While there are many impressive statement pieces for the boardroom braggart, for most the choice of timepiece is more about an expression of personal style and lifestyle than about their asset class. However, from heritage-themed editions to ever more complicated movements and understated all-metal sports watches, making a choice from this year’s multitudinous releases is as challenging an affair as ever. I asked a few style mavens for their choice of timepiece to complement their style. Paired down elegance and simple steel sports watches appear to lead the charge in this summer’s wrist action.
GREG GAMBLE, partner at Tonic Design
Swatch and Grand Seiko
Greg Gamble and business partner Philippe van der Merwe are the creative duo at interior-architecture and bespoke furniture design firm Tonic, responsible for the SLOW airport lounges, Virgin Active Classic, M&C Saatchi Abel HQ and the exquisite new Spitz concept at Carlton Centre among others. As an award-winning designer, classic car enthusiast and keen cyclist, Greg as a finely honed appreciation for carefully crafted utilitarian objects.
“If I had to choose one watch it would be a classic Grand Seiko. I found out about them a couple of years back while traveling in Japan. I fell in love with Japan and Japanese culture. This watch embodies everything about Japan.
“My watch preference has always teetered somewhere between a classic sports watch and a classic dress watch. I also don’t like watches that are too showy. I always err on something understated and utilitarian in design.
“As a student and for many years after I only wore a standard black Swatch. I loved the ‘super normal’ quality of the basic Swatch and still often wear mine today. I have about half a dozen of them in various drawers at work and at home. I have also owned a few classic military watches — again, their simplicity appeals to me.
“The Grand Seiko ticks all the boxes for me. It is extremely well built. On par with the best Swiss movements. It is classic, refined and yet understated. Unpretentious. The company recently re-launched their original design from 1960. This is the perfect watch.”
SERAI LOBELO, creative director Lobelo Creative
This former Wanted magazine designer and ever-inspiring young creative consultant has enviable, effortless style, combining elegant, classic elements with Serai’s twists on vintage looks. An observant aesthete, he describes himself as an “ambivert: a person with a balanced personality between extrovert and introvert”.
His sense of style is therefore a “constant dialog between these two vantage points. A love for classic aesthetic design language and an appreciation for new ideas and their effect on the old.” However, he admits that both sides agree that the dress watch is the defining accessory.
The first watch he bought for himself was a Tissot Traditional Chronograph in rose gold with brown leather strap and butterfly clasp. “At 40mm it sits comfortably on my wrist. This is my everyday watch with a timeless elegance. A modest purchase that says the right things to the discerning observer.
“My evening dress watch is a Baume & Mercier Classima moon phase. It is very understated but undeniably elegant and handsome. As a new collector I like the idea of passing down those things I appreciate and have discovered on my life journey. The Baume & Mercier brand story is a beautiful one to tell over and over. As an esoteric scholar, I’m fascinated by the effect the moon has on us at different stages and cycles. The Classima is in polished steel with black alligator straps. A great dress watch for the ambivert.”
ZOJA MIHIC, Zoja Studio
Rolex Explorer Space-Dweller and 39mm stainless steel Explorer
This jet-setting jewellery designer lives between New York and Cape Town. Continually immersed in diverse, cosmopolitan cultures, her personal style is always elegant with a touch of the unexpected. Her deep love for contrast and relentless curiosity is reflected in her eclectic aesthetic.
“I’ve always gravitated towards vintage watches. Of all the Rolex Explorers, I have come to love the Space-Dweller most as I find it one of the more interesting references. Originally produced in the 60s exclusively for the Japanese market, the watch has an interesting story and was produced in very limited numbers. The added allure of rarity is something I appreciate too. The modern 39mm Explorer reference 214270 has all the functional elements that Rolex does so well and is prefect for my lifestyle as I am always on the move. With its clean lines, this watch can transition well with any anything I am wearing and for any occasion.”
ROBERT SHERWOOD, Robert Sherwood Design
Rolex Submariner Black Dial
Unlike retailers on the high streets of major cities around the world, Cape Town and Joburg do not have a history of great window display design. Fortunately, Robert Sherwood Design opened a few years back on Bree Street and is worth a bi-weekly detour in heavy Cape Town traffic. He and partner-curator Alberto Rodriguez work their particular magic, forever evolving the tiny space, never failing to delight. Robert’s elegant yet eclectic contemporary design language has attracted clients from around the globe and include Arab princes, film-makers and international hoteliers. Locally, he’s added his unique flare to Maison Mara and Mai Thai Wellness spa.
“My Rolex Submariner is a classic and I was drawn to it years ago when I first became aware of watch design. In all the years of wearing it I have never had one issue and the date magnifier has become more handy the older I get. Mine for life.”
MILAN BASTOS, editor Milan on Cars
Milan is a stylish, refreshing voice in the parking lot of predictable and badly dressed motoring journalists. He is a young enthusiast who explores the new culture of cars where experience, design and heritage are championed above badge, price tag and engine capacity. It took him a few years and career changes — as is the 'millennial' way — before deciding to pursue his passion for cars. Milan has contributed to Wanted magazine and his beautifully filmed and edited car reviews have a growing audience online.
“The Seiko SKX007 has so many elements I admire in any arena; functionality, elegance, heritage, simplicity and engineering brilliance. I like the idea of having them all working together on my wrist. All that complexity to quietly tell time is beautiful.” Unfortunately Seiko have discontinued the SKX007 as it is one of the best value automatic dive watches to be ISO 6425 certified, meaning that it met the very highest standards in water resistance testing.
ANTHONY KEYWORTH, entrepreneur
Anthony is the man who brought the iconic style of Paul Smith to our shores. After more than a decade in retail, this entrepreneur traded the landmark pink box on 4th Avenue, Parkhurst and the PS store on the corner of Bree and Wale Streets in Cape Town for bee farming in Vermaaklikheid and deep-sea fishing.
“The Bell & Ross BR01-92 was a birthday gift from my wife Anne in 2008. Although my phone has become my daily timekeeping device, this watch is my favorite in my collection, which includes another a Panerai, a G-Shock and a watch from Paul Smith. The BR01-92 has a large, uncomplicated dial that is easy to read at a quick glance, in poor light too. I spend a lot of time fishing, boating and time on my farm, often in dusty environments and where there’s sea water. A quick rinse or shower keeps the nylon strap clean and free of salt. It takes a fair amount of abuse but keeps good time. It originally came with a rubber strap but that didn’t stand up to my rigorous lifestyle.”
RAHIM RAWJEE, owner Row-G and Hotel QSL on 44
This stylish urbanite knows a thing or two about the luxury of time. At his glamorous Row-G made-to-measure menswear studio Rahim makes finely tailored suits for SA’s who’s who that require numerous fittings before completion. His own style, however, could possibly be described as a little more “street”. Needless to say he is well versed in highly detailed construction and the finest cloth, with his choice of simple, elegant timepiece a reflection of the craftsman at heart. Joburg’s man of the cloth is not only a familiar face on the SA fashion scene but recently added the industrial chic Hotel QSL in Milpark to his portfolio.
“I identify with the Glashütte ‘Sixties’ from the Vintage collection. It has a distinct retro feel as its name suggests with a classic shape yet contemporary look. Like all things so superbly designed, Glashütte timepieces are expressions of the manufacture’s heritage and provenance. The Sixties resonates with me from a craftsmanship perspective in that the technical nature of its manufacture takes time and requires great skill to assemble. Glashütte is also closely affiliated with the fine arts and has its own watch making school. All these aspects for me align to the ethos of my personal lifestyle and that of my brand Row-G.”