How To Find The Right Watch For Every Occasion
Whether you’re dressing for a black-tie event or looking to upgrade your gym timekeeper, we have the watch for you.
You’re either into watches or you’re not. Some people can scarcely give them the time of day. They question the sense of spending a significant amount of money on such obsolescence when the smartphone in your pocket already tells the time and so much more. Others consider a watch – whether it is made in Switzerland or by Apple – to be some kind of manacle to The Man. Such free spirits refuse to be handcuffed to arbitrary concepts such as “the time” or “the date”. And then there are those who make a proud point of wearing the cheapest watch not a lot of money can buy, job done. Who needs more than one?
If you are one of the above then OK, no judgment*. Feel free to skip to the next article. Nothing to see here.
However, if you share our opinion that one’s choice of watch communicates rather a lot of information beyond merely the time – such as the wearer’s taste, personality and (not to be crass about it) status in this cupidinous world of ours – well, you might appreciate some advice on how to find the right watch, or watches, to suit your life and style. In which case, read on.
*OK, maybe a teensy bit of judgment. Sorry, can’t help it.
The Business Meeting
The watch: Zenith El Primero Chronomaster 1969
For better or worse (also for richer or poorer), a watch is a powerful social signifier. In a professional setting, what you wear on your wrist can either strengthen or weaken your hand. How would you feel dealing with someone who is sporting a digital watch encased in brightly coloured plastic, for example? How would your opinion change if they were wearing a gold watch encrusted with diamonds? At MR PORTER, our style leans more towards understated elegance than overstated ostentation. And in this department, Zenith is a brand that gets the nod of approval from watch enthusiasts. The El Primero Chronomaster 1969 is arguably the brand’s hero watch. Its in-house movement is perfect, and you can see it beating away through a window in the dial. The rose-gold case adds a considerable premium. The same watch in stainless steel is less than half the price, so you may choose to dial it down. As for what to wear with it, apart from the George Cleverley monk-strap shoes, this entire look comprises unobtrusive but rather sumptuous Italian brands, from the unstructured olive green Boglioli suit to the Brunello Cucinelli grandad-collar shirt and pocket square, to the Loro Piana suede belt. The brown alligator leather watchstrap works harmoniously in terms of both colour and texture with the other brown leather accessories. And when it comes to presenting a strong business case, they don’t come any better or more compelling than Berluti.
The Black-Tie Dinner
The watch: Piaget Altiplano
Just as the fastest 100m sprinters on the planet are separated by mere hundredths of a second, so a select band of watch companies shave off fractions of millimetres in their ongoing battle to produce the world’s thinnest automatic watch. At this year’s SIHH watch fair in Geneva, Piaget reclaimed this crown with its Altiplano Ultimate Concept, which is just 2mm thick, including the case – the same as a 2CHf coin, albeit rather more expensive. Pretty impressive when you consider it contains more than 200 components. Piaget’s standard Altiplano is 6mm thick, easily thin enough to be worn comfortably with a cufflinked shirt, and has quite rightfully been considered among the top tier of dress watches since it was first introduced in 1957. This minimalist version in 18-carat white gold co-ordinates perfectly with this pair of white gold and hematite cufflinks from New York jeweller Trianon. The black alligator leather strap is echoed in the croc-effect leather of the Rubinacci loafers. The printed cashmere and silk scarf from Drake’s adds a little flourish to an otherwise standard black-tie look.
The City Break
The watch: NOMOS Glashütte Tangomat GMT
Most people prefer not to take an expensive watch when travelling – just in case. NOMOS Glashütte certainly isn’t cheap, but it has developed a reputation among watch aficionados as being not only beautifully designed, but well-priced to boot. We therefore think this particular model, which, save for its premium cordovan leather strap, is entirely made in-house at the NOMOS’ manufacture in Glashütte, is an ideal watch for those who travel often, particularly if you’re keen to keep an eye on the time at home. Unlike a lot of world timers, this GMT is easy to read and operate. At the push of a button, you can cycle through 24 time zones denoted by each city’s airport code in the window at nine o’clock, while remains set in the window at three o’clock. What’s more, the watch’s understated, minimal elegance makes it a versatile everyday piece that will work with a wide range of clothing. Here, it is worn as part of a practical outfit for travelling. These trousers from our in-house label Mr P. are the definition of smart-casual, being made from slightly stretchy suiting fabric, with a drawstring waist. The nylon Prada weekend bag passes as a carry-on so that you can make a quick getaway off the plane. Note how the green and tan suede of the comfortable Spalwart sneakers co-ordinate nicely with the olive suede Prada jacket and the camel sweater from Maison Margiela.
The Weekend At Home
The watch: Timex Waterbury United
Not every watch in your collection necessarily needs to be a showpiece with a price tag to match. In fact, you would be well advised to add an unpretentious anti-investment watch to your collection, one you feel less precious about and that can be worn on days when it may take some wear and tear. Perhaps at the weekend you’ll be spending the day wrestling with your kids, or playing a round of golf. Maybe you’ll do a spot of DIY or head to the pub to watch the game over a few drinks. Any man with money can buy an expensive watch, but a Timex, with its iconic heritage (founded in 1854) and pop-cultural nostalgia, has a history of offering an escape from the status-watch game. President George W Bush wore one while in office in an attempt to show he was a man of the people, and President Bill Clinton memorably wore a Timex Ironman to his inaugural ball. As the brand’s most famous ad tagline goes, “It takes a licking and keeps on ticking.” These watches are affordable enough to be a fun, impulse purchase for the man who owns a watch that costs several times as much. The military stylings of this particular model, with its olive green nylon webbing strap and classic dial design, make it feel at one and same time retro and yet very au courant – it’ll go well with many a dressed-down weekend look. In this instance, it is has been styled alongside several other famous US brands – a classic varsity jacket from Golden Bear, a plaid Gitman Vintage shirt and OG Old Skool Vans.
The watch: Bremont Oracle II
You wouldn’t dream of wearing most fine watches when working out for fear of irreparably damaging them, but the Oracle II is not most fine watches. Having been designed to celebrate Bremont’s involvement with Oracle Team USA at the America’s Cup sailing race – the competition to win the oldest international sporting trophy – this watch is built for action. It is water resistant to 500m and has an anti-shock mount, which means it can repel the sweat and rigours of any workout. The sporty red strap is made from rubber that is, thankfully, easy to keep clean. What to wear with it? Workout gear is often bright, so we have incorporated some colour into this ensemble without being too garish. Using block colours in varying shades of intensity keeps the look clean and simple, and also allows the red of the watch strap to “pop”. Worn post-workout with your day-to-day clothes, such a watch hints at the wearer’s sportiness. If the red is a little punchy for everyday wear, the watch also comes with a black Kevlar strap, which is easily switched out with the strap-changing tool provided. So, you get two looks in one.