. He crashed into you at the Singapore Grand Prix in 2012, and the television cameras caught a nice moment of you two talking. What was he telling you?

JEV: He said he was sorry. Then he said something else funny—but I can’t really say. [Laughs]

Vergne (FRA), DS TECHEETAH, DS E-Tense FE19 chases Jose Maria Lopez (ARG), GEOX Dragon Racing, Penske EV-3 during the Ad Diriyah E-prix, Riyadh Street Circuit, Saudi Arabia.

WJ: Do you have a philosophy about time?

JEV: Time is everything to me, and you need to be as quick as possible. But everything in life is time, you know, from the moment you are born, until you die. So I guess what really matters is to make the most out of your time.

WJ: Last question: What does the future hold for the Formula E series, and electric-car racing in general?

JEV: That’s a question I cannot really answer. The only thing I know is that the Formula E is going very well. Manufacturers are getting interested, getting into the championship. We are now nine manufacturers, which is massive. I see a bright future for Formula E, and obviously I’m extremely happy to be part of it, to be able to write the history of Formula E. Hopefully I can write it even more—with more wins and more championships!

Summer Camp

“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

Breitling Aviator 8 B01 Chronograph 43 Curtiss Warhawk, $7,710; breitling.com
Bell & Ross BR 03-92 Nightlum, $3,800; bellross.com
Zenith Pilot Type 20 Adventure Bronze with “Matrix” Calfskin Strap, $7,100; zenith-watches.com
TOP: TAG Heuer Aquaracer Quartz, $1,600; tagheuer.com
BOTTOM: Tudor Black Bay Steel 41 MM, $3,525; tudorwatch.com
Montblanc 1858 Automatic Chronograph Bronze Limited Edition, $5,000; montblanc.com
LEFT: Luminox Navy SEAL, $395; luminox-usa.com
RIGHT: G-Shock The Mudmaster Limited Edition, $380; gshock.com
LEFT: IWC Pilot’s Watch Automatic Spitfire, $4,350; iwc.com
RIGHT: Longines Heritage Military, $2,150; longines.com
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