Seven Days, Seven Watches: How To Build A Fantasy Collection

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Seven Days, Seven Watches: How To Build A Fantasy Collection

Words by Mr Chris Hall | Photography by Mr Joachim Mueller Ruchholtz | Styling by Ms Otter Jezamin Hatchett

15 April 2021

Who doesn’t love to let their mind wander, constructing the perfect house, or compiling the ideal three-car garage? Indeed, it’s a task we set a number of eminent individuals when we asked them to build a three-watch wardrobe – men such as Mr Paul Feig, Mr Teo Yang and Mr Kevin Kwan. But as Watches and Wonders 2021 approached, we thought it was time for us to take on a slightly different thought experiment; one that made full use of the horological breadth on offer. Not “what would you choose?” so much as “what kind of life would you lead if you didn’t have to choose?”

We’ve selflessly cast ourselves in the role of a master watch collector with access to the latest references from across the board and selected some of this year’s latest releases to imagine an existence where the perfect watch for the moment was always available. This isn’t about curating the perfect collection, but embracing the variety that today’s watchmakers are producing. Not only is there a watch for every practical situation, but for every style and every mood. Enter, then, the life of MR PORTER at his most watch-obsessed.

First on the wrist is the latest addition to Piaget’s Polo range, the Polo Chronograph, now with a bright-blue “panda”-style chronograph dial and matching rubber strap. Perhaps because it’s a watch that hints at good times to come. Equal parts sporty and refined, the vibrant blue is perfect for summer, and leaving the Polo’s usual steel bracelet in favour of a rubber strap means some kind of activity might be on the cards. (Even if there’s a chance it will consist of nothing more than a spot of tennis and maybe a quick dip to cool off.) It’s a watch of leisure if ever we saw one; a whimsical, happy-go-lucky timepiece.

Day two, and a completely different mindset. Where the Piaget was breezy and carefree, our next choice is purposeful. Panerai’s latest Bronzo limited edition, PAM1074, is our choice for that “up and at ’em” day, when you’ve sprung out of bed and captured the early morning light before the neighbours have even shuffled into the kitchen to make coffee. At 42mm, it may be smaller than previous Bronzo references, but it is just as characterful. The blue dial, especially, is a direct nod to both Panerai’s maritime past and the marine use of bronze in general. If anything, shrinking by a couple of millimetres only adds to the feeling of density about the watch – it’s satisfyingly resolute.

Part of living our best watch life is really embracing the newest of the new, and the Hermès H08 is an entirely new collection. (Not to mention Hermès being the newest watchmaker to arrive on MR PORTER, of course.) On paper, it’s a sporty design the like of which you’d find at most brands. But as an Hermès creation, it’s so much more than that. The unusual case shape, the brushed sloping bezel, the wonderful stencil typography for the numerals, and idiosyncratic details like the length of the second hand all combine to play with the idea of what a casual watch should be. That makes it a fine choice for a day of games. Plus, if all else fails, it should distract your opponent.

Even a fantasy week is likely to involve at least one day where we need to knuckle down and focus. So, let’s bring a touch of purpose to our wrist. (It has been scientifically proven that wearing a watch can make you more productive, so by extension, we’re prepared to gamble on a solid, stainless-steel watch with a chronometer-tuned movement really putting you in the right headspace to get stuff done.) But just because we’re taking things seriously, that does not mean dispensing with style. The Baume & Mercier Riviera Baumatic stands out for its 12-sided bezel and semi-transparent blue dial, as well as the neat tapering of the case into the bracelet.

If it weren’t 2021, this would be when we’d throw caution to the wind and spontaneously jet off to unknown climes. It’s what the Montblanc 1858 Geosphere demands, really. But even a life indulging our every watch-wearing whim must bend to the realities of a global pandemic. So, we’ll settle for taking a moment to make plans, to put together an itinerary that will merit packing this hardy 42mm bronze-cased watch. Desert terrain would be appropriate, for this new piece that commemorates Mr Reinhold Messner’s crossing of the Gobi Desert, but anything that gives us a chance to employ the compass-marked ceramic bezel or 100m water resistance will do. Plus, of course, the watch’s central feature, its hemispherical time-zone indicators.

Most watch enthusiasts have a dress watch to their name, something that even taking out of its box brings with it a sense of occasion. The H. Moser & Cie. Endeavour Tourbillon Ox’s Eye is your regular dress watch after three martinis. It’s what you reach for when that friend texts to say you’re going out tonight. Confidence is the name of the game here. Moser, as the brand is usually known, doesn’t even put its own logo on the dial (let alone any numerals) – it’s that proud of the solid stone dial and one-minute flying tourbillon. Pure flamboyance. And, of course, cased in 18k red gold. What kind of self-respecting hedonist lets their hair down wearing anything less?

All this swapping and changing of new watches, this giddy horological whirlwind, it takes it out of a man. We’re not bringing it to an end – you’ve got to live the life you choose, after all – but taking a well-earned pause to gather breath. And that means relaxing with a known quantity, an old friend: IWC’s Mark XVIII, a watch that’s almost calming in its pure simplicity. Monochrome, 40mm, on a black leather strap with an honest stainless-steel case, the Mark XVIII has kept up with the times, this reference upgraded with IWC’s calibre 35111 a few years ago. But it is in essence about as back-to-basics as a luxury watch can get. A return to a neutral, resting state before the next fascinating thing catches our eye. A good place to round off, in other words.