My Three Watch Wardrobe: Mr Keith Baptista

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My Three Watch Wardrobe: Mr Keith Baptista

Words by Mr Alex Doak

20 April 2021

As founder and managing director of PRODJECT, the Manhattan fashion scene’s go-to creative agency, Mr Keith Baptista is responsible for creating some of the most talked-about, most VVVIP events to be held his side of the Atlantic, from brands such as Ralph Lauren or Chanel, to the annual fashion extravaganza that is the Metropolitan Museum of Arts’ Gala – or “Met Ball” as every man and his purse-sized dog knows it.

With luxury timepieces as much a fashionista fixture as any quilted accessory, it’s surprising, therefore, to learn Mr Baptista was late to this particular party.

“I never owned a watch till my late thirties,” the MR PORTER Style Council Member reveals over Zoom from New York City. “What I do for a living, working on these iconic events, means I need to blend in a little, not distract from what we’re putting out there. So that means I tend to dress classic, simple, and uniform-oriented. Watches never seemed to play into that style.”

That was until a friend gave Baptista a (sadly now discontinued) Cartier Roadster, which proved an epiphany of sorts.

“I’m not outwardly fashion-forward, I like to be more subtle than that,” he says. “But when I started wearing the Roadster, I suddenly realised a watch allows me to do that – express my individual style in the most subtle way.

“My collection’s now up to about 17 or 18. Lots of Cartier, some Hermès, Rolex… All classic, clean, with subtle details that I alone can enjoy.”

“I love the Ballon Bleu sapphire crystal’s curvature – it feels like a pebble. It reminds me of another watch I nearly chose as well, the Vacheron Constantin Patrimony, that also has that subtle camber. That’s mirrored in perfect proportion by Cartier’s signature blue spinel, mounted on the spherical crown.

“It’s not in-your-face, but there are so many details you keep discovering. I also love how versatile this watch could be. It’ll look the part in a suit, or in jeans. Or a suit jacket with jeans…”

“The whirring tourbillon cage, framed by the round window in the dial may be more outwardly facing than I’m used to, but it rewards the wearer so much more than it attracts attention. Only you can get close enough to watch the inner works, and I love that connection.

“Some brands can detail product very aggressively, which is all about signalling prestige, with no benefit to anyone. This Jaeger-LeCoultre is the opposite; it tells the time like your iPhone does, but its true purpose is different in other ways today. It’s soulful, intimate.”

“This drew my attention largely because of the dial. And that’s not just because my watch tastes default to monochrome. I love this tone of green, it feels casual but also elegant, which makes it a great weekend watch.

“The subdials of a chronograph can so often look ‘busy’, but the white-on-khaki, framed by the complementary warmth of bronze metal seems pure and simple to me.”

Third time’s a charm