Dress Code: What To Wear With A Luxury Watch

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Dress Code: What To Wear With A Luxury Watch

Words by Mr Chris Elvidge | Photography by Ms Ekua King | Styling by Ms Sophie Watson

8 April 2021

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You’re here on MR PORTER, so you probably already know this, but it’s worth making it clear all the same: watches aren’t just for telling the time and clothes aren’t just for keeping us warm. Both are subtle (and, yes, sometimes not so subtle) indicators of a man’s personality, his tastes and his aspirations.

What we choose to wear, and wear on our wrists, says more about us than we might care to admit – and perhaps more than we realise. Are your tastes rugged or refined? Do you prefer to blend in or to stand out? All this can be hinted at if not outright revealed by the cut of your suit, your choice of shoes or your preferred brand of watch.

And it’s the latter of these that forms the foundation of this edition of MR PORTER’s Dress Code, part of our special coverage of this week’s Watches and Wonders event. In a change from our usual tempo, we’re taking a wrist-first approach to getting dressed, putting five fine timepieces at the centre of five outfits, each designed with a certain kind of person or scenario in mind.

None of this, of course, is an entreaty for you to start assembling outfits according to your choice of watch, or vice versa. Most of us don’t have nearly enough watches, and besides, who in their right mind would really want to do that? Think of it instead as a bit of general style inspiration, an introduction to a few brands you might not have heard of, and a reminder that our watches can be just as much an element of our personal style as our clothes. With that, shall we begin?

As is to be expected of one of Switzerland’s oldest watchmakers – the oldest, in fact, if you’re only counting the continually operational ones – Vacheron Constantin doesn’t take a great many risks when it comes to the design of its watches. This, the 1921, from its Historiques collection of contemporary interpretations of historic models, is a rare exception. With its curvaceous Breguet numerals, cushion-shaped case and offset dial, this is a seriously handsome watch – and just about as adventurous as Vacheron gets. We’ve paired it here with a softly tailored suit from Paul Smith, a baby cashmere polo shirt from Loro Piana and a few carefully chosen accessories for a thoroughly contemporary take on business attire.

Most fine watchmakers shy away from supercar analogies; Roger Dubuis embraces them. Fair enough, we say. If they’re appropriate anywhere, it’s here. There’s enough mechanical wizardry packed into the skeletonised, 18-karat pink gold case of this Excalibur Flying Tourbillon to more than merit the description of a “supercar for your wrist”, and that’s not the only point of comparison. As with a supercar, this thing is guaranteed to get you noticed. So, too, will SAINT LAURENT’s floral-print satin bomber jacket, offset here by a simple white T-shirt and gold necklace. Below the waist, Gucci flares and double monk-strap boots from TOM FORD put the stamp on this loud-and-proud, party-ready outfit.

It may be one of Cartier’s more recent creations, but what the Ballon Bleu lacks in pedigree when compared to its Tank and Santos stablemates it more than makes up for in sheer style. With a polished sapphire embedded in the crown – the “blue ball” that gives it its name – and a large dial adorned with Cartier’s trademark Roman numerals, this is a watch that feels truly luxurious on the wrist, and especially so when rendered in 18-karat pink gold. We’ve let this form the basis of the rest of this outfit, opting for a suede field jacket from Brunello Cucinelli, TOM FORD jeans and burnished-leather Chelsea boots from Berluti, all brands that rival Cartier for cachet.

A bona fide classic that has stood the test of time, the Reverso from Jaeger-LeCoultre is one of the most elegant watches a man can buy. This model, the Tribute – the baton markers are a dead giveaway – is closest in design and dimensions to the 1930s Art Deco original. It’s a versatile watch that’ll readily take you from the boardroom to the bar, but, if you ask us, it feels most at home as part of an off-duty outfit. This much is certainly true of the forest-green version seen here, which we’ve styled with a supple suede trucker jacket from Valstar, a cashmere sweater from Loro Piana, sweatpants from The Row and sneakers from TOM FORD.

IWC SCHAFFHAUSEN’s offering of vintage military-inspired Pilot’s watches (note the capital “P”) runs the gamut from the king-sized, unashamedly tool-like Big Pilot to the rather more modest and versatile Mark XVIII. The watch seen here, a special-edition Pilot’s chronograph with a vibrant British racing green dial, sits somewhere in the middle now that it’s available for the first time in a 41mm case, offering a fair compromise in size without forsaking the brand’s classic aviation roots. It’s a rugged watch that suits similarly utilitarian outfits, which is why we’ve paired it here with a herringbone-tweed gilet from Sid Mashburn, an olive-drab sweater from L.E.J., corduroy trousers from Thom Sweeney and sturdy boots from Diemme.