Chrono Loco

A question hangs over whether there’s a place for traditionally hand-crafted mechanical timepieces in our digitally entwined universe, but that’s precisely the point – their anachronism is a defiance of everything that will eventually be obsolete

TAG Heuer Carrera Sport Chronograph in steel. £5,500

Chanel J12 Phantom in ceramic and steel. £5,500

Audemars Piguet (Re)Master01 Selfwinding Chronograph in steel and pink gold. £51,800

IWC Portugieser Yacht Club Chronograph in steel. £11,600

Breguet Classique Tourbillon Extra-Plat Automatique in platinum. £140,500

Hublot Big Bang Sang Bleu II Blue Pavé in titanium. £36,500

Tudor Black Bay in steel. £2,840

Bvlgari Bvlgari Cities Special Edition, Roma in carbon-coated steel. £3,810

Breitling Superocean Heritage ’57 in steel. £3,400

Rado True Square Open Heart Automatic in ceramic. £2,090

Photography Nhu Xuan Hua

Photography assistant Karolina Burlikowska

Set design Paulina Piipponen

Styling Rudy Simba Betty

Hand models Paul Darnell Davis Thomas, Malcolm Yaeng, Piotr Jarosz

Old Hands of Time

Every brand has its ‘halo’ piece, the same applies to watchmaking, of course – as documented by these iconic timepieces, distilling Switzerland’s profligate permutations of heritage and ingenuity on to just four centimetres of your wrist

Tudor Pelagos Blue


Hans Wilsdorf founded Tudor in 1946, a full 40 years after launching an even more familiar outfit called Rolex. He promised “a watch that our agents could sell at a more modest price”, which basically meant kitting-out watertight Rolex Oyster cases with outsourced mechanics. Today, it’s a little different: Tudor has its own movement-making facility for a start. But away from the more popular Black Bay throwbacks, its new Pelagos stands in its own right as the very quintessence of a modern diving watch. Lightweight (thanks to titanium), crisply contemporary and still affordable. It’s as if Tudor has been building to this since 1946.

Cartier Tank Louis Cartier


The clue is in the title. While brothers Pierre and Jacques built their father’s Parisian jewellery empire in Paris, Louis’s passion for watches drove Cartier’s other craft, whose dainty but far-out shapes were fuelled by its affinity for design and gold, plus gentlemen’s growing interest in wristwatches over pocket. The latter stemmed from the trenches of the First World War, when men started strapping on their pocket watches for convenience, and appropriately Louis’s first true icon was Tank, inspired by British Army tanks and the mark left by their caterpillar tracks.

Patek Philippe Calatrava ref. 5227J


Geneva’s watchmaker nonpareil may be best known for auction-record-smashing ‘high-complications’, such as perpetual calendars (flick back to the Porter for more), but this particular Calatrava is arguably Patek Philippe at its finest. Coined around the time the Stern family took over the business in the ’30s, it’s difficult to imagine a more pure and perfectly balanced watch. From the Dauphine blade hands to the pared-back numeral batons and gently merged lugs, the Calatrava’s unbroken production since 1932 is down to timeless, understated elegance.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Datejust 41


If you were barking “Buy!” and “Sell!” into a massive carphone while pounding Wall Street’s sidewalk back in the ’80s, chances are this watch would have been peeping from your two-tone French cuff. Bicolour bling – such as steel and yellow gold – is most definitely back, red braces and all. And Rolex is embracing its reputation as the go-to boardroom watch brand with this subtle but effective reboot of its classic Datejust, in its Rolesor metal combo, smelted on-site in Rolex’s very own Geneva foundry. Up to 41-millimetre diameter to suit contemporary tastes, it also features every recent innovation from Rolex’s constant fine-tuning. Most definitely, “Buy!”

Vacheron Constantin Historiques Triple Calendrier 1942


Switzerland’s longest-running watchmaker can always be forgiven for raiding its formidable archive of natty dress watches. But, with its brace of gorgeous Triple Calendriers, Vacheron is being refreshingly honest about its Now That’s What I Call…greatest-hits approach. “A deliberately vintage look (…) reinterpreting the creativity and the aesthetic of the iconic timepieces born in the 1940s,” reads the press release – and long may it continue. Our favourite has to be this steel 1942 model, boasting Arabic numerals worthy of an old Manhattan cocktail menu, voluptuous claw-type lugs and circumferential date calibration picked out in a burgundy luscious enough to pair with cheese.

Audemars Piguet Code 11:59 Selfwinding Chronograph


Now the vapours have dispersed, the controversy of last January’s Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie launch feels nowhere near as divisive. Audemars Piguet’s most significant new collection since the octagonal Royal Oak sports watch of 1972 is a borderline classic already – the round hero it always needed, still imbued with enough reassuring oakiness thanks to an eight-sided caseband, but with everything else defiantly future-forward (just like back in ’72, come to think of it). The messy acronym still needs to change (challenge, own, dare, evolve, since you ask), but in chronograph form you have Audemars ‘The Disruptor’ Piguet at its technical best.

Rado True Thinline Les Couleurs Le Corbusier


Ceramic may be super comfy and super tough, but it’s the flawless, unfading colour that makes it particularly desirable – if you can colour it in the first place. With monochrome and primaries commonplace today, the watchmaker that pioneered ceramic back in the ’80s almost nonchalantly remained ahead of the game last year by teaming with Les Couleurs Suisse, which holds the licence for Le Corbusier’s Architectural Polychromy. From the palette comprising 63 shades that complement any interior in any combination, the nine examples Rado chose to reproduce in watch form match the swatch precisely.

Panerai Luminor 47mm


Back in 1915 Florentine naval supplier Guido Panerai patented a super-luminous substance made by combining radium with zinc sulphide. Radiomir was so bright that, allegedly, when Panerai modified cushion-shaped Rolex pocket watches for Italy’s commando frogmen, they had to cover the dials with cloths to stay incognito. Originally painted on the dials, by 1942 Panerai had developed the ‘sandwich’ – a disc pasted with as much radium as possible, glowing through stencilled-out dial numerals. Seven years later, the radium was replaced by the decidedly less-lethal Luminor, glowing just as bright.

Chanel J12 Classic Black


The brainchild of Chanel’s late, great creative director, Jacques Helleu, J12 – androgynous, monochrome, revolutionary, just like Coco herself – was named after Helleu’s favourite yachting class. Over 20 years on, it’s breezier and splashier than ever, thanks to subtle tweaks from the fashion giant’s resident watch boss, Arnaud Chastaingt. Beneath the streamlined ceramic case (still fashioned in-house at Chanel’s Swiss atelier), J12’s precision mechanics adapt that of Tudor and its Kenissi workshops – 20 per cent of which Chanel acquired last January. Monsieur Helleu would surely have approved.

Hublot Big Bang Unico Blue Magic


Modern-day horological iconoclast Hublot celebrates its 40th birthday this year – four decades after Carlo Crocco earned enfant terrible status for being so crass as to mount a luxurious gold watch (designed after the eponymous porthole style) on a rubber strap. Since LVMH’s takeover and marketing drive, the steroid-injected Big Bang is now synonymous with football, hip-hop and Middle Eastern glitz. But that’s to overlook Hublot’s formidable technical expertise, developed in parallel: high-tech ceramic, for example – blue being a particularly tricky colour to bake, to the sort of minute tolerances demanded by a water-resistant watch case.

Photography William Bunce

Creative direction and styling Paulina Piipponen

This article is taken from issue 26. To buy the issue or subscribe, click here

Mentor and Protégé: Mia Couto & Julián Fuks

Authors Mia Couto and Julián Fuks reflect on their respective roles in the Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, founded by Rolex to foster communication and development across the arts

Mia Couto

The unique relationship between mentor and protégé has been crucial to some of the most significant developments in art and science. Plato’s dialogues with his master Socrates, for example, laid the foundation for much of Western philosophy, while Humphry Davy’s mentorship of the young, impoverished Michael Faraday ensured he had the education and experience to go on to invent the electric motor.

Founded in 2002 by luxury watch brand Rolex, the Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative seeks to continue this rich tradition by pairing and supporting a new set of mentors and protégés across dance, film, literature, music, theatre, visual arts and architecture in each two year cycle. With previous participants including the architect Sir David Chipperfeld, the director Alfonso Cuarón and the composer Philip Glass, the initiative has helped to enrich the dialogue between artists of different generations and cultures, as well as to revive the essential relationship between the mentor and protégé. 

In literature alone, it is clear that the programme has played a pivotal role in developing new talent. Naomi Alderman, for instance, who was the 2012-13 protégé, and whose mentor was the celebrated writer Margaret Atwood, this year won the world’s leading prize for English-language fiction by women. Also this year, the 2010-11 protégé, Tracy K. Smith, received the highest honour for poetry in the United States of America, having been appointed Poet Laureate to the Library of Congress. Here, some of the latest participants in the programme – Mozambican writer Mia Couto and Brazilian author and translator Julián Fuks – reflect on why they became involved in the programme and what the roles of mentor and protégé mean to them.

The Mentor – Mia Couto
The main thing I can pass on as a mentor is to not be afraid of making mistakes. Sometimes beauty is born of failure and without mistakes we wouldn’t have life. Young writers are so obsessed with writing well, but nobody really knows what writing well involves.

I chose to work with Julián specifically because he wanted to explore other territories and to change his practice. Our approach to writing is completely different. I’m driven by beauty and a passion for characters, characters who are far away from me. In Julián’s case, he is the character. He thinks before he dreams. These differences make a good combination in our roles as mentor and protégé. Julián and I speak the same language and of course there is both a familiarity and some sense of foreignness, but that allows us to venture deeper into our relationship.

I don’t necessarily see the role of the mentor as someone in a superior position, with more knowledge to pass on. Nobody really has any experience when it comes to writing; it’s just a process of beginning over and over again. Instead, what is useful for the protégé is in gaining insight into the processes of a more seasoned writer. I wanted to show Julián the early stages of my writing process: my hesitations, fears and my corrections.

We exchanged material at its raw stage, which was useful for both of us. The relationship of the mentor and protégé can be reciprocal, and in many ways Julián is also my mentor. He is a good judge of what is excessive, for example. I’m a poet as well as writing prose, and sometimes I write with too much poetic freedom. He helps me to know when to stop, which is just as important as knowing where to start.

Julián Fuks

The Protégé – Julián Fuks
A writer should always be attempting to transform themselves. I thought this programme was a good opportunity to become a different kind of writer, to become more creative and poetic, and Mia is the perfect person to help with this. Although there are differences in the way we write, we are similar in the way we relate to the world ideologically. I was born in Brazil during my parents’ exile from Argentina and Mia was born during his parents’ exile from Portugal. Brazil and Mozambique are very different countries, but because of colonisation and the fact that we are both linked to Portugal, there is some common identity.

At the beginning of my relationship with Mia, I was used to writing in a very obsessive and rigorous way, trying to bring precision to every sentence, every paragraph I wrote. But rather than developing this, I discovered that Mia doesn’t have this kind of control; as he says, most of the time he doesn’t know where he is going. He kindly showed me his first drafts, which often look nothing like his final work, and showed me how I could loosen my control, to free my writing from my meticulous processes. It’s something you could only do with such an accomplished writer and someone with so much experience.

I don’t think I’ve ever thought about having a mentor before I was approached for the programme. When I began to write, I just wrote and tried to learn from reading; there weren’t really any schools or teachers for writing. But then working with a mentor is not a simple process of teaching; it’s much more than that. It becomes a different type of experience, another way of looking at things. Creating this dialogue between writers has been important not only to exchange visions of literature, but visions of the world.

This is an extract from issue 21 of Port, out now. To buy or subscribe, click here.

The Rolex Arts Weekend – featuring public events, including world premieres, with the programme’s participants, including Mia Couto, Philip Glass and Sir David Chipperfield – will take place in Berlin on the 3rd and 4th February 2018.

TenTen Issue 2

In our latest edition of TenTen, we explore the stratospheric reach of luxury horology from the time-keeping tale of a record-setting aviator, to the role of the Omega Speedmaster in the NASA Apollo space program, and much more…

For our second annual edition of Port’s watch special, TenTen, we’ve gone for a globetrotting theme. As the nautical name of our magazine indicates, we have a penchant for tales of seafaring. Precise, reliable ways of portable timekeeping have their roots in the oldest means of global travel: by sea. In this issue of TenTen, we discover how global exploration shaped the art of watchmaking.

TenTen remembers Walter Lange, 1924-2017, the watchmaker who fled the East German uranium mines in 1948, and returned to his home country when the Berlin Wall fell to re-establish Germany’s fine-watchmaking reputation.  

We also discover the horological legacy of Charles A. Lindbergh, who in 1927 set records for the first and longest non-stop transatlantic flight from New York to Paris. Famous horloger Longines was present to time his voyage, and the adventurous duo then collaborated on a revolutionary navigational instrument that enabled precise timekeeping. Coming back down to earth, TenTen discover the subaquatic resilience of the Rolex ‘Submariner’; and the carbon innovations in horology that combine strength with feather lightness.

Elsewhere, TenTen investigate the crucial role of the Omega ‘Moon watch’ in the ‘successful failure’ of Apollo 13 in 1970; unite man’s best friend with man’s best accessory in our playful canine editorial; investigate the quintessentially Roman brand making waves in bespoke Swiss watchmaking; and recall the cameo role played by the Rochefoucauld watch in ‘80s screwball comedy Trading Places.

TenTen is the supplement of issue 21 of Port, out now. To buy a single issue or to subscribe, click here

Watch Your Weight

With the traditional wind-up wristwatch more popular than ever, we explore how the Swiss are staying at the cutting edge with high-tech, lightweight materials science 

With speculation whirling about who will play the next James Bond, you’d be forgiven for mistaking the portrait featured here for a particularly dramatic teaser – 007’s scheming, megalomaniacal nemesis standing menacingly by his weapon of global destruction. But Senad Hasanovic is very much fact, not fiction, and he couldn’t be more self-effacing if he tried. 

The 33-year-old has been installed at Hublot’s factory on Lake Geneva for almost four years now, as, in his words, “part of the technology transfer” from Lausanne’s École Polytechnique Fédérale (EPFL). He’s no mere accessory to his elaborate equipment – Hasanovic worked for two years at EPFL on Hublot’s tough commission to the school: to develop an 18-carat gold that wouldn’t scratch. Hasanovic’s resulting Magic Gold was made by fusing 24-carat gold with a porous ceramic substrate under tremendous pressure and temperature, to give a scratch resistance of 1,000 Vickers. Normal 18-carat gold is 400 Vickers, by comparison. Thus, Hublot’s Metallurgy and Materials division was born, and Hasanovic was installed in-house at the watch factory, lock, stock and barrel.

“Magic Gold offered me a great opportunity,” enthuses Hasanovic, who originally joined EPFL after completing a master’s degree, majoring in carbon fibre. “Hublot is the watchmaker for materials – we’re now doing some crazy things with red ceramics, aluminium and carbon fibre…”

“Why do we go to these lengths?” he adds. “It’s because, as a young brand, we can’t talk about heritage, so materials are the thing that differentiates us. And now we have the foundry in-house, the cool thing is that we can continue to experiment.”

A finely made timepiece is a baffling anachronism. For starters, no one really needs a watch these days, finely made or not. Second, a finely made watch is still driven by a delicate concoction of wheels, springs and levers – 200-year-old technology that keeps worse time than the placky digital that fell out of your cereal packet this morning. So what’s tying Switzerland’s lab-coated boffins to their workbenches, tweezers in hand, when they could easily be enticed down from Watch Valley by any of Geneva’s micro-tech firms?

The plasma oven at Rado’s Comadur case-making facility

What’s keeping the Swiss watch positively Alpine fresh isn’t so much the clockwork ticking inside, as its packaging. The anachronism that is the mechanical watch is increasingly being spiked with lightweight yet super-durable materials, some of which are more at home in the suspension wishbone of an F1 car. 

From ceramic cases on the outside, to self-lubricating silicon micro-mechanics ticking away inside, watches are fresher and more cutting-edge than ever. Not through the efforts of classically trained watchmakers, however, but because of canny watch CEOs with a hotline to Switzerland’s finest minds, scattered throughout neighbouring micro-tech facilities. And while you might think it’s evolution for evolution’s sake, scratch beneath the surface and you’ll soon discover otherwise.

Scratching won’t get you very far in the seminal case, however, as Rado’s breakthrough in the ’60s explicitly set out to resist such abuse. Its egg-shaped DiaStar Original looked like something Captain Kirk would wear, and for good reason – the case was formed not of steel, but a newfangled hard metal called tungsten carbide. It defined Rado’s ultra-futurist manifesto and by the ’80s, Rado had mastered and pioneered the use of ultra-light and ultra-tough ceramic. It’s a material that’s now found in watches from (but not necessarily made by – third-party tech facilities are notoriously secretive) IWC, Bell & Ross and Panerai, plus fashion darlings Ralph Lauren and Chanel, whose monochrome ceramic bracelets just happen to echo Mademoiselle Coco’s iconic quilted handbag (and really are made by Chanel’s own ceramic facility in La Chaux-de-Fonds). 

Rado’s sister company, Comadur, makes all of its ceramic components and has recently innovated so-called ‘high-tech plasma’ ceramic. Gases activated at 20,000°C raise the temperature of finished white ceramic to a sizzling 900°C, transforming it into an otherworldly material with a mysterious metallic glow, without using any metal at all.

“Beyond the sheer novelty of using ceramic for our cases,” says Rado CEO Matthias Breschan, “more and more newcomers to the brand are realising that ceramic is nice to wear. It’s super comfortable, and thermally balanced with your skin.”

At the highest end of the luxury market, however, you have a much harder job convincing dyed-in-the-wool collectors that anything not encased in gold or platinum is a genuinely luxurious product. But a certain Frenchman called Richard Mille has proved most convincing in this argument. 

The sintering oven at Rado’s casemaker, Comadur, in which ceramic components are baked for 24 hours

Mille has been experimenting with the concept of weight reduction in haute horlogerie since the conception of his brand in 2000 – a revolutionary exercise in no-compromise technicality. He treated his cases like racing car chassis, the ‘engine’ suspended from it, with nothing as superfluous as a dial to obscure its inner workings. 

“When I first produced tourbillons with titanium and ALUSIC cases and carbon base plates, I was fighting against perceived value,” Mille recalls. “A titanium watch could not be a luxurious timepiece as it did not weigh enough. However, mentalities rapidly changed and gradually amateurs soon appreciated my watches for their extreme lightness associated with the best technology.”

It wasn’t just amateurs, but leading sportsmen too. Handling Rafael Nadal’s Richard Mille RM 27 watch for the first time provoked laughter. Not just because its delicate mechanics kept good time despite Rafa’s punishing swing, but mainly because it’s so surreally light – less than 20 grams, strap included – that it actually floats in water, thanks to the use of lithium-alloy, usually used in satellites and F1 cars. The case of Rafa’s latest version, the RM 27-02, is a cocktail of carbon and quartz, weighs just 19 grams, and costs a princely $800,000 (give or take a few grand).

Increasingly, the smart money is on new, proprietary composites. The latest and greatest is Breitlight, which, as the punning name suggests, is exclusive to Breitling. It packages a 50mm beast of a 24-hour chronograph, the Avenger Hurricane (£6,450), which wouldn’t look out of place on Batman’s utility belt. Like a Swatch, it’s plastic, but plastic as you’ve never known it. It’s a polymer composite spiked with carbon fibre, similar to that used for Glock’s signature pistol. The upshot of which is that it’s 3.3 times lighter than steel, yet almost impossible to dent, scratch or corrode.

Smartwatches may be (temporarily) snatching all the attention from ‘proper’ watches, but, for now at least, traditional watches are proving that the use of high-tech materials can keep them relevant in the 21st century, as well as smart in their own right.

This article is taken from Port issue 19.

Fabrizio Buonamassa: Tiny, not tinny

No one expected the world’s thinnest chiming watch to come from Roman jeweller Bulgari, least of all for it to be hewn from deeply resonant titanium. Here, creative boss Fabrizio Buonamassa reveals how this remarkable timepiece came to be

Records in watchmaking generally feel like a way of brands marking territory, rather than something that benefits the buyer. However, Bulgari’s Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater is a record-breaker with a difference – it may be the world’s thinnest minute repeater, but it was also designed to be an ‘everyday wearer’.

“It is a stealth watch with a stealth complication,” explains Fabrizio Buonamassa, Bulgari’s charismatic chief watch designer. “It is an industrial design product; something that should be worn every day and that isn’t exclusive.

“Essentially, we needed a new Finissimo iteration and I’ve always thought that the minute repeater was one of the most noble complications,” he adds, “so I started sketching.”

This, perhaps, belies the sheer level of technical mastery at play here, of which its thinness is only a part. In this world, there are very few thin minute repeaters – so-called for their ability to read-out the time to the nearest minute, by striking the hours on a low-tuned metal wire ‘gong’ encircling the movement, followed by the quarters with a ‘ding dong’ on both a second high-tuned gong and the low-tuned gong, followed by the remaining minutes within that quarter on just the high gong. Prior to this year, Jaeger-LeCoultre held the record with its Hybris Mechanica 11, which comes in at 7.9mm thick, though it does also house a whirling ‘tourbillon’ complication. 

Bulgari has excelled that record by squashing its movement down to 6.85mm; something it achieved by attaching the winding barrel to the bottom plate rather than placing them under their own bridge, as well as using a totally flat balance spring.

However, the innovation doesn’t stop there.

“I wanted the watch to be made in titanium,” says Buonamassa, “because it would give space to the movement.” What he means is that by using titanium instead of luxury watchmaking’s stock-in-trade gold or steel, the metal’s richer resonance reduces the need to use so much of it for a similar audible effect. But achieving a 30m-water-resistant case with all its unforgiving tolerances while using such a brittle material is a real headache, as the Octo’s case design is already notoriously tricky in something as soft as gold, thanks to its jigsaw puzzle of 110 facets, edges and angles – all milled from a single lump of metal over the course of 18 operations and plenty of rejects.

The other major difference about this minute repeater is that it is a ‘digital’ minute repeater. So, rather than chiming the hours, quarters and then subsequent extra minutes, once the push-piece at nine o’clock is depressed, a single hammer ‘dongs’ the hour, then two hammers take it in turns to ‘ding dong’ however many 10-minute intervals have elapsed since the top of the hour. Finally, a single hammer ‘dings’ out the remaining minutes. You can just about see this mechanical ballet dancing away beneath the dial, thanks to its stencilled indices – a titillating peep show of horological delights, which also happens to amplify the sound a touch more. 

But this isn’t just a horological masterpiece; in keeping with Buonamassa’s guiding principle that, at Bulgari, “beauty follows function, not form,” it also looks incredibly elegant on the wrist.

“When I was sketching the design, I thought it would be perfect for the Octo shape, especially as the tuxedo and thin watch trends have been very strong for us,” he says. “And it is also down to Bulgari to break the rules in this arena, which isn’t easy when people’s expectations of us are so high.”

Bulgari has certainly challenged people’s expectations of what a high-complication watch should be by making something wearable, rather than something designed to be kept in a safe; it’s a watch for the customer, rather than for the record books. That it has managed to garner the title of ‘world’s thinnest minute repeater’ seems to be, for Buonamassa at least, merely a delightful coincidence.

This article was originally published in our new horology supplement TENTEN, available with PORT issue 19. Out now.

Photography Benjamin McMahon

Dive into Time: Florentine Horology

Italian watchmakers Panerai celebrate 156 years of craftmanship with a sprawling exhibition in Florence including vintage pieces and a new collection

Many of Europe’s great painters, thinkers and poets have called Florence home at one time or another. It’s a city imbued with a rich cultural history, but through its prestigious Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze and events like Pitti Uomo, it continues to nurture the next generation of creative talent. So for Officine Panerai, the Florentine brand with a heritage routed in making diving watches, its hometown was the ideal place to celebrate both its past and its future, through an exhibition and launch of a brand new range.


Set across 1000sqft in the crypt of Museo Marino Marini – a converted Basilica that houses works by the modern sculptor of the same name – ‘Dive into Time’ brought together a broad variety of Panerai’s most memorable pieces, from diving instruments, including flashlights, depth gages and compasses, to the now-iconic watches built for the Royal Italian Navy from the 1930s to the 1950s (most notably, the Raidomir 1936).

The new Luminor Due in steel. Also available in red gold.
The new Luminor Due in steel. Also available in red gold.

Attendees were taken through an immersive history of the brand’s heritage, with one area dedicated to ‘buried treasures’ from Panerai’s pre-Richemont years (1936-1997), to their more recent collections and then a further section of the crypt was given over to the company’s in-house movements. All of this provided a fitting backdrop to launch Panerai’s brand new line, Luminor Due – four slimmer, more modern interpretations of the famed 1950s Luminors – as well as six new models of the Luminor Marina (featuring the brand’s in-house P.9010 automatic movement) and, finally, the impressively complex Radiomir 1940 Minute Repeater Carillon. And with 2017 set to mark two decades under the Richemont umbrella, it’s likely that Panerai has plenty more surprises to come.

Dive into Time ran 18–21 May 2016 at Museo Marino Marini, Florence

Sara Kay: women in the business of art

Port meets former White Cube Bermondsey director Sara Kay, whose non-profit organisation POWarts aims to support women working in the art industry

Sara Kay wearing a Ladies' Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda 1950
Sara Kay wearing a Ladies’ Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda 1950

The Professional Organisation for Women in the Arts (POWarts) was set up in 2008 to advance women in the business of art. The non-profit was co-founded by Sara Kay, a curator and gallerist from New York, who was recently honoured as a ‘woman of excellence’ by Swiss watchmakers Parmigiani Fleurier. Kay’s impressive career has seen her hold positions including director of White Cube Bermondsey in London and Jan Krugier gallery in her native New York. In receiving the award, Kay joins an esteemed group that features film giant Nadia Dresti, restauranteur Hélène Darroze and entrepreneur Sarah Wiener. Port caught up with Kay in London to talk childhood dreams, Old Masters, and supporting women in the business of art.

How did you get into the art business?

My mother is an artist and when I was a child she put me in every single art class possible. I didn’t tell her how much I disliked it because I just wanted to make her happy that I was in art school. Eventually, I got into an animation class and was so stressed out that I finally said ‘Mom, please… I can’t do this anymore. I can’t be an artist anymore’. But I told her, I love business and I love art. So I was a little girl and I wanted to be an art dealer. I don’t even know how I even understood it, especially the commercial side of it. I had it in my head that I wanted to work for Christies and many years later… I did!

You specialised in Old Masters at Christies. What did you learn about them while you were there?

Learning about Old Masters never ends. That’s what’s wonderful about them. The debates over attributions that are constantly changing, the research that it takes, the amount of looking that it takes. I had a great mentor there and a lot of my clients were mentors too. Collectors of Old Masters are connoisseurs, they are very serious about it.

One of my clients was the late Jan Krugier, who had one of the greatest collections of Old Master drawings in Europe. At one point, he asked me to go join his company in New York. I didn’t really want to leave Christie’s’ lovely little department of Old Master drawings, but it was also an amazing opportunity to go and work for him. He was the agent to the Picasso estate and I got to work directly on that, as well as Jan’s private collection and the amazing inventory of Impressionist and Modern pictures he had amassed over decades. It quickly became clear that I couldn’t turn down the job.

Did working closely with the Picasso estate change your views on him as an artist?

Yes it did. Of course I knew about Picasso before, but it became my life when I was working with the estate. We had the largest collection of Picasso in private hands at the time, so it became everything. What I saw and learned was invaluable. It was a fantastic experience.

How did you end up working for the White Cube gallery in London?

In 2008 Jan passed away. We kept the gallery open in New York for two more years, but eventually both the gallery in New York and the gallery in Geneva had to close. At that point I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. Having worked there with that collection, with that man… where do you go? I thought I had to go in a different direction and to work in the area of contemporary art. That’s why I moved to London to join White Cube. I’d never worked with living artists, so it was a completely different experience. It sounds very basic and simple, but coming from Old Masters was a great change.

After White Cube you helped set up POWarts. What is the aim of the organisation?

It’s very specific – we’re all in business and we’re all in the business of the visual arts, but it’s education and business orientated, so we don’t actually talk about art. Talking about art is easy for us… I don’t need another resource to talk about art. A lot of us studied art history or conservation, so we don’t have MBAs. The art world is not like finance or legal where there’s a defined path. For us, there are a million opportunities and it’s very much undefined. This means that we also don’t have typical resources. If you work for a gallery you may not have HR, you may not have a retirement plan and you may not have the things larger companies in other fields do.

Our mission is three-fold. The first part of our mission is education in business, the second part is to have peer groups and mentor groups to be used as a platform to leverage from and the third part is community service.

Can you tell us about this emphasis on community service?

I’m really lucky: I’m educated, I’ve had all the opportunities, I sat with Picassos. Life is good for me. But for many women life is not great. I feel a responsibility to do something because if women are not going to look out for other women, I don’t know who will. The third part of our mission is to align ourselves with other non-profit organisations that support women and to get our members involved with these organisations.

We’re also trying to reach the point where we can provide resources as well. When you’re working in a luxury business you often have access to greater wealth and power. We have access to these things and we should use them for good.

What does it mean to you to receive Parmigiani’s Woman of Excellence award and why are initiatives like this important?

When I founded POWarts it was never about me. It was never about us as individuals. So when I get an award like this it doesn’t feel like it’s just mine. For me, it’s about this organisation. Yes, it’s about my achievements, which is lovely, but what’s more interesting for me is that this organisation is thriving and is being recognised. That’s wonderful.

I also love the fact that Parmigiani celebrate very normal women; I’m not a supermodel, I’m not in film, I’m a kid from New York that worked really hard, had a clear vision and went for it. I want to keep doing that, so when I have support like this it certainly gives me an extra boost.

Bauhaus movements: Nomos Lambda 39

Judith Borowski, head of design and branding at NOMOS Glashütte’s in-house agency, discusses the German watchmaker’s newest timepiece: the Lambda 39

NOMOS Lambda 39
NOMOS Lambda 39

Despite being in production for a modest 25 years, NOMOS Glashütte has established itself as a mainstay among German watch brands. Inspired by Bauhaus design and functionality, models such as the Tangente are already considered classics.

The latest addition to its collection is a reinterpretation of the Lambda watch, first launched to great acclaim in 2013. The new Lambda 39 maintains the sophistication of the original but is more compact in form, with a slender 39mm gold case. We caught up with the design team at NOMOS to discuss the inner workings of the Lambda 39, the values behind the NOMOS collection and the future of analogue timepieces.

The Lambda has been hugely successful – what was the motivation behind releasing a smaller model?

Introducing smaller versions of our successful Lambda model gives our designers the opportunity to reinterpret this design with new proportions and in new colors. These new watches extend the appeal of the watch model to new customers who may have found 42mm a touch too large – since every wrist is different – or those who wanted to see Lambda with a ruthenium-coloured dial.

How do you go about scaling down the previous version? Did you have to start from scratch?

Creating a smaller version of an established watch model is both easier than starting from scratch and, in a way, more difficult. On the one hand, you have the opportunity to work with design decisions that have already been made. On the other hand, scaling down a design creates new challenges as it changes the overall proportions, which can in turn change the character of the design and the watch. In Lambda’s case, however, we were able to maintain the overall elegance of the original version in this new 39mm size.

How have you updated the inner workings of the watch?

The manually wound DUW 1001 movement, which is handcrafted in the dedicated NOMOS Atelier, is still at the heart of our Lambda model. We are so proud of it that we saw no need to change it for these new watches.

The movement boasts a power reserve of 84 hours and many of the features that characterise fine mechanical watchmaking, including screwed gold chatons, a twin mainspring barrel, swan neck fine adjustment, fine sunbeam polishing, and a hand-engraved balance cock that reads ‘Mit Liebe in Glashütte gefertigt‘ (‘lovingly produced in Glashütte’).

How do you see the new Lambda models fitting in with the rest of the NOMOS collection?

We envision these new timepieces will both complement and enhance the existing NOMOS range, by offering more choice to our customers. Our Lambda model now comes in eight slightly different versions — each with its own character, and strikingly beautiful in its own way.

The NOMOS Lambda 39 is made with a DUW 1001 caliber with manual winding and power reserve indicator, which is produced in-house
The NOMOS Lambda 39 is made with a DUW 1001 caliber with manual winding and power reserve indicator, which is produced in-house

What key characteristics define a NOMOS timepiece?

NOMOS timepieces are crafted in the world-famous town of Glashütte, the birthplace of fine mechanical watchmaking in Germany. All of them feature movements manufactured in-house and are characterised by a unique combination of German engineering and German product design.

As a member of the Deutscher Werkbund, a predecessor of the Bauhaus movement, NOMOS Glashütte aims to make beautiful and functional products designed with the most suitable production techniques. Our watches are renowned for their restrained dials, slender hands, and narrow bezels, with precision being a defining feature of the movement contained within.

How do you see the place of the analogue watch changing as smartwatches become increasingly popular?

While we can only speak for ourselves and not for the watchmaking world as a whole, we believe that mechanical watches simply offer something different to smartwatches. Our products draw from a long history of craftsmanship, giving customers an elegant timepiece that underlines their aesthetic and values. For this reason, we certainly do not see smartwatches as a threat to traditional watches.

In fact, the increasing interest in smartwatches among the younger generation means that they are thinking more and more about what they are wearing on their wrists – something that we are, of course, delighted about! After a while, smartwatch wearers will realise that their wristwear keeps becoming obsolete after a few years. With a mechanical watch, by contrast, they have a fine timepiece for life that is always repairable.

The Lambda 39 is available in 18k rose gold, with gold-plated or blue steel hands, and 18k rose gold with ‘black velvet’ dial and gold-plated hands

Bell & Ross lands in London

Bell & Ross co-founder Carlos A. Rosillo talks to Port as the luxury French watch brand opens its members’ club-inspired boutique in Mayfair

Carlos Rosillo
Carlos A. Rosillo, co-founder of Bell & Ross

Twenty three years after drafting plans for the luxury watch company Bell & Ross, its co-founders Carlos A. Rosillo and Bruno Belamich have opened their first London boutique in Mayfair. It’s a space that evokes a club-like atmosphere, combining the brand’s aviation industry roots and a fondness for the English gentleman’s lifestyle.

Businessman Rosillo co-founded the company alongside designer Belamich with the intention of producing watches that were engineered for pilots and divers, but made available to a wider commercial audience. In doing so, they have created created a brand that reflects these demanding professions and derives its aesthetic from functionality. As a Franco-British inspired outfit, Bell & Ross also draws its philosophy from the intertwined histories and militaries of the two nations.

We caught up with Rosillo on the day of the launch to discuss the new boutique, his fascination with British military history and what makes an iconic timepiece.

Bell & Ross boutique
Bell & Ross boutique

Why did you choose Mayfair’s Burlington Arcade as a home for your first London boutique?

When I hit the age of 10 I discovered the concept of an English gentleman, just by being in the Mayfair area. This neighbourhood has always had that very British elegant style; it’s a style that’s long lasting, but also has a sense of modernity to it…It’s tradition with a twist.

The rooms in this arcade look alike and the brands are also similar. When you look at who’s around us – Eres, La Perla, Chanel and Maison Michel – all of them are very Franco-British with an elegance you don’t find everywhere. The stores in this gallery have a soul. It’s a great club to be a part of.

Why have you set up shop now?

The reason we chose the 18th of June for our opening is to celebrate Franco-British relations. First, it is the date of the Battle of Waterloo and, by acknowledging this date, we point out the ups and downs between the two nations. It is also the date of Charles de Gaulle’s appeal to the French people from London, 70 years ago. So we’re seeing a historical battle date, but also the day that began the liberation of the French people and later the world.

The interior of Bell & Ross boutique, ground floor
The interior of Bell & Ross’ boutique, ground floor

How do military ideals inform Bell & Ross’ ethos?

I think that militaries are a big source of inspiration because they show courage and a sense of strategy. The epicentre of Bell & Ross is the confluence between the designer, the engineer and the professional user, many of whom are in the military. Inspiration also comes from the professional users, we speak to them and we are happy to listen to them. We respond according to their requirements and so when they choose us it’s a testimony; their endorsement reflects our capacity to respond.

As a relatively young brand in watch-world terms, why have you chosen to place so much emphasis on history?

A company is like a person. Whether you are 21 or 80 years old it’s very important to know where you come from. We put a lot of emphasis on history so we can understand the values that correspond to our philosophy. Being young is also something that gives you assets. There is a kind of personality and strength that you get when starting something new without heritage. This boutique is a real mix of new and old: when you look at the façade it’s quite traditional, but when you are inside you see that it is something with modernity.

How has the brand evolved over the past 21 years?

We have created and maintained a definitive style. When you look at our products – whether it’s the classic pocket watch or something more modern – there is a style that is easy to recognise at a glance. This is the magic of an iconic watch. This style is important because it helps develop the ‘club spirit’. That is also why it was so important to have a boutique, because a club without a place to join is not a club…

The first-floor lounge at Bell & Ross' Mayfair boutique
The first-floor lounge at Bell & Ross’ Mayfair boutique

Do you think it’s a good time to be a watch collector?

I think so. If you have the eye and you know how to select then yes. The beauty of watches is that there’s a mix of craftsmanship, culture and art, but that means you need to know those precise facets and where the value is going to be concentrated. The houses that are smart will protect the investor. In time, prices must go up if you’re going to call your product an investment.

What do you think are the defining characteristics of a Bell & Ross watch?

They are very readable from the first glance. You know what time it is, even with the highly sophisticated models. We have four key principles: readability, functionality, reliability and precision. We want to have the balance between all of these focuses: between design and engineering, between watch manufacturing and professional users. I’ve heard it said that a good plane is a beautiful plane… I think you can say exactly the same for a watch.

Bell & Ross’ London Boutique is now open at Burlington Arcade, Units 48-49 W1J 0QJ