My Three-Watch Wardrobe: Fashion Designer Mr Alexander Lewis
Savile Row-trained designer Mr Alexander Lewis launched his eponymous womenswear label in 2013 to critical acclaim. His latest project, Sheep Inc, describes itself as “the world’s first carbon-negative fashion brand”. Chicago-born, half Brazilian and resident in London, he is a member of the MR PORTER Style Council and a keen watch collector. Given the chance to pick a fantasy three-watch collection, Lewis reveals a considered approach that combines the sentimental, the sartorial and the practical.
Like many watch enthusiasts, Lewis caught the horological bug from his father, although Lewis Jr’s collection, which includes some of the undisputed watchmaking greats (a Rolex GMT-Master II Root Beer and Audemars Piguet Ultra Thin Royal Oak among them), is quite different from his father’s. Watches were always around when he was young, says Lewis, “but they were never luxury watches. They were functional – not exactly cheap and cheerful, but my father took a different approach.”
Swatch featured prominently. Lewis’ first watch was a Flik Flak, the brand’s children’s line. One of his clearest memories is skiing with his dad, who sported Swatch’s early RFID watches with an embedded lift pass. Timex was another beloved brand of Lewis Snr and, despite father and son’s different collecting styles, Lewis’ horological tastes were certainly shaped from an early age. For his 21st birthday, his father said he could choose any Baume & Mercier (“He liked very specific brands”) and the look was clear in his mind. “I knew I wanted a black face with a brown strap,” says Lewis. “And a chronograph. It’s not a normal selection for most people, especially a first watch, but that’s where I wanted to start in terms of a fancier watch.”
Piaget Polo S Automatic Chronograph
Another distinct horological memory was seeing his grandfather’s 1970s Piaget on a trip to the family safety deposit box with his grandmother and father. The watch was very bright, in full-on yellow gold, and “didn’t even look real”, says Lewis. Quite dainty in size, it’s not a watch he could see himself wearing, but he chooses this Polo S in honour of his grandfather. “This is a much more contemporary version of what my grandfather was wearing at the time,” he says. “I love the blue face, which really stands out, and the brushed steel bezel. It’s simple and sporty, but elegant sporty. I could wear this as an everyday watch, but also in a formal setting. I like the idea of contrasts, in the sense of I’m in black tie – ie, at my most formal – yet just wearing my everyday watch versus that notion of having a special watch that one only wears when in black tie.”
IWC SCHAFFHAUSEN Pilot’s Top Gun Automatic Chronograph
“This is the most sporty choice and not just because it’s so black. I also like the effect of the leather strap, which feels more woven or like fabric. I think it will look cool with a T-shirt, but also with the right kind of suits. I’m very specific about how I wear suits, how I put them together with everything. I’m hyper conscious of the socks going with the watch, with the suit. I can’t help but make those connections.
“I’d probably wear this with quite a classic navy-blue suit. But instead of a white shirt – the watch’s white is already so crisp – I’d probably offset it with a pink shirt and a tie that had something red, just to highlight that little red flick. And black suede shoes as opposed to calfskin, and not brown because of the strap, and maybe burgundy socks, again to play off the red tonally. I’d also be comfortable wearing this with black tie. It’s more interesting to have that approach, where some element of you is from normal, real life, while another is more performance and fancier.”
Vacheron Constantin Fiftysix Automatic Complete Calendar
“This is quite an elegant watch and the colours are very me. I’m very much a brown over black person. Generally speaking, I don’t like wearing black very much. I find there’s always another option. And I like the brown with the pink gold here. Brown and yellow gold would just be so intense.
“I’ve always wanted a Vacheron and this is an elegant way to do it without choosing the £100,000 skeleton watch. Also, the calendar with the moon phase is a combination that I don’t have anywhere in my collection. This is an elegant watch, but there’s some kind of functionality to it. It’s not sporty, but functional, and is not purely dress, either. I guess that’s how I always approach my general wardrobe. I like to wear very nice clothing and elegant things, but at heart I’m still, well, a hiker and there has to be some kind of functionality to whatever I’m doing.”