On a trip to London in 2010, I said goodbye to Bermudas and elasticated waist bands when I acquired my first pair of Orlebar Brown (OB) swim shorts. Established three years earlier by former photographer Adam Brown, the brand was already well on its way to establishing a cult following. Brown created a strong, singular concept of the perfect tailored shorts, which could be worn from the pool to the private club. OB’s raison d’être is defined by its motto “holiday better”, as Brown explained to me in conversation recently about his new collaboration with IWC, ideas of the perfect holiday, and the hero style.
His shorts, with their characteristic side-fasteners, were originally available in four styles, four lengths, and five colours, and prompted a change in attitude to holiday dressing for men of all ages. “Today there are innumerable options, including our Design Your Own service,” says Brown of the “shorts you can swim in”. Just over a decade later, the brand includes a full resort and lifestyle collection.
Customers clearly love their OB shorts and tag them (with #OBsAroundTheWorld) in photographs of shared memories with family or friends on social media.
For Brown, the ideal holiday seems to be at the extremes. “One of my best holidays in recent years was trekking in the Namibian desert. What an extraordinary experience. I never imagined there could be so many interpretations of desert. I’ve also walked around volcanoes in Chile. But my favourite place in the world is Cornwall in south-west England. I love the Atlantic coast and the crashing waves. Wild, bleak landscapes, similar to Cape Town. I’d also love to experience real cold and see icebergs like in the Antarctic.”
Sporty yet elegant, IWC and OB seem a natural fit, with both sharing similar values and approach to design, adventurous spirit, and association with the ocean. IWC has unveiled the Portugieser Yacht Club Chronograph Edition “Orlebar Brown”, alongside a nine-piece resortwear capsule collection developed by OB exclusively for IWC. This includes a white towelling blazer with blue piping and shorts with a photographic print of a Solaris 55 yacht to celebrate the recent partnership with the Italian luxury-yacht brand.
Brown is no stranger to IWC, having been a customer for 10 years. The “enthusiast, not collector” owns 10 watches, three of which are IWC. His first purchase was a Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun Miramar, followed by another Top Gun in black ceramic. He is familiar with the Portugieser references, having recently added a 40mm Automatic in stainless steel with white dial to his wrist “for smarter occasions”.
While the Portugieser celebrates its 80th anniversary this year, the Yacht Club Chronograph subset is a youthful 10 years old, distinguished by its more pronounced bezel and crown guards. Developed in close consultation with Brown, the special edition in steel features a marine-blue dial with unique subdial colourway and red accents. The nautical chronograph is powered by the IWC-manufactured calibre 89361 with flyback function and is on full display through a sapphire-glass case back. It also features a co-branded side-fastener for its blue rubber strap. With a water-resistance of up to 60m, it is ready to set sail or play in the surf.
• From the July issue of Wanted 2020.