Six O’Clock Somewhere
Certain pleasures unite those of impeccable taste. Fine watches and cocktails are among them. Make time for both... Join debonair jetsetter and artist Louis-Nicolas Darbon and Baccarat Bar master mixologist Cameron Attfield as they celebrate the meeting of these extraordinary worlds in a five-part video series: Six O’Clock Somewhere.
Meet the Watches
Words by Robin Swithinbank
Lewis Carroll almost certainly wasn’t imagining life during a global pandemic when he wrote Alice in Wonderland. But in his Mad Hatter’s Tea-Party, where it’s always six o’clock and where the only way to shape time is to move around the table, he captured something of the cycle that many of us have endured for so long. Our appreciation of time – and the freedoms it brings – has changed, although the Mad Hatter’s advice is still worth heeding: “If you knew Time as well as I do,” he says, “you wouldn’t talk about wasting it.” Some further advice, perhaps – make the most of those six o’clock moments with these timeless wristwatches.
The cushion-shaped, off-kilter beauty of Vacheron Constantin’s time-only Historiques American 1921 may be familiar – the venerable maison revived the form some years ago – but particular focus falls on it during the form’s centenary year, providing a moment to revisit its story. It was originally conceived for the post-war American market (hence the name), where the use of automobiles was becoming increasingly common. With the dial set at an angle and the crown hitched up at two o’clock, the thinking was that the time would be easy to reference while your hands were on the steering wheel. Whether this idiosyncratic solution worked is neither here nor there – what it did was give us an extraordinarily handsome watch. This edition is cast in 40mm of white-gold and set on a brown leather strap. Genuinely, a timeless classic.
In the main, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s charming flip-case Reverso has a distinctly formal feel to it. As this year’s 90th anniversary celebrations have reminded us, that’s because it was originally created for polo-playing officers of the Raj – and because in the nine decades since, it’s been ever-present on the wrists of royals, aristocrats and the Hollywood elite. Now, this rose-gold, hand-wound, twin-dialled iteration is no casual plaything, but at the same time, there are hints of informality in it – alluded to by its part cordovan leather, part canvas burgundy strap made by Argentina’s Casa Fagliano. This gives it an ease that some Reversos will never know. Beneath that sumptuous material and colour palette, there’s a mechanical movement that powers two time zones, one of which has a 24-hour day/night indicator. Beauty and brains, in other words.
More than five decades have passed since Zenith created the world’s first high-frequency automatic chronograph movement – they called it El Primero to mark its place – it’s always been a source of curiosity that the modern-day brand didn’t offer a super-classic sports watch. That changed when Zenith introduced the Chronomaster Sport, a pure, thoroughbred sports watch. Available in all-steel, but seen here on a black leather strap and in 41mm of rose-gold, it features an upgraded version of the El Primero calibre that can slice time into tenths of a second. That means the central chronograph seconds hand completes a full tour of the dial in 10 seconds – a mechanical marvel in its own right. Those tenths are read off against a 1/10th of a second scale engraved into the watch’s black ceramic bezel. Zenith history buffs will note the silver, grey and blue overlapping subdials are lifted from the first El Primero-powered watch of 1969.
If a luxury mechanical watch has the power to lift the soul, few rise to the occasion quite like IWC Schaffhausen’s latest: the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41. As well as pointing to the skies, its rich green dial tells a story of hope and regeneration after a challenging season, during which life seems to have been interminably grounded. Current climate aside, IWC Schaffhausen is, of course, one of the first names in pilot’s watches – which is why this model’s fluent silhouette and uncluttered dial layout feel so comfortable. Pilot’s watches are all about legibility and cockpit performance, so this 41mm stainless steel piece has clear read-outs, luminescent detailing, anti-glare treatments and a sapphire crystal over the dial that’s specially designed not to pop off when subjected to dramatic changes in air pressure. Beyond those impeccable flight-ready credentials, it’s also just a great looking watch.
Lange, as the German watchmaker is fondly known, is up there with the finest of all luxury watchmakers – creating striking pieces powered by exquisite mechanical movements that are designed and hand-finished with the sort of artfulness and attention to detail that only a handful of elite brands can begin to match. This Lange 1 Time Zone is a particularly fine example of A. Lange & Söhne’s craft. It shows the time in two time zones – home and local – simultaneously via two displays, each with its own hour and minute hands. On each, blue semi-circles indicate day and night, while a red segment over the smaller home-time dial indicates daylight savings. A pusher at eight o’clock advances the city ring around the dial, taking the local-time hands and day/night indicator on the larger dial with it. The other pusher advances the big date, which, like the off-centred dial arrangement, is a Lange signature. Set in rose-gold with an ‘argenté’ dial, it’s a traveller’s dream.