My Three Watch Wardrobe: Mr Adam Brown

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My Three Watch Wardrobe: Mr Adam Brown

Words by Ms Ming Liu

22 April 2021

As someone who, in his own words, dresses “reasonably conservatively”, watches play an essential role in Mr Adam Brown’s wardrobe. “I don’t buy jewellery, I don’t carry a bag,” says the MR PORTER Style Council Member. “The way I express myself is through a watch.” Choosing a timepiece is very much part of a moment, he adds, whether that’s dressing up or down, or for sport or the outdoors. “It’s an opportunity to accessorise.” As the founder of beachwear brand Orlebar Brown, it’s no surprise to see a fondness for nautical, sporty designs.

Brown’s collection currently includes around 10 watches, which he rotates every two to three weeks. “I like looking down and seeing something different,” he says. He has three IWC SCHAFFHAUSEN Top Guns, including a military-style design from 12 years ago that’s “faded and worn to death”. He’s also a Panerai fan – “I was 44mm for a long, long time,” he says of his historically preferred size, “but recently have gone smaller.” His very first watch was a vintage Rolex Oyster Perpetual with a red dial that he bought around 25 years ago, to celebrate a big career moment – and, indeed, one senses that watches for Brown have meaning beyond just pure accessories. “They have a sort of romantic appeal,” he says. “What I like is you can hide them under a sleeve. They can be your secret, they can be your signifier – and they can mean something to other people, too.”

“I like the Panerai story, the fact that it’s an Italian naval watch, and the size and scale, and the very graphic quality of the faces. I’ve actually got the older version of this watch, which is orange and navy, and I like this colour combination of the bright blue with grey. It’s super fresh and has a nautical element; this watch obviously lives around water.

“At 44m, the watch is big, although that was what I wore for a long time, but I’m a bit of a sucker for the buttons on the side. The blue trim is very unusual. And with Panerai’s interchangeable straps you can put on leather, rubber, canvas – it’s genius that you can change them whenever you want.

“I wouldn’t be wearing this with a suit – it would be casual. This watch is days on the beach; it’s chinos rolled up, a grey sweatshirt, white T-shirt, canvas deck shoes. It’s that kind of world.”

“I love the spirit of the Portugieser, that idea of a yacht club. The whole heritage of that particular name within the IWC stable feels very Orlebar Brown, and has an elegance and solidity to it. IWC is constantly evolving and its watches feel fresh every season. I like how they do things in a very subtle, discreet way. The watches have a purity and simplicity, in the best way.

“This is your proper beach-to-bar type watch, inhabiting that world of wearing stuff off the beach and in the resort. I’d wear it with the navy blue Bulldog swim shorts or the IWC shorts. You can easily wear it with a scuffed-up denim shirt or with linen. This watch has versatility; I wouldn’t wear the Panerai in the evening, but this I could, as well as in the water.”

“As you can see from the Panerai, I like these kinds of bold sporty chronographs, and I like the sensibility of this watch. Something about it feels a bit more restrained than the Panerai, in fact; I think it’s down to the mix of materials, especially the brown strap and how all the colours – black, brown, grey – work. The flash of red always helps, as does having numerous subdials and indicators on the face. There’s a lot going on. It’s a busy watch.

“This watch has much more of a vintage sports car, racing-type feel and I like the reference to motorsport. It ticks another box: this is inland, weekends – this is a big coat walking through a wood. I don’t know too much about the brand and personally I don’t associate the brand with watches; I trust them for other things. But I do like the name Montblanc.”

Third time’s a charm