It’s both a pleasure and a problem: the degree to which we get attached to inanimate objects. How many tears have been shed over lost earrings, or thousands spent propping up the never-visited family cottage? When a child uses your Loro Piana cardigan to polish her Tonka trucks, you needn’t shout. She is telling you that, cultural associations aside, you paid $2,250 for an object—one that is exceedingly good at wiping mud from a toy.
And then there’s the elevated place in the human heart for machines that do reliable work: The Honda Civic that started every morning for 20 years, or the Minolta whose shutter snaps as strong as the day you bought it. Oftentimes, the irrational love object is a watch, marking millions of minutes. We prize constancy in our tools—a neat counterbalance to our own ebbing, failure-prone emotional architecture.
Most animate of all watches—and arguably, most winsome and dangerous—is the striking watch. Like a twee grandfather clock, it sounds the hour, cheerfully, helpfully, a holdover from the days when the electric light, radium-painted dials and Indiglo were science fiction. Such a watch, in the 17th century, exalted its wearer as one of the few with the experience of a “nighttime,” rather than an inky, indefinite “night.”
Today, striking watches remain helpful after dark and are a boon for the visually impaired. To collectors, and manufacturers, they also represent a bravura undertaking—to make one is to origami fold a symphony into the shape of a sugar cookie.
Swiss watchmaker Ulysse Nardin helped revive the striking watch in the 1980s and, this century, has evolved the craft with pieces like the Genghis Khan, featuring wee Mongolian horsemen automatons that strike bells on the hour and half-hour. To begin to consider the virtuosity required to fashion one, recall the last time you tried to fix your reading glasses with that tiny, deeply afflicting screwdriver.
Their latest effort is their loudest: the Phantom Hourstriker, with a novel striking mechanism that produces an 85 decibel chime. (For the layman, 85 decibels, according to OSHA, is the volume of a diesel train at 45 mph from 100 feet.) The clanging is loud but resonant, sweet and insistent, like the chimes of a Swiss braunvieh’s bell as it canters up a hill.
According to Stéphane Von Gunten, Research and Innovation Director at Ulysse Nardin, only in collaboration with high-end French speaker manufacturer Devialet could such a sound be produced. The crucial handoff was between the acoustic expertise and computer modeling ability of Devialet and the almost two-century-old practice of the Ulysse Nardin watchmakers. Devialet modeled the mechanism on CAD, and Ulysse Nardin brought it to life in three dimensions.
The result? A tempest in a timepiece. Beneath the titanium and glass is a platoon of torsion arms that carry the energy of the initial hammer hit from a steel blade gong through a plate and to the thin rear membrane, which acts as an amplifier. This sequence—or “sound chain”—efficiently transfers a huge amount of sound pressure to the exterior of the watch. Von Gunten explained that the final result, a low tone between 2kHz and 8 kHz, was chosen because low frequencies are more audible. Think foghorn, but again: dulcet.
The shape of the case is standard, but eagle eyes will be drawn to the eight small openings in the back, which allow the sound to escape, like steam from a Bünder Nusstorte. The watch face features another, albeit arcane, allusion: a design of stylized “Chadni Figures,” or patterns that emerge when sound waves travel through thin metal planes covered in fine sand. A black alligator strap affixes the whole affair to your wrist.
Want to close the clasp of an Hourstriker Phantom on a semi-regular basis? Establish some thunder down under (your shirt cuff)? Retail price is $72,500, if the appropriately-numbered 85 piece run hasn’t already run out.
For that sum, Ulysse Nardin makes a high-quality titanium machine, as punctilious as a parson, that can howl with the fury of a scorned goddess. Why not risk a little unwise attachment?
And if the relationship gets too boisterous—you, boarding the 4:58 out of New York like a man with his mistress at the one restaurant in town, waiting for the situation to escalate—worry not.
Cast an eye over the history of popular music and you’ll find one color cropping up again and again, a wonderful leitmotiv. There’s Ella Fitzgerald under a blanket of blue, Elvis Presley wearing blue suede shoes. Miles Davis feeling kind of blue, Bob Dylan tangled up in blue, Joni Mitchell too blue for you. KRS-One lays out the original blueprint; JAY-Z takes note, then gives us three more.
Jacob Arabo knows a thing or two about that history. After all, the iconoclastic diamond designer has been supplying Grammy winners with custom watches and jewelry for more than three decades. He’s also carved out an enviable (and lucrative) niche as hip-hop’s finest purveyor of all things bling. His roster of clients, past and present, reads like a rundown of rap demigods: LL Cool J, Biggie Smalls, Diddy, Pharrell, Ludacris, Drake—and yes, Mr. Blueprint himself, the inimitable Sean Carter.
Along the way, Arabo has grown his namesake timepiece and jewelry label, Jacob & Co., into an international haute horlogerie powerhouse. The brand’s latest creation is a special edition within the Epic X collection, a line representing Arabo’s unique takes on the super-modern skeleton watch. But instead of his usual flourishes—diamond settings, multi-axis tourbillons, thematic automatons—this new piece gets redesigned with a bold original color scheme, one that echoes the skies and seas. At the age of 56, Arabo, it seems, has entered his Blue Period.
It didn’t happen overnight. Long before the Epic X debuted, before Jacob & Co. went global, before he was on a first-name basis with the hip-hop vanguard, Arabo was just a New York kid with caviar aspirations and an entrepreneurial bent. Born in Uzbekistan and raised in Queens, he dropped out of high school to enroll in a jewelry design course; by the age of 21, he had a stall at Kaplan Jewelry Exchange, in Manhattan’s famed Diamond District. Even then, he recognized the value of going big, carefully honing his jet-set persona: tailored suits, expensive haircuts, and, of course, a flashy watch.
Arabo knew the market. He felt the groundswell of hip-hop culture, too. In a prescient move, he launched Jacob & Co. in 1986, branding his diamond market expertise. From there, his aesthetic sensibilities only got more extravagant. If Dapper Dan was rap’s original high-end haberdasher, Arabo soon became the community’s own fine jeweler. The two men took a similar approach: bespoke products, seven-league-boots swagger, less-is-a-bore design philosophy. Word spread, customers flocked. He picked up a nickname: Jacob the Jeweler.
So it was written. Throughout the 1990s, if you had a platinum record but wanted a diamond watch—or a gold chain, or gem-set cross, or anything else iced-out and custom-made—you called Jacob. Lenny Kravitz called him. Bono and Jennifer Lopez did, too. After Arabo launched a dedicated Swiss watchmaking division, in 2002, Elton John reportedly purchased two dozen timepieces as gifts for family and friends.
Still, Jacob & Co. remained synonymous with hip-hop fashion culture. The brand and its founder became lyrical shorthand, a status symbol name-checked alongside Maybach and Dom Perignon. Arabo’s clashes with authority only burnished his credibility, further mythologizing his work. Ask anybody from Faith Evans to Fat Joe, and they’ll tell you: Jacob the Jeweler’s O.G. status is beyond repute.
Not that he’s rested on those laurels. Jacob & Co. has continued pushing further into the realm of high watchmaking with horological blockbusters like the Quenttin, widely cited as the first watch with a 31-day power reserve. The brand’s Manhattan flagship store recently reopened, helping initiate the next generation of hip-hop tastemakers—Migos, Lil’ Yachty, Lil’ Uzi Vert—to Arabo’s VIP experience. Last year, he released the Millionaire Yellow Diamond, an 18-karat gold watch bedecked with 276 vivid canary stones, that got the glitterati buzzing.
Which brings us to the new Epic X Chrono Sky Blue. While Jacob & Co. products are always a flex, this latest special edition shows off a different muscle group. Bereft of diamonds, it exudes a naked confidence: The technical prowess and colorful design stand front-and-center, sporty ethos on proud display. Subtle? Hardly. But if the Millionnaire Yellow Diamond was a full-fledged rock opera, the Epic X Chrono Sky Blue is a perfect 808 drum beat.
Less bling means greater focus on the mechanicals. Good thing Jacob & Co.’s self-winding, anti-shock, column-wheel chronograph calibre is a miniature marvel: The Sky Blue’s movement comprises more than 250 components and boasts a full two days of power reserve. Under close inspection, the detailing absolutely shines. Check the polished bridges, the angled and drawn column wheels, the anthracite rotor with “Jacob & Co Genève” red-lacquered engraving.
These are the surefire signs of Swiss artistry. And they’re all cleverly integrated into the semi-transparent, blue mineral crystal dial. The result strikes a neat balance on the scales of form and function: This watch offers the benefits of movement exhibition, plus the modern charms of suspended chronograph sub-banks, without the visual aggression of a full-open-work treatment.
There’s plenty going on outside, too. Measuring 47mm, the Sky Blue’s case is hewn from super-durable Grade 5 titanium and polished 18-karat rose gold. Like the movement it houses, this a technically complex design—Jacob & Co. says it’s made up of 60 unique parts—and executed beautifully. Each of the four end lugs taper over the bezel, pointing inward, as if they might converge and criss-cross. Visually, it evokes a large—or, some might say, epic—letter X. (Get it?)
Ergonomics are another highlight. Small seconds are shown at the 9 o’clock position, displayed opposite the minute counter at 3 o’clock. Elapsed seconds are read off the crimson central chronograph hand, activated by the rubber-coated pusher at 2 o’clock. Meanwhile, an ancillary crown at 10 o’clock, also clad in rubber, controls the rotating inner bezel and sets a countdown timer.
On the flanks, the blue rubber-coated main crown and color-matched chronograph pushers bring pops of contrast to a polished exterior finish. Once turned over, the sapphire and blue mineral crystal caseback allows glimpses of the watch’s inner workings. Water-resistance is rated up to 200 meters, because even JAY-Z goes to the beach. A unique blue rubber strap, replete with rose gold deployment strap, cinches the look.
It also brings a healthy dose of personality, something the high-end collector market desperately needs, and Arabo’s brand is uniquely qualified to provide. To wit, watches of the Epic X ilk often skew achromatic, drawing from a super-technical palette—carbon composites, DLC coatings, matte ceramics—giving off tactical vibes. At this level of craftsmanship, where each component is a chorus unto itself, those designs risk hiding light under a bushel.
The watch seen on these pages is a better bet. A limited-edition exclusive to Watches of Switzerland, it’s both an exclusive proposition and a reminder that serious watchmaking can be delivered with exuberance. It’s the skies and seas, and ready to be worn everywhere in between, something like a new blueprint for boutique chronograph breed. It might just be Arabo’s magnum opus.
JACOB & CO. EPIC X CHRONO SKY BLUE
EXCLUSIVE FOR WATCHES OF SWITZERLAND AND MAYORS. $48,000 USD available at: Watches of Switzerland (1.844.4USAWOS – 1.844.487.2967) Mayors (1.844.4MAYORS – 1.800.462.9677)
The name James Taffin de Givenchy carries a lot of weight. Not only is he the nephew of Hubert de Givenchy, the famous French couturier who outfitted screen siren Audrey Hepburn in most of her landmark films, he’s also amassed a loyal following of starlets, all of whom shimmer on the red carpet with his jewels that he seldom loans.
In an age when movie premieres and award shows are the purviews of behemoth jewelry brands, with their hefty marketing dollars, de Givenchy’s company, Taffin, has garnered renown through stealth, accruing a loyal base of customers through word of mouth. He lets his inimitable designs—from intricate clusters to vibrant solitaire stones—shine through. Scarlett Johansson’s engagement ring, comprised of a yellow pear-shaped diamond on a black ceramic setting, is just one example of his discerning taste. The way the juxtaposition of stones and materials play off each other, resulting in a design that is equal parts bold and effervescent, leaves little doubt why his reputation precedes him in certain circles.
These qualities also apply to the under-the-radar watches that he offers to select clients in his salon on Madison Avenue. Titled the Jimmy, de Givenchy first created the timepiece over a decade ago strictly for himself. But after learning about the mechanics behind watchmaking, and the incredible—if painstaking—process it takes to get one made, he decided to debut a collection that would appeal to the men who would visit his appointment-only showroom. To whit, it follows the same attention to detail and one-of-a-kind mindset that was practiced by his uncle.
Each numbered and personalized for the wearer, the Jimmy is an automatic chronograph that features a pronounced rounded case that bubbles up top. Whether it is made of gold, rose gold, titanium, or steel, every watch is water-resistant and has a scratch-proof crystal. The goal for de Givenchy was to create a timepiece that can be worn every day, that is, utilitarian in make but sleek and striking in look. For him, a great watch is akin to automobiles—machines that need to perform, while also having an exterior that turns heads. Indeed, with sensibilities such as this, it’s no wonder why he was once dubbed “the James Bond of the jewelry world.”
Here, de Givenchy explains why his reputation and that of the Jimmy is as close to 007 status as it gets.
When did you first create the Jimmy Watch?
What I mostly do is woman’s jewelry. Watches are a whole different world, but I was curious. In 2005, maybe in 2004, I started working with a friend of mine in France and asked him what it takes to make a man’s watch. He then offered to help with the CAD work. But little did we know there was so much more behind it.
Well, it’s not just about doing a shape of a watch that you want. We did a wax form first, and I brought the wax with me to Switzerland to the Basel watch fair. There, I realized what it takes. You have to pick a movement to go into a watch. It’s like building your own car. Putting the outside drawing of the design is one thing, but the next step was putting an engine in there. Initially, I thought I was going to make just one—not to sell, but a watch for me. Ultimately, I decided that the best solution, rather than building my own movement, was to work with a company.
Who built your movement?
It’s an ETA movement. And at that time, ETA was just about to be purchased by Swatch. Now, it’s owned by Swatch Group. But when I was starting to look at ETA, it was still a small Swiss company that offered different models of movements that were available for purchase. The idea at that time was to buy one and do a chronograph. I always wanted to do a chronograph. I loved the Bubble Back from Rolex, and I wanted to make a slightly larger version with the same function, but with a bubble top instead of a back. I wanted something that I would wear every day that felt like a modern, practical watch with a very good movement.
Did you find what you were looking for?
Not at first. Every watch that was in the market at that time was those one-inch, thick, complicated movements for men. It was the biggest watches you could find in the 1980s, and everybody was going away from flat watches, which now, apparently, is making a comeback. I didn’t want to have something too big, especially because the watch, the design itself, was supposed to fit the wrist, and be a comfortable, flat watch with a complicated movement. So, after looking at a few, I came across this chronograph movement. We took it and built a CAD model that actually worked for that movement. So everything is done around that single movement.
What makes it elegant? The shape, the material?
It’s really about the balance and the proportions. I wanted to keep the face not too big. When clients come into the shop and they see the watch, they’ll buy it. I have a very small amount, and I’m limited to the number of watches that we made. One of my favorites, actually, is the rose gold with the black dial. It’s a great watch with a deploying buckle. Another favorite is the lizard bands that we have. The band we made can only fit the watch, so we have other bands made specifically in France. That was a complicated thing to actually have a comfortable band with an insert that was not built out of metal but built out of a soft rubber that goes into the watches. It keeps the aerodynamic feeling.
You’re known to create pieces with bold color and material, so how does the design of the Jimmy tie into the Taffin brand?
As a man, I don’t wear jewelry. I only wear a watch and a signet ring. Most of the jewelry I design, though large in size, has a purity and simplicity in their forms. And the watches were made with the same idea. I didn’t want anything else than a shape that was pretty, functional, but also masculine. The only thing that jazzes it up a little bit is the ring around each watch. Now, we can offer a personalized color on the rim of any size with a ceramic. Without wanting to be commercial, I always felt that the guy was just gipped at the moment he came into my store. We’ve had cufflinks for a long time, but it is nice to have something else to offer when women asked me if I have something for their husbands.
It just makes sense that you keep these watches rare, and not make more.
I think it was never intended to be a commercial venture. I lost more money in making the watch, but it was never about that. We probably broke even today, but it’s never really about making money. It was really about making something and just enjoying the fact that I have some clients who live with this watch. They just wear them all the time. God forbid something happens to the watch and they bring it back. Though, I have so many movements left that if there’s an issue with a watch, I just put in a brand new movement. I don’t go through trying to fix and to send it to Switzerland. I don’t want them to wait.
So it’s really a passion project?
Yeah, it was about making my own watch. I think over time, in 30 or 40 years, it’ll become a collectible because there were just a few made. That’s good enough for me. I think that’s a great achievement.
UPDATE! “Pilots Steve Boultbee Brooks and Matt Jones have made aviation history after completing the first-ever round-the-world flight in the Spitfire. Boultbee Brooks and Jones landed just in time for Christmas to a rapturous welcome at Goodwood on the 5th of December, exactly four months after they set off on their epic expedition.”— IWC
When you first lay eyes on the Silver Spitfire, it looks wrong.
Here, we have one of the most recognizable aviation silhouettes ever, the star of innumerable historic photos and newsreels, untold numbers of model airplane kits, countless museum exhibits, and vintage airshows. But in all those, the Spitfire appears wearing camouflage, spotted in squadron markings, usually with Browning machine guns on each wing. The WWII fighter plane, while iconic, remains synonymous with the deadliest conflict in human history.
But the Silver Spitfire isn’t like other Spitfires. No, this is a special “demilitarized” model, meaning it’s bereft of livery or armament. Washed of war paint, stripped of lethal power, you’re allowed to appreciate it as a technical design object, a functional sculpture. It’s no longer a relic of our capacity to destroy, but a towering monument to our ability to create.
Seen this way, the plane looks totally and utterly correct. Especially in the context of the SIHH watch fair in Geneva, where the Silver Spitfire made its debut at the IWC Schaffhausen booth. There, the aircraft was flanked by the Swiss brand’s Pilot’s Watch Spitfire collection. The common thread? Engineering elevated to high art.
Consider the new collection’s smallest piece, a handsome 39mm two-hand automatic, which packs a 72-hour power reserve. There’s a precision chronograph variant, upsized to 41mm with triple sub-banks, as well as a Big Pilot’s Watch version. The latter features a unique green dial, bronze case, brown calfskin strap, perpetual calendar function, and moon-phase for both northern and southern hemispheres.
SIHH showgoers flocked to the IWC area, eager to snap photos of the new watches alongside an aeronautical legend. Developed during the 1930s, the Spitfire is often cited among the finest aviation designs of all-time. The short-range, high-performance aircraft helped pioneer the elliptical-wing configuration, using sunken rivets to achieve a super-thin cross-section, increasing top speed without sacrificing stability or safety. (R.J. Mitchell, the principal engineer, cut his teeth on racing seaplanes. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he also held a pilot’s license and flew regularly.)
During the famed Battle of Britain, in 1940, Mitchell’s machine took center stage, as British and Canadian pilots fended off a monthslong German and Italian onslaught. The fast, agile Spitfire became the darling of Allied airmen. It curried favor with military brass, too, thanks to its robustness and adaptability. This allowed the British to forgo a clean-sheet redesign for the entirety of the war; instead, they simply updated the trusty Spitfire, creating more than two dozen iterations, suitable for everything from ground attacks to photo-reconnaissance. In total, more than 20,000 examples rolled off the assembly lines between 1938 and 1950. Remarkably, less than 60 remain flightworthy today.
So spotting one always feels special. But coming nose-to-propeller with the Silver Spitfire is a bonafide event. This is a true one-off, born of a partnership between IWC and Britain’s prestigious Boultbee Flight Academy. Using the plane’s historic designation, MJ271, historians were able to trace its lineage and pedigree. Records indicate this particular plane was built in 1943 at a shadow factory in Castle Bromwich, the heart of Britain’s industrial Midlands. It was then flown by Australian, Canadian, Norwegian, Trinidadian, and British pilots, logging more than 50 combat missions before retiring in 1945.
But that was a past life. MJ271 earned the Silver Spitfire moniker after an intensive two-year restoration, during which its body panels were polished to silver-chrome perfection. This bespoke finish only makes the exterior lines more striking. The blister-shaped cockpit, gently swept elliptical wings, oblong tailfin—all intersect gracefully, creating a harmonious whole. It’s a far cry from the jutting, angular look of supersonic aircraft. Modern fighter jets blend into the background of Michael Bay films. The Silver Spitfire could star in an Ezra Stoller photograph.
Aviation buffs will note that the Silver Spitfire is an Mk IX variant, meaning it carries the famed Rolls-Royce Merlin 61 piston engine. Equipped with a trick two-stage supercharger, this 12-cylinder marvel was 30 percent smaller than the Nazi’s BMW radial motor but still produced more horsepower. Outstanding high-altitude performance afforded enormous tactical advantages—so much so that the United States licensed Rolls-Royce’s design, then put it into production stateside. Some historians refer to the Merlin as “the engine that won WWII.”
Which is to say: There’s a workhorse behind the Silver Spitfire’s show pony shell. Good thing, since IWC and Boultbee Flight Academy weren’t contented with the static display at SIHH. Instead, the two brands decided to take this special machine on an unprecedented, four-month-long, round-the-globe flight. Covering some 27,000 miles, the route map includes more than 100 individual legs, stopping in 30 countries. Boultbee Academy aces Steve Brooks and Matt Jones jumped at the opportunity to pilot the expedition.
Their journey commenced in early August when the Silver Spitfire flew west from the Goodwood Aerodrome, a former Royal Air Force base on Britain’s southern coast. At press time, the aircraft was flying over northern Japan, with Brooks and Jones having already logged an incredible 13,000 miles. Along the way, they’ve amassed a serious following: IWC’s plane has more than 75,000 fans across Facebook, Instagram (@thesilverspitfire), and Twitter (@longestflight).
Connect with any of those accounts, and you’ll be rewarded with a constant stream of live updates, plus stunning video and photo content. Look closely at Brooks and Jones—or, more specifically, their wrists—and you’ll also see the crown jewel of the new IWC collection: The Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Spitfire Longest Flight.
Hewn from stainless steel, this 46mm timepiece brings legibility (high-contrast black dial, lumed markers), and functionality (60 hours power reserve, 60 meters watch resistance) in equal measure. Crucially, it features IWC’s clever worldtime setup; adjust the timezone via bezel rotation, and the hour hand, 24-hour display, and date all synchronize automatically. This watch looks the part, too, with an oversized diamond-style crown, orientation triangle at the 12 o’clock position, and military-green textile strap.
It’s sure to pique the interest of IWC collectors, as the Spitfire Longest Flight is limited to just 250 pieces. But those enthusiasts with an appreciation for aviation will appreciate this watch most. Not only as a special edition that commemorates the Silver Spitfire, and the historic Brooks and Jones expedition, but as a symbolic object. Together, the plane and watch stand as great technical triumphs over two of mankind’s enduring obsessions: taking flight and comprehending time.
“You’ve got a famous last name,” Norah Jones once sang, “but you’re not to blame.” In an industry where millions of francs are spent trying–and failing–to create iconic and memorable designs, Hublot has done it twice. The brand’s 1980 debut was a scientific and aesthetic triumph; when the Big Bang arrived in 2004, it reimagined the rubber-strap luxury watch as a hugely popular fashion statement. In the decade and a half since, Hublot has updated the Big Bang with a flurry of manufacture movements while reconstructing its case in everything from zirconium to white gold with black baguette diamonds. Yet the firm’s greatest strength–the instant recognition of its core product–is also a significant challenge. How do you keep the Big Bang fresh without losing what made it popular in the first place?
Lapo Elkann, the artistic director of Garage Italia, knows all about the challenges of fame. Born into Italy’s dynastic Agnelli family, Elkann would eventually become a marketing director for FIAT, the firm founded by his ancestors in 1899. Yet he was not content to labor anonymously in the family fields; Elkann’s outrageous choices in both style and lifestyle put him both on tabloid covers and in Vanity Fair’s Best Dressed Hall Of Fame. He would eventually leave FIAT and start a number of firms devoted to promoting and advancing a uniquely Italian approach to design.
In retrospect, therefore, it seems obvious that Hublot and Elkann would eventually collide–a firm considering how to evolve a famous name and a fellow who had already done so on his own account. The resulting Classic Fusion Chronograph Garage Italia exists in that narrow space where flamboyance meets tradition, to the benefit of both. “You don’t have to shout to be noticed,” Elkann states. “We pride ourselves to be both serious and playful at the same time.”
Indeed, this Hublot is relatively serious, with an ETA-based HUB1143 column-wheel flyback chronograph movement. The look, however, is playful, featuring six titanium screws holding down the first-ever sky-blue ceramic bezel on a 45mm “Garage Italia blue” ceramic case. Elkann’s logo appears at 3 o’clock, polished, and color-neutral like the crown and chronograph pushers. The strap, of course, is rubber–there’s only so much change the customer base will accept, and would it really be a Hublot otherwise? The deployant buckle is titanium.
The application of color to high-end watches is still rare enough to be noteworthy, even in what is increasingly looking like an age of near-mandatory ceramics in horology. Carlo Borromeo, Garage Italia’s designer, notes that it’s also a challenge: “When you work with specific colors, there’s a bunch of complications involved in translating a digital idea into a physical object. In particular, it’s really hard if you’re trying to obtain the same colors on different materials and with different processes. Thankfully Hublot has mastered this art, and they were very receptive to our ideas from the very start.”
What keeps the Garage Italia Chronograph from looking like a fashion watch? The fineness of detail helps–but in the end, it’s a matter of proportion and material. Nobody’s idea of an everyday-wear piece, the sky-blue Hublot would be the finishing touch for a truly over-the-top Elkann-style ensemble from Kiton, Brioni, or the tailors on Savile Row.
Launched in May and limited to 100 pieces, this watch is already selling for above retail in the secondary market, suggesting that the firm could have moved a few more than it did. Frustrated would-be purchasers can take heart in knowing the chronograph is merely the first of a three-piece collaboration between Hublot and Garage Italia, titled “Sky, Earth, Sea.”
Elkann is positively ebullient regarding future collaborations: “Garage Italia is defined by Italian excellence and traditional expertise in a contemporary style which is often disruptive. With Hublot, I have found the same hunger for innovation and exploration topped with an unprecedented timeliness for technological prowess.” Will the next two Hublots from the partnership be conventionally shaped takes on the Big Bang? Will they stay near the Classic Fusion Chronograph’s retail price of $14,100? Lastly, will future series-production Hublots benefit from Garage Italia design? Neither Elkann nor Borromeo would provide specifics, but neither would they rule out the prospect of expanding the partnership beyond their limited editions.
Regarding the temptations of fame, Norah Jones sang that “I needed to stand in my own shoes.“ This newest effort from Hublot and Garage Italia does just that, benefiting from its well-known progenitors and designers without relying on nostalgia or retro appeal–and there is more to come.