Three Watches To Brighten Up Any Winter’s Day
From left: Ulysse Nardin Freak X, Roger Dubuis Excalibur Blacklight, Bell & Ross BR03-92 Diver
Our friends over at Esquire UK just coined a new word: “sadwear”. In the words of the magazine’s style director Mr Charlie Teasdale, it’s a catch-all term for “clothes that make us feel better when we’re sad, specifically born out of the existential ennui of lockdown.” It spoke to me – in the slightly tongue-in-cheek way that it was intended – as not only have I bought more clothes than usual in lockdown but I’ve also been wearing every watch I own, even the ones that only come out “for best” as I look out at South London’s sunny vistas.
It got me thinking. We can’t solve the world’s problems with clothes or watches, but we can make things a little sunnier – and who wouldn’t take that right now? So while my usual taste in watches is pretty middle-of-the-road, this week I thought I’d focus on three that just might bring a smile to your face. And as luck would have it, we had something pretty all-out fabulous arriving on MR PORTER: the Roger Dubuis Excalibur Blacklight.
01. Roger Dubuis Excalibur Blacklight
Where shall we begin? Roger Dubuis has been moving in this direction for a few years now, embracing the all-on-display aesthetic of skeletonised watchmaking (in actual fact, the brand now makes no closed-dial pieces in its main men’s collection at all). Then there’s the partnership with Lamborghini – the most extroverted of carmakers.
But this piece moves us onto another level entirely: a solid rose-gold case and bracelet (you do not see a lot of the “RD” logo on bracelets so all other adornment aside, that makes this a rarity) with a rainbow gem-set bezel and some very interesting decoration to the openworked bridges. A number of sapphire splines criss-cross the dial and caseback like an installation by the late Mr Dan Flavin – although there’s nothing minimalist about the Excalibur Blacklight.
Coated with a UV-reactive substance that’s somehow different from standard Super-Luminova (Roger Dubuis is a bit cagey on the details, as is often the case when brands have something new and interesting up their sleeves), the sapphire tubes glow in the dark, adding another dazzling aspect to this already powerfully, infectiously full-on watch. This model, like all the references in the Blacklight range, is limited to 28 pieces.
02. Ulysse Nardin Freak X
Watching the time tick by would usually rate alongside “paint drying” and “two flies crawling up a wall” in terms of bringing joy to my life – and I write about watches for a living. But it’s a different story with the Freak X from Ulysse Nardin: you have the entire gear train and escapement of the watch on display, with the silicon balance whizzing back and forth at the base of the outsized minute hand. Check out the video at the link and you’ll see what I mean – it’s not a watch that takes itself too seriously.
03. Bell & Ross BR03-92 Diver
Your watch doesn’t have to be a gem-set showstopper or a masterpiece of horological innovation to bring a little brightness into your life: I give you the Bell & Ross BR03-92 Diver in bronze. I can’t look at this watch without thinking of summer; the bold blue dial and bronze case are crying out for some time on the Mediterranean coast. The sea air and saltwater will accelerate the bronze’s natural patination as well, developing a character that’s totally unique.