Monday, June 24, 2019

Anthony Bourdain's Watches - Courtesy of Theo and Harris

Tonight's content is proof positive that St. Google will set you straight!  

So a little forward here - contrary to what many watch brand management teams think, and very contrary to the "chummy" collegiality that you can lay on thick when in the close confines of BaselWorld or a press junket, there is actually not a whole lot of love or unity within the watch press.  And the seasoned professionals have learned to "get along" or as my colleague has often said of his willingness to suffer assholes:  "I'm Switzerland". 

There are certainly some wonderful, kind people that are genuine.  I have a LOT of time for Robert-Jan Broer and the whole team at Fratello.  I am hard-pressed to think of any outlet out there that has earned and deserves their success more.  

And then again, there are some writers and influencers that are out and out reprobates and ne'er do-wells.  The type of maladjusted weasels that will plant a bit of poison in the ear of anyone who will listen in an attempt to run-down a rival and promote their own stature.  I guess it's not unlike any other pursuit.  It attracts both good and bad.  And like any blood sport, tends to not always bring out the best in people.

Shamelessly borrowed from the world-wide info-web
I set out this evening to write something about Anthony Bourdain, who passed away last year, and who is the inspiration for tomorrow's Anthony Bourdain Day.  And as this is, basically, a blog about watches I realized that I might want to do a deeper dive on what watches "Flacko" wore.  I had some already lined up, but in my digging I came upon this piece from Theo and Harris.  And hand to God, I had never heard of Theo and Harris.  Apologies to them, I just don't get out much.  But it was a really nice piece, and I thought why try to re-do something that someone else has already done well.  Now don't tell a certain someone with a "bone in their throat" about me as a commentator that I actually am praising another writer out there - they just might have to rethink their negative attitude ; )

So I give you Theo and Harris on Mr. Bourdain's time machines:

It Started in Tachikawa

A little bit of Henki-lore today.  Way back in 1994, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, Wendy and I were living and working in the Tokyo suburbs.  I had a quartz Tag Heuer that I had bought myself as a graduation present from the U of O a few years earlier and it was, well, "buggy".  Several battery changes later, it became clear that the watch itself was as doomed as the University of Oregon's football team of the mid-eighties, and after three solid years and one very "iffy" one, I was convinced that it was time to get an automatic watch.  Now keep in mind that I was an English teacher, not a wealthy expat so there was never a possibility of buying something at a regular retail store.  So I started poking around the local pawn shops, and found a Rado Golden Horse (I think it was golden, but maybe purple or green), in a pawn shop in Tachikawa.  It was definitely "worn" and loved, and it worked.

The pawn shop took my Tag Heuer in trade and I needed to come up with an additional 4,000 Yen to cover the balance.  And to be honest, I was so frustrated by the failure of the watch that I gladly made the trade, handed over the cash, and "wore it off the lot".  In my more sentimental moments, I think back on my graduation watch.  I hope that it finally got repaired and the "burned out" movement finally got replaced and maybe, just maybe, there is another English teacher who worked in the Hachioji/Tachikawa corridor who discovered it in a pawn shop window and treated themselves.  

Now my Rado was a bit smaller than this re-edition.  But it did have a beads of rice bracelet.  It had a silver dial, and the date window had an "inverted" cyclops window which I really appreciated as it made the date very, very legible.

Here are the pertinents, straight from Rado -

Thickness : 10.4 mm
Water resistance : Water-resistant 5 bar (50 m)
Crystal : Sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating
Case back : Transparent sapphire case back
Shape : Round
Case color : Light
Gender : Gents

Dial : Colored
Date : Yes
Movement Power Reserve : up to 80 hours

Bracelet : Stainless steel
Bracelet reference : 07.03912

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Summer Repeat - Two Phrases to Eliminate at BaselWorld (or any watch event, for that matter)

"James is a longtime friend of the brand!"

I hear this throw-away phrase at least six times a day during BaselWorld.  It is one of those profoundly dubious comments bandied about most often by the agencies hired at ridiculously high costs to somehow make you (the blogger) feel important.  I actually couldn't contain the laughter when that little set of bons mots was proffered with utter insincerity in the Girard-Perregaux booth this past year by the very agency that had avoided my calls and put off my repeated requests for an appointment.  Luckily, my coffee cup was only halfway to my mouth, avoiding a potentially embarrassing spray of lukewarm espresso onto the (no doubt) miso stained ties of the Japanese journalists sitting down the table from me.

Friend of the Brand is code for - "We don't advertise with them, we don't really make a huge effort, but they keep insisting on an appointment, so try to say something nice".  It is that not-so-subtle cue that you are clearly inconveniencing these people.

"Good to see you my friend!"

My friend is one of those funny expressions that clearly has different meanings in literal translation. The watch industry's lingua franca is English.  But the majority of the gatekeepers, CEOs, and transplanted brand managers are not native English speakers.  In French, mon ami has a very nice, collegial, downright fraternal meaning.  But there is a certain edge to "my friend" when used by native speakers of English, as it is oftentimes used in what can gently be referred to grammatically as the facetious tense.  I will defer to Chef, author and liver of life Anthony Bourdain's analysis from his seminal tome on the restaurant industry, Kitchen Confidential -

Shamelessly borrowed from Wikipedia
Pinche wey means "fucking guy" but can also mean "you adorable scamp" or "pal".  But if you use the word pal - or worse, the phrase my friend - in my kitchen, it'll make people paranoid.  My friend famously means "asshole" in the worst and most sincere sense of the word.

Arceau Petite Lune

From Herm├Ęs Horloger -

Courtesy of Hermes

Courtesy of Hermes

Courtesy of Hermes

Courtesy of Hermes

Courtesy of Hermes

Here are the pertinents -

Henri d’Origny (1978)
Large Model (GM), 38 mm, round
316L steel case, with or without setting of 70 diamonds (0.81 ct) Anti-glare sapphire crystal and caseback

Sparkly white dial. Pearl-grey powdered transferred Arabic numerals and minutes track. Moon-phase indicator with blue background and rhodiumplated decoration. Rhodium-plated, openworked hands

Hermes Manufacture movement H1837
Mechanical self-winding movement, crafted in Switzerland

Small Moon module

Hours, minutes, date at 6 o’clock, moon phase at 10.30

316L steel pin buckle, 17 mm

Matt etoupe alligator
Matt chantilly alligator Polished ultraviolet alligator Polished sapphire blue alligator Polished black alligator Polished elephant grey alligator Polished raspberry alligator Polished orange alligator Polished ember alligator Polished blackcurrant alligator

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Severin's Children, and the New Gucci Grip

It's very funny to be sitting here, going on 10:00 PM north of Boston, now nearly 11 years since his passing, to be thinking of Severin Wunderman.

One of the real gifts that writing this little blog has brought me is friendship.  Friendships that would not have happened otherwise.  And within the hard-core journeymen, the real dyed in the wool guys and gals who came up in the late 80s in 90s is a group who frequently identify themselves as "Severin's Children".  These are folks who have had lofty positions, run major brands and companies, and still hold sway with even the most demanding of customers.  And yet?  They still look back on their time with either Gucci or later Corum as perhaps the most formative time in their careers.  I have met the great and the good in the watch business, and to be honest?  A lot of them are pretty underwhelming.  And I have learned over time, that you have to nose your way around the lobby of the Hyperion during BaselWorld to rub shoulders with the real movers and shakers.  It's easy to get a job and be a "company" man or woman. But it takes something special to light out on your own, taking the lessons you've learned and create your own thing.  And this is a quality that has marked the continuing success of Severin's Children.

But as I often say, you don't live in the past.  When Mr. Sofisti left Gucci Watches, there was a loss.  And if I am honest, I wasn't really feeling it.  Going several years without an appointment (despite requests) at BaselWorld didn't help either ; )

But, again, you don't live in the past!  And the latest advertising campaign, when taken in tandem with one of the latest models, the Grip, shows that Gucci seems to have some wonderful new life breathing through it!

Ladies and Gentlemen, and children of all ages...

The Grip -
Courtesy of Gucci

Courtesy of Gucci
Courtesy of Gucci

Courtesy of Gucci

Like some of Mr. Wunderman's greatest hits, these latest Gucci designs are not necessarily going to be everyones choice.  They are not "safe", but to be honest?  They speak to me.  And although as a former "watch ad guy" (you might remember me from such campaigns as "The Inventors of Orange") most of the stuff churning through the watch press really puts me to sleep, I have to say that I am sorta' digging the Gucci campaign.  Why?  
Well because in the words of one of "Severin's Children", Roderick Hess -   "You can't email a handshake."

Per Gucci's release -

Alessandro Michele, Gucci’s Creative Director, conceived Gucci’s new advertising campaign for its timepieces after being inspired by the most human of interactions: the handshake. A warm gesture of inclusivity, the handshake becomes the true character of the campaign. Depicting a charismatic and confident leader on the campaign trail, photographer Ari Marcopoulos portrays and debunks the image of power in a series of meet-and-greets, emphasizing the diversity of the personalities that a campaigner could encounter on his travels.

Courtesy of Gucci

Now, gentle reader, I know that Mr. Wunderman is no longer with Gucci, and has not been for some time.  And I know that the Grip, and this new campaign are the work of other talented, creative people - Alessandro Michele for one!  But I can say that at least for this humble reporter, it feels like the magic is back!  So well done Gucci, let's see if you can extend the magic!

Enjoy your watches.